Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Trip down the East Coast Road-2

If Mahabalipuram was fun because of the photography, Pondicherry promised to be better because of the photography and the booze. We goy out of Mahabalipuram and drove on to Pondicherry. Pondy was a french colony before the French gave it up and went back home. However as one enters Pondy, the only thing that probably strikes one as being out of the ordinary is some sort of a tax that has to be paid for driving within Pondy. Still the booze kept me going on. I also wanted to see what the french architecture is all about.Mr Shiva kept up his taciturn demeanour as he deposited us at a huge under-construction temple where photography is prohibited.

Pilgrims had written their prayers on strips of paper, hoping to be heard. The priests inside were all out in their traditional costumes, people standing in a queue for their sight of the idol. All very fine but I went out and ate Khichdi that an old man was distributing to the poorer pilgrims around. Was delicious. We went on to where the action lay. As we entered the city I sa my first policeman in the French kepi and was most excited, much to the amusement of Mr Shiva who asked if I wanted to take a picture. Of course I do, I replied and he just drove on, eventually stopping on the Rue de la Marine in front of a couple of push carts selling pirated pornographic DVD's.
The Rue de la Marine was probably the most important street earlier. Now it has the french consulate and the Aurobindo Ashram and has a couple of important landmarks nearby. Walking down the street one reaches the sea.

An old man on the RDL Marine opposite the Aurobindo Ashram. I looked on for my policeman in the Kepi, wouldnt go back without him.

The french connection.

The french consulate, has an old door with stained glass inside. Photography here is prohibited. I took this picture sitting at a cafe opposite the consulate, the sea breeze blew the paper plate away and stained my only clean shirt. The consulate has the flags of France and the european Union that are dutifully hoisted down at sunset.

As i chanced across this street, i remembered for some unknown reason these lines that I had read as a school boy in a musty english textbook. With compliments and apologies to O'Hara, from "The Last Leaf"

In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run crazy and broken themselves into small strips called "places." These "places" make strange angles and curves. One Street crosses itself a time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in this street. Suppose a collector with a bill for paints, paper and canvas should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself coming back, without a cent having been paid on account!

This part of town is full of old-wordly charm , saw these two ladies catch up on old times at the aurobindo institute opposite the Ashram.
Contrasted merrily with this tropue of rather giggly and definitely pretty school girls who like all good school girls had made a line to get into the Aurobindo Ashram. They gave us magnificient company until the time that we were there. My friend gaurav was ready to leave psychiatry and spend the rest of his life here.

Photography inside the Aurobindo ashram is not allowed. It was beautiful inside. I know nothing about Aurobindo, but when I got back, I did some reading and found some interesting stuff here. The samadhi was covered with flowers with all manners of people sitting besides it, with their heads bowed, touching the marble and lost in meditation. Fair number of foreigners too, and people in wheelchairs. They are supposed to be espescially benifited by his presence. Such scenes, always fail to move me. Maybe I am a bit psychopathic.

Walked out to the Manakula Vinayakar temple which is just down the street. It too was full of pilgrims and flowers. An elephant guards the entrance, and who ever gives it an offering, gets a blessing in form of an elephant trunk banging down on the head. Almost got my turban knocked off. Maybe the elephant had not seen a Sikh before. Gave it a huge laddoo and this time, the elephant looked in better humor.

The mahout catches up on gossip from his perch as the elephant looks on hungrily at a stall of coconuts across the road. By this time, the memory card was getting used up too, and so picture taking became more focussed than before. I hate that.

A future forecaster, he must have predicted it because he was ssoon surrounded by a bunch of school girls. The parrot picks up a card at random, and that is the client's future. Any takers?

My luck soon changed as I saw this policeman in a Kepi as he drove down on his motorcycle. I stood in the middle of the street to stop him from getting by and when he stopped, i started my "Can I take your picture" routine in sign language, there was soon an interested and curious crowd around.

The beach at Pondy is rocky unlike Chennai and mahabalipuram, but is a favorite haunt of a lot of people.
A cotton candy seller at the beach. I was rather pleased at the result.

As we drove back, passed by the church of immaculate conception, beautiful. Wish I had an SLR at this place, the church itself has lost all definition, the highlights have blown out. Needed to take 3 bracketed exposures and then combine in ps.

Thereafter, we got to a shopping area where we all brought some cheap and non-pornographic pirated DVD's. Haggled and bargained in sign language and got one for Rs 20/- only.
Soon we reached an alcohol shop, as is common in the south, people drink standing at the counter of the shop. the helpful shopkeepers provide the glasses. We brought more than adequate quantities of beer and a bottle of brandy for Mr Shiva and drove back. Mr shiva helped out by being fantastic and producing out of the boot of the car some MP3's with punjabi songs. And we all sang along.
As the diuretic and the intoxicating action of the beer kicked in, we all raised our little fingers and asked Mr Shiva to stop where we could leave a mark in the Bay of Bengal. Mr Shiva thought for a long moment and said, "saar, there is Rs 50 fine for doing that". We took his warning and irrigated the coconuts instead.

1 comment:

tatastha said...

In rememberance of Sri Aurobindo..I offer this flower at his feet.

Supreme Truth

Supreme truth
Remember, O Mind, This supreme Truth.
No body is your own.
You don’t even belong to your self.
You are just a shadow of the self.

Because of doing meaningless actions,
Because of your meaningless thoughts
You are wandering in the ocean of suffering
Wake Up O mind Wake Up

You love it when people honour you,
You are happy when they call you great,
You are sad when people dishonour you
How pathetic are you O mind.

Your body which you have worshipped for long,
Must be cast off when life departs,
The Family for whom you have been struggling,
Will be frightened by your dead body and will not accompany you.

Trapped in illusion and delusion
Like a fool you are living
Remember the sacred name of Mother Now,
Call her Names, let her rescue you.

Position, prestige and wealth are impermanent
The only reality is Universal Mother
When your heart is filled with true love,
She will attract you like a Magnet attracts iron.

Let us dance in that bliss,
Singing the names of mother Kali,
Sarasvarthi, Laksmi, Durga,
O Devi, Chandi, Chamundi, Amirtanandamayi Amma !!!

To Mother

O Mother sakthi is there anyone else apart from you?
who can discover your self expect thyself?
By the power of love she creates the universe
Through her will alone she unfolds the Universe
Bow down to the mother, chant her names
Sakthi Sambhavi, Bhairavi, Maha Kali
Who Am I? Who am I? Who Am I?
O mother if you are earth, fire, water, air and ether
If you are truly those how can I differ from you?
Art thou not created me in your own nature?
Those who love siva-sakthi within themselves
Will love them in all and everyone.

With Love and Respect

Locations of visitors to this page