Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pondicherry (I love that name so much!)

Chika's Blog Monday November 27, 2006 Pondicherry-the beautiful former french colony of India!
I'm back!!! gosh have i missed writing good stories here.... So, if you're wondering what i've been up to this weekend or before that, go get your drink or whatever it is that you eat when on the internet, cos i'm about to take you on another wonderful adventure in Incredible India!~!
So, my flatmate and i, a swedish girl and another friend, a german decide to head of to the east coast of india, a place called pondicherry (i love that name so much!), a former french colony of india. We set off by bus at bout 10:50pm friday night the 24th and arrive in Pondy by 5am in the morning. We didn't realise how close it was to Bangalore, so we figured we'd arrive at bout 7:30am, which by then would be daylight enough to find our way around wrong we were... in 6hours, we were awakened by the bus conductor shouting some words, in a language i know not!
So, we got down from the bus, and spotted a nearby joint or whatever, where there were a couple of old men reading the morning paper by 5am, dressed in their traditional attire, called the lungi (not sure of that spelling)!! -its basically just a cloth wrapped round their waist, that goes down to the leg, but they usually fold it in 2 to aid movement, so it stops just above their knees! kinda weird. Anyways, we asked to sit down there so that we could pore through the lonely planet and decide on which hotel or guest house to stay for one night.
Now, for those of you that haven't heard bout the Lonely planet, let me divert a lil and brief u on the purpose of the lonely planet. It is a travel book, infact its not just a book, it's a bible! i have never in my life seen any book like this, that gives such indepth info from the prices of hotel rooms to cabs, to restaurants, best things to see, and what not to see...infact, we rely so much on this book, that if u go to a place and it's not in the lonely planet, then it's not worth going to.
We got a rickshaw, then started our 1hour search for a hotel to stay. As this time of the year is monsoon in Pondy, we expected to be able to find a place quite easily, but once again, we were wrong. Pondicherry is a getaway from the hassles of busy city life...the atmosphere is so relaxing, the peopel laid back, and the food to die for! As were drove down to the hotel, we got a chance to take in the beauty of the environment, interconnecting boulevards, with french colonial houses beautifully painted and well mapped streets, spotlessly clean.
To our dismay, there were no rooms available! so, we sat in the rickshaws and dialled the numbers of all the hotels in the lonely planet, only to be told that they were fully booked! eventually, we ended up in a hotel recommended by our rickshaw driver...which turned out to be aight...except for when it was time to check out! that in itself is another story...i'm getting there though.
Not to drag the story for too long, we spent our saturday going to the paradise beach, but we had to go on a boat trip to get to the beach through the back waters! it wasn't as exciting as it sounds, but the scenery was beautiful regardless.
After that, we went to buy our return tickets back to bangalore for sunday night, only to be told that all tickets were sold out! we sat at the travel office contemplating whether to get on the night bus of the same day back to bangalore as that was our only option, the travel agency got a call, and someone cancelled 3 tickets!! can u imagine our luck.
We then went to treat ourselves to some good french cuisine, and then a beauty spa for a facial, which i absolutely enjoyed! Later on in the evening, we met up with a friend of a friend who's from Pondy, and he took us to an amazing hotel where we had a buffet dinner, and i must mention that this was the best buffet i'd ever had in my entire life!! the food was delicious!!! consisting of south indian non-vegetarian dishes, with french cuisine, all for a very affordable price by the way.
We were bursting by the time we finished the 3course meal, and then we headed for a walk by the promenade. Unfortunately, Pondy has a beach that is devoid of sand, and only rocks that lead right down to the strong waves and currents of the sea,so there was no getting close to the water. Interestingly though, Pondy was hit by the tsunami that occured in 2004, so i felt strange to be in a place that was hit by the tsunami, though only certain parts were hit,and not the entire city...
I have to mention at this point that indians never fail to live up to expectations of getting just that extra cash out of the hands of as we tried to check out of our hotel, we faced a major crisis that resulted in yelling and curses and bitter words exchanged, including the security being called to prevent us from leaving the hotel...we were asked to pay twice the amount of our room for spending an extra 4hours in the room, can you imagine??!!! in the end, we paid the original amount plus another half of the amount, due to the incompetence of the hotel staff and misinformation given to us, but not without us bearing our minds and lashing our tongues at the manager and even the owner of the restaurant!
Finally, the highlight of our trip was going to Auroville...a place created by man as an experiment of Human unity. Auroville is about 12kms from Pondy, and is a project aimed at human unity, whereby different nationalities co-exist in harmony regardless of race. Needless to say that the entire place felt spooky and unreal to me. It seemed like something right out of a spielberg movie or for those who have watched the movie - The beach. Anyways, auroville has about 35 nationalities of people from all over the world, living in a forest!! it was a project founded in 1967 by a french lady of half turkish, half egyptian descent, who was called "The Mother". They basically occupied a barren land, grew loads of trees to discourage de-forestation and then the aurovillians as they call themselves, live in houses entirely from the contribution of followers of this project. The entire "project"is based on donations from members worldwide.
Every single item or product in auroville is made by auroville, from clothes to bags to incense et al. Even more interesting is the water they drink which is called Dynamised water - that is, water that has been treated through a 6step process, which seems normal until the 6th process where gems or flowers are utilised as the final process depending on the purpose for which the water is needed. Also, the water has to be stored ina special plastic tank, and music is played to the water to give it a peaceful state - apparently evident in the crystal as stated by "the people".
The atmosphere in auroville is not a welcoming one, and everything seems weird and distorted in a strange's hard to explain, only better felt. Also, the largest crystal lens in the entire world is found in this village, made entirely from gold...used as a meditation point for the aurovillans and only they have access to the inside of this maginificent structure. Tourists have to settle for a view of the exterior only. As for the aurovillans way of life, most of them are in live-in relationships with their partners, teenage kids dating each other and more or less exchanging partners!
I sure was glad when we got out of that place, after having a nice dinner though! So folks, that's my story of this weekend! hope u enjoyed it see y'all soon for another round! Posted by kaka at 13:31 Permanent Link Comments (2)

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