I am a wannabe avid traveller. I have no memory of a place visited as vivid as Pondicherry. This was my first independent trip with friends, without family.
We were ten of us; on the first day, soon after the first four of us reached, we got down to have breakfast on Bharati street. It was disappointing considering all that we had heard about the South Indian food there but I didn’t mind for the excitement of discovering a new town was overpowering. Wrapping up with a cup of coffee, we set about wandering—the best way to discover a place. It was sunny and humid. We were all in jeans and sans umbrellas. If I were to be in such a situation in Hyderabad, I would have been nothing less than a crazy woman ready to unreasonably run after you with an axe. We walked, looked around, walked and just walked. This took us to the sea side which was close to our service apartment but we didn’t know better than taking the short route back. It is true that the whole town can actually be covered by foot. The town is well-designed with streets segmented one after another, vertically and horizontally. This way, no matter where you are, you easily and quickly reach wherever you may have to. I was keen on hiring cycle rickshaws to recall what it felt to sit on them after more than 15 years. As fun as the ride was, it shockingly fell ridiculously heavy on our pockets.
I had packed only those clothes which I never dare to wear in Hyderabad. On the first afternoon, I wore short shorts and never had to face even one ugly stare from any man or woman on the streets. We lunched at Bamboo garden, a simple restaurant that looked gorgeous to me even as only plants and bamboos adorned it. I don’t quite remember what the others ordered but I enjoyed my Malabar prawn curry with rice as much as I had expected.
We spent a lovely evening by the seaside by Promenade hotel. Luckily I have pictures to support this memory. Watching sea waves rush, play and jump, witnessing the sunset, wondering how far the sea must spread, concentrating on its zenith as though it were to unveil secrets of the universe, sharing silly jokes upon each other with three adoring and genuine friends and an honest and lovely boyfriend will always keep that hour an icon of the good old days.
By dusk, we were familiar enough with the streets. In this way, I think Pondicherry and we had befriended each other. The next day, we vroomed everywhere on rented bikes. And a grumpy person in my head believes that even in a little town as that, we just could not get the Hyderabad out of us.
The next day we went to one of the closest beaches. I spent the entire time in fear of being confronted and bitten by a crab, star fish, turtle, water snakes and swallowed by the monstrous sea itself. The mud stuck to our bodies and we had no room to change; that left us with no option but to ride back as we were, and we did. We stopped by for coffee and I went out of my way to fulfill my long lasting desire of relishing bhajjis with hot coffee after drenching myself.
The next day was the last day. I hopped into a short white dress that I have never had the courage to walk out in back home. A restaurant that promised French cuisine was our destination for lunch. Sadly I can’t remember a thing that I ate there except that they were all yummy. The image of ten of us spread across tables adjoined to make a long one— eating, talking and living in the moment is another I choose to hold on to as my first trip to Pondicherry ended soon after.
Being a Hyderabadi girl who is a part of the jam-packed, seemingly never-ending traffic engulfed in tall straight white buildings without character, huge advertising hoardings, overflowing garbage bins and people feigning personalities, Pondicherry is a place I will always fall upon when being simple won’t seem simple enough.