Workshop – Cuckoo School, 6-15 July 2015

June 7th, 2015. It has been more than 20 months now.. I remember the day very well!

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There was a sudden sense of calmness when I first visited Cuckoo. Seemed like another world. Life here was at nature´s pace. This is the tree where it all began.

My Auroville roommate – Jeremie Gaudin (Madeinearth.in), Senthil Kumar and I sat down on a mat on the mud floor of the beautiful little hut. A small chicken jumped over my lap. A dog was lazily resting by the corner. They said a baby tortoise was slowly moving across the room behind my back.

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Peter Anna, one of the stalwarts of the Cuckoo movement for children walked in and sat down with us. Peter Anna spoke briefly yet clearly about their dream of the future cuckoo school. A blackboard isnt needed.. rather lets have a place that would help connect with the land. A place to see the sun rise and set, to feel the breeze blowing through the land, to hear and observe the birds perched on the trees nearby.  He asked a volunteer to go fetch a notebook. Peter Anna placed out a sketch of his dream, the clarity and completeness of architectural thought in his sketch was striking!

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It was brilliant! All we had to do was give it build-able form. Inspired by this first conversation, Jeremie and I stepped out to sit under the holy tree, to talk about the idea. Energy and ideas were flowing like magic!

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Within half an hour we came up with a quick drawing that looked like this. A simple hexagon with an adobe segmental dome above thick adobe walls. A patio surrounding the hexagon.. and possibly a second level with a rope as a staircase through the floor.

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We decided to take it to Peter Anna. We had just given geometry to his sketch.  We walked out to select the place and visualize the space with arms stretched out.

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Meanwhile, the tools to mark the site were collected simple Jute rope and some sharpened wooden stakes were all that were needed.

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Peter Anna touched the ground and whispered a small prayer. He kissed the ground at the place where the first stake was to be placed. The center of the hexagon was struck on the very day.

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We talked about building the school as a workshop inviting volunteers, the kind of thought that had brought us to cuckoo in the first place. (Thanks to this workshop and Senthil). The super talented Shruthi Ramakrishna made this killer poster the week after. Jeremie and Shruthi along with Senthil brought together the most special group of souls together for the building event. What happened after is history. I havent been there enough in person to write about it.

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Here is a slideshow of photos Ive found from facebook. Credits go to Vinodh Baluchamy, Kaveer Rai, Balamurali Krishnan, Senthil, Jayshree and Madeinearth.in.

A lot of bridges were built and burned that summer of 2015. I am yet to walk over those built bridges. I am yet to reconcile with the broken ones. My hands are shaking writing this. My knees are weak. I am still working on my flaws. But I learnt life´s most important lesson from Cuckoo School.

I still feel real and vulnerable, like a kid. That day indeed was my first day at school.

Thank you Cuckoo School. I love you all so much!

 

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