Travel to Pondicherry

Travel Pondicherry
Oft I had thought that I would put down in words the wonderful experiences that I had on my various travels in South India . Perhaps it will make a whole book like 'chronicles of my travels in South India'. But I realized writing is indeed a difficult task and it is much more difficult when you set expectations. I traveled with my friends, colleagues , have lovely memories , have taken innumerable pictures but beneath all that lies the salient missing point , what did I really see ?
Memories are sweet, and especially so when the recollections are not so vivid and you try to knead the thread and join the events and the laughter, to compose the whole journey. And when your old friends have gone away , some by choice ,some by company and some out of reach you may stoop down to wonder why even write such a blog of memories , when the real appreciation of your co -travelers is absent , when they've moved so far that even recollection fails the brilliant. But it’s actually the meaningless chatter, the subject less debate or the obstinate hypocrisy of megalomania and magical touch of the sweet pain in quarrels that is more important than recording the minutes of meeting or reporting the chronicles in travel and living. Because life is not recording the minutes or reporting the memoirs. Life is not making business out of your life. It’s about living .STOP.

Thus we suddenly planned to go to Pondicherry. It was Su, me, Mia and Su's friend. On Thursday Mia booked the cab as usual. But it was a Indica this time 'cause we were only 4 people. Initially I was a bit weary of the thought of traveling 300 kms by an Indica, for that’s the cool journey between Bangalore and Pondicherry. It seems that if it hits a speed breaker at even a moderate velocity then the impact can be fatal and the next day local newspaper headlines will mourn the bereaved who were supposedly traveling at a breakneck speed and they have no necks to hold their heads and they kept their brains inside their pockets before they started the tour. No one draws the fact that 99% ( can even give a reliability ranking ) of speed breakers are actually local people or overtly motivated individuals or workers of telephone et all and others who have dug up the precious tar to put some cable line or whatever . If you try to intervene or comment on this irrational or probably unplanned digging on arterial roads and lanes then they'll suddenly act Hebrew and spew venom as if untouchable bongs, the fish to flesh eating dickheads are the worst specimens of humans walking on earth. But no, I have no intent of putting my finger in other people's noses. So I just stayed calm and finally on Friday I scampered back from work to collect my luggage and rations for the journey. Mia finally arrived at 9 o clock when I was starting to get a bit smoked out. We had a hasty dinner expecting the car to be at the door by 10 pm. However I got engrossed in a History Channel Telefilm ' Escape from Sobibur' where they were subtly showing the grisly events of Sobibur a Nazi post during World War 2.
But then, finally, at last the cab came, me and Mia got on to pickup Su & her friend. I jumped in to capture the side seat of the driver cause I didn't want to sit in a yogic position all night beside 2 gals. However Mia was lucky, we found Su's friend was not coming. Her Dad advised her to remain away from unknown guys in a private vehicle. I wonder with a little more respect she must have dreamed of planet (M) being a little worthy of trust. Soon our expert Sathisha (our driver) launched us on a short cut directly from ITPL to Anekal via some prehistoric road, whose ruins we witnessed quite a bit through the laborious journey. Finally around 12:30 or so we reached Anekal junction, our very own Hosur Road.
Soon we were on the TN(Tamil Nadu) border. We smoked and labored to make ourselves comfortable inside the vehicle while Satisha went to pay the TN state entry tax of 250 bucks. He returned a good 40 minutes late.

