The Hindu: Documenting life in the city of dawn


First-person account: Yatra Sirukathaikal explores how Auroville transformed into township.

Yatra Srinivassan’s short stories records the change in culture and landscape over the years

Riding through the canopy of trees in Auroville is a pleasure in itself. But learning about the lives and nuances that breathe life into this space would change the way we look at a tourist destination.

Yatra Srinivassan, a resident of Kuyilapalayam who has been a witness to the changing landscape, life and culture, has penned down his impressions, emotions and presented it through his collection of short stories.

Recently released by Meenakshi from Auroville’s Tamil Heritage Centre, Yatra Sirukathaikal is a collection of 15 short stories. “Our forefathers grew cashew crops. When Auroville was established, my father began working in a handmade paper unit of the Ashram. I work as a screenwriter, actor and theatre director. There have been so many changes in the lives of people, in the environment and culture,” he says.

Having witnessed the change over two to three generations, he says: “I have seen how a barren land was turned to a green and pleasant land. After Auroville was established, stormwater drains and waste water management was introduced in the villages.”

He adds: “All my short stories record this and also observes how once a peaceful village with disciplined people now has alcoholics. Apart from this, I have witnessed the transformation in culture, changes from joint families to nuclear families and how the village is adapting to the global changes. The stories are also about the village festivals, the buildings that have taken the place of neem trees.”

After completing BA in Economics, Mr. Srinivassan pursued a diploma in film direction. He says that all the stories have been written in local dialect, and topics that are very close to his heart and emotional. S. Arunan of Kabilan Publications has published this collection of short stories.

S. Senthalir

(originally published in The Hindu – DECEMBER 19, 2017)