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Monday, 13 February 2017

Puducherry: La vie en rose



When I think back, the days spent here were my favourite, of all my last October through South India.
I love surprises. Again [it happens quite often!], I expected to like the first part of the trip – cut in half by our week in Sri Lanka – more. It was the other way round. In-between Chennai and Varkala, the lowest points of our adventure, Puducherry was going to shine even more!
It didn’t start well – some things missing from my backpack following the flight from Colombo to Chennai, a misunderstanding with our Uber driver in the mind-blowing heat, the cancellation of our pre-booked bus to Puducherry without even an e-mail, the horrendous bus we took in the end, and the tiring hustle of Madras.
Arriving in smaller Puducherry was a blessing. It looked and felt more relaxed, more colourful, more chic… as if it had a lot to offer. It did, we would find out later when we were sat down and given suggestions by the lovely lady owner of La Maison Radha. This was by far our favourite accommodation in India, of the entire trip, and one of the best accommodations of my entire traveller’s life. Modern, colourful, impeccable. We got the Butterfly Room and I could’ve actually written an entire article only on this place – I loved it that much!
La Maison Radha
We soon went out to discover and to savour. Two in one. Following the inviting recommendations of our hosts. We stopped at Zuka, an amazing chocolaterie and sweet shop. I was in paradise after so-so many days without the textures and tastes that make me feel joy. After all, it’s written on the walls and I must agree: ‘Happiness is chocolate-shaped’.
'Happiness is chocolate-shaped'
Attention to details also makes people smile. The narrow alleys in vibrant colours, bordered by the trees that save the day when you are in need of shade, the lack of crowds, the unusual laid-back style of the locals [compared to the other cities we had seen in India] – they all made us fall for Puducherry.
We continued strolling the next day, through the elegant French Quarter that made you wonder: ‘Am I still in India? Funny. I can’t hear any honks’. Our path led us straight to the ocean and then back to shop, following some typical French cuisine. Negotiations, try-ons, and smiles were high on our list for two hours – together with the humidity –, as I was simply marvelling at the quality of the trousers, skirts, dresses, bags, earrings. Considering how crazy I am about accessories and clothes, it was a treat for me to find so many items that made me play ‘mix and match’ in my head, over and over again.
The French Quarter
Late in the afternoon, we walked to Sri Aurobindo Paper Factory. Although the employees there were not the most extraordinary, the items sold were. We kept looking at them for some tens of minutes, while trying to choose presents for our friends back home, figuring out the space they would take up in our bags, at the same time.
No pictures allowed inside :)
Spontaneously, we decided to go to the cinema. It was Saturday evening, after all. We were helped by the very kind owner of the guesthouse. Balcony seats – checked. Next to aisle – checked. Transportation to and from the cinema – checked (and recommended). It was a very different, yet fun experience. Nowhere in the world did I witness so many reactions from the audience. Nowhere in the world did I witness intermission for movies. Ours was about three hours long.
Ready to rumble
On our last day in Puducherry, we went by scooter to Auroville. It was a very soothing experience. The idea of a universal city, which would promote the true values of our World, is a good one and I fully support it, if there’s no hidden agenda involved. 
The red earth of Auroville

I didn’t actually understand if locals loved it or hated it, the opinions seemed mixed; the thing to be mentioned, however, is that Auroville ‘empire’ stretched a lot. Indeed, there are exquisite items sold, though a bit overpriced even for European wallets. But it is the way in which the community survives [or so we’ve heard]. There are some strong, but positive vibes when you find yourself watching the Matrimandir, Auroville’s soul, the red earth, or the old banyan trees.
The Matrimandir
How could have we bid Puducherry farewell otherwise than paying a visit to one of its many beaches? We chose Serenity. Close to sunset, the water was warm, but the rip tide was tricky. Marcel sat beside a very kind fisherman watching him work and asking him about the fish that he usually catches.
A tranquil end to three beautiful days. In Romanian folklore, three is a magical number and always brings good luck. As I tasted one last chocolate cake and watched the pictures taken on the guesthouse rooftop, enjoying the breeze induced by the fan, I realised that indeed, magic had struck.

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