Friday, October 18, 2013

Le Pondy

The place is dreamy. It has become a phenomenon that keeps me sane through extremely frustrating times.  Pondicherry feels less of a place and more of a state of mind. Wake up at 5:30am and look eastwards at the Bay of Bengal as the Sun thinks about rising and you will know what I am talking about.

We arrived at the resort and jumped right into the swimming pool to beat the heat - the Sun seems to love this place so much so that he just doesn't give up on roasting us. Add to this the humidity that comes with the breathtakingly beautiful seashore. Then we had a sumptuous lunch at the resort's pool-side restaurant followed by a blissful siesta.

Later that evening it was time to explore the town - we rented a motorbike and went into the charmingly French, yet messed up in out very own Indian way, city. The city is the perfect mix of cross-culturalism and conservatism I yearn for. It was so peaceful and relaxed and clear-cut when compared to a confused, west-aping Bangalore. A walk along the beach followed by an epic filter coffee at the Bombay Ananda Bhavan and back to the resort on time for a mild dinner followed by a session of what the French are famous for - no, not the kissing - a good bottle of red wine.

The next morning we were up at 5am and went to Chennai and came back to the resort by 5pm - on a motorbike (that was in admit-to-the-ICU condition) - along the ECR - with pitstops at the place that was considered to be the Paradise on Earth created by the mighty Pallavas - Mamallapuram.

The next day as I was swimming at the resort's pool, I saw this couple - a European man, his Indian wife and their two little kids. The man was playing with his younger son while I was resting there and we began small talking.

"Where are you from?", he asked.
"Bangalore. And you?"
"France. Paris." He continued, "Vacation?"
"Yes, just for a couple more days."
"Oh, I get one month every year." He boasted - or that's how it sounded to the holiday-deprived, overworked, Indian me.
He continued, "My wife's parents are from Pondy. So we come here for a month every year."

We went on to chat about what I did for a living among other things for about half an hour.

There I was, sitting by the pool, watching people from various countries and cultures - the way they talk, their boy language and everything - while sipping on a mug of chilled beer. Life is good indeed - specially when it is slow, like it is in Pondy. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nandhini - The Mysterious

Spoliers Ahead - If you have not already read Ponniyin Selvan and you intend to read it, this post gives away key story points. If you have not read Ponniyin Selvan already and don't intend to, please go ahead and read the post - maybe it will motivate you to read the epic!

The country was mourning. Mourning the death of their bravest son. Men, women and children were beyond consolation; the houses in the cities and villages bore a lifeless look; the animals wore a look of despair; even the birds seemed to be singing a sorrowful tune.

The eldest son of their king - Aditya - the prince who recognized no fear, the warrior who was capable of guiding his army to victory against the mightiest of enemies, the handsome prince who, by now, should have married a beautiful princess and ruled the country - is gone forever from the wicked world, under the most mysterious circumstances in living memory.

She stood there, as one among at least another thousand people watching Aditya being cremated. She couldn't help but think of the irony, as she remembered begging for another man's life from Aditya, even falling at his feet - a wish that was not granted by Aditya. And now, the mighty Aditya was gone.

Even as she grew up as the daughter of a priest, in a religious household, she always knew from within that she was a princess. She knew that she was the daughter of a brave king, supposed to be brought up in a palace but somehow was growing up in the wrong family. She felt more like a Kshatriya than like a Brahmin. When was 12 years old, she was taken to a big palace to play along with the kids of the Chola king.