Pondicherry/Puducherry aka Pondy
Trip Start Apr 07, 2007
41Trip End Sep 20, 2007
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Where I stayed
Staying in french colonial Hotel de Pondichery in Francois Martin Suite, oh la la, not as grand as it sounds but lovely and hotel is like the french version of The Fairlawn in Kolkata, colonial and no chintz.
So Pondy is half French half Tamil with the french bit by the sea (suprise , surpise, not). It is roasting at 42 degrees and feels almost inland as there's no sand only rocks on the prom and you cannot swim there but there is a massive statue of Gandhi. According to the LP book the food is a revelation here but only if you think overpriced european food is I say (apart from the very indian veg. Thali's in Le Cormandale, yum).
It is a bustling town or city as it would be in Ireland, and even though you have to shelter between 12-4 which in our case involves eating or sleeping, we did make a sweaty effort to walk around too but even out of those hours it is roasting (there's a bar there that has 60rs a/c charge which was a first on the trip). There's a lovely park right in the centre of things called Bharathi park which had loads of bench's under trees and loads of people who again seemed amazed by the sight of us. At Sunday lunch a kid pulled up a pew by the side of our table to sit and stare at us and if we stared back he didn't even flinch!
The main drag is Mission or Catherdral St. with all sorts of shops and resaurants, with loads more shops on loads of intersecting streets - the steel shop was my fave. Nilgiri's grocery and everything shop is apparently an Indian institution and so we experienced an Indian supermarket (for sunscreen) which was suprisingly painless.
There's a plethora of churches end temples, all the french ones have very catholic names like Immaculate Conception and Sacred Heart and of course Notre Dame de Anges and all are beautifully kept. There is also a very interesting, in a ram-shackle kind of way, Botanical garden with a train station that the train never comes to and, I am not joking, a cotton ball tree (will attach a photo)
But we had a great storm one night and power outage (we have also had them everywhere but this one was for longer) which we discovered in the paper the next day was due to a whirlwind, cool eh! There was a nest of tiny puppies in the gutter in the street outside the hotel with their street dog mother and you will be as delighted as I was to know they didn't drown in the storm (like they were just born with closed eyes and so tiny).
So that's about it there, personally am not as impressed by Pondy as "the Chennai cocktail set" (apparently this is their playground) and the LP book seems to be, but this could be down to it been brain meltingly hot here, need to get to a real beach and a sea breeze now though .....