Friday, March 16, 2007

tom n jerry

“Everything is very quiet about hear” says Andre after I observed that the giant dog sitting beside the table was very quite. I was struggling to find accommodation after the information center guy’s effort went futile. We had reached auroville after leaving Bangalore at about 5:45 AM on Sunday, 13th August 2006 sometimes in the afternoon covering almost 320 kilometers. The trip was incident free except for a slight skirmish when a bike enthusiast met us heads on a crowded one way road in Villuparam and we missed the signs on flyover. The sign said to take right for Pondicherry but it was strikethrough fonts. On the way we saw a auroville police check post and were in the dilemma whether to go ahead and search in Pondicherry or get into auroville and try our luck. We had called almost all resorts and hotels and there were none available.

We decided to turn back and reach auroville and got directions for information center. We had some lime juice and were not sure whether to fill the tummy or find a place to rest and were thoroughly confused by the timings and lethargic response. We did not realize the importance of Sunday to aurovillians. Finally we left information center and decided to go to east coast road and onwards to pondy. On the way we saw New Creations and decided to take our chances there. We were shown a 4 bedrooms but there was another family with parents and we decided to give way to them. Luckily Andre remembered that someone had checked out in morning and we got our guest house, a nice room on top of handicraft center and below a neem tree.

We relaxed for a while and went in search of beach. On the way we had some juice and sandwich which took eternity to grill because of frequent power failures and even after we obtained it had someone’s hair inside so we had to return it.

The drive and the hungry stomach drove us mad and we had a little fight over carrying of food stuff. The waves were big and beach was well spaced out with lots of foreigners/aurovillieans. Muskaan was scared and so was I because even though we were on edge of the waves still it managed to fell me. The sun was bright and no one expected it would rain at this hour. But then people just ran for cover.

We reached Pondicherry along East coast road and found a parking lot some where on mission road. The Sunday market had crowded MG Road with tones of roadside vendors and crowded corner coffee shops. The coffee making process was very dramatic and the taste was even better. We loitered around Nehru street and muskaan had to answer nature call on the junction of MG Road and Nehru street. The shopkeeper offered his bottled water for clean up act and it rained like wild as shopkeepers ran helter skelter covering their shops. We were walking on empty street searching for a restaurant with heavy winds and huge rains. They said it was only the second time in over a month that it rained there but when it rains it really is hard.

It was pitch dark when we returned to guest house and only the security appeared from no where to help us get a candle as there was no power. Next day morning there was no water as pump had some problem but it was promptly repaired and Andre had come over with apologies. We asked him how to plan our day and he offered that we have our own adventure. And indeed it was adventure as we moved in and out of Evergreen and then botanical garden where we saw orchids growing on dead wood for the fist time. Sitting there in the open was serene as the mood turned contemplative and mind wondered as to why these people all across world chose to leave their motherland and settle down in a place called auroville.

Hunger struck and we moved to official entrance of Pondicherry. We broke a signal and the traffic cop was humming his whistle behind us but we ambled along and reached Hotel Annamalai. The food was filling but we had to wait for the additional puri for a little longer.

Then it was the Aurobindo ashram, Sacred heart church and boathouse. Muskaan slept by then and in the pedal boat we had sprinkle salty backwaters on her. Even that was not enough and we had to shook her out of sleep. We returned back to Mahatma Gandhi statue and sat on the rocks appreciating the waves and when they struck the rocks on a consistent basis. Mamta did some shopping on the handloom exhibition as the locals lit up the status for Independence day celebration. We could not find table at promenade and struggled to reach ananda inn for dinner.

It was independence day and we missed the 5AM group meditation at matri mandir and rushed to the place by 6:45 AM. The bonfire had only smoke as people had almost left but the sight of matri mandir was awesome the two banyan tree made us sit there till eternity. If we could then we would have sat their forever watching squirrels dance and the winds play music through the banyan leaves. We were asked to leave as time was over and visited savitri bhavan and bharat niwas where we had free laddu and sweet bun with nice masala tea by standing in the queue with school kids and adults. The restaurant had no pricing for items but only a recommendation that you could contribute for the next visitor. The Tibetan center had photo exhibition of sri aurobindo and the content made up my mind to buy his books later from visitor center. A lady showed muskaan to chose a photo was quite clear about us not forcing muskaan to say thankyou etc.,

We checked out and bid goodbye to Andre and decided to come back to pondy for petrol but ended up packing our stomach with rice and sambar at Hotel Surguru. We hit east coast road by afternoon and meandered through it for a while till we reached mamallapuram. We lost patience in the traffic and only visited lighthouse and five rathas and missed the shore temple. We were confused about returning and decided to take chengalpattu-kachipuram-vellore route. We were not sure which would shorter and kept on driving for ever till we reached Bangalore at about 11:30PM. We should have taken ranipettai-chittoor-kolar road to save some time and petrol.

Still I am searching to find out the reason for people to leave their motherland and spend their remaining time in aurovilla cleaning cycle and seeds.

The title is due to muskaan as she mistook Pondicherry to tom n jerry.

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