4

Peaceful Pondicherry: Give time a break


Some things haven't really changed

                                     Some things haven’t really changed

Peaceful Pondicherry. Give time a break”

The promoters of Pondicherry tourism couldn’t have chosen a better tagline than this. The coastal town is unique in its own way. There is calmness around. There is peace. There are no inhibitions. Everything seems to stroll along. Everyone backs the idea of ‘living in the moment’. It is pretty much like the good old days. There are no strings attached. There are no commitments. And there is every chance that you might think about ditching the life you’ve lived and living the life you’ve always dreamt. Pondicherry makes it happen.

Give Pondy a thought. Give time a break

                                     Give Pondy a thought. Give time a break

My T-shirt had the writing,” It is bad manners to keep a vacation waiting”. But Pondy is not about mere vacationing. It is much more than that. It is about savouring the French flavour. It is about being conscious about cleanliness, like the morning tea seller at Promenade beach, who requests his customers to throw the tea cups only in the dustbins. It is about leading a disciplined life, be it at the traffic signals or be it with your choice of food. It is about the kindness and hospitality, like this stranger who patiently explained us in detail about the wholesale liquor shops and the streets where they are housed.

Stay away, English. We are in the land of the French

                         Stay away, English. We are in the land of the French

Pondy will forever be French and if I were to judge the French purely by their impact on Pondy, then I’d definitely rate them highly. A canal runs through the heart of the town. On one side lies the French Pondicherry. The neatly laid out perpendicular streets, the prevalent cycling culture on the tree-lined boulevards, French style buildings, nameplates and billboards bearing the names in French, the streets closer to the Promenade beach and laid back life of the inhabitants will give the impressions of a quieter coastal town in France. A plethora of cafes and restaurants serving French and Italian cuisine there will bowl us over. I’ve already started to ponder when I am going to gatecrash the Baker Street again. On the other side of the canal, lies the Tamil Pondicherry. It’s interesting to know how liberal people here were, to still retain portions of what the French left with them.

Don't look further. The best breakfast in the town is here

                      Don’t look further. The best breakfast in the town is here

My favorite Pondy moments were the times spent on the beach. The early morning sunrise from the rocky Promenade Beach was quite a sight in itself. The sun rose, like it does nowhere else, from the Bay of Bengal, creating magical colour patterns on the waters. The windy evening at the Paradise beach was thrilling. These virgin shores took us to another world, a world you’ve read in the fairy tales, a world of magic and tranquility, where you don’t care about burdens and commitments.

Sunrise from the Promenade beach. What a way to start the day

                Sunrise from the Promenade beach. What a way to start the day

But if there is one place, which was an eye opener for most of us, it is Auroville. The quaint village lies on the outskirts and is beautifully nestled in the bog. Auroville, where one comes to live the life that he/she had always dreamt of, attracts thousands from across the globe. The volunteers make every attempt to preserve nature. Organic farming is encouraged. The kitchen serves organic food cooked with solar energy. Plastics are banned. Cycling is appreciated. Local arts and crafts are supported. We can volunteer in farms, local schools and a string of nature conservation initiatives. In a way, this is the best place for self introspection and really think about what we want in life. There is no one to judge us and we are our own master. This trip is probably the best decision that we took. Pondicherry is not just a place, it is a state of mind.

This Ferrero-roscher shaped Matrimandir is pure magic

                       This Ferrero-roscher shaped Matrimandir is pure magic

 

0

The land of Rajput dudes, Jaipur


As the Jaipur bound Air Costa from Bengaluru was about to touch down at the Sanganer International Airport, the first sights from the naked eye were exactly what we’ve read about the state of Rajasthan. Patches of dusty yellow dotted the entire place. The towering forts and its walls, that guarded the city reflected it. Desert sand dust gave them a translucent appearance. And there was a complete absence of green cover. 

Reflecting dusty yellow, Amer fort stands tall, guarding the Pink City

          Reflecting dusty yellow, Amer fort stands tall, guarding the Pink City

The Airport looked small, doing sheer injustice to the ‘International Airport’ tag. The dome is even smaller than that of the MG Road Metro Station. It looked scarily empty, with very little shops open and owing to Diwali, there were very less number of taxis outside to take you to your destination. And the moment you stepped outside in the afternoon, the heat takes a toll on you, the aroma of ‘paan’ and mustard oil take center stage. The rickety buses dominate the pathways. Billboards and nameplates in Hindi take over.

Welcome to Jaipur.

Welcome to Jaipur

                                                 Welcome to Jaipur

According to the Rajasthani tradition, elephants symbolize Royalty

         According to the Rajasthani tradition, elephants symbolize Royalty

The Pink city of Jaipur is full of colours. History has it that the King had specifically ordered the city be painted in pink to welcome Queen Victoria. And it is incredible to see it, the entire city sporting pinkish orange. The walls of the palace and the buildings along the road leading to Hawa Mahal have been brushed in faded pink. Pink ribbons hang over the roads. Roadside shops are full of lip-smacking sweets and hot crunchy samosas, adding to the colour. And so are the bazaars with a beautiful collection of colourful bangles, art works, paintings, sarees and lehengas. 

Its Incredible to see the entire city in pink

Its Incredible to see the entire city in pink

Pinkish orange coloured buildings and interestingly designed share-autos

Pinkish orange coloured buildings and interestingly designed share-autos

The view from the top of Hawa Mahal

The view from the top of Hawa Mahal

Jaipur’s specialty is its rich history and its success in retaining it. The city palace showcases the grandeur of Rajput dudes. The paintings and designs have been worked out with forensic precision. The silver artifacts (‘Gangajali’) have its place in the Guiness Book of World Records. The Mahals are a triumph of impeccable architectural skills and are a true reflection of a fusion of Hindu Rajput and Islamic Mughal architecture. 

