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Posts Tagged ‘Pondicherry’

Travel morgue

I have always professed a great love for traveling with a cultivated fascination for visiting places seldom explored by archetypal tourists. I am rather predictable in my vociferous dislike for visiting national monuments or botanical gardens tucked away a little too neatly under the foul armpits of polluted hill stations. Having been a land scout for nearly six years, I have explored ethereal places such as Yellagiri Hills, Top Slip in Pollachi and exotic parts of Kathmandu. Having spent close to three years in the company of guys who rightfully should be restrained with sedatives and leather straitjackets, I have journeyed to nether regions of Kodaikanal, serene rivers in Kottayam and also taken photographs and collected skeletal remains of exotic starfish as erstwhile souvenirs in sleepy coastal villages en route to Pondicherry. Most of all, having befriended my favourite cousin sister’s hubby (an obsessively adventurous chap) for the greater part of 1997 – 2001, I was willfully led astray to strange jungles near the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, Malai Mahadeswara hills and ghostly stretches of dense vegetation in the Western Ghats.

It’s been nearly a year since I had a proper trip. My business trip to Singapore was a nightmare only rivaled by kidney stone surgery I had to go through the year before. My last visit to Kodaikanal was when I was switching careers and henceforth even consumption of copious quantities of magic mushrooms could not lift the realistic distractions that kept annoyingly fluttering in my mind. I am pretty sure that I have lost a considerable amount of interest in getting out of the city and into the tender arms of quiet destinations. Maybe life has caught up with its gentle worries or perhaps I have simply grown tired of such indulgences. Maybe I just don’t like taking such trips anymore. Whatever it is, one thing is for sure. I am going to do this one more time, if not for reclaiming a distant memory then at least for hitting the pause button on life to send a gentle reminder to self that I once was a traveler.

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Citrus-flavoured vodka and top-notch hallucinatory substances are preferred luxuries. Taking a weekend road trip to Pondicherry with a bloke from Macondo, a local ninja and a captain seemed like a basic necessity.

In those precious hours, I discovered that the local restaurant – Rendezvous has a killer steak sizzler and that I have a passion for crunchy ice-cream sundaes.

And just for the record, the good folks at Pondicherry are treading the fine line between ‘being French’ and ‘being silly’.

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Alambara

About 23 kilometers before the Pondicherry bus stop, paradise lies obscure and silent. The Alambara backwaters. Perfectly hidden inside a secluded village off the Mahaballipuram-Pondicherry highway, the backwaters is known to the locals as Frenchie Kotai Orru.

Apart from a grand blue ocean, this village is also home to a French fort, which doubled up as an erstwhile godown for packages that arrived from Ceylon during the late 60s.

Presumably in it’s death bed, this sprawling red fort sent many chilly sensations down our collective spines. There was a Muslim burial ground nearby, as though just to up the ante of creepiness.

Arriving there at 4.30 am, we walked just short of mile to reach the moon-lit backwaters.

It was a matter of minutes before each one of us found a nesting place. Some of us sat on wet rocks covered in barnacles while others stood around, casting their hazy glances at the orange sky.

Our senses danced like wild birds caught in forest fire.

One of us, the one who wore his beard and beads with effervescent pride, suddenly fell down without any specific reason.

“This is it”, he mumbled. “This is fucking it”

This place possessed a rare beauty. A sort of beauty which could make you trip over thin air.

And then just before the sun woke up from its slumber, something spectacular happened.

I stopped thinking.

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