Radhika reflects on three months at NEV

Jonathan Keren-Black Community, People, Village Life

At the end of March I attended a fascinating talk about the Auroville Ecovillage (more an ‘Ecotown’ with over 3000 residents!) in India by Radhika, a delightful young engineer who has lived there for 7 years, and who had recently arrived to spend a few months at NEV, thanks in part to Tanya and the Global Ecovillage Network.  Hard to imagine that was over 3 months ago, and Radhika is now starting work in Sydney on the next part of her journey.  We had coffee at the Coffee Cart and she shared some reflections, in part by contrasting NEV with what she knew at Auroville.

Before she built her own home in the Auroville area, Radhika lived in a community house there with about a dozen other young people, which was a great opportunity to transition from family living to greater adult independence, and learn to share, discuss, negotiate and make decisions collectively. She greatly enjoyed and appreciated this time when they would make spur of the moment decisions to jump on their motor-bikes and go to the latest party or artistic events and festivals happening, and if nothing else was going on, the beach was just 2 kms away. So there’s a constant movement and always something going on.

She rightly notes that we seem to be lacking this sort of facility or accommodation at NEV, and indeed, this age group, aside from a few volunteers passing through.   

Auroville covers a large area, and the houses are bigger and spread out. It has grocery shops, schools, clinics and hospitals inside and on the periphery as well. By contrast Radhika found our houses are smaller and closer together and most of us seem to have cars.  We are more modern and more urbanised – whereas Auroville has bikes and bike paths everywhere, but seems more chaotic. NEV houses are better insulated and more reliant on technology – Auroville does not have eco-building standards or a BRP. 

NEV is noticeably cleaner and more cared-for, with no obvious pollution or piles of rubbish dumped at the sides of the roads, and our village is obviously well-managed.  It feels safe, which is not always the case back home, where anyone can come and live and there are a few unsavoury characters around.  But there is no awareness or distinction between members and non-members, which Radhika has sometimes sensed here at NEV.

Auroville has lots of large spaces including a stadium where all the community can gather, but NEV seems more limited in this regard even though we are a smaller group.  But we do have lots going on, though being smaller, you often see the same people, so you can get to know people more quickly and easily.

Something we might take for granted, especially with the current crisp winter temperatures, which Radhika likes about Australia and NEV, is the changing climate, whereas in Auroville it is always sunny and warm, but the summer months are very very hot and humid. That’s something she is glad to have a break from! And she also likes the tranquillity at Nev. Less things to worry about. Less dysfunctional relationships. There’s less dependence on the cooperative for work and income and housing, so people, she thinks, feel much more secure here.

She has been aware of more stress around material concerns though – there, there were no discussions about money or contributions – somehow Auroville seems to be generously resourced, and able to rent out houses and give interest-free loans.  By contrast, there is an openness at Auroville about consciousness and someone might sit down and ask ‘How is your spiritual journey going?’.  At NEV, Radhika has found little opportunity to talk about internal feelings and processes.  I too feel this is an area we need to develop. However she has been particularly impressed by the people at NEV – the sense of goodwill and the great efforts to work through and resolve issues amicably and to develop and build community.  She says ‘I am really glad I came.  I felt called to this place and it’s been a great experience.’  I am sure we can benefit from her reflections.  Good luck with your journey Radhika, and thanks for coming!