Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 4 - Puducherry

I am in love with Auroville. Loads of ‘furriners’ around. The place where I am staying is Centre Guest House. Its somewhat in jungle land and is like miles inside Auroville. The distances inside Auroville quite simply amaze me. Have a lovely little room for myself – all green, red and cream with wooden ceiling beams.

Shared a cab with L who was going into Pondi. She is from Utrecht and is intending to stay in Auroville for two months. I asked her information about the city and about the Ashram. When I asked how long it would take at the Ashram, she said it depended on me. (This is leading somewhere so bear with me) I was like okay. I had visions of several acred lands – green, people doing meditation – the works. I went in and the people were polite to the point of being rude. I am sure they meant well but to me it reeked of the gatekeepers being too sure about the hidden treasure they guard if you get my drift.

People bowed their heads and you were herded around – told where and how you should sit. I reiterate, they probably meant well but for me the ‘Samadhi’ held no deep significance. I am not a very religious or spiritual person. I believe in the existence of God, angels and miracles but I felt a strange disconnect at the Ashram. My lack of understanding and knowledge about the place played a huge part in my feelings about the Ashram.

The rest of Pondicherry – well searing heat again so no further comment about that. I totally loved the French Quarter- quiet, peaceful and extremely pretty. Got some kickass fotus. The Tamil Quarter was pure Indian – noisy, chaotic and dirty. It’s interesting how the stereotypes have been hard sold to the tourist. Also this Rue took the cake!

Had lunch at Appachis – they are famous for their Chettinad cuisine. Awesome chicken eet was. Am salivating thinking about it. Yummy J

Kept drinking cold stuff every 30 minutes, the heat was so bad and I walked around Pondi instead of taking a rickshaw. Seeing this on the streets of Pondi made me think about T-Man :D

Did give up around 3.00 pm and got back to Auroville.

Snoozed for a bit, got up to have milky chai – literally more milk and no tea. Then read in the dining room notice board about ‘Ankur’ being screened at the Auditorium. Got damn excited about the thought of doing something in the evening (generally spent watching television in Mahabalipuram)

Spoke to G at the reception who told me that it was 5 minutes by cycle. So took a cycle and decided to do a dry run before I actually went for the movie. My ass hurt!! Red dirt roads and dust – luckily less sun as this was 5.15ish in the evening. Was loverly – cycled and cycled in the wrong direction J Realised bad and went the right way. The architecture at the Amphitheatre was quite simply stunning and the skies were gorgeous and blast it all – I hadn’t carried my camera. L But the memories stay in the head, c’est important non? No movie as the screening got cancelled but lovely sights. I kept hearing the strains of a guitar and it drove me nuts trying to figure out from where it was coming. Sort of figured that out and went my way back to my room.

Dinner done by 7.30 pm. Can you believe it?? In Bumbai, I would be drinking in some pub at this time. Tomorrow morning, I am going to spend cycling around Auroville and taking photos. Hopefully also recapture the magic of this evening on camera. Touch wood.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Across the distance

A friend sent me this article and well it struck my imagination. Across the Trans-Atlantic distance they have allowed people to see each other. Imagination has come full circle perhaps? Read more here

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 3 - Mahabalipuram

Got up at 5.45 am to catch the sunrise but still managed to miss it. Walked to the beach and the sun was about a quarter in the sky.

Watched sand crabs shovel sand out of their homes and got some Vitamin D in the bargain

Went back and caught up on my sleep. My overcharged taxi was ready at 9.00 am. I was visiting two places – Tiger’s Cave and the Crocodile Park. Went to the latter first. Scairreee place that was. Well not really scary in the true sense of the term but they looked extremely dangerous even when basking in the sun. Reptiles are very strange looking creatures – have come to the profound conclusion.

Spent about an hour there and went backwards to the Tiger’s Cave. Immensely peaceful, awe inspiring and bootiful this was. My driver, Kutty Anna told me he had seen the sculptures since he was 10 years old and he was now 35. I would wager that the sculptures are older than that though. I sat under a shade of a tree and read. The sea sent a cool breeze my way. I even watched a caterpillar make its wayward path towards me – my green tee I think attracted it.

Had lunch at Luna Magica. I sat completely alone in this roof top restaurant, read my Robert Ludlum, ate my fish curry and drank my beer in peace. Longest lunch I have taken and they overcharged me here too! Harumph!!

