I paddled my way across the trodden lanes, bordered by bright hues and sunlight reflecting off my silver bicycle. Vivifying scents from Bougainvillea branches blended with the rejuvenating sea-side air. I came to a halt in front of the turquoise blue sea (Bay of Bengal) in the embrace of an even bluer sky. Where was I? The place that morphed a mere tourist in me,to an inquisitive traveller, Pondicherry is a place I shall never forget.
I spent my first day in the town relaxing on the slate grey boulders, taking sun-kissed selfies, sightseeing, and just eating whatever I could get my hands on. Sounds trite, doesn’t it? A picturesque place such as this,doesn’t demand you overlooking things,but delving deeper. So that is what I did.
Struggling with my GPS, a plethora of city guides, and travel gears-camera,sunglasses and wallet, I kickstarted the next day. The town is well planned, forming a gridlock,horizontal and vertical streets intersecting after periodic distances. Indigenous Tamilians, foreigners,and people from different parts of India strolling past each other, conversing in their own vernacular sentences,but bound by a common thread of English. Turning onto Rue Rolland, I could see tangerine walls with bohemian styled windows, blue doors, graced by bunches of fuchsia coloured flowers. A water pool glistened inside Hotel De L’Orient, surrounded by canopies, teak furniture, and green climbers. It was a writer’s retreat and a photographer’s paradise.
I noticed how there were boutiques, pop shops, and quaint little cafés scattered all along the by lanes. I parked my vehicle outside La Maison Rose. The place was decorated in pastels-cushions, lampshades, hanging wires, chairs, and the cafe formed an arc around it. Aromas arising out of pancakes and baguettes intermingled with the bittersweet ice tea air. There’s a variety available, a blend of French and south Indian delicacies. Croissants,waffles,dosa, idlis, red wine (cheaper than elsewhere,because of no alcohol tax) et al.
Every turn was a new discovery, astounding than the one before. Being an otherwise anxious person, I could sense a weird calm within me, and a revelation occurred to me, I hadn’t checked any of my phone notifications, which is rare for someone like me. One night, sitting on the famous Promenade beach, with the moon illuminating the white crashing waves, I pondered about where I was. A mélange of contrasting adjectives-lively corners, yet a serene coast; western yet traditional; modern but spiritual. I had explored the nomad in me.