Smile at the silence inside - You're not smiling!
Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
149Trip End Dec 24, 2008
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In the street we find some other couchsurfing hosts, Cris and Matt, Cris recognised me because we had asked to stay at his place but he was leaving Pondy in a couple of days. It was turning into a little couchsurfing party so we all headed into a hotel to eat, in Pondy hotel means restaurant, and got stuck into some travel stories and a good curry.
The next morning Sebastian leaves to go diving carrying an enormous spear gun. He is a free diver, which means he can hold his breath for a very long time and go very deep without any equipment. He wants to bring back a meter long giant fish and talks about asking his friend who runs a pizza restaurant if we can cook the fish in the brick pizza oven. After he goes Kat, Sandra and I head into town with Sandra acting as our tour guide. We meet another couchsurfer, Doris and we duck into the local markets to see whats on offer.
After the market we walk over to the French half of Pondicherry, a remarkable change in the city. Its peaceful, there is no littler and the buildings have been cared for. We are going to FabIndia a fair trade clothes shop so Kat can find some clothes that are not skin tight, which attract a lot of Indian male stares. Sandra points out where to find the best vegetable samosas in Pondy and then we go back to their apartment to escape the afternoon heat.
We hired a bone shaking bicycle in the evening and went out to meet Gary, a French uni student working a semester for a travel agents. Sebastien suggests we try to get tickets for a Tamil movie which is similar to a Bollywood movie just in the Tamil language. New movies here are huge events and tickets for them are like gold dust, helped along by a evident black market in sales. In the theater car park its chaos. There seems to be two ticket offices and the signal they are open is the light inside coming on. When the dark ticket office turned on a light it was a swarm of Indian men rushing to the counter, climbing over each other, pushing towards the tiny window of opportunity. Men sat on each others shoulders, then someone tried to climb on top of them, meanwhile Sebastian had disappeared into the crowd, sucked into the vortex of pandemonium, promising us tickets.
The next morning the four of us cycled down to a French bakery for chocolate croissants and coffee, and we were joined by Cris, Matt, Doris and Gary. After a good sugar fill for breakfast Kat and I sat on the internet to book some train tickets for the rest of our India trip, it was out mission to minimize the number of times we had to travel by bus in India. Cheap and deadly pretty much sums up an Indian bus.
The next day we cycle out to Auroville to visit the visitors centre, the golden golf ball and hunt for a good salad. As we cycle into the car park a couple of Indian men approach us and explained they are scouts for a Bollywood film being shot in Chennai and they need some 15 westerners to be extras. He offered us three nights accommodation and food in Chennai and pay of 1000 rupees a day if we would agree to have our white faces in their film. There will be dancing and costume he smiled at us. It seemed to good to be true, fantastic I thought, I'll sit around for three days, wearing sunglasses indoors, looking cool. This is my big break,
We said goodbyes, with a promise of a later phone call to sort out some final details and walked over to the visitors centre to watch a video about Auroville and read about the people who set it up and what their aim was. We got tickets to see the centre of the project, a building that contained the largest crystal in the world. The building resembled a giant gold golf ball, it was clear in the 70's, when it was built, that it would have been very futuristic, but against todays architecture it just looked a bit dated and weird. We cycled off to the solar kitchen which manages to cook thousands of meals every day for the residents using just solar power. We wanted to eat but there is a rule of no money so we were not allowed to pay. Instead we asked a resident, a swiss backpacker staying there, to order for us and have the cost applied to his account, then we slipped the resident enough rupees to cover the cost. It was great to eat an organic salad, first salad for weeks.
On the Sunday evening we all walked along the sea front, a popular activity for the whole population of Pondy, and sampled the different street food available. I ate some amazing curry dishes served in small balls of fried dough that looked like spaceships. We picked up a bag full of local fruits and went back to Sebastians flat to watch a Woody Allen movie with his projector. No phone call from the movie director - our movie star dreams are withering away.
Over breakfast, more chocolate croissants and coffee, we ring the scout to find out when we are going back to Chennai. It turns out scouts in Chennai have already recruited 15 westerners and we wont be needed; our movie star dreams shattered.
We spent our last day in Pondy doing some more shopping and on the internet travel planning. The four of us went out for a farewell dinner, asking for a Kingfisher beer we were served a teapot and 2 mugs. The license fee for serving alcohol is too expensive in India for most small restaurants so they get around the prying eyes of the police with serving beer disguised as an innocent cup of tea.
Love Dan & Kat