Surviving the Auroville Way

We spent one morning at the Auroville Paper Factory, where Elizabeth was in heaven,coming away with several possibilities for her work with ThingsAsian. She is nearly finished with a book on Asian hand papermaking, so to say she was impressed by what they do there and how beautifully they do it, says a lot about the place.
We saw the marbled paper in the photo below being made! I’ve made a fair amount of paper and have dreamt of being able to do this marbleing technique, so was hypnotized watching the men spill/drop oil paint into washtub-looking containers then fanning the vats until they were satisfied with their design. They lay the paper over the liquid, do some sort of incantation [I’m making this part up], then peel away the paper, revealing those gorgeous effects that bookbinders as well as stationers and letter-writers love.

As for Auroville itself, and The Mother, and the Matrimandir (a golden dome/ meditation hall) said to house the largest (70cm diameter) solid crystal in the world — I have a few reservations.

Images of The Mother are everywhere in Pondicherry: one was at our guest house, several were around the various buildings comprising the paper factory, and dozens more were in Pondy restaurants. To me, the ubiquity of her image suggests that this French woman/artist-turned-guru (d. 1970’s) founded a haven for New Age expats…2/3’s of the 1800 members of the ashram are Western. On the other hand, they do some good, “green” work, and at our guesthouse one of the ashram members gave incredible Ayurvedic massages – so, my reservations may partly be sour grapes: for 8 months I tried to get reservations at one of the guest houses out in Auroville and was turned down each time I wrote! We did learn this, from others staying at our guesthouse in Pondy: you have a better chance of getting in if you just appear at the Visitors’ Center in Auroville.

Next time!

Marbled Paper, Auroville Paper Factory: I rambled on about Auroville, above, but have no photos, either from there or from the paper factory: none from Auroville b/c it was just too, too odd an experience. Also, I was busy, ahem, shopping, or anyhow browsing, wasn't I? The boutiques in Auroville have beautiful silks ( salwar kameez, dupattas, saris, even silk picture frames and jewelry), magnificent incense, and great quality ceramics!
No photos from the paper factory simply because there are signs ALL OVER warning against it. We were touring/talking with the Asst Director, who was equally clear about the ban...

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