Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pondy Weekend

1. adj. (Ind. campus sl.) - pornographic, designed to arouse lust
2. n. (Tam.) - Pondicherry

1. n. The end of the week, especially the period from Friday evening through Sunday evening.
2. n. (Ludw.) A time to spend as completely as possible within 500 feet of a beach, eating industrial quantities of seafood, drinking beer, and in general behaving like Commodus type individual.

So off we went then, to Madras. Once there, we headed post-haste for the bank. A day was spent wandering the grounds and lording it over the hoi polloi, who weren't allowed behind the "Do Not Enter - Staff Only" signs;

dip in the sea; Vishu (Puthuvatsara AashamsakaL! Happy V.!) sadya; inspection of the denizens;

(yes, that is indeed a baby Indian python coiled lovingly around Ludw.'s hirsute hand); and dinner at "The Blue Elephant" in Mahabalipuram. You wish to know the menu? Tawa fried prawns (very simple, chilli powder, curry leaves, minimalist), calamari with some sauce, grilled fish with rice, another prawn thingy with another sauce, Kingfisher, and chocolate Cornetto.

By now, the engorged torso was starting to look rather like one of those pythons we'd been hanging out with all day. Tottered off to bed, lulled by the sound of the sea, the screeches of egrets, and the soothing toccata and fugue in D minor played by a very tiny orchestra of mosquitoes in the vicinity of the ear canal.

Up bright and early next morning, and off to Pondicherry in one of those CMBT-Pondicherry ECR buses, driven by a close cousin of Ben-Hur. Before we could decently finish practising, "Je m'appelle Joseph François Dupleix", we were in Pondicherry.

We decanted into the room with the view at "The Park Guest House", right on the briny beach.

Pondy is really quite an amazing town. Brightly coloured, quiet, beach front, tree-lined streets. We cannot believe that we spent all those aeons in Madras and never once visited Pondy till last weekend. What were we thinking? Spent much of the day wandering about town from place to place (incl. the Auro ashram and the Pondicherry Museum) on bicycles and by foot, more eating (the entire trip was structured around the important questions of life, chiefly "What do we eat?" "When?" and "Where?").

Siesta. More walking about town, Indian Coffee House, the beach, dinner at Rendezvous (30 Rue Suffern, at the corner of Rue Suffern and Rue Bussy - how cool is that street address?). Do not even ask us about dinner. En passant, we will mention the grilled halibut, the caramel custard and the gin and tonic.

Bed. Once again lulled by the sound of the Bay of Bengal, beating a tattoo on the rocks right outside the balcony. Startlingly luminiscent moon.

Next morning, we rented scooters, polished off some dosae at the Indian Coffee House, and set off for Auroville. This is a remarkable place, even if you do not jive with the whole Aurobindo-Mother philosophy type schtuff. The Auroville community has, over the years, carried out a number of interesting projects in education, community living, building, agricultural practises, non-conventional energy type cool areas. When Aurovillians are not doing these cool type activities, they seem to be engaged in building Mathrimandir, which seems like a gigantic monument to ego (if you're an infidel like Ludwig), and completely inappropriate for this day and age.

But what to do, to each their own. Different strokes, different folks. After you get over the bizzareness of not insignificant quantities of barefoot Caucasians driving around the Dravidian countryside on motorcycles and mopeds, the place begins to grow on you, somewhat. Minimally, the fact that they managed to get a baked, desolate, treeless piece of earth to sprout all those orchards and groves is heartening.

Bus to Madras, late night flight to Hyderabad, bed by 4:00 a.m. Weekend. Sigh.

  1. Move to coastal city, pronto.
  2. Buy cycle. Bicycle.
  3. Eat fish. Industrial quantities.
  4. Run.
  5. Live.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Thoth I Thaw A Thweethybird - Part Deux

Last year, it was a brace of hornbills. Today morning, while one dissolutely plied the toothbrush (the same one as last year!) in the oral cavity, a large bird was spotted flitting about the azadirachta indica outside the window. Large tail, somewhat ungainly. Lo and behold. It is a coucal. We have coucals in Begumpet. Unbelievable. Is this because they chopped down all those trees on SP Road so that the motorists have a wider field of play in which run down (us) hapless pedestrians?

Be that as it may, there be coucals in Begumpet. Who'd have thunk it?

The only question is whether the flitty thing was a greater coucal (centropus sinensis) or a lesser coucal (centropus bengalensis). Damn things are well nigh impossible to tell apart.

It was probably a lesser coucal. Until it strayed within our sphere of influence. Whereby it was elevated to greatness. And is now a greater coucal. Although we doubt if anyone has taken the trouble to inform said couc.

Whaddever, eh?