The next few hours of the journey were mostly monotonous. Our car left the Hosur road for NH 66. From then almost the road was almost a scary one. I was hardly able to blink and I glanced left and right to find out how the road ahead was. Fortunately we got a welcome break at a road side tea stall. We all had a tall glass of tea, really tall. I suspect whether they same glasses in summer to double up to serve juice.
Finally around 5.00 AM in the morning we finally entered the long cherished Union Territory, Pondicherry whose new name is PUDUCHERRY.
We decided to go straight to the beach hoping to catch the elusive morning sun. It was not long before the sunrise happened behind the low lying clouds and we caught the first sight of the morning light almost with a trance. We sat there on the rocky sea shore amidst a few bottles of coke and chips packets I say which provided a pissy stench. However as soon as we were out of the trance and turned back we noticed the city has bustled up to life and screaming honking autos are making the most of the marine drive.
We then started on the most difficult part of the trip, finding a proper accommodation. We went to hotel Suguru and some other hotel where Satisha took us ( ask him I was a nifty bit scared from the appearance of the hotels – it put up an appearance of too obvious thriftiness which I suspected will burn a hole in our pockets ). We were lucky ‘ol bastards when we found these to be fully booked. Finally we got a fairly budget hotel White Residency where we paid 550 rupees for an AC double room.
Then we got refreshed and had some real nice Masala Dosa at the hotel restaurant. Although I should say they waste too many onions to make us cry over the Dosa, in an effort to make it spicy I guess. Most of the smelly part of the Dosa was hence left aside by all three of us. Next we helped ourselves to some wonderful tea and then we started strolling lazing in an effort to catch the essence of the life of Pondicherry. However we chose a wrong route to the bus stand and finally reached there after a laborious walk in the sizzling morning sun. Then we hired a ride on an auto and finally reached a Botanical Garden which we found to be one of the nearest places to visit.
However the Botanical gardens opened a good 45 mins after we reached there. Thanks to the ‘Wholesale liquor house’ in front of the gardens and opens at earthly hours that we managed to get a bottle of aqua to quench our thirst.
Finally the gates opened and we found surprisingly no entry tickets to the gardens. However we soon realized there was indeed nothing much too see. We were just like a group of honeybees who were least interested in the specimens of the gardens but to view the nature at its best. Surprisingly it seemed as if the gardens were host to some Ministers birthday party with bottles and food packets and every bit of trash thrown awry at every bit and part of the gardens. There were workers working and lazily removing the nails on the bamboo structures.

After a short while and some pics in the gardens we went back to the residence and shortly thereafter Su’s bro arrived with his friend.

We got ready around 1 pm in the afternoon and set out for lunch. Fortunately White Residency had a pretty good A/C Restaurant. We had some really nice fried rice and chicken. Although I would have preferred to take a pure S. Indian meal which is very satisfying to me especially when the place is unknown I am quite sure that it will have a few basic things to beat the heat of the day. While returning from coorg I remember having an excellent meal for just 15 bucks and that too with an omlette as a supplement.
Nevertheless the restaurant did not disappoint us. After a hearty meal we set out to see the ‘Aurobindo Ashram’. I never saw any pictures or read anything about the ashram. I had only heard a bit from people but nothing much. I was surprised to find that it was a very quiet nice place where the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo is kept. We had to leave our slippers & shoes outside. As we entered it appeared me that this was the house Aurobindo had stayed and lived his life after his retirement from active politics of the Indian National Movement. I saw the place where the Samadhi was kept. People were kneeling and praying and flowers were kept on that. Although I was not very comfortable with the idea of praying someone, when I had in reality prayed no one in life like this before. I believe he was in the hearts of people who followed his principles of life and his teachings. I had also visited Vivekanada rock earlier, that also in Tamil Nadu but I did not observe the phenomenon of praying there.
Anyway putting aside my questions I moved on to a little house library which now doubles up as a bookstore where I found an interesting book on Gita written by Sri Aurobindo himself . I also bought a small book of stories of a cat told by Sri Mata, about whom I had no idea, but I guess she was the most prominent disciple of Sri Aurobindo.

Next we saw the living room of Sri Aurobindo which still holds some basic furniture. After that we just moved out with a nice serene feeling.

