Carrying a good camera on a trip is as essential as your bottle of SPF 15. After packing every possible essential into my replica of Prada's travelling-wheelie bag, I boarded the bus which had a crying infant and her tormented parents, a teenager with her copy of Nora Roberts' latest fiction, a middle-aged man and his holier-than-thou mother and an interesting couple next to me, who whipped out every flavour of potato chips available in the world and relished them, while my stomach grumbled and wept.
Oh beaches. How I love them and lust after them. Feet sinking into sand, the water frolicking on your toes, it's the next best thing i.e. after Chocolate Chip ice-cream. So I dreamt and dozed off after about an hour into reading The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho was my only antidote on the bus, as I couldn't afford to listen to music on my cellphone. I would have drained the battery and would probably have to stop people in the middle of the road to borrow their phone and most of them wouldn't even give a second look, contemplating that I'm some hustler.
An eight-hour long, spine breaking journey but but but I AM here. The bus halts, I drag my fake Prada wheelie to the door and gasp. It's not a beach that I step down to.
It's the main road and it feels so rejuvenating. I know you all must be wondering. What the hell is so different about a damned, tarred road? Perhaps, it's the feeling I'm in a different place. Perhaps because I could smell the sea. Or maybe because my heart was fluttering at the idea of unpredictable adventures.
I reach a friend's place and I'm offered fish which is the second love of my life. As I peel the flesh from the bones, I taste the salt (In my imagination, it was from the sea) and I am wooed, totally. There is something so satiating about a home-cooked meal. I savage the curd rice and chew down the curry leaf. The fish is prancing in my mouth. It's just beautiful.
10 AM: I wake up with a stream of sunlight, forcing my eyes open and catching me mid-yawn. My friend peeps her head into my room and asks me if I'm all set for the Pondicherry
tour. I gush and blush at the same time. It's almost next to a marriage proposal.
11 AM: Peak time of the day and I swear I could smell the tar on the road melting away due to the scorching heat. We reach Rock beach/Gandhi beach and I feel like I'm transported to one of the beaches in Greece. Students from the Aurobindo Ashram are cycling, skating, tourists sauntering about, lovers holding hands. It's like a scene out of a Karan Movie. So cliché yet so appealing. There is an art exhibition going on at the lane facing Rock beach and we waltz in. The portraits elucidate the life and depth of Aurobindo and The Mother.
1 PM: We enter a small motel to grab lunch and I'm so fascinated with the narrow pathways which connect almost, the whole city. We order paper dosa and it arrives exactly after 15 minutes with freshly squeezed lemon juice. It's the crispiest paper dosa I have had till date.
2 PM: We ride towards Pondicherry University which is the rural and serene part of Pondicherry. It's gorgeous with a capital G. Slippers off and the next thing I know I'm hopping on James Court beach. The quiet, oh the quiet. Perfect place for a 15 minute meditation and 5 rounds of Suryanamaskar. The waves come and go, me and my friend stare into the Sea. Like a hypnotist and his locket, the sea is pulling us into itself. Like its got stories to tell , just like my grandmother. Her lisp and her tales.
4 PM: Auroville is like Alice in Wonderland . The place is so well-maintained that it almost feels like make-believe. Tiny, suave cafés in the most picturesque spots. Tables aligned around trees. The most unusual tarts and pies. I bought 2-3 jars of saliva-drippingfruit pickles !
We take a tour of the Matrimandir. We see the Golden Globe-like infrastructure from a distance and sigh. It's beautiful and only serious meditation-practitioners are allowed inside. The rest of us, muggles are to admire it from a safe distance. Auroville feels like a fairy garden. The houses and the way of living is just striking.
7 PM: Aurobindo Ashram looks like the headquarters of tranquility. Slippers off, cellphone switched off, cameras confiscated. We bow our heads in prayer and walk to his grave. It is adorned with flowers and people are bowing their heads on his grave to seek blessings. Some are even meditating in nooks and corners like monks transported from monasteries. I find a spot, close my eyes and sit down. I feel overwhelming love in that place. I feel a rush of epiphanies. I feel nice. I feel peace.
8 PM: We try an Italian place for dinner. Firewood pizzas . I gorge down my Pepperoni and down a glass of Coca Cola with a slice of lime floating at the brim. The crust is thin and crisp, just the way I like it. An array of croissants catch my attention. I try one and it's scrumptious. I want to eat 10 more but my friend gives me the stink eye.
11 PM: Back to her place. Day well spent. Another line of events for tomorrow.