Update on Pondicherry here
Before we went for the trip, as a group’s unwritten policy, we do our research before the trip – with every member equally involved. One looked at bus tickets/train options, other looked for accommodation, while someone looked at the maps and attractions at the destination- drawing out our entire itinerary together.
We left Bangalore on 28th Feb on a bus to Pondicherry. We planned to get onto the same bus from Bangalore, at different stops whichever was convenient for each of us. Also, we had made an advance booking for a villa(for 5 people) at Guest house called Sharnga in Auroville, about 2.5k for 5 people for 1N/2D – must say thanks to Vinuta for choosing such a great place to stay (except for the food there, hopeless).
The bus dropped us somewhat before Pondicherry bus station, that is what they do so the auto rickshaw guys can hound you to board their vehicles. They literally follow you, and might just pull you inside the auto. We remained calm, and avoided them as much as we could. At 6 am, there is no one else around to ask for any directions, the auto guys will never give you any help. Luckily we found a local and he told us the bus station (not visible from there) was just few steps away. We walked a bit and there it was. After asking around a bit we realised the auto rickshaw will simply charge us more. So we took a bus till Auroville. The bus dropped us somewhere clueless, and we had to take an auto to reach the Auroville Visitor’s centre. After freshening up at the visitor’s centre, we again had to take an expensive auto-ride to the guest house. Somehow we could not find much help online beforehand to get through all this. Turns out you need to hire bikes in Pondicherry only, there is no way to hire one in Auroville. Since we had some bags we had no choice but to hire an auto that time. Now after arriving at Auroville, it made little sense to go back that far to Pondicherry to hire bikes, so we decided to stick around Auro and explore a bit. The guest house gave us some reliable auto guy’s number, with whom we went back to Visitor’s centre, to see the Matri Mandir. First you need to watch their 20 min video and then get a pass to see the monument (too hyped). You require to take a long walk to see it from outside though. And to enter it you need to apply for permission 3 days earlier (sooo hyped!). Later the auto guy took us to a very good location of a beach. In feb-mar weather it was too hot for us to walk around (yea, we aren’t that rugged yet – like the group boasts about :P). The evening beach was a lot of fun, and we drenched in it till all the sand was inside us 🙂 literally. Then on our way back to the guest house, we bought a few cold ones for dinner.
But the dinner was a doom, they seem to have absolutely no idea what edible means. Indian hosts often mistake into making horrible food in the name of going continental. Deep fried chicken with some deep potato fries. I mean just nothing to feel good about summer. And no choices for vegetarians. Uggh. We asked them for some bread, which we remembered from breakfast, which was homemade and scrumptious. And some home made jam to go with it. Saved us.
Next day, some of us, Manali, Vinuta & Aren, who were not lazy to wake up at 5, went to see the sun rise at the same beach. I heard it was nice. By 10 am we checked out and headed back to Pondicherry with our bags and stuff, to spend entire day there and later catch our bus back to Bangalore. As we did not realise while planning, the Youth hostel would have been a better choice, and may be we could have done more in Pondicherry than stay trapped in Auroville. Youth Hostel was Sangeetha’s idea, though Auroville too was hers. Only person who has already been there. We checked into the youth hostel (some 200/- per head-per bed), we needed to just keep our bags somewhere. Trust me, with the heat carrying a small bag was taxing too. We even waited there for a bit, it was so bloody hot outside. Our bus was at 9:40 pm so we killed about 4-5 hours roaming around Pondicherry. Had a late lunch at Le Cafe, which was a pathetic choice, but internet seemed to have stopped giving any options that day. In all our food experience was overall bad. We could not find any good bakeries either on google maps either, that pondy is so famous for. Yea, but all that time the 5 of us had plenty to chat about. And that was the best part. Telling each other stories from various other travels done in the past, each and every story so engrossing. I might have to write another blog entirely for those stories.
Lessons learnt from the first trip :
1. Put in all effort to plan out a ‘what-to-do’ list for the no.if days you are visiting the place, it just does not work out otherwise because everyone has a different interest, and if it isn’t planned before we all end up not going anywhere in order to please each other and remain a group.
2. No one must be assumed as leader of the group. Everyone in the group has brains of their own and should actually apply it while you are visiting a place – participate in any decision to explore the place.
3. Emotional crap does not help making a trip a hit, girls got to have their own agenda for visiting a place, and let that not be just following someone else’s instructions.
4. Be ready to walk (a lot), if you can’t – let others do it, while you take rest in some safe place or just enjoy coffee at some serene cafe – don’t expect others to stay put for you.