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Auroville in a nutshell

More detailed information on .pdf

 

A highly condensed summary of the main points
people seek information on regarding Auroville.

Note: Whatever we cover here, there are sure to be dozens of other questions people will ask. Such questions can best be directed to info@auroville.org.in, but meanwhile here are some general facts to be getting on with. (Headings are in alphabetical order; AV = Auroville; Chennai is new name for Madras.)

Accountancy - each AV unit is responsible for preparing its own consolidated balance sheet annually. A final consolidated balance sheet for the whole AV Foundation is prepared by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India for submission to India's Parliament.
Aerobics - see "Classes".
After dark - see "Footwear and flashlights" and "Security".
Airport - AV is well served by a variety of international and national carriers operating via Chennai airport.
Alternative energy systems - AV has the biggest concentration of alternative and appropriate energy systems in India, including solar, wind and biogas generating systems. Of particular interest is the massive 15 metre diameter solar collector installed on the roof of the Solar Kitchen, designed to generate enough steam to cook up to 1,000 meals a day.
Arbitration - differences arising in AV are normally settled by AV's Executive Council or by involvement of fellow Aurovilians skilled in arbitration. Matters affecting the villages are handled by an AV Village Liaison Group.
Archives - located at Bharat Nivas; holds all available important papers, photos, slides and audio/visual material relating to AV's development.
Arrival in AV - all foreigners staying in AV are required to complete an Arrival Form at their guest house or the AV Visa Service. See also "Registration/Residential Permit".
Ashram - AV is not to be confused with the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, which is an entirely separate entity. The relationship between AV and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, however, is close, and there is good regular interaction between the residents of both organisations. See also "What is AV?"
Assets management - all matters relating to AV's land, buildings and other assets are handled by a 'Funds & Assets Management Committee'.
AV Foundation - the Govt-appointed holding body for the land and other assets of AV, which is headed by a Governing Board (GB; with Secretary living and working in AV) and has responsibility for the development of the township in collaboration with AV's residents, as per an Act of Parliament passed in 1988. In addition to the GB there are 2 other bodies which come under the Foundation, the International Advisory Council and Residents Assembly.
AV International - in a number of countries around the world, groups of people interested in AV have come together to form AV International Centres or Liaison Groups. These Centres/Groups actively support the development of the township by way of donations and other help.
Aurovilian status - people only become 'Aurovilian' after going through a Newcomer process, usually lasting 2 years. The process is overseen by the AV Entry Group.
Bakeries - there are 2 AV bakeries - the main one near Douceur community, the other in Kottakarai - providing bread, biscuits, pizza, cakes, etc.
Bank - the State Bank of India has a branch in Kuilapalayam village main street, open Mon-Fri 9am-3pm, Sat 9-12am. See also "Financial Service".
Batteries - all types of torch and camera batteries are available in India, usually at cheaper prices than in the West.
Beach - see "Swimming/beach".
Buildings/building construction - nowadays virtually all AV buildings are constructed using fired bricks (bought outside AV) or compressed earth blocks (made in AV). Roofing is usually done with tiles or rows of arched ferrocement channels. There is no building 'Code of Practice', nor is there any "Aurovilian" style of building. As there are a number of good architects living and working in AV, there are many different design approaches. Permission to build has to be obtained via L'Avenir d'Auroville. Building construction is mostly done by AV-run units.
Businesses - see "Commercial units".
Car hire - not possible in AV, but there are plenty of taxis available. 2-wheeler and cycle hire is possible in both AV and Pondy.
Childbirth - AV has its own midwife team, capable of delivering children in all normal circumstances. More complicated cases are taken to hospitals in Pondicherry.
Childcare - AV provides parents in need with a special 'maintenance' allowance to help them care for their children. Creches, and then kindergartens, are available for children who have reached the post-infant stage.
Choir - AV has two choirs, one adult, the other composed of children, who give performances usually two or three times a year.
