What-Makes-You-Happy Project (19): Iyyappan, India

Iyyappan is my second couch host in Auroville. He has  very interesting stories to tell. His father died when he was a child. His mother is not educated. Thanks to Auroville’s support, he could go to school and transformed to the way as he is today.

Aurovillen is more like an autonomous state in India. In 1950s, people of different nationalities came together, then they transformed the barren dessert land into a liveable environment. It provides an alternative lifestyle, which inhabitants live in a community system that they work for the community in exchange for free facilities in the community, like health care, accommodation and education.

Iyyappan was born in a village near Auroville. He went to the community school in Auroville. As his father passed away when he was 11/12, he had to work as a child labour to support his own living expanses.

His younger sister also studied in the community school, later she got sponsorship from a pair of English couple to continue her education. They treated her like their own daughter, they even sponsored her to study overseas. As the only son and male member in the family, he needed to provide dowry for his two sisters’ wedding.

There was a period of time which he had to work three part-time jobs, a constructions worker, a waiter and a archivist in auroville.

No wonder he looks much older than his actual age (He is just 27). Even though now, apart from his job in Auroville, he also needs to work as a supervisor in a construction company so as to have extra pocket money .

He knows that he comes from a culture that is different from his European counterparts in Auroville. He has to work hard for himself, to support his living expenses, his mother, at the same time, save up for the future, that leaves him less time for leisure, like playing guitar, hanging out often with friends.

He has managed to find a fine balance between the two cultures. He is open-minded, sharing and humble. At the same time, he also acknowledges his india culture and holds dear to it coz that defines him.

He introduced me to his close friends, like Interviewee 18 Mrinmoy + Interviewee 8, Edo. Through Edo, I get to conduct interviews, like No.4-10, including Gregorio, Pushkar, Gino, Alessandro, Edo himself, his brother Ema and Samadashana. Later Edo also introduced me to Harsh, the Interviewee 15, who also has helped me to conduct interviews 11-14.

It is just amazing to see how we connect with each other in that organic way.


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