When I was small, I had this habit of writing down everything that would happen or everything that I would see or anything really – that would fascinate me on a vacation. As I grew up, that habit got lost somewhere. So I thought that this time I would do the same – keep a little ‘travel journal’. So, here goes:
3:10 pm – frantically rushing around the house, grabbing things at the last minute (my family isn’t exactly the most efficient of packers )
3:15 pm – leaving the house
3:20 pm – reach the railway station (yeah, its practically in my backyard)
3:40 pm – jumped out of the train, ran to the nearest dust bin and threw my used tea cup (I hate people who litter) and ran back to the train just as it was about to start ( for a minute I felt like I was in that scene from Jab We Met, where Kareena Kapoor jumps on a running train – even though my train had barely started)
- So now I am sitting here looking out of the window at the passing lakes, trees, fields, houses etc. Its a beautiful sight really. Cut off from the city and looking at nature in its true form. I have an entire day in the train before I reach Chennai tomorrow morning. It feels so good to finally be on a vacation!! Observing the silence around me, as my parents and most of the other people are taking their afternoon naps , I sit here listening to the low humming of the train, the distant snores of a fellow passenger and the occasional vendor going ‘chai chai chai….’ I’m off for some time with Agatha Christie and then some quiet time for myself.
9:30 pm – off to bed now
- Well, we had a marvelous time on the train today. We had sat down in the wrong compartment and were made to move – hauling all our luggage with us – to the right one. Once we reached there, we had nothing better to do than to hungrily wait for a vendor as we forgot to bring food for the journey. (yes – that is actually possible ) But after a good biryani meal, we are all settling down for the night.
9:00 pm – Chennai!!!
- One entire day passed so fast!! Its been my dream to visit Chennai for a long time now, because I have been obsessed with Tamil movies. It was absolutely marvelous cruising around Chennai passing by Rajnikanth’s house along with the houses of C.M. Jayalalitha, Kamal Hassan, R. Madhavan, etc – walking along Marina beach and seeing M.G.R‘s and Annadurai‘s memorials. We spent some time in Express Avenue which is supposed to be the most happening mall in Chennai. Lunch was absolutely delicious in this place called Rajdhani, which gave us the traditional Rajasthani food experience.
We set off to Pondichery in the evening and watched Suriya’s Singham on the way there. We have just reached Pondichery and it looks stunning. The rain might be a problem and right now its chilling us to our bones!! Its dark and we can’t see much. But we can hear the inviting sound of the waves. We have decided to keep that for tomorrow and I’m just looking forward to dinner and a good night’s sleep right now!!
11:00 am - Oh my God!!!!!!
- Pondichery!!!!! If this isn’t heaven, then heaven isn’t worth going to! I would rather just die here!! Do you know how I got up this morning? I heard the waves!! yes!! I can actually hear the waves AND see them just from my bed!! It is absolutely breathtaking!! Unfortunately we can’t get into the water here, but it is so tempting that I am considering breaking the law!! I can just sit here and watch the beach and the passers-by for now. A little bit of sightseeing and a little bit of shopping today. Can’t wait!!
A view from my hotel room..
01:30 pm – Lunch/ Family reunion(the rest of the family has just arrived from Bangalore)
06:00 pm – Beach time! (walking on the pavement by the beach – with that salty fragrance in the air and the spray from the waves on our faces)
08:30 pm – Quiet dinner
- We chose to have dinner in the room today as all of us are feeling wondefully lazy and don’t want to get on our feet. We had set aside this entire day just for relaxation and rejuvenation and I think that the day has served its purpose. We all look so happy and so calm that there are no traces of the hectic schedules that we have left behind. Tomorrow we will begin the real exploring. Lets see how that goes.
07:00 am – got up with great difficulty!
08:30 am – the start!
- After a continental breakfast, we left for a day of sightseeing. We started the day with a visit to a Ganesha temple followed by a Panchavatee Hanuman temple. We then visited the Aurobindo ashram where silence is a must. You are not allowed to utter a word. All you can do is visit the samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and then leave. We didn’t really understand the significance of the silence and our guide told us that we would understand better when we visited Auroville – a small city on the Tamil Nadu-Pondichery border – which was artificially created on the command of The Mother – fondly called so as she took charge after the demise of Sri Aurobindo – making it a place to observe the silence and the simplicity that Sri Aurobindo preached. Even though we had to walk for around 2kms the experience was worth it. The city can accommodate over 50,000 residents and there is a huge golden globe placed in the center of the city. Inside the globe only true devotees of Sri Aurobindo are allowed to go in, to experience the ultimate silence, concentration and oneness with the divine consciousness. But sitting outside the golden globe (known as the Matrimandir) was also a ravishing experience. The scenic beauty coupled with the silence and the tranquil atmosphere is something which everyone should experience at least once in a life time. Auroville is a resplendent mini-city which doesn’t believe in religions, but believes in humanity.
- Lunch was at one of the local Chettinad restaurants called ‘Kaarai’.
- All of us were a little quiet after Auroville and we needed to lighten up a bit. The place we next went to was ideal for this. Boating! the backwaters, the beach, the breeze was just wow!! Basically they took us to the backwaters of Pondichery from where a boat takes us to a nearby island. We spend some time on the beach there and then we come back. Just pure fun.
- After the boating we went around the French colony (which is the area in which we lived) Pondichery was one of the holiday spots for the French when they were ruling in India. And hence a considerable part of the city is heavily influenced by French architecture. Most of the buildings in this area were built by the French themselves. The streets even have French names. This part is preserved as a tourist spot and a lot of the buildings have been modified as hotels, including the one we live in. After the French colony, we closed the day with a dainty French dinner.
2:30 pm – brr!! the aftermath of a storm!!
- As we hadn’t had enough of the beach, we went to a private beach where we were allowed to go into the water. As we were enjoying our time in the water we noticed heavy clouds over our heads. We took this lightly thinking that it would only drizzle and that wouldn’t matter as we were already wet. Also cars aren’t allowed in the beach so we had to park a good half kilometer away from the beach. So when the rain came pouring down like it hadn’t in a few years we were stranded on the beach. There was no one else around and our bags, footwear, change of clothes – everything, got wet! We were already wet and the howling breeze literally gave me goosebumps. In some time the rain turned to hailstones and we could feel tiny ice specks hitting us. We could barely keep our eyes open, but we still had a lot of fun! Never, had I gotten wet like that in my life. The sea water and the rain water is a deadly combination. We couldn’t walk back because the road was slippery and the wind would have carried us away if we hadn’t stood rooted to a particular spot. But it was still an experience – a mind boggling, bone chilling one no doubt! When it finally slowed down a bit we got to the car, got back to the hotel had hot baths and took a good long nap! After a late lunch we spent the rest of the day recuperating from the storm.
9:30 pm – ultimate family time!
- The rest of the day was spent lounging out in one of our rooms watching Tamil movies and songs, playing cards and teasing each other. We decided to turn in early as we had a long journey back home the next day.
07:30 am – All set to go back home – having one last look at the Pondi Beach.
02:00 pm – lunch at Mcdonald’s.
04:00 pm – Reached Bangalore. (my cousin’s house)
07:30 pm – Leaving for Mangalore (home!).
07:00 am – Vacations are splendid, but there is no place like home! Glad to be back home