Traffic for 2011 February 15 (entry 0)

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25 mph: We left for Pondicherry (Pondy) at 4 am on Saturday the 12th to beat the Bangalore traffic and also to ensure the children were asleep for most of the trip. Our driver was accommodating. We made it through Bangalore in record time, including taking the 5 km toll road above the city through to Tamil Nadu. The first 110 km were a breeze on a four lane freeway with natural flowers growing in the middle lane. It reminded me of the 99 in Bakersfield.

The next 110 km, however, left us reeling. It was on a two lane national highway through some of the most beautiful scenery known to man. Palm trees in rice paddies, sugar cane fields next to quaint little villages, large mango trees creating a natural canopy over the road, with monkeys swinging from the trees. But enough about the scenery. The road literally left us reeling. An endless mire of potholes, each one bigger than the last. If I didn't know better, and I don't, I would swear that either WWIII is already done and over with, or aliens really did land, though not in Area 51, and brought a slew of meteors with them. What a mess. But luckily we were not in a hurry and none of us got sick. We all wore our seatbelts. The last 70 km were once again on a good road all the way to Pondy! There is also a town along the way with a famous temple and meditation house. We must have seen over 100 white people in this small town finding themselves. I was shocked.

Pondy was fun. A quaint seaside town, French-Indian style. Our hotel was awesome! There was a pool on the roof, 6 floors up, with beautiful views of the town below and in the distance the Bay of Bengal. While Dalton napped each day, Maggie and I played in the pool for hours. Susie couldn't believe how long we were gone. Maggie loved that she could walk in the very large kiddie pool and loved making the water splash over the edge. From the pictures, the edge looks scary but it wasn't. The only glitch here was that the pool attendant wouldn't let me wear my shirt in the pool, which I wear to save on sunscreen, which I didn't bring to the pool with me, which made me frustrated. But nonetheless, major daddy-daughter bonding time took place.

Food was included with our stay (though not drinks, boo to them) and it was high quality Indian food, the only kind I'll touch. They supposedly had international cuisine but all we saw were pasta with huge peppercorns. Italy would be so disappointed. But Italy wasn't there, since the hotel mostly catered to the French and snooty. They also played Yanni and muzak in the dining hall while wrestling played on the flat screen. Maybe that's the international cuisine. I knew once I saw our bathroom I picked the right hotel, as there was a shower door, no bucket in the bathroom, and an extra roll of toilet paper. A five star hotel with meals included for only $110/night. Only in India!

Our first night we let our driver sleep in the car park of the hotel (his choice, I offered him money for a room) and took an auto to the Promenade, the 2 km stretch of rocky beach in town, littered with the locals touting their wares, seaside cafes, and a mix of French and Indian memorials, including the biggest statute of Ghandi yet! He's everywhere, including every little town we passed through, but this one took the cake a la Marie Antoinette. We ate some pastries and visited a restaurant promising Italian ice cream. Who were they kidding? Since when does soft serve count as gelatto? But again since the place was packed with the Swiss and not Italian, it'll be our little secret. It was such a nice evening we walked home.

Sunday morning we headed 10 km south of town to a beach house on an estuary and took a $3 boat ride to a private beach. We saw flying fish in the water! The beach was fab. They had bungalows on the beach to get some shade. Apparently the tide is really bad all on the east side of India, and Pondy is the only resort town, and also the only place where you can actually get in the water. But still no swimming. And just to make sure, there was a gentleman on the beach brandishing a bamboo pole and a whistle for any non-law abiding citizens, of which there were many. The water was nice and cool to mix with the oh so hot sun and I was content to wade. We saw several crabs and posed for thousands of pictures. One man was kind enough to ask if he could post the pictures of us on Facebook. We don't mind.

I was concerned when we first got there since we were the only ones wearing swim suits. They don't exist here. Men either wear jeans and polos in the water or they strip and wear their underwear, which, when wet, leaves very little to the imagination if you catch my yucky drift. Women are more conservative and swim in their sarees.

Then it was back to the hotel pool and on to the promenade for another nightly stroll.

Monday morning we visited the handmade paper factory and bought the place out for less than $30. I guess when labor is cheap, the world is yours for the taking.

The drive home was ok. Maggie and Dalton both slept and so I was able to talk to Sandeep (I sat in the front to avoid car sickness) and also caught up on Anna Karenina on the Kindle. Sandeep was intrigued with my gadget. We got home at 9 pm last night. Then today was back to the grind.

Our pics are up at our picture blog. We leave for Hong Kong in two months!


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