Pondicherry (Part-1)

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones  you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”– Mark Twain

 

Keeping the above quoted thought in mind, i decided i need to go somewhere. I dint know where I wanted to go, I just wanted to go. So, I googled very subtly, "Places to travel alone in India", I came across a very beautiful blog and one of the suggested place was Pondicherry. And I liked what i read about it. Then the question was what will i do in Pondicherry. Sure, It is a beautiful place. But it is quite small. I cannot spend days in Pondicherry admiring the same view. May be some people can. I cant. So again I googled, "Things to do in Pondicherry". And something very interesting caught my eye. Surfing. I have always been fascinated with surfing. Source: Movies. So, after two google searches and a hunch, it was decided; I would go to learn surfing in Pondicherry. 

 

The first thing that strikes you as soon as you land in Pondicherry is heat. Not that Pondicherry is very hot, but July normally brings rains in most parts of India. But in Pondicherry, July brings heat. Another special shout out goes to the Pondicherry airport. Its small. Really really small. I have seen houses that are bigger than the Pondicherry airport. We literally collected our baggage from the flight itself. There was a conveyor belt and everything in the airport. But they thought it would be more convenient to just hand it out to the passengers as soon as they get off. Also there were only two more people in the flight along with me, so it was okay. I made my way to the hotel that i had booked after paying 500 Rs for the taxi for a 2 km journey. There has never been a time when i have regretted my decision of being an engineer more than that moment. You can be a rickshawala in Pondicherry and earn probably more than  most newly graduates can earn in a month ( Also you can be a bootlegger in Gujarat). And that was the end of the first day. 

 

My surfing lesson started from the next day at the Kallialay Surf School. I was pretty excited about that. So, I went to the school, after applying loads of sunscreen on myself expecting to see a sophisticated set up with loads of hot chicks and surfer dudes hanging around. But, I saw a small house with the sign board of Kallialay hanging on the door knob. I was disappointed. But I was wrong. Pleasantly wrong. Kallialay Surf School or KASS is the perfect example of a pocket start up. The founders Samai and Juan literally started this school with their own pocket money in 2006. Initially they dint have much students, but slowly foreign tourists took a note of this place and decided to give it a try. Slowly, through word of mouth publicity, this place grew. And now KASS conducts three courses a day with 5-6 minimum students in each course. So, in simple words they are doing pretty well for themselves. And the reason behind their growth is also elementary as Mr. Sherlock Holmes would say. The instructors there give a fuck. They actually want you to learn surfing. They could easily give up on students like me, who suck. But they dont. The more you fall, the more they would try to help you out. And I dont think, they have had any student who failed to learn. They are that good. KASS is still a passion of theirs and has not become their business. And that is why it would always work. 

 

Surfing. Is. Life. Life. Is. Surfing. The similarities between life and surfing is mind boggling. Now basically Surfing is about paddling and pop up. Paddling is when you lie flat on your surf board and paddle with your hands in a direction that is perpendicular to the wave. The harder you paddle, better you will surf. As Samai would often say " There is no such thing as over paddling". Then there is the dreaded pop up. The part where you have to stand on the surf board and take complete control of it. But then there are some things that you have to keep in mind, when you are surfing. You have to commit yourself fully to the wave. You HAVE to choose your wave and devote yourself completely to surf over it. If you are not confident about getting on that wave, you will not be able to catch it. So, surfing is like life. Paddling is perseverance. Waves are the obstacles in your life. Pop up is success. In order to succeed, we have to commit ourselves fully to the problem at hand. Take the bull by its horn and work towards solving it. If we take half measures, we will fail. And also we have to choose our own battles. You cant catch every wave you see. You can only catch the waves when you are fully prepared and in position to do so. Again, we have to choose our battles. We cant win at everything. We have to be smart about the battles we want to win. But when we do everything right and are standing on the surfboard, then nothing else matters. You feel infinite. And that feeling matters. Nothing else. 

