Friday, 12 July 2013

out of India.

Oops. I accidently haven't written on here for ages. We are in Sri Lanka now. But, to recap...

We stayed in Pondicherry for about a week, just generally reveling in the French food, swimming and taking long walks along Marine Drive in the evening, watching lightning over the ocean and families out for a meander, munching on ice-creams and pop-corn.

We left Pondicherry with just over a week to go in India and headed a little further north to a town called Mamallapuram. It was indeed another beach town. A very small town, with a main street full of cheap Indian food 'hotels', juice bars and sweet shops. In between that and the beach there was, as LP said, 'Backpackistan'. Loads of more expensive westaurants (that's western restaurants- Will and I were very proud when we coined this), shops selling baggy clothes in bright colours, carvings of Hindu gods, toilet paper and bottles of water.

There was a bit of a local surf scene here; Will rented a board and tried his luck a couple of times. I think the first time was not so successful but then he decided to get the learner's best friend, the long board, and was much happier with his progress. Now he just has to teach me...

We spent a lot of time relaxing here aswell, walking along the beach, drinking tea, reading and playing Yahtzee. This was, in fact, the very town in which I got 5 Yahtzees in one game and, with a score of 690, became the Yahtzee champion of the world. Anyway, after seeing us lolling about for a few days the man who ran the guesthouse (and was very educated and well-traveled- our favourite type of Indian) subtly encouraged us to visit some of the surrounding sights, enthusing about the crocodile farm, a tiger cave and a temple atop a hill. So we duly rented pushbikes and decided to pedal out to see some modern-day dinosaurs. It was very interesting...I learned that crocodiles are the only reptilian species in which the offspring are shown parental love and care. Also I learnt some other things. It was a long ride- 15km's- to get here, and on the way back we both learned that riding for 15 km's along a freeway into a headwind is fairly exhausting and takes quite a long time. Luckily there was a Cafe Coffee Day in which to reward ourselves upon our return. We stopped at the tiger 'cave' on the way back wasn't so much a cave as a big rock with tigers carved into it but it was worth an appreciative glance or two (entrance was free, luckily).

The next day we caught a bus out to the temple, climbed the five hundred steps to the top and watched Indian visitors feed the resident monkeys then shriek away from them when the monkeys came back for more.

My favourite memory of Mamallapuram is the afternoon we were sitting on a big boulder in a park of big boulders and we heard the familiar sound of lots of fireworks all going off at once- a street procession! We jumped off the rock and left the park in order to stalk the procession and find out whether it was mournful or celebratory but we were too slow and by the time we got to the road it was far ahead of us. But the road was, customarily, strewn with roses and marigolds and other bright flowers and it smelt, instead of sewage and urine, of fresh roses. So we wandered up the road on this colourful carpet of flowers, breathing in the rarely perfumed air with relish. A few hours later the flowers were no more than a squished brown sludge on the street.

And then it came time to leave Mamallapuram, and India as well. Our last day was spent in Chennai, walking around in dust and noise until we found a mall and escaped into its air-conditioned quiet. Then we watched Monsters University, the hilarious prequel to Monsters Inc. Then we headed to the airport, to await our midnight flight.

I'll finish this post with our last, incredibly apt, vision of India...we were on the train, watching the stations fly by, and as we stopped at one we saw a homeless man asleep on the platform, oblivious to the stray dog who had crept up and was carefully stealing the man's rice and curry from his bag and gobbling it up. India.    

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