The One with the ones that weren’t

If you’re wondering about the title, we’re watching F*R*I*E*N*D*S re-runs these days. Could there be a better way to unwind?

Anyway, this post goes in the travel section even though neither of these trips ever happened.

If you have been following this blog, dear imaginary reader, you will be aware that our family was struck by the pox (chicken not small, which is so ironic considering I’m a vegetarian!) and had to lie low for the better part of January. We actually had two trips planned that month that we had to cancel and I was wondering how they might have panned out if the pox hadn’t hit.

Trip #1: Pondicherry
The first one was a quick getaway to Pondicherry during the Pongal weekend. I usually make a big deal of Pongal. Harvest festivals are an important ritual the world over and keep us connected to the earth and the rhythms of the seasons and are a great thing for children to be aware of. Cooking pongal in both its sweet and savoury versions is something I have always done. But last year my mother in law had been visiting and we’d dropped in on my mother and her pongal had been way superior to mine and the difference had been so very stark that long story short, this year we decided to go on a trip instead.

We have been to Pondicherry before. That had been immediately after two big fat Indian weddings with all the attendant drama. The break was a much needed dose of sanity. We stayed at the Hotel Du’Parc in the French part of town which is very different from the rest of Pondy. It is in fact, a well preserved bit of colonial history with much that is unique, pretty and charming. I especially admired the architecture. Most of the buildings have high-walled gardens and usually one big tree in the courtyard to give shade to the house and keeps things cool during the hot summers. The rooms are high ceilinged too for the same reason.

Du’ Parc is really close to the Aurobindo Ashram and a minute’s walk from the Manakula Vinayaka temple. At a three minute walk is the Pondicherry Museum.  Pondicherry is a great place to walk and cycle and that’s exactly how we got around. Oh, the hotel was also a quick walk to the beach. It is a rocky beach not all white sand but still. Having a morning cuppa to the background noise of waves crashing is the best way to start a day.

With all these touristy must-dos we also were a stone’s throw from the amazing Titanic. I am not really much of a shopper but you CANNOT visit Pondicherry and not buy anything! They have amazing incense, pottery and curios coming out of Auroville but if you’re like me and feed friends in break-proof Corelle and their kids in stainless steel, you might wonder what use you would have for a soup set or gravy boat. But as Shakespeare wisely said, a woman could be interested in computers  or maths or taxes but she will always and eternally be interested in clothes. No wait. Computers? Shakespeare could not have said that! Ok so someone did. Say something like that. Anyway, you could not possibly resist buying factory seconds of a BUNCH of big brands at a teeny tiny fraction of the price. I bought some capris when I last visited seven years ago that I have worn constantly and are still in amazing shape. Oh and if you are in touch with a good tailor, it would be totally worth your while to buy some linen fabric.

So this time, what we had in mind was to do none of the above. Except the shopping. Our friends had visited recently and told us all about Paradise Island which we hoped to visit. I have also a long-standing dream to stay at Auroville but those are all long stays and not the quick weekend getaway thing at all. The dream of course is to buy land near Auroville and farm and stuff. Sort of like this guy did. Maybe someday!

Trip #2: Salem, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Dhanuskodi
This trip was planned for the sole purpose of allowing my husband and his friend to drive. I have often discussed with my husband the possibility of his quitting his job to become a truck driver for a while. A  month or two ought to be enough to get the driving bug out of his system and then maybe our holidays could actually be about the place rather than the road. But while we wait for that happy day, we put in time with such trips. Google had served up all details re travel times and such was our plan:

Day 1: Bangalore to Salem – after getting off work early. 4 hours
Day 2: Salem to Kanyakumari 7 hours. See the sunset. Trip Around. Sleep
Day 3: See sunrise. Admire confluence of three oceans with three colours of water. Breakfast and leave. Drive to Madurai. About 4 hours. Check into the Taj. Chill. Drink the famous Jigarthanda. Wonder what the movie of the same name is about. Go to look at sungudi sarees. Get sentimental and miss grandmum who lived in said sarees.
Day 4: Visit temple. Drive to Rameswaram 3 hours. Go to the Vivekananda Rock. Refresh childhood memories of seeing a gigantic glowing Om in the dark temple. And a general feeling of peace. Drive to Dhanushkodi. About 40 minutes. See the ghost town destroyed by a cyclone. Go to the southernmost tip of India. Think about the Vanar Sena diligently building a bridge to Lanka on a long ago day. Back to Madurai.Another 4 hours. Crash!
Day 5: Drive back to Bangalore. 7 hours.

What else can one do in these places factoring in all the driving?



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