At 04.18 on our last night Jacques came down with the dreaded Delhi Belly and was copiously sick. He missed breakfast and was clearly not well so we decided to take the taxi to Pondy (see previous post on Indian driving). He managed to keep it together until we arrived, when in apparent celebration, he was sick in the street. We spent the day with a sick boy who in turn spent most of the time sleeping until we went out for supper in a local restaurant. This was an interesting place. Half the menu was made up of alcoholic drink. This seems to be quite a cottage industry in Pondy where the taxes and thus the prices are lower than the surrounding Tamil Nadu. Anyway we chose some food, ordered a beer and Jacques was sick again. Food cancelled we went back to the Guest House and ordered a pizza for the rest of us. Jacques slept for 10 hours and then awoke pronouncing himself to be hungry and looking well again.
We chose a restaurant for breakfast from the guide book and ate very nice safe food on an ersatz French terrace. The Frenchest thing about the place was me, so you can imagine.
My personal memories of Pondy in 1984 are of quiet streets and pretty little buildings. This is still very much the case in the charming French Quarter by the sea. I had obviously zapped the thriving, bustling city that is the "Indian" Pondycherry. Here all is noise and commerce with fruit markets, fish markets, flower stalls, hawkers and beggars.
Arriving at the Ganesh Temple in central Pondy we found the place absolutely packed out. Not wishing to go rubbernecking into some important religious ceremony we continued our exploration of the town. There really are two halves to this place. In Indian Pondy life is frenetic and fast where only the fittest survive - witness the casualties by the sides of the roads. In French Pondycherry there is a sensation of calm and ease - here there are no victims, only the winners. I am feeling a little put off by this place. It is not India as I love it. Mamalapuram for all its faults was pure India even if it had developed just for us foreigners.