1st Jan was approaching …… still no plans. This was the first time we didn’t plan my Birthday celebration cum our New Year Fiesta…… I thought he would surprise me … The clock ticked away every day ….. the calendar flipped through 25th, 26th, 27th…. No news, all the plans which I made up in my mind seemed to be ruined, and a frowned face still waiting to know. Couldn’t ask him directly though – What Plans??? Where are we heading to?? All I could think now was, Nikhil, you better come up with a damn good surprise !!!
Twenties are almost over, and was not so eagerly waiting to ram into a wall called “30”. I never wanted to enter an era which many terms as “Matured”. What follows is what bothered me – Wrinkles, Grey Hair, Weakened Vision. And to top it all… The cherry on the “Confusion” cake…..Celebrations were yet to be revealed.
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I eagerly waited the entire evening on 28th for him to come back home from the office, had cooked him his favourite meal – UradkiDaal& Rice, just to entice him to spill the beans.. And finally, he handed me a packed envelope…. I tore it down, to find the Hotel Vouchers to a place which has always remained very close to my heart …. Pondicherry !!!! Happiness rolled down the heaven, and yes we are going. I have been to Pondicherry earlier, but only as a toddler with my folks and man did I promise myself, that I would return here after sometime to spread my wings.. After 2 decades again…. Too excited, my happiness had no boundaries.
Packing is something I’m not too keen at. Nikhil’s experience with my packing has been horrible, since I forget a lot of stuff to pack in. Every time he is on an office trip, he ends up buying either shoes, pair of socks, belt or something like that J and now he has five pairs of Formal Shoes in a marriage span of 5 years !!!!
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I somehow managed to stuff our bag and we decided on a road trip. Pondi is approx. 376 kms from Coimbatore. Let me admit …I never liked the changed name Puducherry and I still call the place Pondi. We rolled out Jalebibai (our dear Vento) at 6’oclock in the morning and stretched in the direction of sun just shinning its warm golden light over the horizon. The entire meadows seem to dance, and the dew was still plainly visible on the blades of grass and hundreds of banana and coconut trees flurrying on either side of the road. It seemed that nature had crafted each and everything on its canvas just for both of us. Nikhil always has a habit of preparing a playlist depending upon the mode of travel and this time it featured songs like Roads Untraveled” by Linkin Park, Shut Up & Drive by Rihanna, Hit the road Jack, by Ray Charles, YunhiChalaChalRahi from Swades, TanhaDil by Shann, etc. Thank God he managed to put in some hindi songs.
What a beautiful road, always thought that Gujarat had the best roads to offer in the country..that myth got shattered when we took the highway to Salem from Coimbatore. A beautiful six lane road which was a dream to drive on and imagine, we traversed that 376 kms stretch in just 5 hours, with a short stop at a CCD on the highway, just close to a small town called “Ulundurpet”. And just 45 mins later, we saw what we came here for – “Welcome to Puducherry” !!
The streets of Pondicherry excite your spirit and give you the much needed rejuvenation. Our hotel – Anantha Heritage, was just on the borders of the French & the Tamil quarters and overlooking the Grand Canal (which it certainly doesn’t look like one though), a beautiful traditional tamil home, converted to a hotel. Had just 8 rooms and we were just amazed at the amazing traditional Tamil Architecture. Beautifully chiselled and almost cylindrical wooden columns, courtyards, a swing, and an open porch which was just too wonderful. Somehow reminded us of the house that we saw Ali Bhatt residing in, in the movie 2 States.
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After settling down, we thought to take a stroll outside. It is a bit difficult to visit different places using a public transport. Hiring taxis or other private vehicles is not a good choice economically. So, we went for the next best thing – an activa which is a perfect way to travel and drive around the narrow lanes across Pondi.
Step out in Pondiand you’ll wonder if you’re in India or at a small French town. The French left the place a long time ago but some of that allure still hovers in this union territory. The architecture is French, the road names and signboards are in French too (English and tamil versions are also there). Surrounded amongst the light lemon, purple and grey coloured walls which reminded our short stay at Paris last year. A lot of people speak fluent French and most restaurants serve steak and wine!
The ocean was just amazing, however, you might not get onto a sandy beach through the French Quarters, since it is all lined up with rocks. But somehow, the Bay of Bengal was at its raging best during the time we visited. Strong and high waves crashed onto the rocks creating s sight which will remain with us for a long period of time.
It is a quaint little place and you can see everything there is to see in Pondicherry in one day. But if you have more time, you can just relax, slow down and find meaning and purpose in the simple things in life. From yoga and meditation to pottery or just sitting by the beach, there are numerous ways to unwind in Pondicherry. The Aurobindo Ashram is something which you just cannot miss. Situated very close to the Ashram is a 700 year old Arulmigu manakula Vinayagar Temple which is the only temple across the French quarters, and is said to survive a lot of plans and schemes to move the temple by the French that time. Just outside the temple, you’ll find a surprising blessing by Laxmi in exchange for a rupee which you have to keep on its trunk (what you can see down below).
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We celebrated my birthday at a place called Dis, Dis & Co which was again a huge villa converted to a bistro. We danced the entire New Years Eve, till the time they pushed us out finally and caught an auto back to the hotel. This was certainly one of the best nights we spent out, welcoming a New year.
Welcome 2016 !!!!!& the Thirtees !!!!