Classes - there are many possibilities to participate in classes - on aerobics, dance, hatha yoga, martial arts, healing, languages (Tamil, Sanskrit and English), etc. Details are posted on notice boards at class venues and around AV, or published in the weekly AV News.
Climate - the climate of AV is sub-tropical, with high humidity and temperatures sometimes reaching 40C (104F) or more in May/June. Night time temperatures rarely drop below 20C (68F), even in winter, and can be as high as 30C (86F). Most comfortable season is mid December to mid March. Main rainy/monsoon season is Oct-Dec. Average annual rainfall is 125 cms. A small met station is maintained in the township area.
Commercial units - there are more than 100 commercial units operating in AV, falling into the following categories: Architecture & Construction, Clothing & Fashion, Electronics & Engineering, Food, Handicrafts, Shops & Boutiques; Others. Currently all AV businesses are required to operate under the AV Foundation. Permission to start a new business has to be given by the AV Board of Commerce, the Working Committee and Funds & Assets Management Committee (including the Secretary to the AV Foundation).
Communication facilities - see separate headings for E-mail, Internet, FAX, Post Offices, Telephones.
Computer usage/facilities - visitors/guests can make use of AV equipment or use their own portable computers at AV's several browsing facilities for reading/sending e-mail, accessing the Internet, etc.
Conferences & Seminars - a considerable number of internal, plus internationally and Indian Government sponsored, conferences and seminars have been held in AV over the years.
Conflict resolution - see "Arbitration".
Contributions - guests and Newcomers are required to pay a contribution towards the ongoing development and maintenance of the township. Aurovilians also pay a monthly contribution via AV's Central Fund.
Cooking - most people cook by bottled gas, though a few settlements have biogas units installed. A number of people also use small solar cookers. The collective Solar Kitchen has a massive 15-metre diameter solar collector on its roof to generate the steam needed to cook up to 1,000 meals a day.
Creches - there are 3 creches operating in AV for children aged 2-4 years.
Cultural events - see "Entertainment" and "Festivals & Celebrations".
Cultural Pavilions - AV's International Zone will be the site of Cultural Pavilions representing all the major nations and cultures of the world. India's 'Bharat Nivas' is already in existence, though yet to be finished. The only finished one is the Pavilion of Tibetan culture, inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 2009. Other pavilions coming up or under study are the American, French, German, Italian and Russian.
Cycle hire - see "Transport".
Dairies - there are a number of small dairies supplying milk in the township, though many Aurovilians also buy milk from the villages.
Dance - see "Entertainment" and "Classes".
Decision making - in all AV meetings, whether involving only a small group or the whole Residents Assembly, after everyone has been given a chance to speak, and the subject under discussion has been thoroughly examined from all angles, the normal mode of decision making is by consensus.
Dental facilities - two main clinics operate in AV, one (located at Douceur) primarily for Aurovilians, the other (located at the main Health Centre) for local villagers; another 14 sub-clinics are located in the villages spread around AV. All are staffed and maintained by AV.
Dhobi service - see "Laundry facilities".
Doctors - see "Health facilities".
Dress/clothing - noting that Indian women generally dress very modestly, Western women are specially advised to dress in a similar modest fashion, in order not to send out the wrong message and attract unwanted attention. This also applies at the beach, where one-piece swimming costumes are advised. Cotton fabrics are generally cooler and more comfortable than synthetics. During the rainy season, a good raincoat/cape/poncho, or at least an umbrella, is essential. See also "Footwear...".
Eating out - see "Restaurants, cafes, etc".
Education - see "Schools" and "Classes".
Electricity - current can be erratic, with frequent power cuts, specially in summer. Voltage is officially set at 220v but often falls below this level. It can also occasionally surge higher. All AV's electricity supply needs and maintenance requirements are monitored and coordinated by the AV Electrical Service.
E-mail - facilities exist upstairs at Solar Kitchen (open Mon-Sat 9am-9pm, Sundays 1-9pm), near the main Health Centre at the Kuilapalayam Browsing Centre (open Mon-Sat only 9am-5.30pm), in ARKA community and other places. A comprehensive e-mail directory listing all AV subscribers is included in the AV Telephone Directory.
