Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Puducherry, Pondicherry, Pondy

100 miles to Puducherry or Pondicherry from Chennai. We stopped by Mahapalipurma en route to look at the fabulous carvings. I wish we'd had more time scheduled for this wonderful spot, but it was really crowded. Our driver had a connection there who let us stop for a few minutes on the main road, otherwise parking would have been a nightmare.

Our hotel in Pond, Le Dupliex, is lovely - colonial heritage romantic, with all amenities. The town was the setting for the beginning scenes of Life of Pi. We discovered that only one scene of the film was actually filmed in Puducherry, but the director lives there part time. With our local guide, slightly easier to understand than Sugo, we toured the town. Yes, there's some lovely old colonial buildings in the French Quarter but much of the city looked like this.

The vibe here is described in guide books as faded colonial ville, bohemian, vaguely New Age and faintly Old World morphing into an international tourist destination. Hmmm.

Le Dupliex

Lovely courtyard at Le Dupliex

Most interesting was the temple visit - Arulmigu Marakula Vinayagar. It was almost closing time and the priests were rushing everyone through - one would snatch your rupees and the other put a dot on your forehead. The temple is dedicated to Ganesha and a temple elephant, Lakshmi, is chained in the front.

Just around the corner we took a walk through the Aurobindo Ashram, one of the wealthiest in India. Right out of Eat, Pray, Love, we saw plenty of western women dressed in saris, searching for spirituality.

A long line of people were standing in line to walk past the flower festooned tombs of the founders, Sri Aurobindo and a French woman known as the "Mother". The Ashram's teaching is based on a complete method of Integral Yoga that can transform human nature to divine life. As instructed we tarried for a couple of minutes; Zouzou sat down cross-legged and did a little meditating. She felt she could possibly get into it if she hung around. The rest of us were bit uncomfortable - I felt like a gawker.

We walked to dinner a couple of blocks from the hotel. The street was pitch black - no sidewalks. People were squatted all along the road preparing and eating dinner. I stumbled along trying to avoid pot holes, hanging onto Zouzou in the really bad parts. When we arrived at Le Club we realized it was mosquito ridden. Fortunately along with the drinks, they brought us a bottle of mosquito spray which we schmeared all over ourselves. Zouzou, having spent a sleepless night, probably dreaming about the Rue de Faubourg, fell asleep at the table propped up on her elbows. Debra provided more sustenance for the mosquitoes than she got from her food, swatting and scratching. Despite the distractions, the food was good.
Richard, Zouzou, Debra, me


  1. I'm reading these backwards. You did a lot of blogging all of a sudden. I'm catching up. Haven't figured out who Zuzu and Debra are, yet. I guess I'll have to go back a few more days. Still fascinating reading, though.

  2. P.S. That elephant made me real sad. Was he as miserable as he looked? Poor guy!

  3. So did you get enlightened? And how does a person tell exactly if they are?

  4. Oh, I'm disappointed. I really thought Pondicherry would all be beautiful just like in the movie. Well, I'm glad you went there first as an official guinea pig. Now I don't have to go.