Ze French are coming
Well hello there my friends, I trust all is well with one and all. This will only be a quick update as its only been a couple of days since the last time... since then we have been to Madras (an industrial cr*p hole.. just as I remember it actually!) and now we are here in Pondicherry (its a Gallic enclave in the south of India.. very very wierd).. anyway lets begin,
We took a cramped train to Madras from Madurai..I tell you what I know see where the English train services take there cues from! They cram you in just like on a regular commuter service only with extra Dosa's and Chai salesman everywhere..hmmmm sweaty! My colonial pride swelled on noting that the Indians have been afflicted with the great British invention that is Broad Guage railways.. which for those of you who have repressed the memories of your GCSE (O Level for some.. you lucky souls may even have witnessed broad gauge in the mother land! haha) History of the Industrial Revolution is just wider tracks than usual (more Indians per railway car then). Anyway I digress, we arrived we found a hotel.. eventually, and I had about 10 different arguments with touts and rick shaw pirates! The normal course goes..
Auto Pirate: You want cheap room?
Auto pirate: where you staying?
Me: bugger off
Auto pirate: this hotel (points at a van) very bad you come with me
Me: bugger off
Auto pirate: you come you come
Me: (laugh and carry on walking)
Auto pirate: ok ok you want rickshaw?
Auto pirate: yes rickshaw? you come i give good price?
Auto pirate: I take you sight seeing and the shop looking
Me: sod off
Auto pirate: 20 rs for hour sightseeing
Auto pirate: OK OK .......... you want room?
I could carry on but you get the idea... then when we want a rickshaw to the station to book tickets, the basterds up there price from 20 rs for an hour to 50 rs claiming its a long way... queue my rage and start shouting at them and calling them pirates! They then lower to 40 or offer free ride for shop going... again I could go on but eventually some sort of compromise is reached and by then the ticket office is closed at the station and its time to go back to the hotel! I cant describe how irritating and unrewarding a city Madras is.. the only tourist sight to see is an old British fort which has now been turned into an army base and municipal offices so you cant even actually see it! Wicked! Surprisingly enough we left in less than 24 hrs to come here to Pondicherry!
Pondicherry is without doubt a very scary place... its very French, to the point where the French have airlifted in some home grown french whiteys to ride around on scooters and generally add to the confusion felt by all in the area... its so french infact that theres dog shit everywhere! just like in Paris... mais oui! Surfice to say I've donned my colonial uniform and done my best to take bits back for Queen and country.. what what! How did the French manage it though.. they held on to this little place after the British gave back the rest of India, its amazing.. perhaps it was just overlooked, I can imagine Pierre peeping round the corner to seen if the Indians had noticed his ongoing presence.. very odd place! Whats amusing is that this place is full of Ashrams, so fukll of hippies I would imagine and yet somehow its not, prehaps they're all meditating.. Jennies making me go to one this afternoon, so I'm taking a club just in case they start trying to put me under a spell or something! Amusingly the Ashrams have banned Onions among other things (haha anti French? mais non!).. a strange thing to ban. but a man must have his limits and draw the line even if it is at onions! Right enough.. ah but wait.. another amazing thing I have discovered is the presence of the ultimate hippie settlement not 10 ks from here.. it sounds a bit like a hippie zoo in fact except they dont like visitors and I dont think they have cages to protect normal people from them! its called auroville and its supposed to be an exercise in human unity so it doesnt belong to a country (ummm India might have something to say to that) and its inhabited by people from 35 different countries and they have a special meditation globe thing with a crystal that they worship... oooooookkk! Yeeeees hippies I would think... and best of all it was started by the french (who else) and was inspired by someone who was called 'the mother'... in fact its so wierd its not even funny its actually abit frightening (double lock your doors kids.. 'the mother' is coming!).
Anyway were leaving this afternoon.. phew! On a different note our plans to visit the charity I worked at have changed a little.. as in we're not going anymore, with the time we have in India and how far we've got, it just isnt going to be possible to spend more of a few days there.. which isnt really of anyuse to them in any practical sense and in my opinion is a little unfair on the children to just dart in and then dart out...its a shame but I think ultimately probably the wisest move from all sides.. however we have found a few places where they will allow us to to help with drop in work which is good and theres a charity in marmallapuram which I think we're going to visit and do what we can there... I had better stop before I turn into a hippie! Anyway people hope all is well I'm off to visit an Ashram.. you all have a good day.. I hear its been snowing there so I'm not even going to tell you how loevly and warm it is here.. ahhhhh.
So long (or as they say here.. bonjour.. you want rickshaw?)