Learning to Drive a Scooter on Dirt Roads and Against Traffic in Auroville

Me and my scooter in Auroville
Me and my scooter in Auroville

Though it’s only a mile or so from the main road, Sadhana Forest is a bit of a trek to get to and from: especially when the sun is beating down. As such, Carrie and I joined most other volunteers and rented a scooter for under $2 a day during our time there. Whether it’s to get ice cream or some other non-vegan snack, explore nearby towns, relax on the beach, visit Auroville or just cruise for a bit, the scooter afforded us the freedom to do what we wanted without being a slave to overpriced taxis or the schedules of others.

Our first ride was a bit dicey, as neither of us had ever driven a scooter before, let alone on the opposite side of the road before. It took about ten minutes before we had our first little crash while trying to cross traffic and make a sharp turn on dirt. It was not in front of traffic, but of course a handful of locals were there to watch the show.

Early jitters aside, I fell completely in love with our scooter and can see why motorcycles have such a cult following. That said, I also see how dangerous they are and have no need to drive one back home. In Sadhana the joy was half having the freedom to get out when I wanted and half the thrill of the wind in my face. That, and caravaning was a favorite past time of volunteers. One night we had a string of eight scooters driving in a line home all honking and passing each other. Too much fun!

Pushing our bikes through the mud
Pushing our bikes through the mud

The comical highlight of our scooter experience came after a torrential rain storm that lasted all day. Stir crazy and craving ice cream, a bunch of us decided to brave the muddy mile to the main road. We paired up two to a scooter and set off, slipping, sliding and laughing our way through puddles and inches of mud. At times one person per scooter had to walk while other times it was two to a vehicle.

In the end, six scooters made it out of the mud road without incident and the caravan headed to a bakery for some croissants and cheese. We never did make it to get ice cream as the sky was darkening and we feared mud driving at night. Our accident-free track record continued until the final curve before arriving back at Sadhana, which was a giant mud pool that, despite not having Carrie on the bike, caused me to skid out and fall ass-first into the puddle. After a classic laugh first, ask questions later, experience, Carrie came over and helped get the bike off of me and I proceeded to walk it the final hundred feet home.

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