On the drive to Pondicherry ( I love the name of this town!)I was staring out the window on the truck as we drove past a massive College of Engineering… I think wow…all those students going to learn just like everywhere else… And it made me think of my job…my old job…
Then I was snapped out of my day dream by a group of monkeys swinging from the College building, dangling in front of the windows and running along the roof…not what you would expect to see in a college back home…but this is India!
I’d been looking forward to visiting Pondicherry after reading up a bit about the French influence there.
Apart from the buildings which are slightly French…it’s still very much India…with less rubbish on the French style streets.
We stroll to a cafe and I was all ” ooo la la…je voudrais une baguette si vous plait” and after about 45 minutes they came back to the table to tell us ” no lassi” with a lot of really good head wobbles!
So we re order our drinks and continue to wait. The cafe was overlooking the water on a promenade area and eventually our French style baguettes arrive on a very Indian timescale…je regrette….( yeah yeah my French is as bad as my Hindi!)
We stroll though the back streets looking for an Ashram that I had heard about that was based in Pondicherry.
We find it ( actually it turns out to be a sort of satellite for the real one, this one being mainly a way to make money from a gift shop) and on entry I’m still babbling about what it is when a man points at me and then raises his finger to his mouth…SHHHHHH…..note to self….a massive big sign above my head that said ” Silence please”
We walk around, not touching anything ( as sign also said that!) and there are people dotted about meditating. Including one guy who was sitting crossed legged with the longest white beard…I couldn’t see were it ended…
Then we enter the shop…lots of books about finding your inner self and various spiritual books. But I personally didn’t get a good vibe there so I wasn’t up for looking around much. Sarah on the other hand purchased some postcards…
As we were retrieving our shoes…where there are lots of other people milling about…Sarah tells us all that she had brought the picture postcards ( of famous gurus…) as she promised her friends she would send them,silly, funny even maybe rude postcards and this is about all you can find in India! It made me laugh as the people who worship these gurus, gave us a few sideways glances at this point!
Walking along the back streets here, all painted in a variety of pastel colours, for one moment you could think ’France’…and then someone asks you if you would like to buy something…
So i did, I brought a selection of bindi paints for my niece that came with different types of stamps to use for bindis…totally useful in Manchester I’m sure!
That evening we went to ‘ Le Club’ restaurant. And very nice it was too… I had steak frite! Ooo la la! Cest bon! ( more bad French sorry!)
All in all I did actually enjoy our time in Pondicherry and I brought an information book about the actual ashram as I find it fascinating.
Our one and only night there was spent in a hotel were we played ‘ move rooms away from the cockroach’ and also ‘ Lizards are welcome here…new friends!’