Tag Archives: incredibleindia

What not to expect from the French city of India – Pondicherry

India has a touch of so many worlds, it has got a place for all cultures, people and religion and it is always a visual treat to witness such an amalgamation. One such place is Pondicherry, after years of wanting to visit this place, last month (February 2017) I finally found myself in this tiny French colony of Pondicherry.

How to Reach: Best way to reach is to travel to Pondicherry from Chennai. Chennai is at a distance of approx 170 kms. By bus or car its takes 3-4 hours. Best and cheapest option is to travel by bus, bus tickets range from Rs 100 – 400 depending on the type of bus. For a more comfortable journey you can hire a car for an expensive fare of Rs 3000 one way.

Matri mandir in Auroville

What not to expect in Pondicherry: 

Well, to be honest when we hear about Pondicherry we picture pastel colored French buildings and architecture, lovely bakeries and a hip culture. Upon visiting this place I realized that this is only partially true.

This is not GOA: Sometimes Pondy is compared to Goa due to its beautiful beaches and influx of foreign tourists. But unlike Goa, Pondy doesnot have shacks like Goa, nor a late night pub or club culture. The beach side cafes and restaurants close at 10:00 PM dot. The ones not beach facing have a buffer of 1 hour and close at 11:00 PM exact.

‘Tiny’ French colony: The most popular part of Pondy is indeed very very small with a capital S. The rest of Pondy except Heritage town in pretty much like a typical, regular south indian city,  so do not expect an extensive French town full of beautiful buildings.

Early nights: Pondy is not the best for the lazy souls. The beach side restaurants shut down at 10:00 pm dot or else expect to be almost thrown out. If you wish to push your nights a bit longer past 10 pm, best bet would be to dine and wine at one of the not so beach side cafes\restaurants to be able to chill till 11 pm. But! Do expect an annoying waiter to be over your shoulder every 10 mins reminding you its time to leave once it is past 11  pm

Language problem: In case you are not  able to find a hotel or accommodation in Heritage town, be ready to struggle a bit, well lets make it quite a bit owing to the prominent language problem. Hindi and English are not commonly spoken except for specific areas in Pondy. I being an Indian had a tough time moving around in the city, imagine what it might have been for someone not from the country.

A teeny weeny bit less hospitable: Okay this is only my personal opinion and no one needs to agree with it, also maybe these opinions are due to specific experiences I had, but nevertheless somehow I had instances in restaurants and hotels where I faced some reluctance or lack of warmth while addressing lets say an issue I was facing. Maybe its the influx of foreign tourists and dollars that has attributed to this or something else I am not too sure about.

I would like to add that hope this post does not discourage anyone from travelling to Pondy, rather it should help you from getting disappointed by setting the right expectations about this tiny lazy extremely pretty French city of Pondicherry.

 

 

Things about Goa – No one tells you about!

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My country India is huge, geographically and culturally. It is not everyplace that could be called universal, in the sense that not all places would give the comfort to come and stay for people from around the globe. But there is this one place we can all call Global with a capital ‘G’. Coincidentally the place has it name beginning with a capital G as well — Goa. Although when I say ‘Global’, I might be meaning it metamorphically than literally. Being Global is good, it could not be termed non-positive. Yet I plan to refer ‘Being Global’ in a not so good fashion. What makes me say so is more interesting!

Airfare? Boom! — Earlier this year, I planned a monsoon trip to Goa. Monsoon being an off season in Goa, I had expected the flight ticket rates from the eastern side of the country to be cheaper as compared to other seasons. The rates seemed to get no cheaper; rather it was as expensive as it gets during this season.  In fact travelling to Thailand or Singapore from the same location would cost me half the price. Now that makes this place, although within the same country not a ‘just-getup-go’ location. Though it dug a hole in my budget, I decided to go anyway

Taxi fare? Really now? — So once I landed at the airport in Goa. I headed straight to the taxi stand. Going by the usual trend, I tried my hand at bargaining. It seemed like a complete no-no. Yes! And why not? the taxi drivers were too comfortable with the prices the foreign tourists pay. So without a penny less I had to pay atrocious rates to travel to my hotel in Baga. The taxi drivers have such an air about themselves such as they know if I refuse to pay his price, & he loses a customer, he would extract double the fare from some other foreign tourist.

Cafes! Indian who? — While I waited for my friends to arrive in Baga via a separate flight & city, I decided to get dropped off at a happy looking café on the beach until my friends arrived & then we would head off too our hotel together. I had trouble understanding how the waiters were busy serving the foreign tourists in the next table and did not bother to come to my table even once, as if I weren’t even sitting there. It took me 2 shout outs to the waiters to come & take my order, with a very ‘blah’ attitude. Sad that this is the treatment I would get in my own country. Sigh!

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Menu! — I noticed an English & a Russian menu, both were there on the café table. How about a menu in Hindi menu too! Hindi! Heard of it?

Shopping! — So the very day we arrived, in the evening we were in the mood to check out some of the roadside shops & vendors. Now do they pretend to not care about you! Boy! It is depressing. I was busy flipping through the things on display and bothered to ask the price of one of the things there, an apparel to be specific. Pat! Came the reply from the vendor?

the-flea-market

‘It’s too costly’ said the vendor. What??!!!

We strode off without much fuss!

These were some of my not-so-proud experiences in Goa. It is utterly sad & beyond doubt devastating to feel like an alien in your own country. We have a saying in Sanskrit ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ meaning guests (foreign tourists in this case) are equivalent to God. I understand all that but also have you heard of the saying ‘Charity begins at home’. Be nice to the tourists who come from far flung countries but not at the expense of treating your own people like they don’t exist. Be nice! We aren’t asking your services for free, we are paying equally, respect that. How could be expect Indians to be treated well when our own people are not doing the same in our own country.

Above all, stop discriminating people on the basis of country & origin! Treat everyone equally, since we are all humans.     

 (PS: From an Indian to all the Café, hotel, shop owners, vendors & taxi drivers in GOA)

Note: I love my country & absolutely love Goa, but I would rather be honest and accept the flaws it has as well.

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