The Impressive courtyard of the City Palace

                                The Impressive courtyard of the City Palace

Hawa Mahal

             Hawa Mahal: The fusion of Rajput and Mughal style architecture

 

 

Hawa Mahal is a triumph of architectural genius

                           Hawa Mahal: A triumph of architectural genius

Jaipur is easily one of India’s most popular cities from a tourist’s point of view and its proximity to the National Capital helps it hugely. There is every reason to love the Rajputs. For, it takes a huge effort to make a place surrounded by rocks and desert sands, a royal city. Their architectural style is so unique, every stone and marble work at the Mahals symbolize beauty and royalty. The blistering heat outside is unbearable but the rooms of the Palace and the Mahals will tell you a different story.

The city loves its colours and it is promoted in a big way by the Resurgent Rajasthan tourism initiative by the Rajasthan Government. Even the share- Autos are brushed in fancy colours. The Jaipur Metro has started its service and the Metro work near the ‘Jhora Rastha’ results in traffic jams. The other side of Jaipur houses the Legislative Assembly, an International cricket stadium, a World Trade center, towering apartments and some glitzy malls. But I’d still say, Jaipur is all about the Rajput dudes, their planning and execution. And wait, Jaipur doesn’t have a desert!!!!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

Beautiful Day. Bangalore Days.


It’s not often that your weekends start as early as 6.30 am. Most of the city would be cuddling under the blankets at that time, still a long way to get over the Friday night’s hangover. But we had other ideas. We had decided to meet up at the beautiful Cubbon Park, a serene nature lover’s paradise, where most of Chris Gayle’s 100m sixes land. Such is its proximity to the Chinnaswamy stadium. Its been more than two years since I made Bangalore my home but I never came here for an early morning stroll. I cursed myself for that.

"Look deep into nature and you'll everything better"- Albert Einstein

“Look deep into nature and you’ll understand everything better”- Albert Einstein

"Its pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it"- Ron Swanson

“Its pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it”- Ron Swanson

The wintry winds blew over Bangalore yesterday and there was this Ooty-like chillness in the air. There was greenery all around, with each flora showcasing different shades of green, switching from dark to light back and forth. The rolling lawns looked so neat and clean and the only randomness were the beautiful yellow colored flowers that one could spot in a Malayalee’s household during Vishu. There were sit outs where one could simply settle down, stare at the nature’s beauty all around, search for the sun between the lined up array of trees, get lost in the tranquility and cherish your soulmate’s company.

"For June who loved this garden from Joseph who always sat beside her." Some people do spend their whole lives together. - Anna Scott

“For June who loved this garden from Joseph who always sat beside her.” Some people do spend their whole lives together. – Anna Scott

The eventful day continued as we headed to the Dunkin Donuts in Brigade Road for the brunch and for a meet up with my all time best buddies. After multiple attempts in clicking good pictures, we set off to Amoeba for a round of bowling and then by evening, we headed straight to Domlur for a game of tennis ball cricket. Needless to say, such an amazing day. I type this when I am preparing to go the office. Monday Blues. Ah, fuck.

Dunkin Donuts, Brigade Road

Dunkin Donuts, Brigade Road

Partners in crime

Partners in crime

 

 

 

8

Travel- The green and serene Wayanad


Just when I thought that 2014 was ending on a boring note (like the year itself), I headed to Wayanad on the 26th for the annual festival in our family temple. Wayanad has always been a fascination right from the childhood- for the lush green coffee estates, for the wisps of smoke from the mouth in the nights and for its absolutely nature-friendly setting. I’ve always cherished my visits and every visit made me feel envious of my Dad, who grew up here. Can you imagine a world where people do not have time for smart phones, social media and digital life? Those people exist in Wayanad. And that’s why I love to come over here again and again. We, in the city life, are struck between complexities and often end up complicating stuff, instead of keeping it simple. I think that has been one of my interesting learning whenever I’ve traveled to these mountains far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Soak in the serenity of coffee estates

Soak in the serenity of coffee estates

Cafe Coffee Day, Starbucks, Costa.. it all starts from here :-)

Cafe Coffee Day, Starbucks, Costa.. it all starts from here 🙂

Our family temple in the middle of a bog

Our family temple in the middle of a bog

Talk about Symmetry!!

Talk about Symmetry!!

When I am on road, the possibility of bumping into offbeat locations are always a thrill. There are travelers everywhere, so the only way you can carve a niche for yourself as a traveler, is by taking the road less traveled. So we drove our way to the scenic Krishnagiri International Cricket stadium. This one would mislead anyone into thinking as if he were in a country side in England and New Zealand. With so much greeneries all around, the stadium is so picturesque.

Panoramic View of the Krishnagiri International Cricket Stadium, Wayanad

Panoramic View of the Krishnagiri International Cricket Stadium, Wayanad

View from the Media Centre in the stadium

View from the Media Centre in the stadium 

Other pit stops in the trip were the Phantom Rock and Regional Agricultural Research Institute, Ambalavayal. Not many would have Phantom Rock in their itinerary. It doesn’t give you the impression of a potential tourist spot, for reasons better known to the Tourism board. But it presents a beautiful view from the top, of the other rock structures and of the vast greeneries around. The climb to the top is as thrilling as the rock itself.

Phantom Rock, Wayanad

Phantom Rock, Wayanad

Gatecrashing the Regional Agricultural Research Institute was another understanding that this hilly town is so much in love with its flora and farming. Its an eye opener for the rest of the lot to preserve and respect nature. It was worth spending the last few days of 2014 in Wayanad. Needless to say, I feel a sense of freshness as we head to 2015.