Employment opportunities - a unit named 'Connections' coordinates the finding and placing of staff for the many AV units and services. Work opportunities for people from the local villages come under Small Employers Welfare Association (SEWA). Visitors/guests interested in working in AV are advised to contact the AVIS, who maintain a list of opportunities. Students interested in work as part of their studies should contact study@auroville.org.in 
Entertainment - there are regular in-house film shows, plus occasional theatre, music, dance and choir performances, exhibitions, slide shows, lectures, video showings, etc.
Environmental protection - AV is strongly oriented towards environmental protection and sustainable development.
European Union involvement - the EU has provided, and continues to provide, financial support for a number of projects in AV; also for projects being coordinated by AV for the surrounding bio-region.
Farms - there are a number of AV farms providing rice, vegetables, fruit and dairy products for the community, though not yet in sufficient quantity to make AV self-sufficient in its food requirements. Most food is still purchased in Pondy market.
FAX - many people operate FAX machines at home or in their office, some in conjunction with their phone. There is also an AV FAX Office located in the Kuilapalayam Browsing Centre where messages can be sent or received (incoming faxes must have full name and AV address for internal delivery).
Festivals & Celebrations - festivals/celebrations recognised in AV, often involving a holiday, fall into 4 categories: strictly AV-related (e.g. Sri Aurobindo's, Mother's and AV's birthdays); Indian/Tamil cultural (e.g. Diwali, Pongal); Indian Government (National Holidays); and international (Christmas, May Day, etc).
Finance - contributions to the development of AV have come, and continue to come, from a number of sources, including Govt of India, Govt of Pondicherry, Indian and foreign NGOs, AV International Centres abroad, private donors in India and abroad, and the personal funds of Aurovilians.
Financial Service - AV's computerised Financial Service arranges internal payments, handles foreign exchange and issues Guest Cards Mon-Sat 9am-12.30pm and 3-4.30pm.
Footwear and flashlights - people are advised not to walk barefoot outside buildings, specially after dark, and to always carry a flashlight/torch at night. Footwear is normally left outside all residential buildings; others vary. Most common footwear is leather, rubber or synthetic "chappals" (open flip-flops-cum-sandals), worn without socks.
Foreign exchange - see "Financial Service". Also "Bank".
Foundation - see "AV Foundation".
Free for all! - as a general policy, AV tries to provide as much as possible free of charge to its residents. This includes entertainment, health care, sports facilities, education, classes in yoga, dance, etc. Even food is provided free for those who can't afford to contribute. Aurovilians without any remaining financial resources of their own are taken care of fully by the township. A "Free Store" and one other unit, Nandini, provide free secondhand (and new) clothing for anyone in need.
Fundraising - there is no ongoing professional programme of fundraising in support of AV, though various ad hoc efforts have been and continue to be made in support of land purchase and other requirements.
Getting to AV - from Chennai, there are trains to Pondy, but best is to take a bus or taxi (taxis ordered from AV or Pondy will be cheaper than those taken from Chennai, and have the advantage of knowing their way around AV). From Pondicherry, there is a regular daily bus service to AV.
Green Belt - a protective Green Belt consisting of farms and forest land will eventually surround the township.
Guest Card - issued at AV Guest Service or Financial Service. Needed - or useful - for getting a pass to Matrimandir, free bus trips to Pondy, use of AV Library, entry to Repos beach facility, classes in hatha yoga, dance, martial arts, etc.
Guesthouses - there are many guest houses in AV. Prices vary according to the facilities and degree of comfort provided. Booking in advance is advised, specially during the peak visitor season of December-March.
Guest Service - located upstairs at the Solar Kitchen. Issues Guest Cards against 'Guest Contribution' payments (the Card is needed for visiting Matrimandir, use of AV Library, entry to Repos beach facility, etc); takes cash deposits for opening a Pour Tous account; provides information regarding events in Auroville and work opportunities; and generally tries to assist guests in every way. Opening times are Mon-Fri mornings 9.30am to 1pm. E-mail avguests@auroville.org.in 
Hairdressing/cutting - a service is provided in ARKA community for Aurovilians and guests.
