Monday, February 26, 2007

SOJOURN - CHENNAI, PONDICHERRY AND THE REST


As part of my ongoing thirst-quest for travel, I set out to Chennai on 16th February. The bus timings between the 2 cities are unearthly, which is why I reach way too early in the morning. I’m welcomed by wily auto-fellas who rip me off. I get to Maddy’s place – beautifully decorated, almost like a mystifying & bedazzling museum. We are drowsy but it’s been ages since we’ve seen each other and we talk for quite some time. Chennai is quite a lot like Calcutta in terms of weather … hot, sticky, and sapping. There is definitely something that sucks the juice out of me and I find myself feeling drowsy & unfocused (and that’s sayin’ something coz’ I’m always hyper-active on trips) Not to mention the extremely noisy autos, probably one of the noisiest in all the places in India I’ve been to. But apart from a few initial misgivings, I find myself liking the city overall.

In those first few hours of the morning, I get to meet Maddy’s mad mom (“I see where the lunacy comes from”, I tell her). D picks me up later and we head straight for a movie (which is eaxctly what happened on my Pune trip too – straight from the station to the theatre ;) Post movie, we go to his house. Both Vaidehi aunty and D’s mom are extremely chilled out & sweet people. D is majorly into movies and visual arts, and therefore I get a liberal dose of interesting TV series and also a Tamil movie to boot!!!! (Pachai kili muthucharam - with D providing excellent translation). I ask D a lot of questions about his work, and emerge none the wiser. I meet Kapakka, someone whose voice I;m crazy about, and who is a very dear friend to D and Maddy

Unfortunately, most of the plans don’t fall into place and we have not much to do. A visit to the Broken Bridge and the beach has an expected calming effect. Many awesome coffee places are visited and lounged around in. The plan to leave for Pondicherry by bike the next day is thwarted by unexpected rains, and we take the bus. Doing this sadly ousters all the destinations we could’ve visited on a bike, and we land in Pondi early evening. We have a hard time finding accommodation at first, but once done, we set out for Pondi walks. Pondi is a small place with many, many lanes, and most of the town is accessible on foot. Being a Sunday, the crowd is overwhelming. A sitting on the rocks, watching the waves crash ashore puts the mind to rest. For it is places like these, where doing absolutely nothing at all feels like a job well done :) The trip is a culinary delight as we lunch at places with mouthwatering fare, and at one of these places I come across a group of chinks who speak chaste Hindi, just like me!!!!! Brothers & sisters, we are not alone !!! ;) It amuses me to no end.

The next day is spent in abject misery as I catch a terrible cold. All the prizes of the world may be a difficult catch, but a cold is easily & unwillingly caught. I find it difficult to even walk around, and it takes away the joy of walking in Pondi. In spite of the tough time I give myself and D, we still manage to go places – the Ashram, Churches, beach front and the Auroville handmade paper making factory (we gorge on many of the products on sale and get a tour of the factory by a phirang with a condescending attitude – bleady!). It was a disappointment though, not to be able to make it to Auroville even on this 2nd trip to Pondi. The weekend being over, and a trip enjoyed, I catch my bus back to Bangalore and finally regain color after more than a week…

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Ruminations were abundant in an earlier blog regarding how we can be better human beings by just being nicer to people around us, give compliments where they are due and learn to say “thank you”. But have I ever thought of what I can give to the world after death? No sir! How many of us consciously think of the contributions we would like to make to the world even after our deaths?

A flat mate, Prasanna opens his heart out one evening. He comes from a family of doctors, where all known relatives are in the medical field. Years ago, when the time for a decision came forth, he took another path – he chose to be an engineer. Today, he earns a decent pay packet and is happy with his job. But happiness is a relative term. It stings him that in person, he cannot give to the society what he could have as a doctor. He rues that he cannot relieve the afflicted of their maladies. Of course, the lack of a definite identity and respect as an engineer are minor niggling factors, but this man struck me as genuinely repenting not having become a doctor. Instead of empty talk, smoke & mirrors, this man has attempted to make amends (that’s what he calls it) – he has pledged his eyes and his body for a post-death scenario, so that some unfortunate person can see again, and that others may learn of the human body & progress to become good doctors. It touched my heart to know his noble intentions, and made me think … what we want to give in life, and in death…..

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

- Horace Mann

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One book that I would enthusiastically recommend to everyone at this moment is How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. Yeah, I can see the look on your faces. A self-help book???? But this one strikes me as different. I believe it a book with the potential to change your life significantly. Unlike other self-help books, this one does not have a single boring moment. It is replete with jokes, anecdotes, stories, quotes and interesting slices of history, and of course, it is a step forward to be a better, successful person.

3 comments:

  1. Your blogs on your sojourns to Chennai,Pondicherry,Pune,etc.. are awesome!!Great pics to complement your blogs!!:-)

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  2. Chennai is a gracious city that has a clear skyline, long sandy beaches, parks; historic landmarks and tourist infrastructural facilities, which make it a convenient entry, point or base to start. Chennai is a city where the traditional and the modern blend in life is everywhere. From traditional vegetarian fare to fast foods, from ancient temple architecture to modern high-rise and from classical music and dance to discos throbbing to thrilling beats, Chennai has them all and many more vivid contrasts that are a pleasant surprise. A tour of Tamil Nadu and South India would include Music, dance and all other art forms of South India.

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  3. Hi, your post seems to much interesting.....It will be great when we meet childhood friend and spenting holiday with him in such an awesome place.Me too decided to go an trip to pondi next month.Everything else is set but we looking for budget hotels in Pondicherry. Could you please suggest some hotels...

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