We enjoyed a great dinner out last night in the town. Sometimes I recognize names of places from my lonely planet guide and our dinner out was at one of those places: Moonrakers. A few gals got fish that was from the catch of the day. We've all started to bond so that it really doesn't matter who I sit next to, I know I'll have a great conversation and some fun. We did a bit of shopping after and now my suitcase is officially full. As I packed this morning I decided to leave a shirt behind that I've never really liked but brought knowing I could leave it. Pretty much everything is toss-able but my underwear and shoes. I brought 3 pairs of shoes but only wear 1. That's the kind of stuff I do that drives me crazy. Why am I carrying around all these shoes??
I had this delicious wheat puff called puri, for breakfast with egg. I'm obviously not being strict w my gluten free diet and sometimes I pay for that. Let's just say I've had digestive issues for various reasons but I'll refrain from further discussion.
Before we left Mamallapuram, we stopped back at the school to deliver a large carafe that the administrator happen to mention the school needed. He insisted on getting photos of us presenting it to the kids. By splitting the cost by 8, each of us pitched in less than $3 to help out. With so little we were so glad we could help out.
We started our time in Puducherry at Auroville. You'll have to google it to get more info because it's hard to explain. It is basically a commune of sorts furthering peace and harmony-- kind of a weird pseudo utopian society. I'm not sure how Indian it is. We had lunch there and then went to our hotel in the downtown area. With a couple hours of free time I explored the streets of Puducherry with a couple of my fellow travelers and purchased a small Indian flag at a party favor shop from a very friendly Indian shop keeper. Walking around the crowded streets in the heat is no easy or even all that enjoyable task.
In the late afternoon we set out for the French part of town, as Puducherry was once ruled by the French and still has a large French presence. We walked through the area passing by the French Consulate, Bharathi Park, and the sea side Gandhi Memorial. At the waterfront we happened upon a "Bollywood" type film production. We met Denish, some Indian celebrity director shooting a film. We stood around watching the film. There were thugs walking around making sure people didn't take photos but when they saw us they took us over to meet the director!! Maybe my saying I was from California had something to do with that? Anyway he insisted on a group photo!
The highlight of my day, maybe the whole week was being blessed by an elephant at the Sri Manakula Vinayagar temple dedicated to Ganesh. The elephant belongs to the temple and is about 25 years old. When you give him a coin he will take it in his snout and then tap your head. He can collect 5-6 coins before dumping them all into a bucket. He isn't chained and seemed quite happy especially when folks brought bananas instead of money. We also visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram which was not anywhere near as exciting as the temple. There were no elephants at the ashram only flowers.
We finished our walk with dinner at a French restaurant where I ordered steak and potatoes. It was heavenly but the restaurant was not air conditioned. The day was hot, Cuba hot, with little relief once the sun set. We walked a lot more today then most-- over 7 miles. We got back to our hotel via tuktuk, which was one wild ride!