After that we decided to go to Matrimandir which is a short distance outside the city. After taking directions from a few locals and a brief travel via the marine drive we were on our way to the Matrimandir. Somewhere we got soon and found that passes (i.e. free tickets) to the Matrimandir are already given and we have to come back on Sunday the next day. However we decided to spend a little time in that joint which seemed was hosting a Music Band that night and the band members were setting up their gear. I moved on to the first floor of the restaurant and boutique complex to capture a good view of the place. It seemed like a new entertainment complex far from the maddening crowd with foreigners (read as mostly Europeans & Americans maybe) thronging to get an essence of Indian life and culture. It still did not make sense to me why they were there and what they were actually doing. Doesn’t it sound like ‘Chilling out in Chennai ‘, probably one of the biggest oxy-‘moronic’ statement of modern times. Anyway after a rapid photo session we returned to the vehicle crossed the road and reached a very dirty sea shore. I was informed that the better part of the shore and the way to reach the sea shore was reserved for foreigners (read who paid sufficient) through another way maybe some sort of beach resort.
After a quiet photo session there too we returned to the main City and found a nice Café shop just on a lane beside the main sea shore. We spent a long time even after our tea was finished and enjoyed the sea breeze.

Then we walked a little to see some street theatre going on, Ramayana probably. The guys had dressed up like girls and were really making some melodramatic moves. I do not know how to describe that but in Bong language we call that a ‘Khemta naach’ now understand what you want.

There was sort of a fair also going on with only food stalls here and there. It seemed the whole city had come here to vacation. Reason – unknown. Anyway we walked a short distance and I took a few photos here and there and we returned to the shore again, sat on the beach and enjoyed the night breeze.

After satisfying our stay on the beach we returned to our residence and went straight to the rooms. After a brief rest we again had a hearty dinner in the same restaurant. Although this time I suspected they were in much hurry to prepare the meal and so forgot to wash the basic items.

Day 2 began with a bang. For me it was a Big Bang because I managed to see a movie till 2 am in the morning. Then I had set the alarm to 6:30 in the morning to wake up early and see the sunrise. But forgot that my ‘Repeat Alarm ‘does not include Sunday. Fortunately Mia got up early, thanks to the innumerable number of naps he had the last day. We got ready in a hectic manner and checked out of the residence.
Then we headed for the same breakfast that of Masala Dosa and tea which was refreshing as ever before and we were all set to go. Initially we thought we’ll go to see the Pondicherry Museum but it was too early for that. So we decided to go to the boat house. Remarkably enough the boat house opened at 9 is in the morning and soon we were on a boat ride to a nearby island called the ‘Paradise Island’. I was as cynic as before because I was not really happy to pay 60 Rs for a short boat ride. But it proved to be excellent as the morning sun was rising and the heat growing, we sailed through the backwaters to reach a nearby land which was really amazing. It was clean and unpopulated, at least the stretch of the beach we went to. I was really ruing the idea why we didn’t bring a football to play with for there lay a vast stretch of awesome beach with clear sparkling sea water. I decided to make the most of it by clicking photos and taking a video. Then I lazed on the beach gazing at the number of other guys and girls who were there.
After a long stay, long more because the sun was really up and we could feel the heat of it on the sands as we returned. I took several snaps of the boat passing the nearly landscape which was green and provided a strange solace to the heart within just from the view of it.

We then took a short rest in the Boat house garden, had a few cool drinks and then moved on for we had to see the Matrimandir. Retracing our way we again went to the Matrimandir but unfortunately we were late again and missed the deadline to take the pass. We however thought we will see it from outside so we took our vehicle to that place. And lo. What a sight there was a round shaped structure which seemed to have cost a fortune to make; I wondered who sponsored such a building. Doubtless that the Matrimandir and the organization involved had some activities must be of noble concern, otherwise who would be so dandy to make a building like that.

Anyways we were pretty hungry by then and so we set off for lunch. Unfortunately Satisha trying to find a suitable restaurant of our choice circled the city once and ultimately landed to some ‘Sooraj rastaurant’ which seemed to be updating to a Heritage building . We ordered 3 biriyanis and a fish finger plate, each item being quite costly. But considering the ambience of the place and the quality of the food and service we were extremely happy and indulged ourselves in some delicious food.

After a beautiful lunch we started returning to where we came from. The return journey was not as eventful as we hardly slept. And Satisha drove very well and when we reached Hosur road the sun was just setting.

So we covered more than 800 kms in 2 days and one night and even caught a fast glimpse of the wonderful architectures of the Infosys buildings from outside .

We returned home satisfied and tired after a great journey. Pooh! Finally.

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