Monday, November 16, 2009

The Pondi Diaries

7th November, 2009.

7:15 pm.

So we are finally off to Pondi! Yay! Though I wasn’t so excited about this trip, I am pretty kicked now that the time to leave has arrived! Have been told that, “It’s raining here!!! Only raining!” but I am not the one to lose hope. The bus leaves at 9:45, and the taxi’ll be here in 30 minutes. So all is done and we are good to go. Nice! I love this, just-before-the-trip feeling.

9:45 pm.

And we’re off. Quite an adventure finding the bus itself, so I am hoping Pondi will be even more exciting!! We are leaving from the Shanti Nagar BMTC bus stand, the one with the Big Bazaar beside it.

The ticket had no platform no. on it. It simply said Platform Big Bazaar! So I and Val went about asking while we left mom to busy herself inside Big Bazaar. We were sent from one person to another and finally an old chap with a big beard told us that the bus would come to Big Bazaar itself.

So we waited and waited and waited.

Till 9:30 no sign of any bus, except the one which was standing there from the time we arrived (which was around 8), and said Ernakulam. When the clock struck 9:40, we panicked, ran to the Ernakulam bus, and guess what? This is the bus man! We would have happily missed it! Ha ha! But now we are safely on the bus and all set to go.

Supposedly the actual bus is in the garage or something, so today, it’s a special bus today. It’s a Rajhamsa and practically empty. Two teenagers are sitting in the adjacent front seats. Hopefully they’ll be decent.

Man this is sooooooo exciting! We are finally off! And I am all set for the journey with my Nokia 6303 Classic loaded with music which should easily last me at least 8 hours, which is if the battery doesn’t die on me.

Safe journey Lolo! You are finally off!

P.S. Need to call Luai once I am back from there. Hopefully, I shall remember!

8th November, 2009.

Sometime in the night.

What a day. What a day!

We reached Pondi at around 6 in the morning. Had decided not to sleep at all, but gave in to the charms of sleep around 4 and it was a bad idea! The temperatures are high and yes, it is raining and only raining! What a pain this rain is. But I guess my a** is in greater pain. Ouch!

Leo came to pick us up from the bus stand along with Sam Debbarma, my junior from UCC and now Leo’s friend at Big Beach. Felt nice to meet him, though I have absolutely no memories of him from UCC.

I did not want to give up on enjoying myself because of the rain so I told Leo that I would go to Pondi with him. (He lives in Caddalure btw, and it is around 22 kms from Pondi.) He had to get his friend’s bike fixed because he managed to puncture it, God alone knows how! He he.

And that is when things started going downhill! L

I realised that I got only a pair of shorts and one, ONE goddam t-shirt. And it is raining. Kya baat hai. I really love myself for being so excited that I forgot to get clothes to wear. What was I thinking man?!

And the day was a real mess, right from the beginning. The whole goddam place is flooded with disgusting mud water, straight from the gutters, I am sure. And did I mention that I saw at least 5 cows up close, and one of them was peeing right into the water I was wading through?! Yech!!

We walked around 3 kms from bro’s house to the main road (through water, mud, goo et al.) only to be refused by the 5 autos we tried convincing to ferry us to Pondi. (Notice the word “ferry”. Even the roads were flooded. Heh.)

“TN registration, saar. Not go Pondi.”

Fine! We took the local bus.

On the bus, I swerved, swivelled, spun around along with the bus and landed right on the lap of an old, teeny looking man. Poor man gave me his seat. Ha ha! I wonder how the people managed to keep a straight face and not laugh at me. Probably they thought I had come straight out of the akhada, which is why no one dared. I am surprised I kept a straight face myself – I should have died laughing.

Perhaps the Pondi bus stand is clean on dry days, but on this particular day, it was yuck yuck yuck and more yuck. (Sorry Pondi-ians, but it really was so full of muck!) And I wonder why people have to spit, right where they are standing, and with bare feet, that too! Yuck!

