When your vacation begins with the cabbie speeds off with your luggage,leaving you standing on the road gaping like an idiot, you know your trip is going to be just great.
As unbelievable as it sounds that’s exactly what the cabbie who was to drive us to the airport did. He stowed away our bag in the boot and sat in the driver’s seat, all set. I opened the back door threw in one of the smaller bags and shut the door and before I knew what was happening I saw the cab cruise along the road. For a few seconds I thought he was moving along the road to make way for one of the car that was exiting the building but when I saw him pick up speed and take a turn, I knew he wasn’t making way, he was driving away! I frantically looked through my handbag to find my cell phone to call the speedy gonzalvis and tell him he needed to take us along with the luggage. But as we all know there is a universal law that makes finding your phone in a hurry almost impossible. You need to pull out each and every item in your bag before you can find your phone. And my bag had a lot of things so it took a long time and much anxiety before the desired object is located in the deep recesses of my bag and fished out. A quick scroll through the contacts list informed me that I hadn’t saved the driver’s number.That left us with two option- to go back home and look up the directory or pray that mom’s cell phone had it. Luckily for us fervent praying worked. The number was found, speedy gonzalvis was called and asked to drive back from wherever he was and pick us up. When he did drive back this is what he had to say in his defence ” Maine darvaza band hote suna. Mujhe laga aap baith gaye ho, to maine gaadi chaladi.” Now what do you say to that? You’d like to say something vile but you end up saying “aise kaise kiya bhiayya? Ab koi baat nahi, chalo” Who drives like this I ask you? You hear someone shut the passenger door and you drive off? Just like that? Without a backward glance? And if no one calls you, you just drive all the way to the airport with the luggage and without the people? May be I am over reacting but then this is the first time a cabbie has taken my luggage and left me behind. May be if this happens a few more time, I wont react so strongly. Not that I want to it happen ever again. The entire process of “finding” the cabbie cost us a precious half hour, the value of which we quickly learnt when we met one traffic jam after the other. I had this recurring vision of us sitting in the cab stuck in a traffic right next to the airport watching the plane taking off right in front of our eyes, waving at the passengers peering out of those small windows. Thankfully we reached in the nick of time and were spared the waving.
That was the bad part of the journey. The rest of it was all good. I was mighty impressed with Jet Airway. I think they have been consistently serving some of the best food(a contrast to Sahara, now know as Jet Lite. Only the name has changed. The food remains as bad as ever.). The crew is generally friendly and cheerful (a contrast to Indian) And now they have this:-
all in the name of in-flight entertainment. When did domestic flights get so fancy? The options available arent all that great but still, the fact that entertainment exists is good enough. Now if they only made all their discounted tickets cancellable /modifiable, they will have my undying loyalties for life, I swear.
Pondicherry isn’t new to us. We are frequent visitors who love all that the place offers- the leisurely pace, the wide roads lined with shady trees, the architecture, the blended culture and of course the Ashram.
The beach is beautiful, very different from the one in b’bay. The sea is much rougher and the shore is lined with black rocks but that’s where the differences end. Both beaches have some obvious similarities. There are tens of vendors selling you everything from balloons to candy floss to strange helicopter like objects that emit a blue light up when thrown up in the sky to peanuts. And then there are the people, truckloads of them.
And noise. No, make that lots of noise. That’s something I could easily live without. With each trip, Pondicherry seems to be getting more crowded and noisy. Too many people everywhere- the beach, the roads, the market, the garden, you name it. Two wheelers with their reckless driving and incessant honking dominate the roads. But then the increasing number of people owning bikes and scootys is one aspect of prosperity. And that’s good I only wish they’d drive slower and honk a lot less.
While in Pondicherry we made a visit to Kanchipuram to see the famous temple. The temple is very impressive with its large gopurams and beautiful stone carvings but what really caught my attention was this elephant at the temple entrance. Painted pretty, the elephant rests his trunk on your head to bless you if you offer a rupee or two. I think elephants are cute and everything and they do look great on the Animal Planet but I am just not willing to get too close to them. So I offered the elephant a uncertain smile, extended a coin from the greatest distance physically possible, got a photo clicked and said good bye.
Everyone else seemed to be a pro at this offer-coin-get- blessed routine. No one stretched their arm as far as they could to maintain maximum distance between the elephant and themselves. No one jerked away when they saw that trunk approaching. Everyone was really cool including my mom. I think it’s just me. In addition to the
elephant at the entrance, we found these while walking around the temple compound.I, for some rason think its pretty cool that we still have elephants in temples- it just make the whole temple culture seem to grand and it certainly makes some of the boring histroy chapters that we did in school seem real.
We stopped over at Mamallapuram, also called Mahabalipuram on our return journey. In the sweltering afternoon sun, I wasn’t sure if stopping over to witness the remains of history was such a great idea. But one look at the rock-cut monuments and I knew I wouldn’t be regretting the decision. You need to see these structures to believe them.
How people made these structures centuries ago is mind boggling. I wish the weather was a little more compliant and we had more time on our hands. An hour is just not sufficient to see and appreciate all of the structures. This is one place that requires another visit and I am going make it for sure.
PS: please note the two pics of the beach are courtsey mommy. I am mentioning it here cause I dont want to be accused of plagerism later! 😉