The last few blog posts have been slightly out of order due to my laziness…
Last post I explained our rickshaw road trip which happened in between our time spent in Auroville, Also while in Sri Lanka my friend Jeff from my rookie season firefighting messaged me and said he would be in Auroville at the same time… I haven’t seen him in a while so I was looking forward to the week!
When we arrived in Pondicherry from Madurai my friend Ravi came to pick Sara and I up from the bus station, it was early morning so we grabbed coffee at a cafe overlooking the ocean. Let me give you some background on Ravi. I met Ravi while travelling Vietnam, it was during my first ever backpack trip. Myself and my travel buddies were all drinking in a hostel in Hanoi and this Indian guy came up to us and started asking us about our trip, we eventually got talking about where we’ve all been and where we still are going and I remember Ravi saying he quit his very secure job at Pepsi, sold all his stuff and decided to take an epic 3 year trip around the world. This was the first person on my travels I met that had such a crazy plan! The stories and experiences he already had from his travels were unbelievable. After we were all done talking I remember turning to my friends Kenton and Jared and telling them that’s the most interesting man I think I’ve ever met. It was at that time that our crazy friendship started. Ravi was also going south while travelling Vietnam and so were we, we ended up seeing him in a few more places… Ravi and I were only really with each other a handful of times and only for about 3 weeks but when you travel you seem to get really close with people in a short amount of time so when I told him we were coming to India he excitedly invited Sara and I to stay in his house for as long as we wanted. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world is such a crazy place, I meet this guy in a hostel in Vietnam 4 years ago and now I am staying at his house in India for 3 weeks!
So anyway Ravi picks us up and takes us to his house which is beautiful, Sara and I have our own room and everything is perfect for us, Ravi lives just outside of Auroville. Now Auroville is crazy, I could write on and on about it but I’m not going to so just google it and take 10 minutes to read about it because it’s fascinating, especially the center of Auroville which is a massive golden sphere called the Matrimandir! I had no idea a place like this existed in the world. You know those nights where you’re with your friends half of which are high and the other half drunk at 3 am and you start talking about deep issues, inventions or the universe, (I think we’ve all been there) I feel like the idea of Auroville started with one of those nights… but instead the idea of Auroville and the Matrimandir came in the form of a dream and that blows my mind! I encourage you to go to the Auroville website or wiki page and read about it yourself because it is crazy interesting and even spending 3 weeks there we only just scratched the surface.
Auroville is 60% foreigners and 40% Indians. It’s a very comfortable place because it’s a nice mix between western culture and Indian culture. The first few days we spent exploring everything, Ravi brought us to a different restaurant every night and we got to try amazing food from all around the world at restaurants run by westerners who have chose Auroville as their new home. A few days later we met up with Jeff and all four of us hung out almost all the time. Jeff is a yoga instructor which was awesome for Sara and I. We did 2 morning sessions with Jeff which made us feel great all day. That first week we also had a tour of the Matrimandir. We had a chance to meditate in the main chamber and get the back story about why it was built and how Auroville came to be, it was an excellent free tour. Our time in Auroville was so nice and relaxing and if I could recommend a place to start your India trip it would be here. It is a really good way to ease into the culture instead of jumping in head first in a place like Delhi.The rest of the week we spent going to the beach, exploring Auroville, drinking and arguing about American politics, the universe and most importantly Leonardo DiCaprio.
At the end of the week it was time for Jeff to head to Mumbai to continue his India journey and it was time for us to go on our rickshaw roadtrip!
After the 1500 km in the rickshaw we needed some serious relaxation! We came back to Auroville and planted ourselves there for another week and a half! I’m sure Ravi didn’t mind us coming back, to be honest I think he missed us! We rented Sara a moped so she could be more independent and she loved it! She just wanted to drive it everywhere but we ran out of fuel a few times because these things are pieces of shit! Also I miscalculated the fuel mileage on those bad boys, they’re terrible on fuel. There are always many events going on all the time in Auroville, anything from open mic nights, movie nights, dance nights to yoga sessions, food tours and workshops. We did the open mic night at one of the restaurants, We did a movie night which was fun, the movie was about people becoming breatharians (the belief that it is possible for a person to live without consuming food) and it was pretty interesting. On one of our last days Ravi planned a Indian cooking night where he taught us how to make butter Masala, veg curry and raita! We are definitely going to cook for our parents back home. Basically our time in Auroville was extremely relaxing and very stress free. We spent most of the week planning out the rest of our trip and actually bought all of our flight tickets for the rest of our trip including our flight home! We decided to have a little 10 day stop over in Thailand on the way home so that should be pretty exciting! I’ve been multiple times but Sara has never been so it’s gonna be fun to show her what got me addicted to travelling and also to see how much it’s changed since I was there!
Our next stop was Varanasi and our choice of transportation to get there was between a 36 hour train or a few hours on the plane. Obviously we opted for the plane and once we arrived in Varanasi it was late and dark so we checked into our hotel and got some sleep so we could explore the city the next morning! Varanasi is the holiest city in India, located right on the Ganges it is THE place to get a cremation done. Once the body is dipped in the Holy water it is burned on the ghat and the ashes are put in the Ganges. It’s a very strange place to go but it is extremely interesting to see in person. Personally I think the water is disgusting, all the sewage from the city flows into the river along with any garbage, animal shit and also the odd dead animal. (We saw a dead dog floating in the water) the fact that almost everyone who lives in Varanasi takes morning dips in the Ganges to clean off astounds me. I that the water is holy but that is some of the dirtiest water I’ve ever seen, the fact that people don’t get sick from dips and drinking the water is pretty amazing. The ghats are basically what people come to see, it is quite the sight when you see bathing, a wedding and a cremation all in one glance. Our time in Varanasi was spent walking the ghats and seeing everything first hand. Ravi told me to take a dip but I really couldn’t bring myself to hop in. We only stayed two nights in Varanasi but that’s all you need, other then the ghats the only other thing Varanasi has going for it is its lassi’s! They are amazing and cheap, the yogurt based drink takes ages to prepare but it’s worth the wait! You can choose from all sort fruit combinations, my favorite was strawberry and banana. At the end of our third day we had a night bus to Nepal, we were both excited for a new country and new adventure.