Bro had parked the bike in hotel Atithi where some of his friends were put up. I think they left for Bangalore today. So we took an auto till there. Poor auto guy thought we are from Singapore! Thankfully, he took just Rs. 50 and did not ask for some unimaginably exorbitant sum. Or perhaps it is unimaginably exorbitant – I have no idea how it works here, the auto system. None of them have meters!

At Atithi, I met his friends, one whom I had met before. She insisted I go to the Sunday Flea Market with her. I was so sleepy, I had no idea what to decide! So bro decided for me and asked me to spend time with them while he got the bike fixed because there would be nothing for me to do.

Bad decision.

The market was, once again, yucky! And all the shops that we visited, including the Hidesign factory outlet, was leaking. The only decent shop that I went to was Kalki, but again, everything seems to be overpriced. Can you imagine a bracelet priced at 200 bucks?! Whoa man! Too much for me.

Finally at 11:30 bro was done with the bike and came back to where we were, putting an end to the boredom which was getting insufferable by the second. I mean, his friends are good. But they are like, really girlie girls. They like to analyse the stuff they are buying, look at themselves in the mirror for at least 15 times and then decide if they want it or not.

It’s a miracle I survived.

We also went into Casablanca, right opposite Kalki and I didn’t venture in more than the front porch, or whatever it is called.

We were supposed to pick lunch for mom and Val, so we went to Rendezvous, on his bike, fully drenched and soaking to the bone. Again! (I have lost count of how many times I got wet, got dry and got wet again in a span of not more than 2 and a half hours.)


The path in front of Rendezvous.


The food turned out to be too expensive, so we decided to get it packed from Big Beach. After reaching Big Beach, we got stuck for another 45 minutes because of a lack of communication means. Bro had to leave the bike there with his friend, and we were still 8 kms from home.

Finally we got an auto that agreed to bring us only till Maharaja. (Maharaja is on the highway, 2 kms from Big Beach). From there yet another auto and by the time we reached Caddalure, it was 3 pm. Our first proper morsel of food since last night. The mutton biryani felt like heaven!

I slept off immediately after that and woke up only at 10 I think!! Ha ha!

Now we are all set up to sleep on makeshift beds on the floor. I don’t mind it. It’s fun. And it’s good to be together with bro after so long. J

9th November, 2009.

Very late in the night.

Today was a good day! GOOOOOD!!! :D :D

Leo hired a cab so we didn’t have to “wade” out of Caddalure. Our day started off around 9:30 am.


All set for the day!


We went straight to Auroville. It’s a beautiful place, lots of greenery and all that. It is a city, almost a civilisation by itself, dedicated to human unity. There are people from some 40 different nations living together in harmony inside Auroville at present I think. And they have this huge urn where the earth/mud from at least 125 nations is resting together.

It is a nice concept I think, propagated by Sri Aurobindo and his disciple, simply referred to as The Mother. It is supposed to be devoid of any religious connotations, but since it is a basically Indian set up, the Hindu influence was quite stark.


An old banyan tree in Auroville, on the way to Mathri Mandir.


They sell beautiful handicrafts, all produced and manufactured within Auroville, by its people.

Leo bought mom a beautiful leather hand-bag, his first gift to her with his hard earned salary I think. Felt good to see mom clutching it with so much love.

I bought a silk dress for Val. She is still overjoyed! Hah!

We had a pre-lunch in the cafeteria. Tasted Quiche for the first time. I am guessing it is of French origin. I loved it. And also the salads that came along with it. Nice healthy pre-lunch! Ha ha.


Me near the handicrafts' stores.


Oh, and the xylophones, or rather lithophones that they have there! Such awesome things they are man. Just pieces of stone or sometimes wood held together and they produce such nice soothing music! Also discovered some nice wood instruments used in folk theatre. It was beautiful. But sadly, no photography allowed, so couldn't take pictures.



The Mathri Mandir.

Me admiring the gold!


Sadly, we couldn’t see the Mathri Mandir from inside. Thanks to the rains, they are not allowing anyone inside. It’s beautiful from the outside though, a huge sphere made of plates of solid gold. Mom and I were wondering how many tons of gold might have gone into its making!

