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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A whirlwind on a budget...cont'd.

So well, I woke up at 5:30, and got out of the lodge by 6:15...It was barely daybreak and most of the shops were closed, except for a few tea-stalls here and there...I hadn't carried my toothbrush with me, so I decided to clear my breath the old-fashioned travellers' way.. with a cup of tea... I looked for the loose change in my pocket (I had around 15 rupees in change the night before) when I realised that in my struggle with mosquitoes during the night, the coins had slipped out of my pocket, and I had forgotten to pick them up before I left...I considered it a tip for the lodge caretaker...the dinner had cost me 24 rupees (for two egg dosas) and these 15 rupees were gone as well. I had paid 10 rupees for the entrance to the temples at Mahabalipuram (which incidentally also gave me access to ten other places of national importance all across the country - quite impressive, I must say!!).

So in all, I had spent 210 rupees so far. Then I had tea for 5 rupees. Following this, I went for a stroll along the beach. The beach itself is very rocky, like the beaches in Mumbai, but the pavement is very welcoming, with benches every 50 metres. There was an intelligent blonde strolling around as well...(what? are you wondering how I chanced upon that rarety? It isn't rare, you see... there are loads of golden retrievers in India these days) Well, most of the town was still asleep while I roamed the streets... the only people awake seemed to be school students and their hassled looking parents...the town is extremely laid back with nothing much to do... I went around asking for the French Corner, expecting it to be full of sculptures and brilliant architecture...turned out to be a string of bakeries run by foreigners.

After roaming around a bit and confirming with a few friends that there was really nothing much to do there, and after having a few samosas, mini-samosas, and a doughnut (15 rupees in all), I took a bus to Auroville...The bus dropped me exactly where I had got off the night before, and I thanked my stars that I had decided to go to Pondy instead, coz that was just the point where the road branched off towards Auroville... Auroville was 8 kms away, with no buses heading that way. I didn't have enough money for the extravagant auto drivers, so I hitched multiple rides to Auroville...there isn't a lot to see there either, except that the whole concept of the village is awe0-inspiring...the Matrimandir looks glorious from the outside... to go inside , one needs a permit to be got two days in advance...the concept of the place is to create a universal village where people from all countries can live together in harmony without being bound by geographical or political boundaries...I was truly astounded by my lack of awareness about this concept...there are a lot of shops where one could buy handicrafts and souvenirs, but I just couldn't afford anything over there, not evn the post cards that cost 13 rupees a piece.

I tried roaming around a little bit, but cut my trip short because of two things... it was bl**** hot there, and plus, I met this girl from Cambridge who was staying there for a month who told me that there really wasn't much else to see over there. After giving her a few tips about places to visit in India, and receiving tips about how to get around Auroville, I hitched a ride to the beach, spent about half an hour there, and then came back to the ain road to wait for a bus to Chennai...I got 5 bananas for 10 rupees to pacify my stomach for the time being, and then boarded the bus to Chennai (55 rupees... It was a two and a half hour journey back to Chennai, with a cute foreigner sitting next to me (though I was too tired to even want to begin a conversation)... I got dropped off at the Chennai central bus stand, from where I took two connecting buses and then an auto to reach the hotel. I then dipped myself in the tub filled with hot water, had a bath, pushed myself to go have a meal outside, and came back and crashed...Less than 24 hours after I left Chennai, I was back in the city, and I had 70 rupees still left in my pocket...:)