Friday, 14 September 2007

Pondy Proper

As promised earlier, here are some impressions of Pondicherry.
Pondicherry is a Union Territory in India and was formerly a French Enclave. This means that the town of Pondicherry is a fascinating mix of India and France which can actually can verge on the disconcerting. However, it makes a lovely break and a total change from Chennai for a weekend away.
The architecture is distinctly French, and there is at least one French School (Lycee) and other signs of French Administration. the French Quarter feels quite Mediterranean and so the sight of autos, rickshaws and saris feels quite strange. The street signs are standard issue French street signs, in Tamil and French.

There are numerous vestiges of France transposed on top of typical life in India in evidence in Pondy. For example, the Ambassador car below, outside one of the heritage houses, complete with French Tamil Street sign.

The Policemen have funky bright red French style caps and uniforms.

At the seafront you can see Indians playing the French game of boules

But despite all these French features, it is definitely India! There are lots of giveaway signs - like this Temple elephant

Evening gossip and mango stalls on the seafront .

Bikes and bananas in peaceful co-existence.

and random shops selling organised rows of underwear.

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