Did I say that we drenched? Ha ha! It was fun, considering the fact that we had only two umbrellas and ours was too small to keep both of us (me and Val) dry.


Me and sis, trying hard to fit in!

Mom and Bro.


After Auroville, we hit the beach. Don’t know what it’s called, but it was on the other side of the East Coast Road. Nice place, very pristine and clean. And the waves caught us! There was another dog there too, and he followed us till the car.


The beach.

The dog.


After this we headed straight to the Rocky Beach. According to Leo, this is the Times Square of Pondicherry – just like Brigade Road is the Times Square of Bangalore. The view was awesome from there, and it looked like a deep green/blue line was separating the sea from the sky. It was grand sitting on the rocks and facing the wind.

Sis

Rocky Beach

Facing the wind.


We couldn’t hang around for too long, thanks to the rains (groan!) and also the fact that we were starved. It’s amazing how fast one gets hungry when on a holiday.

So we went to Rendezvous, but because it was well past three, it was closed. We went into Madam Santhe’s Café instead and it was ok, not that great. It’s two streets away from Rendezvous, towards the beach.

The food was ok, not that interesting.


Madam Shante's is on the left.


Mom, trying to decide what to order.


Madam Shante's Cafe.


Mom was hell bent on doing some shopping in Pondi city, and I was dreading it, thanks to my experience yesterday. But surprisingly, it was cleaner today. It did rain, but I guess the municipality must have woken up or something!

We went into Casablanca, tried on some nice hats but bought absolutely nothing. By this time, I was dying to go home because I wanted to pee. (Casablanca’s loo was out of order. Heh!)

We basically bought nothing from Pondi city.

Picked up some tandoori chicken from Vel’s Restaurant on the way, and Leo bought us some lassi and milk pedas. I don’t know why they call it lassi though, because it was yoghurt packed in small plastic packs, like the ones they sell here. It was yummy and nice. Mom hasn’t eaten her share yet. Hope it doesn’t get spoiled.


The Vel's!


The tandoori chicken was also very yummy. I had one huge leg piece and am still *urp* burping.

And now we are going to watch Love Aaj Kal, don’t ask me why! Ha ha.

10th November, 2009.

11:50 pm

The holiday is over! L We are off today. I think bro was a bit emotional. He hugged us all. Never done that before. At least not while departing.

The day was spent at Big Beach, but not before mom tidied up bro’s place with curtains and all. Mom will be mom I guess!

We had the buffet lunch at Big Beach. Frankly, it was not at all great, specially the dessert. Hah.


The Big Beach resort


Dessert!


But the place is beautiful. I wish they would maintain it better, because in places it stank of bogs and all things rotten. But I guess that’s their USP – nature up close!

The best place was the beach. Awesome. I just loved it.


On the beach, with an umbrella, wearing a goddam frock because I ran out of clothes!


A million waves kissing the shore...


It’s amazing how the sea can make you think about a million things and make you seem so small and insignificant compared to its vastness. It has created a longing in me, for what I don’t really know. Just a feeling, of void, of a need to fill it, but don’t know with what…

I love the sea.

So we’re on our way back now. The bus is nice and comfortable (KPN travels, Volvo a/c) and I have my Nokia 6303 Classic (the battery didn’t die on me!!).

Val’s sitting a few seats away from us, with a Firang beside her. I am next to mom.

It’s been a crazy holiday and we had a lot of fun. But at the end of the day, it always feels good to be going back home.

So long Pondi. Hope I’ll be back soon!

2 comments:

  1. this is a reall long post - but nice read :-D
    Don't know if you know, but shyama and me left for Goa on 7th as well. We came back on 9th night though... Yes, small holiday. And it rained there too, but it was humid as well, so it wasn't that bad.
    Planning to got to Pondi too, but may wait for some other season :-D
    -vimal

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Vimal

    Yeah saw the pics.

    Goa is a much better place to visit during the monsoons. Had been there last to last year during this time of the year and it was definitely a better experience!

    I guess the best time to go to Pondi would be when there are absolutely no rains. But I've heard that it's rather hot! :D

    ReplyDelete

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