Scenes & Stories from Pondicherry

Our last week in Pondicherry was spent purely enjoying all the things we love most about it.  and there are many!

First of all – the eating!  Two things factor hugely in our choices of where to eat in Pondicherry. One – we have been in India for a loooong time (at least 300 meals!) and although we thoroughly enjoy Indian food – a change is nice! And two – Pondicherry as a former French colony and has a huge population of French residents plus thousands of French tourists. This means lots of opportunity to enjoy French cuisine.  One of our favorite places to eat last time was the Banana Cafe and we were delighted to find it was still there. The budding chef has practiced his craft with diligence for the last three years and we really enjoyed the results. The owner recognized Joseph and they  continued their previous discussion on Baal singing from the Bengal region. We had aubergine gratin, leek potato gratin with freshly grated beets and carrots with perfect light dressing. the atmosphere in the courtyard was pleasant and we enjoyed many conversations with other patrons from tables nearby.

Then someone took us to Baker St -a real French bakery. ohhhh – we ate there each remaining day – enjoying quiches, fresh salads, mouth watering flaky croissants, lots of real chocolate treats and David even ate an entire (small) carton of Hagen Daz icecream. and each meal – less than $5. (except the Hagen Daz which was the equivalent to more than one night’s’ hotel fee)

As we strolled the promenade along the sea every evening we enjoyed fresh cut pineapple and freshly roasted peanuts.

Although David and Kelley had been swimming in the sea, I had not – as there is no beach in Pondicherry – just the rock breakwater. so one day we had an outing. The three of us jumped into a rickshaw and said we wanted to go to Auroville Beach. The driver said he knew of a nicer beach and after much negotiation, hand waving and a few words of English tossed in – we agreed to go there. It was beautiful – totally deserted except a couple of picturesque fishing boats. the waves were good – enough to toss us around, but not injure us! A couple of boys walked by and one jumped in with us, which is unusual as we have rarely seen Indians do more than wet their toes. And in the usual India way, he swam right along with us – although, of course, the whole beach is empty as far as the eye can see. But we have become used to this and chatted with him and enjoyed ourselves at the same time. we came back salty, wet and sun kissed!

at our last night in one of our favorite eating places (fresh salads, ratatouille, felafels) the woman who worked there every night made a comment to us as we left. she said “I can see you have a very happy family. it is good to see such good feelings – especially between the mother (me) and the daughter-in-law (Kelley). This is not so usual in India”. we thanked her for sharing her perceptions as it was very open and frank. and we remembered how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy each other’s company without the heavy obligations  of familial restrictions and expected/governed roles and behaviors.

Wise words to live by…….

In front of one of the most prestigious hotels in Pondicherry………..

walking on the promendade…….young men and women stay very close to each other – even when there is lots of room. it works great when you live in a land with so many people.

relaxing in an outdoor eatery

a beautiful sunset from our balcony window. wow – am i ever going to miss these!

this is Lakshmi the temple elephant who blesses anyone and everyone – with a gentle tap on the head. i got my blessing last time we were here and i can still feel the solidity and the softness.

i purchased about 20 small hand-made bags from these young women who take old saris and piece them together to make beautiful, colourful bags of all sizes. I enjoyed lively interaction with 3 diffferent women, spreading out the sales.

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