Health facilities - AV has a main Health Centre open 6 days a week 8.30am-1pm and 2-4.30pm on the edge of Kuilapalayam village staffed by a team of allopathic and homeopathic doctors, and a Kailash Clinic which operates at short distance from Solar Kitchen area. A wide variety of alternative health therapies are also available at Quiet Healing Centre, located off the beach road on the way in to Pondy (open Mon-Sat mornings 8-12.30, afternoons 1.30-5. Sundays 10am-4pm). For more serious problems, there are major hospitals in Pondicherry and Chennai
Housing - there is always a shortage of residential accommodation in AV. Allocation of houses is handled by the AV Housing Service, who also see to the maintenance of many residential properties.
Human Unity - the achievement of an actual human unity in diversity is the prime purpose and aim of Auroville. A 'Centre for International Research in Human Unity' is under development.
Information sources - there are 3 main sources of information on AV, the 'Guest Service', the 'Matrimandir Information Kiosk' and the 'Visitors Centre'. See separate notes on each.
Inoculations/vaccination - best to seek professional medical advice in one's country of origin.
Inspiration for AV - see "Vision".
International Advisory Council - advises the Governing Board of the AV Foundation (see separate note) on matters relating to management and development of the AV township, as and when required.
International recognition & participation - AV is recognised around the world as the only ongoing internationally endorsed (by UNESCO) experiment in human unity. As such it receives donations and support from a wide variety of individuals, support groups and government and non-government organisations.
Internet - facilities are the same as listed under "E-mail".
Intranet - AV has its own internal networking facility, known as AVNet.
Joining AV - the process of joining AV is administered by the AV Entry Group. See also "Newcomers".
Laboratories - AV has 2 laboratories, one conducting medical tests at the main AV Health Centre, and an 'Environmental Monitoring' lab carrying out water and soil tests for purity and content at Aurobrindavan.
Labour relations - AV consciously maintains good working relations with its employees. Most units make an effort to provide a decent working environment, good salaries, bonuses, health insurance, and other benefits such as pension schemes, etc. The occasional dispute or problem arising is handled by an Aurovilian Village Liaison Group.
Land ownership/management - presently AV owns (through the AV Foundation) only approx half the total land needed to make up the township and surrounding Green Belt. A Land & Estate Management group looks after all land-related issues affecting the township.
Languages - although English is the common spoken language of Auroville, many people also communicate in French, Tamil and other major European languages. Classes in English, Tamil and Sanskrit are ongoing.
Laundry services - There is no collective laundry service ("dhobi" in India) as yet. Most individual houses employ someone to do their washing manually, plus ironing, though many houses now have washing machines. Each guest house has its own arrangement.
Libraries - the main AV Library is open Mon-Sat mornings 9-12.30, afternoons Wed & Fri 2-4.30pm. Books can be signed out by Aurovilians and Guest Card holders. Several other libraries exist around AV, mostly of a more specialised nature.
Management of AV - see "Organisation".
Martial arts - see "Classes".
Master Plan - a Perspective Master Plan for Auroville has been approved by the Govt of India, and is in process of being gradually implemented.
Matrimandir Information Kiosk - provides information and issues passes for entering the Matrimandir area and/or visiting the Gardens and Inner Chamber. (See also next item.)
Matrimandir visits - equipped with a Guest Card, people can get an entry pass to the Matrimandir area and Inner Chamber - plus information on timings, procedure, etc - at the Matrimandir Information Kiosk daily 8.45 am - 5.30 pm.
Medical facilities - see "Health facilities".
Meetings - meetings are a part of AV everyday life, and range in size from groups of people involved in a working group, service, commercial unit, zone or settlement, to full-scale Residents Assembly meetings, the latter sometimes attended by several hundred people. See also "Decision making".
Messenger Service - an internal AV service delivers messages all round AV on a daily basis (though not all settlements are visited daily).
