Pondicherry is a small quaint sea side town, in the south of India, about 162 kilometres from Chennai (formerly Madras). To say that it fascinates me and I am completely in love with the place, would be to put it mildly. (click on the underlined word to see pictures and the official site)
The whole place is divided into two areas—the ‘white town’ and ‘the rest’. For more than two hundred years, the place was a French colony. The slight French accent which tinges Tamil and English languages that we hear spoken, remains a living memory to the culture of this place. In the same way, the alignment at right angle of the streets remains a lovely inheritance of French architects. Many people still have the French citizenship—and you will hear French being spoken widely.
I have constantly moved, as a child and as an adult. (the average time I would have spent in a place would be approximately 3 and a half years). I had the fortune of staying in the white town area of Pondicherry ,for nearly two years. I loved it all—the streets, the people, the architecture, the beach, the eating joints, the language and the general aura that the town exudes.(you can almost feel the calmness)
The places shown in this short clip are so familiar to me as I used to live just a few metres away from it—and this clip brought back such fond memories.
More than all this, Pondicherry was also the place where I met one of my closest friends —Priya. (I have to write a whole new post to tell you about her. She is one of the most courageous and inspiring women I have come across. I shall tell you her story in another post)
Priya and I hit it off, almost instantly. We met, as both her children attended the same school as my two. I was new to the place and trying to get to know people. When you move so often, talking to new people and making friends becomes an essential survival skill. I started a conversation with her. There was an instant and immediate connection. It was almost like we were soul mates. Our thinking was alike, our love of books, ‘intellectual discussions’ and the sense of humour. She too has a son and a daughter like me, and our children too loved each others company.
Priya lived very close to me and Priya’s apartment overlooked the beach. As soon as our children arrived from school, we would quickly finish whatever school work there was and hurry to her place. We spent many happy hours or her terrace, overlooking the sea, laughing like nuts and talking endlessly- some ‘intelligent conversation’, some foolish talk, (but never a dull moment!)- sipping tea, while our children had a whale of a time, playing with each other.
Priya is one friend whom I cherish, and when I had to move from Pondicherry, she was almost heart broken. It is always harder for the person who gets left behind. The person who moves has a new place to look forward to. She later told me that for months afterwards, she could not bear to look at my old apartment, knowing I was gone.
But, as they say, we meet to part and part to meet. I had moved to Bangalore and Priya came to visit me with her children. The days that they stayed with me, were some of the happiest moments that I have had. It was so much fun. But then, practical things like school and work always interferes with ‘good times.’ And she had to go back to her life .
Since then, I moved again—this time to a place in Western India .The first thing which struck me when I was sight seeing the places here, was how much Priya and her children would enjoy seeing this. She has promised to make a trip.
They say if there are no good times, you make them happen. And I am doing just that.
Iwill be visiting Pondicherry AND staying with Priya!! Of course my kids will go with me. They are counting the days left to ‘go to pondicherry’.
The dates havent yet been finalised. I will be there for almost a fortnight. I hope to click lots of pictures and like my kids, I just cant wait!