A Taste of France in India
Trip Start Aug 09, 2008
48Trip End Aug 2009
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On our ride from Salem to Pondicherry which is a 6 hour bus ride, the driver had a movie/songs playing on a screen. No headphones but speakers in the bus and Rajiv and I had the privilege of sitting right underneath them. They are loud and in Tamil which we both don't understand, so doesn't help. Throw in the constant honking by the bus driver to that mix plus other vehicles and the occasional herd of cattle or goats on the road, which all makes for a lot of noise.
The odd time when there is a lull in the music and this co-incides with the driver not honking, there is blessed peace for just a couple of seconds before the whole symphony starts again
And now, a little bit about Pondicherry. A former French colony, there are still pockets of French culture evident in the city from the street names, food and the french language. Had our fix of lattes and chocolate cake at Coffee.com, a great little cafe with wifi and internet access.
We also rented a scooter and drove to Auroville, about 12 km from Pondicherry. Rajiv had fun with the scooter but driving on Indian roads, even relatively quiet ones, is stressful. Auroville is an international community, described as a project in human unity. They have about 80 rural settlements and each settlement has its own area of work and expertise from renewable energy, organic farming to womens' projects etc.
At the spiritual and physical centre of Auroville is the Matrimandir, the soul of Auroville. It looks like a golden golf ball and contains a silent inner chamber for meditation and spiritual practices. Day visitors are not allowed in, so we only saw this from the outside. We spent the day wandering through their ecological park that showcased how they reforested the area they settled, and started organic farms and alternative energy projects. We also looked through shops that contained products like soap, incense, and stationary made by Aurovillians, and finished the tour with a good wholesome lunch at their cafe. It will be interesting to spend a week here, participating in some of their projects- possibly another time!