Metal work - possible at AV's Aureka unit, near Aspiration.
Meteorological data - a small met station is maintained in the township area.
Money exchange - see "Financial Service" and "Bank".
Moped hire - see "Transport".
Mosquitoes - see "Wildlife/insects".
Mother & Sri Aurobindo - the inspiration for Auroville, plus the spiritual guidance given for its realisation, comes from Sri Aurobindo (Indian) and his spiritual co-worker The Mother (French, born as Mira Alfassa in Paris, but who joined Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry in 1920).
Museums - there is a small "museum" collection of excavated artifacts from the AV area, which can be seen by arrangement, and also a 'Seed Museum' at Pitchandikulam Bio-Resource Centre.
Music - regular in-house performances are given by Aurovilians and visiting artists. Classes are also offered to students on a variety of instruments.
Nationalities - over 40 nationalities are represented in AV.
Newcomers - all those joining AV are known as Newcomers until they have completed a probationary period, 1 year at the moment, and been accepted as Aurovilians.
Nurseries, Plant - there are a number of nurseries in AV supplying tree saplings, shrubs and other plants.
Organic agriculture - AV tries to grow all its food organically. It also encourages the same practices among local farmers, and strongly discourages the use of pesticides, specially on cashew crops.
Organisation - there is no fixed hierarchical structure in the internal organisation of AV. Day to day running of the community is mostly handled by a number of working groups covering areas like afforestation, finance, farms, health, education, entry into AV, and general community coordination, who operate with considerable autonomy. Major community decisions are usually taken at or endorsed by meetings open to all residents, wherein the preferred mode of decision is by consensus. The Residents Assembly (see separate note) selects a body - the Working Committee - from its members to liaise and work with the Governing Board of the AV Foundation, and a second body - the Executive Council - to deal with internal matters.
Ownership - all immovable assets of AV such as land and buildings are owned by the Auroville Foundation. Aurovilians have no right of ownership, only the right to occupy a residence they have constructed in AV - so long as they continue to be 'Aurovilian'. Newcomers are required to wait to the end of their probationary Newcomer period before constructing a residence in AV.
Payment - although the AV Boutique and most guest houses, restaurants and other facilities accept cash, there are an increasing number of places such as the Solar Kitchen, Coffee Shop, Pour Tous stall and Snack Bar where it is only possible to pay via a Pour Tous account. Guests are therefore advised to open an account on arrival, and at the same time get a Guest Card.
Pensions - there are no pension schemes for Aurovilians. The community simply takes responsibility for all its residents, and looks after them as best it can according to their needs and the means available. Pensions for employed workers are handled by individual units and/or a body called SEWA.
Petrol - there are no petrol bunks in AV. Nearest bunks are just to the north on the coast road, or in Pondy.
Pets - many people have dogs or cats. All pet owners have to be conscious of the risk of rabies and have their pets regularly vaccinated. See also "Veterinary service".
Pharmacy - a small pharmacy operates in AV at the main Health Centre, and a Dispensary in the settlement of New Creation.
Photocopying - public photocopying facilities are located at 2 sites in the township.
Planning - see "Town planning".
Plumbing - while most AV construction units employ a plumber, much of the general township work is carried out by AV Water Service plumbers.
Police - there are no police in AV. Security on the roads, and as required in other occasional circumstances, is provided by an 'AV Guard', formed of physically capable young Aurovilians and paid villagers. Matters occasionally requiring the involvement of the Indian Police are handled by an Aurovilian appointed to do the necessary liaison work.
Pony riding - possible by arrangement with the AV Pony Farm, 9-12am and 2-5pm.
Population - AV's population is constantly growing, but currently stands at just around 2315 people, from over 50 nations.
Post Offices - there are two Post Offices in AV, the main one at Bharat Nivas (open mornings 8.30-1.30, afternoons 2-4.30) and a sub Post Office near Pour Tous on the edge of Kuilapalayam village (open 10am-2pm).
Printing - depending on the material, type of printing required, quantities and timing, services are available from AV Press, AV Printers, Papyrus and PRISMA.
