Friday, October 12, 2018

Pondy Was Fine for A Woman Solo Traveler. Part 1 - Promenade Escapade

And I was going to a teeny tiny town, like a speck or dot on the google maps may be. Still tinier yet magnificent was the view from the plane. As the set of wheels rolled out, and as the images of huge sea line unfurled into of a small lump of earth, I was landing in Pondy. In an airport that resembled more like a mammoth playground where two small domestic airplanes nicely stayed.  My heartbeat was too excited. All was fine. But I was alone. That made a difference! So much wanted trip, the solo escapade.

I did not want to complain about the grumpy driver that drove me to my hotel accommodation, but I will. It was till the end of the trip that I came across  all grumpy and unfriendly male drivers. I was told the place was safe for woman travelers. Now I know why! 

A small town, a Union Territory, this White Town is connected well by good public transport including two wheeler that can be rented out at several places. This is a boon for travelers. All across the town you see plenty of cyclists. A scene I loved on the streets.

Puducherry meaning "New town" was what TamilNadu called it in Tamil. And the new town still shines out in the old architectural whelm. A mixed culture of south India and the French. Lovely wall-shared row-houses with bunches of colourful bougainvilleas on the compounds decorate the French colony streets. Most government offices seemed so untouched by the construction technology. They still existed the same as they were in the French regime. I chose to stay in the busiest place in the town. The Promenade Hotel gave me the best view of the sea at a distance of hardly 50m from my room. I would call it a leap-able distance not walk-able. 

The biggest statue of that Gandhi standing tall by the sea in the centre of the Promenade guarded by  huge pillars carved exquisitely, was almost visible form a corner window of my room. 

It is a myth to feel the sea is the same everywhere. Stepping onto the promenade stretch gives you a contrasting view of two important things you notice. 1)The serene sea and the monstrous waves. 2) Second the abundance of clutter among the rocks. I could call it one of the most cluttered beach. However the stretch still charms you.

Everyday people take their walks by the sea, religiously and probably this is the most crowded life center of the town.
Promenade should be nicknamed Promisade.

Morning scenes include some usual joggers, yoga sitters by the sea, an old man distributing cookies to street dogs. My 
morning runs were calm and undisturbed by the dogs unlike in Manipal .  Our Manipal street dogs just do not trust any runner on the roads. The dogs here seemed to be understanding. They dug up their places in sand and lazed around most times except when hungry. The quite orange dawn time is when the waves seem bit ferocious in the quietness of the surroundings. 

Evening scenes here, include a a set of artists seated on several spots with their tripods and pencils and papers. They will produce a sketch of yours in few minutes that you sit facing them. And I got mine done too! And then the sari clad ladies, sari worn high up just below the knees, beautiful wrinkles and worn out hand bag and some shady flute like stick in hands. One of such ladies smiled at my palm and promised me I would one day marry a "bright" guy and have two children. I sent her back happy with a mere 100 rupees and the lady who translated me the Tamil "forecast" into English with a thunderous laughter. 

By nightfall in the burnt sky, one can still find few younger groups of youth loitering on the stretch. As for a traveler, I would suggest staying in one of the hotels facing the sea. My nights were calmer and the sound of the sea waves were soothing. Reminded me of the Colombo nights. The ocean view room and the same sounds of the waves. 

Honestly, the sprawling sea at times did frighten me. Especially when I sat staring at the sea, and every wave swelling up to the shore breaking down upon hitting the rocks of the promenade. That every swelling gave me a scare yet continued to lure me. I continue to cherish every moment spent with them

Apart from the promenade stretch there are quite a few beaches in this small Pondy and few other spots of importance. Continue to read, in the next post. post coming soon.