A Travellerspoint blog

India - Auroville

rain 23 °C
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We hired a Honda Hero 125cc to get out of town. Boy its top speed was about 60 and it couldn’t pass a goat with both of us on it.Honda Hero

Honda Hero

It gave a good introduction anyway. We took it to Auroville, a town not owned by any country. It is like a serious hippy camp in my book. Started out as a ’dream where any citizen of any country can live in harmony’. Dirt from all of the world was brought and thrown in during ceremony. I believe a lot of research is done here in regards to sustainability, at least they had revegetated the area, they also make expensive crafty items to sell to the tourist. Personally I felt a little sceptic about the whole thing, but I guess that’s why they don’t let me into the big golden goose egg of a building where they meditate unless I show keen interest and return for a 2nd visit. We wanted to do some funny posing shots with the egg building but chick’nd out, we thought we might get told off as you weren’t even allowed to talk in the area 500 metres away from it. I guessed Karma got us back anyway as it poured rain and we got soaked as we left for our trip back.

Mean machine

Mean machine

The GPS didn’t list any roads to Auroville, only a dot on the map and there weren‘t any obvious signs there, and its not even very well signed (for a tourist attraction of significance), so we kinda followed our nose up streets that looked more touristy than you should expect. There is a peacefulness to the place that make an interesting break from the everyday chaos, but it just feels a bit surreal and fake in a place like India. Perhaps it’s the sceptic in me but its hard to take the place seriously. For all its want to be a model of the ideal society, it seems a little out of place in the hustle and bustle of India. Granted, there is a very strong and active spiritual life in India which perhaps is the reason for the choice of location, but I can only image that someone is still getting rich out of it all! About 1700 people live in the Auroville community, mostly Indians and French, but more than 30 countries are represented, and is recognised by over 120 countries who participated in the inauguration by contributing a hand full of dirt - symbolising an international community living together.

Auroville

Auroville

Posted by wheretonow 13:55 Archived in India Tagged motorcycle Comments (3)

India - Pondicherry Impressions

sunny
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Pondicherry didn’t really live up to expectation. The former old French state has a quieter by comparison French area but it is still not very welcoming. It was just a bit over priced for our liking. The lesson I learnt was not to go looking at rooms in the dark. When we woke the next morning, the poorly lit bathroom had clean floors but the walls were covered with dirt nearly as dense as the pink pattern painted on them. At this stage I can’t understand how the tiled walls to approximately head height can be so grubby. We played the tip toe game but with our finger tips. It was cheap but a little too cheap. We stumbled across a recently opened guest house in the Indian side of town where our room hadn’t been slept in and it had a hot shower. Oh it was heaven .. heaven with a million horns installed and random singers and chanters at 4-5am.

Flower arrangment within the water

Flower arrangment within the water

This little squirrel kept us entertained

This little squirrel kept us entertained

Bright orange potato bhaji

Bright orange potato bhaji

When there's no room for a bedside table

When there's no room for a bedside table

Posted by wheretonow 13:50 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

India - Hotel Mahabs New Years Eve Spectacular

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The New Years Eve spectacular was being built up by the hotel as something pretty special. As guests of the hotel, we were not just invited, but forced to attend - they (along with others we checked) charged ludicrously high excess on the room for new years just to force you into coming along because you can no longer afford to go anywhere else. It was to be a great night of dancing, singing, acrobatics, dj’s, fun, food and fireworks. And it all started off so well - on arriving, Santa (clearing running on Indian time, a week late) handed us a lolly (yes just one each from his big sack). Then we were given our free drink, a shot-glass sized cup of fruit punch that we were sure they had spiked with ‘pure’ Indian water that would make us very sick (again). And to top that off, we were taken to our reserved table welcoming “Mr. Gerald” - oh please! Well, at least things can only get better from here…

Is that a double chin?

Is that a double chin?

The entertainment did begin pretty soon, watching them set up the sound and lighting. Ingenuity, comes to mind, but what else can you do when you need to hang a light and all you have is a tree and a piece of string. Better still, was they figured out that is they point the flood light towards the audience, they’d be blinded and it wouldn’t matter how bad the show was. Eventually more people started to arrive and the performances got underway, probably around 8:30 when we were worried they’d forgotten to bring the food. First up was dancers - traditional Indian dancing, just like a few nights ago at the dance festival except worse, much, much worse. The dancing was alright, but 25-30 minutes of the same thing repeated several times was just far too much for anyone to bear. But the DJ did make the dancers look good, the choice of songs was bizarre, the volume way too high (granted I’m old and all but still we‘re all just 5m away…), and when he tried to get out into the audience and play a few “fun” games it was time to leave for a bit to check what else was going on in town. We felt a bit sorry for the boys putting on the acrobatics display, it was mostly pretty basic stuff (somersaults, flips, rolls…) but the stage floor must have been really slippery on spot because a few of them were slipping and landing badly, on their backs, heads, knees. After a couple of attempts a few of them were clearly not interested in getting back out and trying again, can‘t blame them for that really. It was left up to a handful of lads to keep soldiering on which they did pretty well, some of the flips off the stage onto the ground were pretty cool…enter the DJ again. Everyone but the DJ could see it was time to cut this performance a bit short, but when the music ran out he belligerently followed the running sheet and skipped back to the start of the song and forced the show to continue - again and again. It got painful.

But its all about the food right? When it was finally ready we approached cautiously, after recent hotel buffet experience we weren’t expecting much from this one and just hoping not to get sick (tomorrow we start the bike trip). Well, the buffet did live up to expectations, it was universally inedible. Thank goodness there‘s the nutritional value of a chop in every beer, so we were not left too malnourished. About when dessert arrived, dodgy fruit salad and melted ice cream, and we’d decided it was time to call it quit’s and sneak out back to our room (we hadn’t even made it past eleven!) we ran into this crazy old, fifty-something, Brit lady. She was over in India with an old friend (of whom she was quite jealous because the friend had picked up a “hot Indian man”) and was writing her first novel about an English girl and an Indian girl who had married the same man (poor fool, does he have any idea what he‘s got himself into?) and how their lives become intertwined. She was a good laugh, we chatted for a while about writing, travel the nights frivolities and life in India.

Mosquito zapper

Mosquito zapper

Back to the room just in time to catch the 11:30pm showing of the Sex And The City movie on HBO (oh the joy, at least its one way to guarantee that the new year will begin better than the old year finished). At about midnight the whole place goes dark. Its fireworks time! The hotel decided that the best way to watch fireworks is with all the lights off - so they flicked the switch and off went the electricity to everything. The place had only the faint light from the night sky, until the crackers started going off, we took off down pool side to watch the show. And it was a good show for a bunch of bell boys and waiters running around the rooftop with a box of matches. There were some good big crackers going off. Afterwards, we stood on the rooftop a while watching every other hotel in town shot new year joy colourfully skyward.

Pop corn

Pop corn

Posted by wheretonow 13:43 Archived in India Tagged events Comments (1)

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