Problem solving - see "Arbitration".
Public/Press Relations - a small team of Aurovilians facilitates the visits of VIPs, journalists and film makers. For more info contact outreachmedia@auroville.org.in 
Publications - a number of weekly, monthly and quarterly publications are issued in AV.
Rabies - rabies is relatively common among village dogs, but rare in AV dogs thanks to the community's insistence on regular vaccination (mostly by an AV vet). All animal bites are considered potentially rabid, unless the history of the animal is known.
Reaching AV - see "Getting to AV".
Recycling - see "Waste treatment/sewage".
Registration/Residential Permit - non-Indians/foreigners planning to stay in AV for more than 6 months need to come to India with an Entry Visa (Tourist Visas cannot be converted, and usually expire after 6 months). All foreigners staying in AV must register with the immigration authorities, a procedure which is handled by AV's Visa Service. This eventually leads to issue of a Residential Permit, which has to be renewed on a regular basis..
Residents - see "Population".
Residents Assembly - one of the 3 bodies comprising the AV Foundation (see separate note), made up of all residents of AV over the age of 18.
Restaurants, cafes, etc - in addition to the possibility of taking lunch at a guest house or the Solar Kitchen (Mon-Sat 12.15-1.15pm, subject to booking beforehand), there are now many opportunities to take snacks, cool drinks and meals in and around AV.
Roads - apart from a narrow tarmac road running up from the coast and passing through the southern fringe of the township, all the roads, tracks and cycle paths throughout AV are dirt, so can be quite rough. They are dusty in summer and often muddy in winter. The main roads can also be full of erratic riders and drivers. Specially busy times for 2-wheelers are around 8 am and 4.30 pm when local employees arrive for work or go home respectively. 4-wheelers are most active around 2.30-4.00 pm (when people come up from Pondy for the Visitors Centre and Matrimandir) and 5.00-6.00 pm when the same people go home. Drivers are often reckless, and it pays to be careful! Cyclists are advised to use the specially created system of cycle paths.
Salaries - Aurovilians are not permitted to earn a salary by Indian Govt regulations. Instead most receive a "maintenance" from the unit or service they work for, sufficient to meet their most basic needs. Many Aurovilians take no remuneration at all from the community, maintaining themselves entirely out of their own funds as a contribution towards the township, though they still contribute monthly to the Central Fund.
Schools - there are a number of schools (plus kindergarten) providing education in AV up to pre-college level, some for Aurovilian children and some for local children.
Security - although Auroville is generally a peaceful and safe place, but theft is not uncommon specially in settlements close to the nearby villages, and there have been occasional incidents on the roads over the years. Women are specially advised not to walk or cycle alone anywhere after dark.
Self sufficiency - this is AV's aim, but the township is still far from achieving it.
Seminars - see "Conferences & Seminars".
Shops & Boutiques - AV's main retail outlet, the "Pour Tous" store near Aspiration, provides a wide range of fresh fruit, veg and other foodstuffs together with dry goods. More externally oriented shops are the AV Boutique located at the Visitors Centre (with branch in Pondy) and Wild Seagull bookshops (at the Visitors Centre and near Aspiration). Most Aurovilians, for their own day-to-day hausehold needs, participate in the "New PourTous" scheme, a sort of collective buying, based on a monthly voluntary fee.
Snakes - yes, there are snakes in AV, but only 4 of the over 50 species indigenous to south India are poisonous. Snakes generally avoid humans whenever possible, and meanwhile are appreciated for the important role they play in rodent control.
Solar energy usage - see "Alternative energy systems".
Sound pollution - there are occasional parties in AV involving loud music. More frequent sources of amplified sound are temple festivals, weddings and various other social functions in the villages, which usually involve loud music from as early as 4-to-5 am.
Spiritual life - all Aurovilians are expected to live a spiritually based and motivated life, though this does not mean that they put it into practice in any overt and obvious way e.g. collective meditations, etc. It is an inner discipline, pursued by each individual according to his/her personal understanding and commitment.
