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

 

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5

The joy of watching ‘OK Kanmani’


O, Kadhal Kanmani

O, Kadhal Kanmani!!!

I was never going to miss this. As always, a Mani Ratnam film release had massive hype ever since the teasers and first look posters were out. Firstly, we knew that the Mozart of Madras was scoring the music. Secondly, we were aware that the film and songs were shot in India, the images of those would ignite the traveller in us. Like the Bekal Fort in Kasargod (“Uyire”), Ooty Mountain Train (“Thayya Thayya”), Dhanushkodi (“Kannathil Muthamittal”), Athirapally waterfalls in Thrissur (“Raavan”) and so on. Thirdly and most interestingly, casting. It has been Mani Ratnam’s forte. Dulquer Salman and Nitya Menon brought in so much freshness and it was like we couldn’t have thought of any other pair donning that role. Vintage Mani.

The film, shot in the urban landscapes of Mumbai, could be easily connected to the modern day concepts of Live-in relationships. Debates are pretty obvious but I loved the way Mani succinctly gives out a message without ridiculing the very concept. The way he beautifully presents the everlasting affection and care between Ganapathi uncle (Prakash Raj) and Bhavani Aunty (Leela Samson), will move you. The retired man’s abundant love for his wife who is diagnosed with the 2nd Stage Alzheimer’s disease is so touching. The film may have catered to the younger audiences but everyone loved the elderly couple’s love story. In this speed driven generation, there is still scope for everlasting relationships.

Dulquer Salman and Nitya Menon have beautifully synced into the character. As Mani often says about Mohanlal,” He has got an amazing ability to just BE the character and NOT PLAY the character and that is his greatest strength”. I think these words perfectly apply to the lead pair in the movie. They looked at ease with the dialogue delivery in Tamil. The rapport and chemistry was commendable. And their acts seemed so natural.

A Mani Ratnam film allows you to explore the technical aspects of a film- musicals, sound quality, cinematography, editing and screenplay. Needless to say, Rahman has done what he has always done- to reserve his best for Mani. The exuberance in ‘Mental Manadhil’ song blends beautifully with the characters. So does ‘kaara aatakaara’ with the gizmo touch. Ah, even the Carnatic numbers were so mellifluous. Coming to cinematography, those interior shots from the base to the top of the mosque/dargah in Ahemadabad should bring PC Sreeram the National Award. Every frame of his oozed class. I don’t remember Mumbai being shown so incredibly in a long time. The thoughts of feeding pigeons in front of the Gateway of India has already started running.

Easily, Mani is back. With. A. Bang. Thanks for the message. Yes, there is nothing as beautiful as an EVERLASTING relationship between a man and a woman.