Went to the beach and got my feet wet. Bargained with the shopkeeper for these wooden toys my amma brings out at Navratri time- didn’t buy it in the end. Supper consists of French onion (hhmph) soup and toast. Am sort of making it up for my overspending. Tomorrow morning, I am setting off at around 6 am for Pondi. Auroville awaits.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 2 - Mahabalipuram

Got up bright and early at 6.00 am. Guess why? The bleeding cuckoo woke me up! Can you believe it? Had an interrupted sleep after that - with the ‘nice’ watchmen yelling near the window at 6.45ish for a good 10-15 minutes.

N and I departed at the same time to catch the ECR (East Coast Road) bus. I left N with a bye and entered the crowded bus proceeding towards Mahabalipuram. I was so enamoured of what was happening that I overshot my stop. The bus was merrily heading towards Pondicherry when I realized what had happened. Everyone was very nice and helpful. They guided me towards the next bus stop – Markanam – where I was centre of attraction for a small period of time with my backpack etal.

Am I glad I know the language or what! Cheers to knowing Tamil :) Got down at the right stop this time with a nice lady’s help. The place where I stayed was very nice – Siva Guest House off Ottuvadai Road.

Took a long shower and set off. Wore my comfortable Fab India pants. Just can’t bear the thought of wearing jeans in this weather. I walked from 10.45ish to 1.00 pm. The heat was crazy and I mean crazy ass! I could feel my sun block wilting under the heat. My face was turning the same colour as tomatoes.

Went to the Shore Temple – such a disappointment that was. The sea is so uncaring. She has eroded as much she possibly could. The weather and sun beaten faces of the sculptures have been erased. I think the sea would call it WIP (work in progress). Forward march to the Five Rathas and Arjuna’s Penance to found it invaded by hordes of tourists. It was a holiday; everyone and I mean everyone seemed to be there. I think I missed out some parts and thought I would catch up maybe in the evening but that never happened. Promised myself would watch the sunset today :)

Luncheon - prawns have been consumed much to my stomach’s satisfaction. Siesta finished I went to grab a cup of tea. Have booked a taxi for the next day to go towards Tiger’s Cave and the Crocodile Bank. Am paying 400 bucks – they fleeced me but I was being safer than sorrier. Drank way too milky chai and watched a phirangi dance to the nagaswaram music coming from the loudspeakers nearby.

Watched the sunset behind me :P – a tad bit of misjudgement but this meant a wonderful sunrise tomorrow morning. Dinner at Moonrakers – fish curry with rice. Fish was yummy as hell. Contemplated pancakes for dessert. Ordered and as you can see for yourself, not a good thing to do. I literally got a dosa with banana inside

Day 1 - Chennai

Chennai passed by in a blur. Views from the airport taxi- lovers under the arch of a railway bridge. Chaotic traffic and in construction flyovers – much the same as any city. It’s a city that’s developing and it shows. The girl peeking from the next rickshaw and me smiling at her (probably scared her away)

The nice people who looked after me in Chennai – a friend’s wife N and her roomie S. N who is originally from Jaipur has been in Chennai for over two years now. She has a charming South Indian lilt to her English – very endearing eet ees.

Went for dinner to Giorgio – the global cuisine restaurant in Adyar near Besant Nagar Beach. North Eastern waiters – the one who served us had this funny dumb grin on his face and of course could not understand us! We literally ended up having a candle light dinner after the lights went out a couple of times.

Dinner and IPL conversation finished, we went for a walk near the Besant Nagar beach. The sea air was invigorating and the road reminded me of Carter Road due to the sea and the road blocks of course. Went home with the ‘lovely’ rick driver messing with his cell phone. There then proceeded a song called ‘Smile baby, smile baby’ or some such thing which emanated from his fone :)

Reached home safe and sound. Watched IPL – Royal Challengers lost yet again, discussed IPL and its myriad politics and hit bed soon after.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Return

I be back after a brilliant treep. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and absolutely didn't have to use my noise making thing or the nice smelling deo thing or anything for my safety. I met some absolutely lovely people and saw such amazing things. RG gave me company at Hampi and that was niceness :) I will be posting my travelogue soon with photos accompanying it. Hopefully my photos should go up on Flickr and FB tmmrw God and ex-company willing :)