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10 Aug

Piquant Pondicherry


It was wonderful for once to not think about how I look, what I am wearing and what would others think of me. And the moment I realized this, I knew I was in the right place, with the right people.

Traveling with complete strangers proved to be the most fun thing I had done, in a very long time. Fresh albeit humid, the air in the city made sure that the visitors knew it was a fun, crazy and a city full of life and the salty sea. The car zoomed past the bustling city, narrow well-named streets and stopped in front of a traditional, cozy guest house where we were to spend our three, happening days.

Sitting cozily, amidst tall trees and under bright sun, the Aurobindo ashram’s silence fills you with peace and tranquility. Sitting there, with more than 50 people, you still feel one with yourself, you feel there is no one else around you for miles, and you can hear your thoughts, clearly. More than meditation, I looked around, took in the trees, the tiny creatures they house, the grass, the pots and the fallen leaves. I was delighted by a scene played out by two tiny, a couple weeks’ young squirrels who were having the time of their lives. Swinging from branch to branch, digging up mud, just for the fun of it and rolling around with each other, they were living the moment. After about half an hour of meditation, we went around the ashram and took in the beauty that is the place.

The evening, warm yet pleasant compelled us to take a walk through the French colony. Walking past the magnificent structures on both sides, it was almost as if I was in France. And it was more exciting for me, because I have never been to France! The cafes, fancy names and happy jolly people around made the walk worthwhile. Walking, we reached the Rock Beach. It was almost evening and the sun had set. Salty air, cool breeze and the sounds of waves crashing the rocks is enough to erase all worries in the world. I watched the waves, some big and some tiny waves. The Mind just can’t stop making analogies.

The most peculiar analogy I made while idly watching the waves was that the bigger, giant waves looked like an army of horses, in war against the rocks, galloping towards them, only to crash and splash. And the smaller waves looked like little happy puppies, rushing towards you to lap up your feet. Early morning and late into the night are the best time of the day to spend on a beach. Full of life, hustle bustle, people jogging, dogs snoozing, fishermen fighting the waves to rope in their gold, dark figures silhouetted against the rising sun, meditating. Despite the activities happening around, you could feel the silence when you walk along the shore. Spare the rhythmic crunching of gravel under your feet and the waves crashing. If you sit for a while there and filter out the human noises, you can hear the waves, the gush of water and the occasional cries of the birds circling in the overcast skies. The sounds tell you, that there was never a good time to be alive!

The best part of the trip was a fun visit to a couple of villages named Allankuppam and Sanjeevi Nagar. Two island villages, a part of Pondicherry among the other places like Auroville, a part of Tamil Nadu. Cozy, green and raw, the villages had their own charm. Little cottages, with extremely skilled artists who make kettles for hotels like the Taj. Beautifully polished and arranged in a line, ready to be shipped. Apart from ceramics, there were places where leather was processed and made into beautiful, funky, colorful bags and wallets, Incense and candle making, lamp shades among other things. The observable point was that the sex ratio of the workers there was not messed up, for a change in a workplace.

POndi2

Set up against the beautiful backdrop of trees, a carpet of sand, the cultural center “Mohanam” had a welcome aura to it. Smiling, enthusiastic volunteers ushered us in. We had a ravishing, traditional Tamil lunch, complete with banana leaves and payasam. The beautiful ladies there taught us how to make kolam. They taught us the local, long lost dance form kolaatam. Dancing amidst the trees, tall breezy coconut and palm trees was bliss.

Ending the day on a cultural note, the mind wandered into thoughts of how blissful and content life would be if we just leave the concrete jungle that is the city and live here, one with the nature.

This article is originally written by Narayani Raaghavan – An IT employee with love for traveling & photography, who travelled with F5 Escapes to Pondicherry in 2015.

‘F5 Escapes’ is a Bangalore-based, experiential travel company, with a focus on crafting and executing all-women travel experiences in India. The premise of F5 is an ambitious dream –  to put India on the global travel map as a preferred destination for women.  Come, join us, as we work towards redefining the way women travel India.

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