Just like my timing of reading books seems pre-determined, my travels have also started showing a similar pattern. We had been planning a trip to Pondicherry since June this year. Somehow every time it got postponed. Finally, we managed to go this weekend. Only last week I wrote a post on ‘What is the optimal size for a city?’. The very next weekend I visit Pondicherry and it almost looks like an answer to all my questions. Do I see a pre-built pattern there between my thoughts and my travels?
Weekend in Pondicherry
Pondy is this nice laid back beach town with a legacy of being a French colony. A rare Indian city which is clean with well laid out roads. All of whom have a board telling the name of the street or road. We stayed at a beach resort, which was very reasonable for the last minute booking. In the morning, on the beach there were exactly 3 people on the beach including me, to see the sunrise. There are a countable number of places that you can visit. Aurobindo Ashram, three churches, and a couple of temples, a museum, a beach road with Gandhi statue.
There is an equally countable number of eating joints where you can go and eat. These are the places where you actually feel how laid back the residents are. The place where we had dinner was a rooftop restaurant with a nice ambiance. But there was only one person to take the order, cook and serve you. So everything that we ordered took at least 20 minutes. The place where we had our breakfast/lunch next day, was amazingly good, with a relaxed air and mouth-watering food, a perfect Sunday morning joint.
Auroville, a universal township where people from 124 nationalities live, is an ideal example of how cities/town should be, of course in my opinion. There is no boundary to this township, no propaganda to promote it, you can just walk in there and feel being a part of it. It is like someone saying, ‘I don’t like the way the world works, this is my idea of the world and if you share the vision, come and live here’. The food there is amazingly good, mostly organic and farm fresh. You can actually feel the freshness as it touches your taste buds. There are shops which sell handicrafts and other stuff which is hand manufactured in Auroville.
There are few roads, and most pathways are trails in the wilderness. The nature around you in not fabricated, it is left as it would have been without the township being there.
The only attraction in the whole township is Matrimandir, which is under construction as of now, so you can not go inside it as of now. The battery operated carts, port you to and fro the Matrimandir. And there is only one parking place in the town. As one of my friends said ‘the way to live in Auroville is to hire a hut and a cycle and just be there’.
The best part of the trip was the unbelievably good road from Bangalore to Pondicherry, with not much traffic. It almost gives you a feeling of being in a developed country, or shall we say we are developed, may be only in bits and pieces.