At 11pm I took off from JFK to Dubai on what I thought was a cheap upgrade to Business Class (which would have meant a bed for my 14-hour flight!) but turned out to be an upgrade for the 2nd leg of my trip from Dubai to Chennai, a mere 4-hour flight. Still worth it to get a bed and ridiculously delicious food. And Emirates planes have LED lights on the ceiling that make you feel like you’re looking at the stars in the sky. Oh what technology and money can do.
In Chennai I arrived at 3am and Arumugam, my friend and local taxi driver, was waiting for me. I was so happy to see him and him me that we yelled each other’s names and hugged outside the arrival terminal filled with people’s relatives and other taxi drivers who all stopped to stare at our reunion. We must have been quite a sight- me with a backpack on my back and front, and a medium-sized suitcase, and him, a middle-aged Indian man. We took the drive in the dark amidst truck drivers to Sadhana Forest. I watched the sky change from black to navy to a smoky lavender. Arumugam was impressed with his driving which had us arrive in 1 hour and 50 minutes because there was no traffic. He loves night pickups because of that. The ride is usually closer to 3 hours, 4 if you’re on a bus.
By the time we arrived at Sadhana and I walked into the community the sky was a soft yet bright pink, and Vineet, my old friend who takes care of the forest, was brushing his teeth with a stick from the neem tree while holding a guitar to get ready to sing and wake everyone up for Morning Circle. It was a perfect moment.
I spent my first day getting to know so many new people and reacquainting myself with the family who founded Sadhana- Yorit (mom), Osher (older daughter who I taught to read last summer), and Shalev (younger daughter whose first words to me were “Can you teach me to read?” (On a side note, Osher has decided to attend school in Auroville and is super happy about learning all of the academics. More on this later).