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Monday, June 15, 2009

'Far from the Madding Crowd'

(This is not a travelogue...it's just glimpses of a wonderful experience from which I havent yet recovered)

Coinciding leaves and holidays of two and a half individuals is always a headache….the half is a teeny weeny three and a half-going on thirteen opinionated young lady!

Well, we finally managed to squeeze in a weekend and a bit more of free together time! A quick planning, hurried booking and off we were on a much needed break.

Four days of peace, tranquility, sea, sand and rock. Throw in a handful of spirituality; sprinkle some lip smacking medley of French-Tam cuisine, 24x7 beachside cafes; Lace it with a splash of multi-linguistic experience of Tamil-French combo, with smatterings of often unintelligible English and Hindi; Garnish with treasure troves of handicrafts, aromatic candles and incences; frame it with the delightful old world charm of heritage Villas and Bungalows...and hey presto! You have the magic of Pondicherry staring soulfully at you....


An interesting anecdote which was on display in a beachside cafe we frequented during our midnight strolls on the beach....
The Puducheri of yesteryears has come a full cycle. This coastal town named Puducheri (meaning in Tamil "new settlement"), was twisted to suit the French tongue who pronounced it as Poudicherry. And then some grouchy British clerk made a silly clerical error (mentioned in the poster in a tongue-in-cheek style as "a forgivable felony of a slack eye and hand") whereby the 'u' of Pouducheri was changed into 'n'. Thus was born the more stylish and Anglicised Pondicherry. Pondicherry was easier on the tongue and thus stayed on! And finally after a few hundreds of years and a medley of rulers later, it's back to being called Puducheri !

The serenity of the town struck me almost instantly. Tranquility opened her arms the moment we entered and wrapped us up in a warm welcome embrace. The canopy of green over the villa lined streets made me want to get off the car and walk on.... Quaint little bungalows, a deluge of bougainvilleas, emerald green-blue sea and black rocky stones guarding the lashing waves, Pondicherry stole my heart. I fell in love with the little town.
Where we stayed added to the spell of love at first sight. A delightful 18th century mansion, restored and brought to life. With non-identical suites and rooms named Mahe, Chandernagore, Karikal, Calicut, Yanaon and so on, it oozed old world charm wherever we went and whatever we touched. A central courtyard with a giant neem tree, this is where we had our breakfast. Early morning rises to catch the sunrise, so alien in our lives in the concrete jungles, we breathed in gusts of fresh sea breeze thus rejuvenating our senses and detoxyfying our souls.... Late night strolls along the beach concluded with cups of coffee at the little coffee shop on the Beach, while the sea roared on, and wild waves lashed itself on the rocks on which sat the cafe. The midnight moon shone through the swaying palms while the far horizon shimmered in its silvery glow....

Back in our hotel room, the freshly made bed would have a fresh garland of jasmine adorning the pillow, with it's delicate fragrance caressing the air we breathed in as we retired for the day....
The Universal Township of "Auroville" is an experience to be savoured and assimilated deep within. The few hours that we spent there were too too less to do any justice. I wish we had planned our trip in advance. Due to our unplanned visit, we couldnt enter the inner sanctum of the Matri Mandir and had to be content seeing this remarkable architectural marvel from a distance.

If only to live the experience of entering and meditating in the awe inspiring Matri Mandir, seeing from close, the crystal which is known to be the largest spherical crystal, I made a promise to myself.....I'll come back again, to savour the magic of this city.

32 comments:

sidhubaba said...

Serenity and Tranquillity - the keywords of what dreams are made of. One can envy such an experience, specially these days when all seems to be laced with some form of anger.

Deeps said...

Wow,a lovely account of your getaway,SGD. Pondicherry is one place I've been yearning to go to ever since I knew about its existence,which was back in school!
And your words made the longing even more so.
Wonderful snaps too:)

अनिल कान्त : said...

Nice post ....wonderful snaps !!
like ur blog

मेरी कलम - मेरी अभिव्यक्ति

sujata said...

WOW!! SGD makes me want to go Puducherry right now..imagine the a jasmine garland on the freshly made beds..as if the freshly made beds are not enough!! and the midnight strolls on the beach its all so perfect. Amazing writeup and awesome pictures!!

Reflections said...

the half is a teeny weeny three and a half-going on thirteen opinionated young lady!

LOL...just know wht u mean;-D

Pondi has always been a destination on my must-see list but somehow it never happened. Who knows maybe some time in future, I sure hope.
Glad I got to see it thru ur eyes:-))!!!

onlooker said...

hi
came here through reflections blog! nice chatty engaging blogs. :) shall keep dropping in. had been to pondy during my college days, and ya it has something magical about it. loved the sea too!

Preeti Shenoy said...

I used to live there. It is a MARVELLOUS place.
Cheers
preeti

Rush said...

makes me almost wanna pack and fly..the writeup is great, and calls u into the place, capturing every moment u experienced.

SGD said...

@Sidhubaba-Welcome to my space!
Yes serenity & tranquility rejuvenates and recharges....while anger drains all energy..

SGD said...

@Deeps, Anil Kant, Sujata, Reflections, Onlooker & Rush- Thanks! And Pondi has been on my list of must-visit for a long time...

