I woke up early. (9 o clock… what did you think?)
Had to tour the rest of the city today.
But only after I had stuffed myself at A2B alias Anand Adyar Bhavan off M. G. Road.
These Anand Bhavans are a like a chain of little shops across the South that sell sweets and snacks. The taste is similar across all outlets and you can expect hygienic food and service. I pigged out on dosa, medu wada and some orange halwa that tasted a bit like vermicelli. And of course, my day was incomplete without some Mysore Pak dripping with ghee… So, pop it went into my mouth and set my soul at peace.
The first place I saw was not on my sightseeing list – Manakula Vinayagar temple. It’s a Ganesha temple, and it held pictures of the deity in varied forms. What also was attention-grabbing was that there were more than a few foreigners dressed up in traditional outfits (lungi and kurta, with a tikka on the forehead) revering the idol with utmost sincerity. The biggest attraction, though, was a live elephant stationed at the entrance who was blessing devotees who cared to give it some food or money. I fed it some grass and screwed my eyes shut gearing myself for its saliva-dripping drunk to descend on my lovely red-streaked hair. I felt nothing for a good 20 seconds. I opened my eyes and looked at the elephant whose trunk had moved on to the next devotee. Had it blessed me? Apparently, it had. The photograph stands proof of that. Cool.
The Pondicherry museum and Botanical Garden took hardly over 20 minutes each, more due to their expanse than any real curiosity on my part. The museum has artifacts from the Chola and other kingdoms as well as excavated items from Arikamedu. What I found fascinating were the burial urns, and the exquisite French furniture. The Botanical garden boasts of rare and exotic plants from around the world, a musical fountain and an aquarium. I found the Rolland library, Ayyi Mandapam in the Bharati Park and Church of Notre Dame (Our Lady of Angels) facing the lovely Jeanne de Arc statue quite average. Of course, I captured some beautiful pictures at all these places, and the memories shall stay with me forever.
I’d done enough sightseeing for the day, I thought. Moreover, I was dying to get back to Sidney Sheldon. The Naked Face is an intriguing novel about a doctor who is being chased to be murdered. The doc is unaware who that is, and in his quest to find his killer, he does some detective-giri on his own and enlists help from those he trusts. The suspense, though lame and predictable, is presented in a charming way, and it is the style of the writer that keeps you spellbound. You can actually feel the tension and frustration, the fear and the determination of all the characters involved.
Hmm, I'll start the other story - Memories of Midnight tomorrow... Now's the time for a celebration, so I made my way to Promenade – one of the most luxurious hotels in the town. It was located seaside, and the rooftop restaurant had a marvelous ambience.
(You must be wondering why I’m stressing on ambience so much. To me, an eatery is only as classy as the kind of guests that are entertained, and the way they are seated and served.)
After glancing through some paintings exhibited on various floors, I took a comfy seat at the far end of the bar. The candle on my table made everything look extremely romantic and I missed having somebody to love sitting beside me and watch the waves, hand in hand...
Lonely, I’m so lonely… I have nobody…
Aah, wrong track. Time for some wine.
There were no Indians in sight, apart from the staff, and I liked that. It made me feel I was in another country, another continent altogether. I think that’s the bestest part of Pondicherry; it makes you forget you’re in India.
I could see French and Europeans and Americans around me, and a friendly lot, they are. So, when I quietly went up to a waiter asking directions to the washroom, a European aristocratically said "Straight up front and take a right."
Was he talking to me?
"Go straight and it's on your right."
Either a first-rate eavesdropper or a brilliant observer.
We're all taught to beware strangers and children everywhere are told not to talk to unknown folks. Can't let that kill the humanity, right?
I was in no mood for the mundane, and ended up ordering lobster. Well, it tasted like something between prawns and crab, crispy like most seafood and just as tasteless without the spices.
Relaxing on the beachfront, chowing out on delicacies, not a worry in the world...
This is life!