In the tracks of India’s colonial history, we decided to make a trip to Pondicherry. Also named Puducherry or Pondy and known as “The French Riviera of the East” (La Côte d’Azur de l’Est)“.
As trains are a big issue in India and need to be booked months in advance, we only had the (no) choice of taking a bus, a night(mare) bus! After struggling through crowds at the Majestic bus stop of Bangalore, stumbling over luggages, baggers and children, we finally reached – with the help of a young men – after a 40min walk/run our bus stand and the adventure went on. The four day beds we booked, were designed for people not taller than 1,65m. And if you thought you could sleep during the 8 hours of journey, you were absolutely mistaking! One pothole after another kept the person on the outer bed busy, trying not to fall over the border and the one sleeping on the inner bed was busy, trying not to roll over his neighbour and to contribute to his fall. Well jarred and soaked with sweat, we reached our point of destination after 317km and could only think of a proper bed and a shower. Universal Design Transport? Not in a single detail! You have to be completely free of pain concerning hygiene, comfort, noise and shaking. A roller coaster is harmless in comparison! ;-)
Arriving in the hotel at 6am, we were welcomed by an indo-french flair… From 1673 to 1947, when India reached it’s independence, the district of Pondicherry at the Bay of Bengal was ruled by the french. Although the British shortly took over the power in between, the french imprint is indelible until these days. Not only the architecture, the french schools and french street signs, but also french speaking Indians reminded of 1848, just after the February Revolution, when all citizens of Pondicherry were declared french.
While the Indians absorbed the french influence and adapted it to their life-style, the city rather beamed a certain sadness with vacant buildings, polluted beaches and parks, poverty and damaged streets as reminders of the tsunami in 2004…