Pondicherry (Part-2)

Pondicherry is a picturesque town situated in South India. The best part about Pondicherry is that it is neither too big, nor too small. It is perfect. Just perfect. One can memorise all the routes in a day or two. After taking help of Google Maps for some days, you will be able to navigate on your own. In Part 1, I lamented about the atrocities of rickshawalas of Pondi. I would restate another example, which would put those wretched Rickshaw drivers in the same category as Stalin or Hitler. On the first night, I wanted to go the beach, so I rented a rickshaw for a tariff of Rs 100, which sounded reasonable to me. But after a 5 minute journey, the rickshaw stopped and the rickshaw driver turned back and said, " there is your beach, enjoy". I was blown away. Also I am quoting this example looking for venture capitalists who are interested in my idea for starting a rickshaw renting service in Pondi. Please contact me in comment box. 

 

So, Pondi was ruled by Dutch, Portugese, French and ofcourse British. But Pondi is the only place in India which benefitted from the colonial powers. Major french influence can be seen in the architecture of Pondi. Especially, if you go in the White town situated near the Pondicherry beach. Strolling in White town is equivalent to sitting in a Portal which transports you to France. Cobbled streets, sea side cafes and bars, sound of music in the air,  spirituality all around...that is what you feel rambling around in French colony. Then there is the famous promenade. Descriptions fall short for the sheer peace you experience there. The place will remind you of marine drive in Mumbai. But the difference is, the roadway closes at 7 pm. So there is no honking and jostling of people and steel horses. There is peace. Then there is you. Go to the promenade at night. The place will make you introspect. My first memory of Promenade is surreal. I was sitting on a rock, looking at the sea. Contemplating. And i heard loud ringing of bells in the air. What I dint know at the time, was that the ringing of bell is a signal for the people to find shelter or a roof to tackle the storm. But i sat there, transfixed. Enjoying the view with music. And, the evening grew dark. A long black cloud covered the skyline and then there was lightning. Thundering. Outside. And a fear inside. The clouds started forming shapes in the sky. And the evening grew darker. That is when I looked back and saw people running around. Looking for a roof. But before i could stand up, it started to rain. And the rain hurt. Big rain drops ambushed me and i ran. But it was beautiful. 

 

Pondicherry is big on spirituality. Being a spiritual person, I thought that i would dig the vibe. But i did and did not at the same time. Aurobindo Ashram located in White town is one of the hot favourite places to meditate for the soul hunters. But somehow, it has lost its charm. May be it is because of the influx of people, who are more interested in checking off an item from their to-visit places in Pondi, rather than taking in the divinity of the place. Lots of noise, too many volunteers, and a small meditation place ruins the atmosphere of what was once a spirituality haven. Also, another major shout out goes to Pondicherry market. Whoa! That place is insane. The hawkers park their Lahris on places, you would not even dream of putting a small bucket. They sure played lots of Tetris(If you dont know this game, you lived a wrong life) in their free time. Smell of fish in the air and frustration all around. The market could easily compete with Wall Street in per capita tension for sure. But the frenzy of the afternoon paves the way for silence in the night. You can hardly see people after 10 pm. Thats another charm of Pondi( You also find the cheapest alcohol in Pondi, so the reason could be entirely different for the silence. I dont know).

The Lost Generation

As kids, we aspired to be rock stars, actors, millionaires, scientists etc.  But then life happened. We got screwed. Now we know, none of that is going to happen. We are going to live a normal, mundane life. We were raised on televisions. We were raised to believe that we are special somehow. Everyone is special. Doesn’t that make all of us the same?(that’s super generalization btw). You are dying. Minute by minute. Slowly, steadily but surely. You can pretend to be oblivious to your decay. But somewhere deep inside your carcass, you know its true.

You feel the need of justifying your importance. You feel the need of being liked. You feel the need of being popular. You feel the need to slow down your perpetual journey towards doom. Ours is a lost generation. There is nothing significant going on out there. There are no wars to fight. There is no depression to blame. You are alone and stranded. You do not even know who you are. You feel a profound emptiness living within you. It needs to be filled. You are alone and sadly it is true.

There are millions of young men going to war every day. They see their friends dying, crying for help. They return home, either physically or mentally wounded( or both). Their faith, which had earlier given them hope, is no longer valid. Everything is vague now. Similarly, you go to school, colleges or offices to do shit you don’t like.  You bust your ass for people you don’t give a fuck about. You come home, exhausted, to be greeted by a wife who is equally bored, children who no longer listen to you, parents who are going through a similar crisis. You say to yourself half-heartedly…It's going to be okay in the future. But it is never going to be OKAY and you know it's true.