Anil Kant & Onlooker-Welcome to my blog!

@Preeti Lucky YOU!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Lovely account of a wonderful break. Makes me long to go to Pondicherry!

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

sounds so lovely! Great post.

Ugich Konitari said...

SGD,

Great writeup about what appears to be a wonderful break for you 2.5 folks. I have been to Pondicherry in 1977, and would love to go back again to visit.... Would love it if you could give some details about the place you stayed....need to file it away for future use :-)

Pradip Biswas said...

Pondichery visit was a turning point in my life. I started meditation only after visit to the Ashram there. Your blog gave a lovely account of that place. Do visit Vizag which is very near from Hyderabad. Just take the weekend vacation and add one day leave falling near to that. I am sure you shall enjoy it.

SGD said...

@SS & RMC-Thanks!

SGD said...

@Ugich-Thanks..
The place we stayed :
Hotel De l'Orient
17 Rue Romain Rolland
Pondicherry - 605 001.
Tel: 0413 2343067
Fax: 0413 2227829

Online reservation can also be done...check the site:
http://www.neemranahotels.com/

SGD said...

@PB-Thanks !
Vizag is a beautiful place and close to my heart! I lived in that city for 5 years. The seaside of Pondicherry is so similar to that of Vizag, isnt it?

Kavi said...

Ahh Pondy !!!

Thats a favourite with me. It used to be a get away earlier. But now, its in the dreams.

Glad that you were able to make it there and had so much fun. The French-Tam lineage is so unique and just simply not found anywhere else !

This is inspiring me to think of Pondy...as i am in the middle of my break too !

KParthasarathi said...

First visit.Why don't you send your entry to a travel writing competition
info@chillifreeze.com
best wishes

HR said...

Sometimes it becomes essential for us to put a break on the rapidness at which our life is heading towards unknown.The strained nerves desperately need a respite from the incessant pressure of maintaining mandatory schedule of our innumerable tasks.It is a marvel of an idea of retiring to a small place like Pondicherry where calmness and peacefulness do prevail. The moment becomes more special and precious when accompanied by beloved. The author enjoyed every bit of the short vacation and was generous enough to share her experiences with us. The way she portrayed the specialty of the city, starting from the nomenclature, combo- cuisines, artifacts, late night strolls and finally savoring fuming coffee under moonlit sky is stupendous.
The description was quiet vivid to have a cogent idea about the novelty and uniqueness of the shore based city. The author has made special mention of "Auroville" which has made Poniccherry more significant in the world map.As I understand the abode of Rishi Aurobindo is a suitable place for meditation which has become an essential aspect in our brisk lifestyle.

I would suggest author to visit some of the hill stations situated
especially in Himalayas. With her excellent command on English language and ability to depict the beauty of nature , we can expect some wonderful postings in coming days .
With all good wishes... awaiting some amazing postings.

Rajesh said...

Very beautifully written. I only happen to spend only evening here while passing through it. It is a very nice place and those old buildings there take you to different world.

Preeti Shenoy said...

You have been tagged in my latest post! :)
Somehow I think you may enjoy this tag.
Cheers
preeti

SGD said...

@Kavi-Go for it!!!! Dont let your break go waste!!!!

@Kparthasarthi-Welcome to my blog! And thanks so much for the info abt chillifreeze. But they dont accept entries once the same are published anywhere (even online in a blog!!!).

Peeped into your 'Random Thought'...interesting place..will go back surely!

@HR-Thanks for your kind words... I really dont deserve all those words of praise...but it ups the morale!!
You're right....these periodic breaks from our mechanical lives is therapeutic...

@Rajesh-Thanks!

@Preeti-Thanks for the tag! But I've done that a couple of posts back.
Loved your take on the tags!

Aparna said...

We went there on a holiday few years back. The tranquillity of the place was amazing. I also remember how difficult it was to keep my one and a half year old daughter quiet in the line to Mother's temple. The the effort was worth it.

Vamshi Krishna A said...

Hi SGD,

I was lured by the half part in the 2.5 and it was worth it. Pondi actually works as a detoxification camp. I remember waiting since 3 am on the beach to catch the sunrise and fishermen coming home with their catch. Well documented and nice pics. Did you go to the churches there and see the architecture?

Vivek Patwardhan said...

Hi SGD,

Had been to Pondy several times. So your very well written post brought back some fond memories.

Enjoyed reading your blog,
Vivek

SGD said...

@Aparna-Thanks for stopping by.
Yes...matri mandir was awe inspiring. But we couldnt enter due to lack of prior registration.
Loved your blog ..... keep posting!

@Vamsi Krishna-Welcome to my blog!
We too watched the sunrise and the caught the fishermen at midsea through the camera lens...
We Passed by a few churches...but no, missed stopping by.

@Vivekji-Thanks so much

RGB said...

I've been wanting to go to Pondi myself, for years. And you've made the place sound even better. Now, I'm waiting for my next break, to pack my bags and head to Puducherry.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Sahrmistha
I was so busy reading cook's doodledo, I just missed this fantastic site. Now I am reading one by one. Pondicherry, a place I always wanted to go from childhood days..
Your command over English language fascinates me. Let me read all the articles here.
Best wishes
Ushnish

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