Sports facilities - there is a wide range of sports facilities spread around AV, some connected with the schools and some of a more open/generally accessible nature.
Sri Aurobindo - see "Mother & Sri Aurobindo".
Sun protection - people are advised not to under-estimate the strength of the Indian sun. Anyone not used to it should minimise exposure and use sun-block creams.
Support for AV - in addition to being endorsed by UNESCO and supported and encouraged by the Govt of India, AV receives support from many other sources in India and abroad, including government and non-government organisations, specialist agencies, Auroville International groups and private individuals.
Sustainable development - this is the overall physical aim of AV, which is reflected in much of the research, forestry and agricultural work done in and around the township.
Swimming/beach - there is an AV-administered beach facility with security guards and snack bar at Repos, open daily 9am-6pm (cool drinks & snacks 9.30am-5pm). This is accessible to guests and visitors on production of a Guest Card. Women are advised to wear modest one-piece swimming costumes, not bikinis.
Tailoring services - offered via AV's Free Store and Nandini unit.
Tamil culture - AV, which is located in the State of Tamil Nadu, is supportive of Tamil culture and is in process of establishing a 'Centre for Tamil Heritage & Culture' in the Indian Cultural Pavilion compound of Bharat Nivas. Tamil is taught in all AV schools, and classes are given to adults interested to learn this ancient language. Most long-time Aurovilians can communicate in Tamil.
Taxes - although AV is required to pay House Tax and other publically imposed taxes, there is no system of internal taxation. Tax exemption for Indian donors is possible for certain types of donation to the AV Foundation.
Taxis - see "Transport".
Telephones - some 800 numbers are now operating in AV, listed in a comprehensive AV Telephone Directory together with e-mail addresses. Most foreign telecommunication equipment is compatible, so people coming to AV and wanting to use Western-purchased phones, etc (usually cheaper than if purchased in India), can safely do so (except UK or Swiss equipment). Meanwhile, there is an AV Public Call Office with ISD and STD facilities (billing is computerised), for use of visitors/guests at New Creation Corner, open Mon-Sat 8.30am-12pm, Sundays 10am-10pm.
Therapies - see "Health facilities".
Tips & gratuities - these are not required or expected within AV, specially where Aurovilians are concerned, but anyone wishing to express appreciation of employed staff in this way is welcome to do so. In the case of guest houses, best is to give something to the House Manager, who will put it in a communal box for sharing out later.
Toilets (public) - toilets easily accessible to the public are at Visitors Centre, Bharat Nivas, Matrimandir Information Kiosk, Solar Kitchen, New Creation Corner and Pour Tous.
Town Hall - It is currently constituted of 3 buildings, the main one housing among others, the Financial Service, L'Avenir d'Auroville, the Housing service, the Land Service, Security, and various Groups, like the Working Group, AV Council, AFMC, etc, plus the Auroville Radio. A second building, named Multimedia centre, houses the Media offices (Outreach, News & Notes, Web office, AV traductions, plus the Residents Service, the Enthry Service, Video and Music libraries, and the 150-seats "Paradiso" movie theatre.
The third building houses the offices of the Secretary and the Foundation. A French-style cafeteria, "Le Norman" is also hosted among the buildings.
Town planning - development of the AV township according to its Government-approved Perspective Master Plan is coordinated by the AV Development Group in collaboration with the Governing Board of the AV Foundation.
Translations - as is to be expected in an 'international' township project, many cross-language translation possibilities exist. Best professional service is provided by 'Avitra'.
Transport - most common form of personal transport for Aurovilians is by cycle or motorcycle, though some people now have cars (generally discouraged). The AV Transport Service runs daily bus trips to Pondy for Aurovilians and Guest Card holders 3 times a week, starting from Verite and stopping at Town Hall, Matrimandir, Solar Kitchen, Certitude, Kuilapalayam, Last School, ECR corner, Quiet. Cycles and moped/scooter hire is possible for ease of transportation around Auroville, and taxis can be ordered when required, from within AV or from Pondy, for getting around locally or for trips to Pondy or further afield.
