Vive La Difference!
Andrew and I have now traversed The Subcontinent, and made our way from the torrid heat of the south east, to the baking oven that is the south west. We have now hit the steam-room of that ex French colonial town known as Pondicherry. Or ‘Pondy’ to those in the know.
Oooooh La La!
Or Fuck Me!!!
This has to be the steamiest place I ‘ve ever been – other than an infamous sauna I twice visited in Munich, but that’s by the by!
The temperature here steadily remains above forty degrees et plus during the day, and creeps down only marginally when the sun bids adieu.
Even the locals find it tiresome!
I have a look of Queen’s Brian May after a blow!
A ‘Blow-dry’ that is.
(God forbid the lovely Anita Dobson would do anything like that!)
We have appropriately arrived on the eve of the first round of the French general election, and are staying in the inappropriately named, ‘Whitetown’!
Madame Le Pen would be thrilled!
However, thankfully the place is nothing like it’s nomenclature. There are a few colonial hangovers, but most of the town seems to be run very successfully by Indians. Or should I say Tamils! One is never sure how to be politically correct here.
Here Here! As I’ve never been one for ‘Le politiquement correct’!
Our guest house has just four rooms, and is definitely one of the most charming locations in which we have lodged during our Indian odyssey.
It would cost at least ten times as much were it located somewhere in La France. Therefore I shan’t be revealing the name of the place. Sorry!
It has air-conditioning to die for, which is preferable to the current heatwave here – which, tragically, is also to die for!
It’s a welcome treat for Mr Kennedy and I, as we’ve been quite adventurous when it comes to boarding houses this trip, up until now.
However, the cuisine so far has not yet come up to that of the unfashionable state of Karnataka, from where we’ve just arrived. There, the Tikka, Tandoori and hospitality were phenomenal. Not least, because we were taken into the home of a new found Indian friend and made as welcome as could be at his baby daughter’s naming ceremony. An evening we shall never forget.
But, let’s put things in perspective, here in Pondicherry they have cheese!
I had know idea that ‘fromage’ produced here in Tamil Nadu could be so good! I should have realised that since The French didn’t leave here until 1954, their Gallic pong is still incredibly fragrant. Not just evident in the dairy produce, but also in the architecture which has a charm that exudes that certain, ‘Je ne sais quoi’!
Today, Monsieur Macron would have been proud, as we elected to make a ‘Frexit’, and crossed the stinking canal, making our way into the ‘Tamil Quarter’.
Or ‘Browntown’ as ‘La Front Nationale’ would no doubt have it.
Equally as chaotic as any other Indian city we have visited, it had a vivacity and ‘Joie De Vivre’, that is somehow lacking in our upmarket French Quarter.
Amid the humidity which was as heavy as the traffic, we stumbled for hours along uneven pavements, negotiating open sewers and bumping into the most friendly of folk. Most of them more than happy to to say Bonjour with a toothy grin. Yet, also content to run you down at the drop of a ‘chapeau’!
Our temples sweated in sweaty temples and we managed until midday before we had to surrender to the blistering heat and return to the safe cool of our colonial splendour.
Sadly, this heated excursion has taken it’s toll. We have both lost about three pints of liquid, not to mention a touch of dignity, as we’ve manoeuvred over cracked concrete and played numerous games of ‘Poulet’ with the ubiquitous rickety rickshaws. But it’s been more than magnifique to visit the other side of the canal. The less fashionable part of town.
Still with colourful shutters, yet with less of the colour shut out!
Perhaps if Madame Le Pen were brave enough to do the same she may change her petite mind. I do not mean to be either political or judgemental. But ‘Browntown’ is so much more colourful than ‘Whitetown’!
Un peu more unusual perhaps. A tad more unnerving. But no less chic!
Come on Marine. Don’t snort. Why not leave le pen and cross the tracks?
And in the words of that marvellous Francophile Ms Petula Clarke.
‘Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you, there are moving shows – Browntown’.
Or ‘quelque chose’ like that!