Pudhukuppam (15km north of Pondy)

Trip Start Apr 07, 2007
Trip End Sep 20, 2007

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pudhukuppam, Tamil Nadu 15th-22nd May

Well we discovered an Eco beach resort (not in guide book see www.thedunehotel.com) called The Dunes 15km north of Pondi in the village of Pudhukuppam, which A. Has a beach And a swimmng pool and B. Involves no complications on how to get there in the heat - as in is a 250rs taxi ride away and C. Has availability and a refreshing cooling breeze.

The Dunes is set on 30 acres of organic farm and has a number of cottages both nature cooled and air conditioned. Nature cooled is nice but then theres risk of noctural furry creatures visiting you, so we have opted for a/c. which is a lovely garden cottage with sea view. All rooms done by different artists. There's 4 dogs on the premises: Griffou who looks like a lion but is supposedly german shepard and is pretty friendly; Nash who is a female blond labrador and would be more frisky if she wasn't so fat but loves jumping in the pond and scaring the ducks and fish, and who accompanied us on our 1st night walking tour of the place; Pitto a regular sand colour Indian country friendly dog and Pongo, a dalmation who has adopted us and goes nearly everywhere with us (could be cause we let him in our a/c room) he even scatches the door at night or waits for us when we are out having dinner, so cute but actually quiet cunning really and probably a tourist slut.

The pool is gorgeous, really deep and overflowing and set out the back in a desertly looking bit and we had it to ourselves on the weekdays as we were nearly the only guests, it filled up at the weekend with Indian families and a few dutch tourists, but (horrible) kids don't use the pool til about 5pm so we are still the pool masters. The beach is bit disappointing (no hammocks this time) it's not exactly the kind you'd feel inclined to lie out on but it was obviously tsumami damaged and they are regrowing loads of trees and there's a rebuilt village for the local's which looks lovely and I am guessing in some ways they are now better off. But the pool is really A1.

Food is lovely and organic grown on site but extremely expensive but at least the resort supports several local charity schemes and the staff are lovely. Although it's amazing how many places we had to explain how to make a gin and tonic (with Indian tonic water) was that not invented here? (After all this time I actually like G&T's now and quinine is a good mosquito repellent or that's the excuse). We had to move cottages three times over the 7 days the second one was also nice with a pond in the garden but the third was really really lovely with a 4 poster bed (a/c room) and actual bath and separate living room (nature cooled), also has a 4 poster in the garden with a palm cover. Gggggorgeous.

They have no tv here as there want to shield us from the outside world and tv dross they say but they have a good dvd library, so have seen lots of films everyone else has now - Capote, Goodbye Lenin, Good Night and Good Luck, Crash & TransAmerica and then there was Aguirre The Wrath of God (dir. Herzog starring Klaus Kinski) and A history of violence (dir. Cronenberg), Through a glass darkly (dir. Ingmar Bergman) - you can guess a boy chose these but they were good.

Had a bit of drama on one of days we moved room, I was wearing my stupidly expensive watch at the pool as we didn't know the code for the safe and so put it in my camera bag so it wouldn't get sand in it. Went for a 45min walk on the beach (obviously swinging the camera bag) and lost the bloody watch. Realised immediately on return and spent from 4pm to nightfall combing the beach. 2 teenage boys had approached us on the return leg of the walk and said something in Tamil but as we didn't understand we just shrugged and moved on. Later I became obssesed they were asking us did we lose a watch but we couldn't find them again. Rang my Insurance company who said I had to make a police report even though it wasn't stolen. Housekeeping management were really helpful and even looked on the beach too, so finally at 11am next day they sent their Admin. guy with us to the cop shop to make the report, the police sub inspector was very nice and there was a bit of paper work. There was also a question of how much 'baksheesk' I'd have to pay for his services but apparently I'd find out the fee when he sent the Insurance cert. over the next day.

So with me feeling pretty bloody stupid we thought we'd look for the teenagers one last time the next afternoon but didn't find them and even asked some other teenagers who knew nothing. So walking back thinking that was that and chatting about other things C. kicked a coconut in his path and l looked down at it and there was my watch lying in the sand for 25 hours by the shore line working away perfectly. So what can I say - there is a God?. Had to tell the cops and write a letter saying I found it and the 'baksheesk' seems to be 300rs now instead of 1000rs. So lesson learned for stupid materialistic bitch - to be more careful and less bloody materialistic in the future....

In other news I had a pottery lesson and made a terracotta pot - the first person in 4 months to get it right on 1st go apparently (so talented it's unbearable), and moving swiftly on I had ayurvedic 'Shirodhara' treatment where they basically drip hot oil on your head for an hour - C. says it sounds like japanese water torture but it is in fact lovely.

Visited Auroville (15km east) a town which is an International community, with 1600 residents from 30 countries, created in 1968 as a project in 'human unity' the brain child of 'The Mother' a then 90 year old french woman who was a follower of Sri Aurobindo. Yet we noticed the toiling labourers in the hallunicatory heat were all Indians, we only saw internationales flying around on their motorbikes. But it has an intertesing philosophy with no materialism and eastern spirituality and you can leave all religion at the door, it has the coolest golden space ship looking meditation hall (the soul of Auroville) called Matrimandir that radiates light in through a crystal dome with thousands of tiny mirrors but it kinda seems very "Take me to your leader" in a 1960's B movie way, however I know this is just our cynical view, it obviously works after all this time. They provide the children's education with no exams in mind which is nice, what we don't know is what the children of the last 39 years have gone on to do or did they just stay? For anyone wondering where their money to Concern goes it defo did some good work here after the tsunami as this Irish HGO get specifically mentioned. It has a very good set up though and great shops with quality stuff and a nice cafe. So tres interesting. Also some Indians wanted us in their photos/video again - did I mention C. was a star photo attraction in Indian family photos in Calcutta - they even invited us around to their house in Chennai but sadly we cannot as next up heading for hills where it'll be 23 degrees via 9 hour overnight bus (gulp).

It was like as if the dogs knew we were leaving as Nash and Pongo hung out with us all afternoon (well I did also explain to them we were going) but Pongo even came to see us off when our taxi came, aaahhh. (This is the 2nd dalmation who adopted us in the last 2.5 years, the last one being in Galway at Christmas 04 when we fed him "our share" of a Christmas ham, so maybe that's the breed of dog we should get when we move to Oz).

Am so glad we were only using our last "nature cooled" room just for showering etc. (which they let us have gratis while we waited til 11pm for our bus) as I saw a pretty big frog in the bed! And C. disturbed a cat which could easily crawl in the through the gaps so God knows what else could, mind you everything else would have been put off by the cat.

And before we headed off for our 9 hour bus journey we had more ayvuredic massages and you know what the weirdest thing is for women's massage: in the immodest West when you have a full body massage breasts are totally covered and not touched but here where they are sooo modest (women don't even wear swimsuits like they swim in their street clothes in the pool and sea) bare breasts are fare game for massaging, weird huh? I noticed this in both south and east India, so it's not just a south India thing where they are a bit more liberal and women actually have jobs (other than skivving) in the hospitality industry. Although we also see hod-carriers and builders labourers are women, they carry baskets of bricks on their heads in 42 degrees - and I thought office work was crap!
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