Travel agent - AV's 'Travel Shop', located at the Kuilapalayam Browsing Centre, is open Mon-Sat mornings 9-12.30, afternoons 1.30-5.
Trusts - there are some 16 business trusts operating under the AV Foundation.
Vehicle hire - see "Transport".
Veterinary service - AV has a fully qualified vet living and working in the community. There is also a good clinic based in the AV area which provides a comprehensive service for pets and other animals; a small dedicated team of Aurovilians who endeavour to take care of and vaccinate sick or untended village dogs; and a self-trained expert in the care and rehabilitation of sick or injured birds.
Video lending library - for a small monthly charge, videos can be taken out for home viewing from an AV Video Library at Pitanga, Samasti community.
Video making/filming - visitors/guests are free to film as much as they like for private purposes, but require permission to film anything for public viewing. For more info contact outreachmedia@auroville.org.in  There are a number of Aurovilian individuals and units involved in video film making in the township.
Village relations - AV has an active 'Village Action Group' working with the local villages, which handles liaison work when required. Other village-related work is done by 'Palmyra', AV's 'Harvest' Water Service and 'AV Clean'.
Visas - as visa requirements vary by nationality, it's best to check in one's country of origin well before departure. Normally a Tourist Visa is issued, and remains valid for 6 months. Anyone thinking of coming to AV for a longer period, or indefinitely, needs an Entry Visa.
Visitors Centre - visitors and guests newly arrived in AV are encouraged to go first to the Visitors Centre, where there is an Information Service with exhibition and literature, a video viewing facility, an Auroville Boutique selling AV products, and a Cafeteria. Passes for visiting the Matrimandir are also issued there for day visitors. Opening times are 9-1 and 1.30-5.30 on weekdays and 9.30-1 and 2-5 on Sundays.
Voltage - see "Electricity".
Waste treatment/ sewage - there is no collective sewage system. All waste from toilets is treated via septic tank systems. Other waste water, from showers and basins, is either fed into the ground via a soak pit (usually one per house) or is treated for further use (in gardens, but not for drinking/domestic needs) in water treatment plants using aquatic plants to remove toxins and other chemicals. Solid waste is mostly collected in each sub-community by way of a set of 40-gallon drums for glass, plastic, metal and paper, all of which is then collected for recycling by a local contractor. Leaf and garden waste is mostly used for composting. Batteries are collected separately and disposed of via a central facility. Visitors to AV are specially asked not to drop waste material along the roads, or anywhere else in the township area.
Water - all water is pumped up from aquifers below ground. It usually comes up pure and clear, but once it gets into the local tanks and piping systems it can become unsafe for drinking, so people are advised only to drink filtered water or commercially bottled water. All AV settlements have their own overhead tank and water distribution system, some using a shared communal tank, others using individual house tanks. AV has a 'Water Service' which maintains wells and infrastructure, and a laboratory which carries out water purity tests.
What is AV? - AV is an international-universal township in the making, for a population of up to 50,000 people from around the world. It is the world's first and only internationally recognised experiment in human unity, also concerned with - and practically researching into - the future cultural, environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind. It has been endorsed by UNESCO, and receives the full support and encouragement of the Govt of India, its host nation.
Where is AV? - AV is located adjacent to the Coromandel Coast, approx 160 kms south of Chennai and 10 kms north of Pondicherry.
Wildlife/insects - the plentiful insect and wildlife around AV reflects a healthy environment. Most insects and creatures encountered are totally harmless. The only advisable protection is against mosquitoes, by way of a repellant, specially from 5.30pm onwards.
Wind energy usage - see "Alternative energy systems".
Yoga - all Aurovilians are expected to be interested in the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, and most are attempting to put it into practice according to their individual level of development. From time to time classes are given on the subject. There are also ongoing scheduled classes in Hatha Yoga.
Zones - the AV township plan incorporates 4 specially designated areas surrounding the central Matrimandir - the International, Cultural, Industrial and Residential Zones.

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