17 March 2015
As we depart Pondichery/ Pondicherry/ Puducherry (depending on which language you choose to name it), we are left with its many highlights; there were no low-lights 🙂
- Our wonderful temporary home at La Closerie … Bay of Bengal in the French quarter. Stylishly decorated and warmly hosted by Annie and her sari-clad team.
- Promenading on the esplanade at sunset with the locals.
- Wandering past a local version of “India’s Got Talent“, complete with sitar and tabla drums. Seven-thirty at night, our sunglass-wearing compere with greased-back hair, open shirt and assortment of gold chains had the audience eating out of his hand.
- Stumbling upon a Gendarme Marching Band; although, due to the heat, they were more of a Gendarme Sitting Band. The clash of brass and drums was faintly reminiscent of my school band at assembly. Like listening to a car crash: the slow, awful sound of metal clashing together.
- Attending a contemporary theatre production (in heavily French-accented English) by a young troupe in a theatre lit by a hundred oil burning lamps. Very hot, very atmospheric, and perhaps the reason the theatre burnt down several years ago.
- Driving two bumpy hours to visit stone temples and rock carvings from the 6th century. Amazing and memorable. So memorable that on arriving at the granite-hewn monoliths of Mamallapuram, sweat dripping off me in the 38 degree heat (only Ganesh would know the humidity level), I realised I had visited this same historic site twenty-five years ago on an earlier trip to India.
- Special mention goes to the wonderful French restaurants. Incredible food; I even felt on a few occasions that I was dining in a Parisian brasserie, so authentic was the typical laissez-faire (ie arrogant) ‘style’ of service that some of the waiters exhibited …
A French colony in a style that only the melting pot of French and India cultures could produce.
I’ve just read my Lonely Planet India and it seems there is a Danish colony further down the coast. Sounds intriguing. I’m already picturing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo done Bollywood style. I do think there is room for a roly-poly blue Ganesh in Hans Christian Anderson. The Indians could take the Tivoli Gardens to a whole different level.
Although I don’t think my stomach is quite prepared to accept curried rollmops.