Today was the first day we went shopping. We went to Kuilapalyam, a small village, just out side of Auroville. I got some clothes that are better suited to the weather and not quite as touristy as what I brought. I also got a scarf, which is necessary here to cover up shoulders when traveling outside of the city. It was a little scary going to the village as there was a double murder there on New Year’s Eve. It happened a couple of doors down from where some other students in our program were shopping. It was pretty disturbing, but also a good reminder to always be aware of our surroundings outside of Auroville, as well as inside. Murder is pretty unusual around here, but there is a significant amount of gang activity in the surrounding villages. We are all traveling in groups to play it extra safe.
In the afternoon we had a meeting at the US Pavilion to learn about the building. It is a really cool building. It is made of compressed earth bricks, made from local dirt. An Aurovillian invented a hand operated brick press that is now used all around Auroville to make bricks for building. There are 4 buildings that house dormitories, offices, and a bathroom. Each building is only about 15 feet wide and anywhere from 15 – 30 feet long, depending on their use. A curved roof provides shelter from rain and sun covers all of the buildings. It is about 20 feet tall at the edges and maybe 30 feet in the middle and open on the edges. Around the base edges of the foundation there is a foot wide shallow moat to keep the crawling bugs out. It is connected to a pond that has fish and plants in it. We discovered by seeing a fish with eggs in its mouth that the fish in the pond are mouth brooders. This means they carry their eggs in their mouth until they hatch rather than laying a nest or just leaving them to hatch unattended. This was exciting to those of us who just got through Marine Biology this fall!
I think the composting toilets were the most interesting thing we learned about. They are dry composting toilets, meaning they separate the urine and poop to help the decomposition process. They collect the poop in large blue barrels below the bathroom and let them sit for 6 months. Afterwards they use the compost on the banana trees in the garden. It’s pretty cool. The urine is routed to a rectangular garden plot off to the side of the bathroom where Canna plants, a tall flowering plant, are grown. The Canna flower is from Austrailia. It is used because they are able to process the nutrients in urine easily and after the water filters through it can be used in the garden. Also, they are very beautiful orangey yellow flowers that grow to about 5 feet tall. The mother (the woman who founded Auroville), believes that flowers have special properties. She has assigned properties to some of them, and the Canna Lilly (see link and scroll down to see a picture of the flower and some info. I’ll try to find a better link with more info eventually) is Connection between the Light and the physical centre touched by the light. Awakens to the necessity of growth and blossoming.