Sunday, 28 July 2013

Mission Street's Twillight Wonder - IC Cathedral

At the risk of sounding trivial, it must be said that Pondy has 3 main 'touristy' churches:

-Sacred Heart
-Pink Church (Notre Dame des Anges)
-IC Cathedral Mission Street. (Immaculate Conception)

The last loses out to the other two in terms of fans, because everybody's in love with the Gothic spires of Sacred Heart Church (which has Basilica status by the way) ..  Pink Church is a hot favorite owing to it's hot pink color, beach side location and nice stained glass ..

But to me and my own, Mission Street's I.C church towers above the others ..And this can't be attributed to any stunning architectural elements or color schemes or romantic historical stories..None of that

Maybe it's the presence of the mysterious Falling Angel

These are pics from July 23rd after the sunset (I never saw).

Small Video 

With Golden Jesus in the Foreground

I can see Rafael (Angel)  --- inside the Cupola


Close View

Mission Street Overviews and the Sky

The Lifesize Pieta to the Right of the Church

The Grotto of the Faithful


Blue White . and Gold .


Closeup of the Face of Mary on the Main Building

Entrance from Mission Street
This is It ..

Alone at the Top


Friday, 26 July 2013

With Pondy Moonrise -- Who Needs Sunsets?

for the Moony Mermaid

There are 2 things:

Pondy can be very disorienting for the West Coast person habituated to watching the sun fall into the sea every evening. Remember, when  "The sun sets in the West.", it also unleashes a riot of colors in the Western Skies.. Red, orange, blue, purple, silver, golden ..and finally culminating in a suggestive black.

This is why evenings on Pondy's promenade with blue grey skies feel ---  incomplete?

On the other hand, most of my Pondy Cherrians cannot imagine a sun sinking into water. .. It's much too Apocalyptic, this proposition

And so the conversations followed:

Locals:  "Hello!! Hello!  If you want to watch orange and red skies every evening, go sit on a terrace and look towards Mission Street/Anna Salai/M.G Road side"

Me: "But it's not the same as the Sun setting in the sea!"

Them : "Well, but we have the Moon rising from the sea. And colors more profound than orange and pink. Give it a chance"

They are right..

That Pondy is a nice place to be on full moon nights. Doesn't matter if the moon is waxing or waning. Try coming this time around and hope there is not too much cloud cover. Stay at a guesthouse facing the ocean ..
Only the moon rising over Ganga in Varanasi comes close.

Here are pics from July 24th 2013, possibly 9 pm.

Standing on the terrace at Vaithikuppam, the fisherman houses below.

Vaithikuppam Fishing Village 

Where's the Mermaid

The Tormented Skies

The specks of light in the ocean are a few brave boats drifting like flotsam

You don't see the Moon . But you know she is there, working up a silver froth with the        Waves

Somewhere along, I miss a certain dog 

.. his black fur.. brown eyes and honest heart beat..  The moon gets increasingly aggrieved, colors are changing too.. Like in  a Sci-Fi  film..

So Goodnight Struppich

Goodnight Scrambled Moon ..

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Ganesh Cafe - a Bite of North India in Pondy

Signboarded 'Ganesh Snacks Center' -- but just 'Ganesh' to Pondy's insiders, it's one of the few places in India (no exaggeration) where the great North - South Indian divide disappears into Nothingness. Because everyone's having a good time here, whether workers from the nearby Secretariat Building on their break, Ashram students, local families with their kids or homesick North Indians who need a chanage from idli, dosa, vada, upma and pongal.


Where is Ganesh?

Just a minute walk from the Bharti Park on Rue Campagne and on the same street as Romain Rolland Library, you can't miss the bright pink signboard that reads 'GANESH'.

Open hours

Monday to Saturday - 8:30 am - 1:30 pm and 3pm - 8:30 pm.

What can you eat here?

The glass box by the pay-counter contains samosas, boondi laddoos, gulab jamuns, home made chocolates in silver foil, laung, lathika and gajja (kinds of Indian sweets) Unsure if coffee is served here but tea (chai) definitely is. Paneer Paratha with curd is too much (A+ for this) as is Alu Paratha. Also possible to ask for bread cutlet, pakoda, chaas (buttermilk), lassi and cold coffee..



Many Klaap Chaams

Painting of A Boy and Grapes

Full rice meals are not served at the cafe but they do take catering orders. A thali (full meal) gets you 2 sabzis (vegetable dish), chawal (rice), roti, dahi raita (curd salad) and a sweet (hopefully gulab jamun!). They also take orders for pav bhaaji, fried rice, chole bhatura and pulav. Has to be a minimum group of 15 but best to confirm.

Unpretentious and so very cheap, you could go in with 20 Rs in your pocket and it's ok. The cooks get the flavors right from the word Go. Most popular is the samosa (I've heard locals pronouce it as saam-saa but I guess a saam-sa is still a saam-sa by any other name)

Mona Lisa - Not a Misfit.. Not at All

Gold Fish

Lord Ganesh

Whimsical Ganesh

When the neon tubelights do not work, they switch on the romantic overhead dark pink lanterns. On one walls hangs a morose Mona Lisa, on the other are the iconic images of Shri Aurobindo and The Mother. And the third wall has another Western style painting of a young guy. Along 2 corners are statues of Lord Ganesha. And then.. then to complete the funky ambiance is a glassy green  fish tank with plenty of gold fish and other types running along.. Don't be surprised to see infants walk up to the counter, ask for a laddoo and proceed into the staff back room/kitchen to watch cartoons on their Tv.

Young Diner




The flavors here so similar to those of North India. All of the snacks are spicy but never oily or overbearing. The fillings are flavorful as is the sweet red sauce. Alu paratha is miles apart from the 'Barotta ()' or 'Parotta ()' you get elsewhere in Pondy. It was a big mystery first eating at this Ganesh.

And then, I learnt that all of the young guys (Kailash, Ajay and Sonu) who work here are from Jharkhand. They've all learnt Tamil whilst on the job and now speak it fluently. Even Western tourists have no problems conveying their orders and settling bills.

Manager Prabhu is proud of his boys. He says, 'I've brought them all from our village in Jharkhand. They did not attend lessons in Tamil but now speak it fluently with customers. They speak English and Hindi too. We have only 5 tables but people are ok with sharing tables and so often they make new friendships here. We don't pressurize people to eat and leave quickly because this place is like a 2nd home to many. Smoking is not allowed. Our clientele is mixed and very often women can come in and alone and eat without being disturbed or harassed. People come as far as JIPMER and Pondicherry University. If food remains at the end of the day, we distribute it at the temple. Wastage is not good, you know"

Fully in agreement with all points.


And Madhavan

Mr. Madhavan who comes in the evenings to look after the cafe and entertains all of us with his good humor. With stories of Nigeria where girls in the marketplace came to touch his long hair when he was younger. My friend Prince loves Mr. Madhavan who is like his own Papa. They are so alike in many ways.



Ganesh is a way of life to its regulars. But There's always space for more. And then there is Monalisa in waiting too..