Saturday, February 20

Pondi trip - Day 3

(Check vacation snaps @ Do read the posts below this to get info prior to this day)

Day 3 dawned bright and clear.

However, it was not before noon that I saw the sun, simply coz I woke up at 11 and spent a leisurely one hour getting ready. On my to-do list today was Auroville – one of the most popular tourist attractions in (or rather near) Puducherry.

Auroville is about 14 kilometers from Hotel Ginger, and an auto ride costs about 150 one way. It’s always better to have an idea about and pre-negotiate fares with auto drivers, who obviously are looking out to rake in some extra moolah from unwary travelers. My usual trips between Ginger and M.G. Road cost 30 to 40 bucks one way during the day, and 50 to 80 during the late evening/night. I’d done my research prior to leaving, and so I offered an auto-walla 300 bucks for a return trip to Auroville. I expected him to take me around the complete township as well as the Auro beach.

So, what IS Auroville? Well, you could check out my pictures to know for yourself. Alternately, you could check out their own website. Basically, it’s a small town built on the idea of The Mother who visualized that there should be unity in diversity and people should live together in harmony without religious interferences. And you can actually see it! Indians, Europeans, Americans and others sit together to eat at the Auroville Visitors Centre cafeteria, and chomp on lemon rice and apple pie. They walk together around the gallery and watch the video and exhibition that tells more about Auroville and the Matrimandir – a huge golden ball, the largest man-made one ever, which houses 12 meditation halls and 12 gardens, each with a unique name concurring with human values and virtues. They walk in groups to the Matrimandir, and feast their eyes on the beauty and peace that radiates within the campus. So famous is this place in so many ways - you can search more details on a host of websites including Wikipedia.

Coming to the point, what’s there to see? As I said, there’s a visitor centre that gives tons of information in the form of videos, displays and exhibitions. After you explore it, you can head to Matrimandir, see the gigantic Banyan that lies at the centre of the township, and then take off to Auro aka Repo beach. I had read online that it’s an unclean one infested with thieves. However, my experience was different; sure the entrance to the beach was dirty and stinking, but the water and the people were certainly nice. I could not enter the water as I hadn’t come prepared, but I returned to this beach on the penultimate (=second last) day and had a gala time.

This outing took about 4-5 hours, and I HAD to hit the bed after I returned “home”. I set out at 8 again and headed to a restaurant called Satsanga, which is touted to be one of the best places to eat in Pondicherry. It was not as expensive as I’d imagined, the ambience and mob were brilliant, the French cuisine and seafood menu were tantalizing.

I decided to try the seafood soup and some prawn dish. The former tasted quite like our usual lentil/pulse soup mixed with luscious pieces of meat that were crunchy and didn’t taste bad... The prawns were all right, nothing worth writing home about. Seafood usually is bland and salty, so I knew what to anticipate. All I’d wanted was to experience something out of the ordinary. Mission accomplished.

I passed a hep little joint on my way called Le Space; it looked like a cozy little place with a young crowd, colorful blinking bulbs and light music. I promised myself I’d visit it one of the following evenings. (Destiny had scheduled it for Friday.)

It had been too long since my taste buds had taken a swig of delicious cold coffee, so I dropped in at the CafĂ© Coffee Day outlet at Ginger and ordered a chocolate doughnut with my pet Devil’s Own. One of the best parts about staying in a good hotel is that even if you relax indoors, you enjoy it without feeling claustrophobic or guilty about wasting time.

Time for Sleeping Beauty to set foot in the Paradise of Dreams. Gnite!

- Happy Princess

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