Refusing to use ‘Pi’ in blog title

We woke up to a miracle of well being on the day we planned to leave for Puducherry from Mahabalipuram.  Perhaps it was because we have visited so many temples, maybe because I have patted so many cows, it could be modern medicine, who knows?

Sheila was feeling so back to normal, despite my suggestion we catch another taxi, she was happy to go by local bus.

The super deluxe coach from Mahabalipuram to Puducherry, this means it has decent seats.

The ultra deluxe coach from Mahabalipuram to Puducherry, this means it has decent seats.

Overnight train trips get you to your destination overnight, but you don’t get to see a lot. Daytime bus trips through rural India are another story.  Salt harvesting, rice paddies, other unidentified crops, countless shrines and temples and on this trip, a real thrill to see wild flamingoes in a lake we passed.

Flamingo at Kuala Lumpur bird park for illustration purposes only

Flamingo at Kuala Lumpur bird park for illustration purposes only

Lonely Planet had another win with the Park Guest House where every room has a balcony overlooking the Bay of Bengal.  This place is run by the Sri Aurobindo ashram and the grounds are full of simple but beautiful pieces of art some of which are going to be replicated at home.

All over the place are posters of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, a French woman who became his collaborator.  There are lots of rules and even a curfew, but it was a great place to stay and see if Puducherry would scratch Sheila’s itch.IMG_1378(1)

Of we set on foot in search of French influence.  We didn’t get far before we fell victim to the ice cream shop just down the street at Alliance Francais.  This was a good start.

The old map had lots of streets with French names.  A newer map, and the streets themselves, had Indian names.  The good start was tarnished a bit.

Before long Sheila was so well and in such rapture that she was salivating at all the Frenchiness ranging from buildings to food to faux gendarmes with non-faux firearms.

Puducherry police

Puducherry police

There is a French embassy and to ice the cake of expectation, people actually speak French here.  Sheila is in heaven and I have to conceded that I was wrong about Puducherry being as French as Nouméa I.e. not at all.

There was a rehearsal for a parade and the military guys were happy to pose, just look at the excitement on their faces

There was a rehearsal for a parade and the military guys were happy to pose, just look at the excitement on their faces

The cherry on top of the croissant was a wonderful meal in an almost French restaurant.  My how the appetite has returned.

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Delighted at our ‘French’ dinner, this makes me happy and life easier.

There was also a certain amount of wistfulness starting to creep in because  our trip is ending .  Puducherry is our last stop before heading back to Chennai for our flight to Malaysia.  So we were lapping it up.

More Park Guest House art, broken terracotta pots.

More Park Guest House art, pieces from broken terracotta pots.

Of course there were Hindu temples, one particularly spectacular and another with what can only be described as an endearing performing elephant.

Hindu temple Puducherry

Hindu temple Puducherry

Temple ceiling

Temple ceiling

Place some money at the end of its trunk and it will touch you on the head to “bless” you.  This is important enough to people to have them lining up and the elephant receiving enough coins to keep it supplied in croissants.

Elephant blessing

Elephant blessing

You can take the girl out of the Catholic Church but you can’t totally remove the church from the girl.  So we visited some old churches and I scratched my head as Sheila, who had been a bit puzzled by the overt devotion of Hindus, crossed herself entering and leaving.  Or maybe the scratching was from the elephant blessing.

Happy face electrical box bathing in rainbow

Happy face Catholic electrical box bathing in rainbow

 

Who knew that baby Jesus had male-pattern baldness, obviously inherited

Who knew that baby Jesus had male-pattern baldness, obviously inherited.

 

Continuing the series of military male models

Continuing the series of military male models

I think you get the drift: there never was a Pondicherry zoo, but the French really were there and their influence remains.  We had a lovely time and the truth is, there’s not a lot to write about, but plenty of pics of a relaxing couple of days.

Cutting firewood for the restaurant cooker, with an electric saw

Cutting firewood for the restaurant cooker, with an electric saw

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