Pondicherry (Pondy)

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January 17, 2007. Today's expected easy 75km one and a half hour drive from Chidambalam tp Pondy took a bone crunching and muscle tightening four hours because my driver decided, without informing me, that he was saving me 600 rupees by taking a back road that led into the hinterland and then north before swinging back south to Pondi. For eight days he was a good driver, but this error when I was road weary and anticipating a short drive was a bit upsetting!

Pondy is a welcome rest stop after 8 days on the road from Mysore. Known by all, foreigners and Indians as Pondy, was during colonial times France's small foothold on the east coast of English Raj India. The old Franch buildings are still here huddled along the shore by the Bay of Bengal. But a tsunami of Indians and god seaching foreigners suffocate the old town today, a Tamil holiday. Thousands upon thousands of Indians, fully dressed in Saris dhoti and slacks, cover the beach like grains of sand. Only 20 people are playing in the surf. The roads are packed with a teeming hord of people, motorcycles, scooters and massive buses, making it dangerous to take a stroll. The French seafood restaurants cater to a mainly foreigh crowd. Ashrams, ayurvedic massage shops and yoga studios beckon god-seekers from the west.

I was lucky to find a pleasant quiet room the ponderously named, yet delightful, Patricia Coloniale Heritage Guest House at 54 Romain Roland Street The large balcony surrounded by verdue and chirping birds provides a much needed refuge from the melee two blocks away. Here one can almost dream that history stopped in the mid 20th century. I camp her for two days to do much overdue organization of digital images, background and hopefully some online uploading.

It is hard to really emulate Zhuangzi's free and easy wandering when one has a digital camera, GPS and laptop computer! The digital devices dominate!

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