I wanted to write about about our new home today. We are based in a newish community called 'Realization' which has been around for about 3 years (AV is split into communities of varying sizes each with it's own name such as Certitude, Courage, Discipline etc). We have a very central location within AV, the library, food co-operative and Solar Kitchen (the main place for residents to eat) are all a short distance away. The houses in this community were all designed by one architect and are made from mudbrick, they are part of a housing plan from the Earth Institute to help with the shortage of homes available in AV by making low cost, environmentally friendly homes (more info here for those interested: Realization Project Website).
Our house is the first of a block of 4 houses of varying sizes and we are in the furthest block from the entrance. The community seems split between retired and younger families and even seems divided in that the older residents are situated in the first half of the community and those of us with children are situated at the back. I think this is a good thing as it keeps the children further from the community entrance and as traffic is not permitted beyond the entrance it means they can play safely as well as hopefully giving the older residents slightly more peace! There are 5-6 children I think, ranging from 6 to 6months, K is loving having so many playmates nearby!
We have a community meeting once a month to discuss community finances, work needing to be done etc and so far we feel we are in very friendly, peaceful company. It's nice to actually know your neighbours and give a nod, smile or wave.
So here is our house (the main building on the left and the balcony area to the right of it):
and here is our front door:
It's really starting to feel like home!
It has concrete floors and having just a mezzanine first floor means it is very airy which helps to keep the place cool. The main windows all have glass and mesh (to keep the mosquitos out) but the smaller windows above them are just mesh which helps the air circulation too. Being made of mudbrick it is prone to getting very dusty inside and there are few fixtures on the walls as they tend to just crumble but the bonus of them being totally eco friendly offsets a bit of dust, I reckon!
The other issue is that the houses weren't build with ant channels (a channel of water around the house to keep ants out) so we get overrun with ants if we don't keep things totally clean - one small crumb will have them swarming. We get biggish black ants which are harmless and tiny red ants which give a nasty bite. They also like living within the mud bricks so we can never really be free of them. We have ant chalk which is a useful deterrant (yes, it's a poison but there is only so many times you can deal with ants in your bed). We have drawn a ring of this chalk around our bed legs as well as our clothing storage (ants in your pants is also no joke!). Our food larder in the kitchen stands on top of 4 raised dishes which we keep filled with water to keep them out too. We just have to wash up more often, shake out clothes before putting them on and take care to clean up spilled food immediately, all things you just adapt to.
We also have a uncertain number of geckos living in our house, they are meant to be lucky and for the most part are great to have around as they eat mosquitos and other bugs. They are most active at night and can often be seen chasing one another over the ceiling and making a chirruping noise. K loves having them around as do we. The only drawback with them is they leave pellet-like poos around (if the ants weren't already a reason to cover food) and that sometimes they forget they are on the ceiling when they lay eggs which results in a little smashed egg on the floor which brings out the ants. Other than that though they are nice to have around.
Here is a tiny baby gecko :)
We have a water filter in the kitchen for our drinking water (although the tap water is pretty safe once boiled), which uses a porous stone in the top chamber, called a candle, to filter the water into the bottom chamber. It works really well and is more eco friendly than the electric filters that are used here. The fridge always has 4-5 bottles of water in there!
We just have two gas hobs for cooking at the moment, it's a far cry from our former kitchen with it's 4 rings, oven, grill, microwave, toaster and kettle combo. It's a nice challenge to rethink how we cook but I do miss baking, especially making quiches and the occasional sweet treat. One of our neighbours has a cake tin which has sand in the bottom and is specifically for making cakes on the hob, I will be learning how it works at some point.
Our diet so far consists of daal and rice, soup, stew, pasta (although it is imported and as such is pricey) and lots of fresh baked bread, and lovely fresh fruits and veg. Am particularly enjoying the pineapples, pomegranates and huge avocadoes and can't wait for mango season. I have also had to rethink my love of cheese as although Auroville is renound for its amazing French cheese, it's is an expensive treat when we are trying to live as frugally as possible.
The item on the right hob is our toaster.
There haven't been as many power cuts as there were last time we visited which is a relief and they don't normally last too long. We are also incredibly lucky to have a UPS system which is a back up battery system that switches on if the power goes off. it is linked to a few lights and sockets so we can still have power. C says this will be invaluable during monsoon as the power is switched off during heavy thunder and lightning storms as a safety precaution.
Anyway, it is getting late here (well, 9.30pm - I was up at 6am so it doesn't feel so early as that!) and am going to close for now. That's a bit about the inside of the house, have more to say about our recent gardening activities and the creatures we met (yep, met my first scorpion) in the next installment. Thanks for reading :)