people of this city, especially in the french quarters, where vehicular traffic is less, prefer cycling and walking over any other mode of transport. in a small town where distances are less and the roads good, it does make a lot of sense to use a bicycle instead of taking a car or a motorbike out. and unlike the big cities in India where cycling is being looked at as a fancy hobby, here in Pondicherry, people use the cycle for their day to day activities. one can see people carrying vegetables and daily groceries on cycles. I liked this culture a lot. there is no unwanted noise or nuisance of motor traffic. once in a while when motor vehicle passes by, honking - it does feel like an intrusion. only if we could have more such places in the country...
yesterday, I was talking to the owner of the guest house. he gave me some good insight about the town and places around. at one point he said - "if you go out on the streets at say 7 or 7:30 am, you'll see all the old people coming out on their cycles and doing their daily chores. the place seems timeless." since my other two travel partners prefer sleeping in the morning, I got up early and by 6:00, I was out with the camera on the beach. the waves were bigger than yesterday. lot of regular activity on the beach - people jogging, walking, exercising, practicing yoga, kids running around aimlessly, some people just facing the sea and sharing a laugh. I feel that just like the hills, even the small towns by the sea have a distinct character of their own.
I took to the streets. the morning was overcast and pleasant. this part of the city is like a maze of perpendicular streets and so it is difficult to lose your way. the city anyway is too small for anyone to get lost. I started turning at every other corner of the street, lazily walking and watching things as they happened. sometimes, that's the most contenting way to photograph - just watch in silence, how things happen and steal a moment or two from there. I was primarily interested in the colorful cycles and even more colorful people riding them.
in the evening, we again went to the beach. the sea was rougher and the waves were breaching the coast. I saw this middle aged woman, standing alone very close the to rocky beach. every time a big wave hit the rocks and the splash drenched her, she jumped in the air and clapped her hands with a childlike joy. then there were these sea-side fast food mobile stalls that got totally drenched as people didn't see a huge wave crashing on the rocks. one could see people smiling and laughing even as their plate of hot snack got 'wasted' by the cold salty sea water.
dinner was noteworthy. I badly wanted to have some brick oven pizza. went to this Italian rooftop restaurant and asked for the pizza menu. a middle-aged gentleman in a chef's apron, shorts and a cigarette walked up the stairs to our table. he started with apologizing for the smoke and asked what we would like to have. I asked whether he makes his pizza in a brick over, to which he said that he does in electric but stated authoritatively that he makes the best pizza in India. He was Italian, married to a bengali woman and was running this Italian restaurant in Pondicherry. the pizza was good - better than what Dominos and Pizza hut serve us.
we decided to hit the beach again after the dinner but were surprised to see it deserted. there was a cyclone watch and the cops had totally cordoned the beach off. a localite told me that there's a tsunami in Indonesia and 500 people have died. Pondicherry coast is at risk and hence the beach is being evacuated. I felt odd and we decided to head back to the guest house and retire for the day.
- Nikon D80