2 Things that suck about Puducherry

Puducherry, aka Pondicherry or Pondy, has some positive attributes that we’ve covered in other posts. But I’m keepin’ it real here. This post is about a couple of things that really suck about Pondy.

#1 — What is that smell?!

We love our Airbnb unit. It’s a comfortable two bedroom, two bath home in an authentic Indian neighborhood. But with that authenticity — in India — comes open sewers in the neighborhood. The stench is so bad on some days I nearly choke with watering eyes.

And, of course, it all drains to the ocean.

You don’t go swimming in Pondy proper. (There are some nice beaches to the south with Blue Flag status.)

To be fair, there are many places in India that stink like sewage because of open sewers and drainage issues. But it smells worse in areas of Pondy outside White Town, in my humble opinion.

Our neighborhood is just one kilometer to the north of the Goubert Avenue — the ‘Beach Road’ in White Town that is for pedestrians only. White Town, also called the French Quarter, is only 1.5 kilometers long and maybe half a kilometer wide. The smell is not as bad there. Most of the rest of the city reeks.

Thankfully — we cannot smell anything bad in our awesome Airbnb, perhaps because it is to the back of a deep property lot and the drainage on the road isn’t filling the deep gutter-like sewerage pits.

(Side note: what’s that sound?! There are roosters at the neighbor’s property right next door to our rental unit. This bothers Theo – a lot. But it doesn’t bother me much. I’m up at 4:30 most mornings to jog.)

Video tour: Pondy Airbnb unit we really liked

#2 — Auto-rickshaw ripoffs

Over a couple of years, we have spent about 12 months in India. We have been north, south, west and east. We have never been ripped off on autos (what tuk tuks are called here) more than we have Pondicherry — by far.

To go less than five kilometers in town, drivers want to charge ridiculous prices of 500 rupees – or $6. That’s absurd because the real rate — the rate that locals are charged — would be 107 rupees ($1.29).

Locals are charged the official rate, which is 35 rupees for the first kilometer (42 cents – the minimum charge), and 18 rupees each additional kilometer (22 cents).

If you offer double what the normal rate would be to a driver parked near his union brothers, he will turn you down. It seems the union has decided to stick together on this. They just won’t take foreigners (white people) for less than massive markups.

However, if you flag down a driver who’s not around his union brothers, your chances of getting a double-rate are extremely good.

And this sneaky trick really sucks: autos that wait in White Town, the bus stand, the train station, have the official rate scale covered so unsuspecting tourists are none-the-wiser. It’s dishonest, and it really bothers me.

All autos have meters, and all drivers refuse to use them.

Uber is not (yet) available here. Shame. Then these games wouldn’t leave tourists like us with a bad taste in our mouths.

Look, we don’t mind paying more than the locals – even double, or sometimes triple. We get it – we are wealthy compared to their normal fares. But don’t rip us off five times the going rate. We don’t like to be gouged!

Pondy is still worth a visit

Despite these two downers, we still think Puducherry is worth a visit for any tourist interested in a different part of India that was influenced for many years by the French or to visit ashrams or Auroville.

As I said at the start of this post, there many good things about Pondy. I still think – overall – Pondicherry is a pretty cool place. Read about its positive attributes in this previous post.

Thanks for reading, “2 Things that suck about Puducherry.”

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