Pongal in Pondicherry - our last day in India

Trip Start Dec 11, 2011
Trip End Feb 27, 2012

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Flag of India  , Union Territory of Pondicherry,
Monday, January 16, 2012

We are now learning, we actually interviewed three tuktuk drivers before taking on Anthony, for our usual "sightseeing tour". We definitely made the right choice. Not only did he speak impeccable English, who was a truly kind man, who felt nothing was too much trouble - and he ensured that we had an action-packed day.Starting off with the Mecca of Ashrams - Auroville!  This was a modern gold sphere, that slightly reminded us of a golf ball, and a shrine to The Mother. We were warned this was a place of quiet and meditation and silence was to be adhered to. As you can imagine - not feeling the "Ohmmmm" we got a terrible attack of the Church Giggles... 
 The best part was the "boutique" where we both managed to put a little bit of heat into the plastic - and needless to say, our next stop was the post office in order to lighten our load and allow space for our new purchases!  Next on the agenda was a fishing village, with wonderfully coloured boats moored on the sand and then of course lunctime! Anthony recommended a true local veggie (they do vegetarian best of all), where we ate like kings for a 1! A full insight into all the streets we had not yet visited, churches, temples, Ashrams, more boutiques and of course (the reason for crossing India!) the paper factory! 7kgs of Khadi paper later and the second shipment of the day was made - although some had to be kept back for sketching-on-the-hoof! Ems was in seventh heaven (she'd found HER Ashram!).  
 Our final stop was to the  Manakula Vinayagar Temple where we could not visit until after 4pm as the temple elephant, Lakshmi, does not return from her lunch break until then.  She is amazing and so regal and when you pass by her, offer her a rupee or some grass, she takes it from you with her trunk and then blesses you by tapping the top of your head.  
 Having nearly missed our previous night's curfew of 10.00 pm, we accepted Detta's kind invitation to have dinner in her home. What we don't know about Ashrams now ain't worth knowing - although we have managed not to actually step inside one!Our last day in India (17th Jan) has arrived far too quickly. 
 We can't believe it. Positioning ourselves in our usual cafe (where they had an espresso machine!) we had an admin day sorting out our onward journey through Vietnam and catching up on e-mails. 
 A mixture of sadness, excitement and nervousness. We have truly lived southern India and have absolutely loved our five weeks here.Without wishing to dwell on it, we wanted to note down our list of what we will miss most and of course those things that we will really be happy to leave behind... 
Goodbye to...
Smelly Trains
Luxury alcohol tax/dry state of Tamil Nadu
Being forcefed at the homestays
Bartering (for Ems)
Hard Mattresses  
We'll miss you...
Lodsa Curry/Thalil
Tuk Tuks and Tuk Tuk tours
Pooppally's Homestay - Joseph and Cecily
Sula Wine
Glorious Beaches
Fresh Seafood
Train Journeys
Bartering (for Kitty)
Cows and Goats on every street corner

 Sadly we did not get to see a Pongal cow before our departure to Chennai, but Anthony nearly reduced us to tears when he rang to wish us bon voyage.  
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