03 April 2016

Pondicherry (aka Puducherry): A Little Bit of France in India!

Everyone told me I’d love Pondicherry. I did. It was gorgeous, kind of French, a bit more peaceful, great shopping, lots of cafes, and with great places to run. My kind of town.
Ash and I drove in and ate at a super swanky place (but cheap of course...it’s India). I noticed that the typical Indian menu was replaced with a more French or European one. Okay, I could do with some non-Indian food for a while (especially with my stomach still on the outs). We explored the town, drove to the beach, ate some waffles and crepes at a cafe, and hung out.
Then Ash left and I relaxed in the AC, and then went out to do some exploring on my own. I found some cute shops everywhere I turned, and ate dinner at some random but absolutely delicious restaurant (baked tofu!!!!) in a gorgeous garden. It didn’t feel like India. My stomach was off, so I hate a lime soda (sweet), which helped things feel a bit better.
I was staying at Le Hibscus, utterly gorgeous and peaceful. My room was big (and it was considered to be the smallest one!), and I just enjoyed relaxing there a lot. It was probably my favorite hotel I have stayed at in India.

In the morning, I got up at 450 a.m. and headed over to the beach, mere blocks away. The road in front of the beach is shut down from 6pm-7am every day, and is full of walkers and runners in the early morning every day. Even at 5am, the road was full of people and I felt quite safe. Best of all, I had a great opportunity to see the sunrise every day while waves crashed in the background. People smiled, sweating, getting exercise; people played awesome Indian music from phones in their pockets. Good vibes.
There aren’t tons of touristy things to do in Pondicherry; I visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, in which you can’t see a ton (but you can go to the gift shop….I did end up buy some books to try to better understand Aurobindo’s mission and The Mother).. I went to the big temple, which was lovely, but I got hassled to buy tons of crap after, even to the point of being followed down the street. On principle, I refuse, but it really was annoying. I also went to a bunch of Auroville-product shops and went on a bit of a shopping spree. I bought some cute sweaters and more incense and jewelry and some presents for family and friends back home. So much that I needed to buy a bag to put it in and rearrange my stuff. And I just mailed stuff back! It will be a bit of a PIA but I am not traveling a ton - staying in two different ashrams for 10 days each, with a night in Tirvanamalli, Madurai, Kanyakamurai, and Mumbai. My trip is winding down.
I took a mid-day shower, changed, did some yoga, and then got some amazing mehendi done on my hand and food.
Dinner at another random cafe, and a quiet evening in my room.
In the morning, another lovely run, another lovely breakfast, a bit of relaxing...and then off to Auroville!

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