Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pondicherry

Friday, August 26th, 2005
7 pm: I get a call from Nidhi, "we are going to Pondicherry, have to leave before 8:30, you say yes..." and I say," this is so unexpected, I’m not prepared at all, maybe if you planned before..., I’ll call you back." Two minutes later I call her," what time are we leaving?"

11 pm: The "vehicle" arrives at the guys' flat. It’s an amazing little minibus and to our surprise, we find a TV screen & VCD player!! We take the bus to my place to get some movies.
And then the journey starts with the lucky number of 13 people...
Some photographs, arguments about which movie / song to play and the driver getting irritated changing cds, increasing / reducing the volume... Around 3 am I fall almost asleep...

Saturday, 27th August
6 am: I wake up to find that it’s been raining. First thought in my head," I missed the sunrise". We get down & click some pictures at the border of the city. "Say hello to Pondicherry!!"

We reach near the ashram and hunt for possible places to stay, looking for the cheapest option. So we find a dorm where we can stay till 6 pm, free of cost!

11 am: Post shower & breakfast, Stop 1: Aurobindo Ashram - a place that has unusual and beautiful little flower gardens. A little walk through different rooms finally takes me to the Samadhi. A tranquil place under the shade of a tree, where some people are meditating. A place which is silent, but not still. No one seems to be in a hurry, yet everyone seems to have a sense of purpose. I sit and observe for a while, trying to soak in the peace, when the group's patience finally starts evaporating... A quick search for the history of Sri Aurobindo, but no results.

Next Stop: Hotel
We dump our stuff at Hotel Kanchi & head to the bike rental shop. 7 out of the group know how to ride, so no problem. About an hour, some test rides and some pictures later, we realize how hungry we are and head to the French Colony in hopes of finding "authentic French cuisine". Not finding place on the terrace of a sea side restaurant, we reach another place, which looks very similar to the one in the movie, 'Jism'. Coincidentally, a song from the same movie is playing in the restaurant as we enter. Some people decide to leave, finding very little vegetarian food. The rest of us make a bad decision of staying, proved by the tiny quantity of food whose size and taste is inversely proportional to its price. Anyway, as I finish the meal with lots of ice & water, I decide to eat 'satsa tikau' idlis for the rest of the trip. Something I soon forget...

Next Stop: Auroville. Rahul Negi had told us about his friend, Riaz, who has a cafe and who, hopefully can take us to some nice party in the jungle. A 10km drive later, we reach, but don't find him. The thought bubble of the party pops. Disappointed... Anyway, the beach is just around 200 m from here.

The first sight of the ocean can't be described in words. It’s a weird combination of excitement and peace..! The cameras come out and the shoes come off. Lots of pictures clicked, lots of shells collected, lots of sand in my clothes..
Something weird about me is that when I am close to nature, my mind turns philosophical.. I sit aside and try to soak in the experience.

7 pm: Time to go back. We wonder how we will go back with sand scraping every inch of our skin. The journey back is accompanied by some laughs, jokes and, well, a lot of discomfort!

Dinner time: We find this small "North Indian" dhaba where all the curries have the same color, but we all are impressed by their hospitality. Thought in my head," lunch compensated".

Post dinner, we go to the beach and sit at the wall at the edge. This one is a rocky beach and the waves splash against them time & again. We sit and chat, and discuss how the waves are moving. I lie down on the wall and watch the waves, not wanting to close my eyes for a second, it is so fascinating. 12 o' clock, I wake up, we have to go back to the hotel. We decide to come again at 5 am to watch the sunrise, while I'm thinking,” I don't think I'll come".

Sunday, 28th August
8:30 am: Neha wakes me up and the first thought in my head is “I’m sure no one went to the beach this morning". We get dressed and go for breakfast while others go to return the scooties. Today, the people decide to go on bicycles. Nidhi & I can't ride se we have to sit on carriers of bikes with Manish & Hitesh. Afterthought," I should have got a pillow..."

More photographs and we head to a church. It is a nice and quiet place that needs renovation. Upon entering, the first thing I see is the stained glass windows in vibrant colors. Some photographs, trying to take the best view. I sit down again and try to soak in the peace.

Next Stop: "Ferry ride". Someone tells us that ferry rides are towards Auroville, so we bravely set off again, realizing only later how tiring it is. This time we meet Riaz and he tells us that no ferry rides here, they are 10km on the other side of Pondicherry. Disappointed again. But no problem, the beach is here. All of us are extremely hungry by now so we go to this beautiful place, Eden, which has small thatched roofed seating areas and we find that cottages here are much better and cheaper. Well, good tip for the next time.

6 pm: We finish our lunch (or dinner?) and head to the beach again. Lots of dead fish strewn about. So that's where the smell was coming from in the restaurant.

This time I decide not to get soaked. But the sea doesn't listen to you, does it?
Post sunset, we all reluctantly leave. The journey back is, well, quite painful. Believe me; never sit on a bicycle carrier when you have sand in your pants! We form a straight line so that no one gets lost and it’s quite a sight. All this while, Nidhi & I feel so bad for the guys...

8 pm: We reach back and suddenly everyone remembers that they have to shop before leaving. Prioritize - shopping or Ganesha temple? A quick round at the temple precedes shopping. People have found a factory outlet here. I start wondering...
Anyway, since Hitesh & I don't have to shop, we go to the wall to see the ocean. It’s always beautiful...

Time to go back.
10 pm: We all leave from the hotel to go to the border where after reaching, I realize, I don't have my cell phone. Lots of phone calls and an hour later, we head back to Bangalore. Thought in my head," I wonder if I could get that old small phone from Delhi".

29th August 1 am: We stop at a dhaba for snacks and coffee and try to check my phone again. Someone calls up and takes my address. Hope to get my phone back...

While most people are at the dhaba, we click some pictures on top of the bus and quickly get down before others come back : )

I fall asleep in the middle of the movie playing in the bus.

6 am: I wake up to find we are close to HSR Layout. All set to go back to home sweet home. Thought in my head," Am I going to give my presentation in class today...? I wonder."

2 comments:

Katherine said...

I have been to Riaz restaurant too! His restaurant wasn't built properly when I was there in 2000. What is it like now?

sirish said...

i've been to pondy bout half dozen times..will keep goin bak there. there r so many places to explore, cusines to try n lanes to get lost in........