Comings and goings in India

Puducherry welcomes Earth Vagabonds.

Obviously, I doctored the photo above — replacing Indian politicians with our smiling mugs.

Below is the real billboard featuring the Vice President of India who visited Puducherry/Pondicherry/Pondy at the end of the countries’ 75th Republic Day celebrations (Jan. 26). His visit shut down a portion of the city near where we are staying this month.

Comings and goings in India

Actually there’s been a lot of coming and going and activity for us Earth Vagabonds in the past few weeks.

The biggest news is that my 84-year-young mother, Diane, has arrived to again spend the depths of the North American winter in the balmy tropics of India.

Mom had an uneventful journey from JFK Airport in New York to a short layover Paris – then a direct flight to Chennai (India’s fourth largest metropolis) on the southeast coast.

Her flight arrived in India at the inconvenient midnight hour. Thus we splurged for a private car ($60) to bring me two-and-a-half hours from Puducherry to scoop her up at the Chennai airport and return us home in the wee overnight hours.

Here’s a few photos of that adventure. Note mom made use of the free Air France wheelchair assistance offered throughout the 30-hour trip. And she says it was a great help; getting her quickly between gates at the massive Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris — and wisking her through the immigration and customs lines after landing in India.

Ironically, mom’s arrival meant it was time for Ellen (my wife) to leave!

It’s true. After just one day of overlap/visitation, Ellen departed for a long-planned, 10-day silent retreat at a Vipassana meditation center near Tiruvannamalai, a couple hours inland from our Airbnb rental on the Bay of Bengal in Puducherry.

No talking. No internet. No A/C. No exercise. No beach. No beer. No outside contact. It doesn’t sound like ‘fun’ to me – but this is the second time Ellen has joined dozens of other spiritual ‘truth seekers’ from around the globe at one of these gatherings.

Her absence left mom and me to settle in and enjoy the old seaside French quarter (and beyond) of historic Puducherry/Pondicherry which retains a strong European vibe due to hundreds of years of colonial control by the Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, British, and French (until 1962).

Time with Mom Diane

Together and apart, we walked many miles every day. Mom attended daily catholic mass and explored all the churches. We ate at various restaurants – Indian and continental. And we shopped for food, clothing, and supplies, at the many stores and markets offering amazingly-low local prices.

of course, we joined in the aforementioned Republic Day festivities and even took a bus/boat ride to the nicest beach in the whole area – the ‘Blue Flag’ certified, Paradise Beach.

Special shipment

The other big event: a bicycle delivery.

Since we plan to remain in this general area of India for at least three months, for the first time, I bought a NEW bike. The purchase was made online from the huge international sport goods retailer ‘Decathlon’.

Related: Decathlon store has fantastic bargains

It was a bit of a agonizing experience. But for $140, I got a 7-speed, 26-inch, fully-assembled mountain bike delivered right to our front door.

The order and credit card process on the Decathlon website and app were riddled with hiccups. The ‘shipping tracking’ function was unusable. And upon delivery, the bike had a slow leak in the front tire. Still, in the end (with a new inner tube), I now have a nice, comfortable, good quality bike (and helmet) that I ride almost every afternoon for exercise.

When we eventually leave I can sell the bike — or more likely, give it to some needy soul. 

Days in Pondy

Now that Ellen has returned from her retreat, our Earth Vagabond threesome will continue to soak up the and sun and culture and cuisine and cheap beer here in Puducherry and the other upcoming stays we’ve scheduled in the nearby state of Tamil Nadu. Stay tuned for more details.

Tonight in fact, a new Hindu temple is being consecrated in our immediate neighborhood. Check out the video below of the crowds and lights and rituals we are able to respectfully observe.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “Comings and goings in India.”

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2 thoughts on “Comings and goings in India”

  1. I’ve never tried Decathlon shipping, but almost all of my travel wardrobe now is from them, and we have ordered for pickup without issues. I wouldn’t have done that with a bike, to be fair, but at nearly every stop of our travels, we visit the Decathlon at least once, and, often, multiple times.

    1. The best bargain at Decathlon for me was prescription swim goggles. It’s a basic prescription – but seeing underwater is better than not seeing underwater. I once paid $100 for a dive mask at a place in Detroit, Michigan, which was an awesome deal 20 years ago! Thanks for sharing – I’ve sent your comment to Theo, who’s reading in another room atm 😉

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