Traveling on my own in North India at age 22, I found myself greatly attracted to the culture and spirituality. Influenced by Ravi Shankar and Krishnamurti, Hinduism and Buddhism, and by personally meeting the Dalai Lama, I determined to return someday to live and discover more, and to visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram that I learned about then.
I met the Mother several times in 1971-72 as a visitor to the Ashram(most powerful experiences), and soon was accepted by her to live and work in Auroville. Her vision of an ideal town-ship based on human unity was tremendously attractive to me. I established and organized Fraternity in early 1972, at her request, as the first handicraft training and village employment center, to address the concern about the poverty, health and talents of the local villagers. With some other Aurovilians, we developed handloom weaving, along with its associated crafts of tailoring, embroidery, crochet and handloom lampshades. then came the production of woodcraft items, hammocks, hammock chairs, and candle-making. And we planted trees and trees.
New workshops were built, with a kindergarten and fresh water supply for the nearby village. Rapid expansion followed and with quality craft production achieved, we opened export markets in Europe and the US. My wife Fanou joined the venture, heading up the crochet unit. Our first two children, Auromarichi and Aurelia, were born in Auroville.
We moved in 1980 to Wisconsin, USA, where for many years we imported and sold arts and crafts from Auroville and elsewhere, via a store called Global View. Retired now, I have placed many photos of my nine years in Auroville in Facebook’s group called “Olden Days: The Old Timers of Auroville”.
Some years ago, I was asked to join the board of Auroville International USA. Originally begun as the Auroville Association in 1973 in Aptos, California by June Maher with a handful of local board members, the name was changed in 1986, and now our 10 board members are scattered from coast to coast. We meet by phone once a month and face to face every year. Besides channelling funds to Auroville projects, we email Auroville project and donation information periodically as eVolve and publish a printed newsletter, Connect, twice a year to thousands of Auroville supporters in the US. I am the administrator of AuroHost, and currently serve as President of AVI USA.
Since twelve years, Fanou and I return to Auroville for at least a month every two years, and we support it as much as possible. From over 200 people then, to well over 2000 people today, Auroville seems to bloom more and more; its forests now thrive on the once desolate sand and desert, and culture abounds in so many ways. It is always a joy to return, to be with many dear old friends and to make new ones, and to meet there as a member of Auroville International.