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Published: November 26th 2007
In the end, more travelling, more lugging round the wretyched (heavy) rucsac just lost its appeal. I rejected the chance of a night in Chidambaram to see yet another temple, and came through to here the only way possible - on 2 buses. You wait till you see the photos of them, the first in particular.
Thanjavur to Chidambaram is nearly 5 hours - not because the road is so long, but because the roads are so dreadful, and the stops so frequent. At Kumbakonam we stopped for 20 minutes at te bus stand while similarly ancient contraptions belched exhaust, and everybody honked loudly and insistently and incessantly at evereyone else. With my luggage in tow, I was obliged to take the font seat with its bird's eye view of all the near misses. What between the driver's horn, and the conductor's whistle, it was not peaceful. Especially as just before Chidambaram, a dreadful noise broke through the din. I thought it was a veryy distressed toddler. Not so. It was an indignant hen escaping from some woman's shopping bag.....
Next bus was more modern, to the extent that a Bollywood movie was on a DVD player at the front. Luckily for me (these things arer relative), I had a different type of front seat- with my back to the front window, which I had to lean against, while the driver constantly chided me for being in the way of his nearside mirror. Wonderful flat scenery near the coast, with palm trees and lagoons, and palm-thatched cottages.
A 2 hour jouney brought us to Pondy, unluckily after dark. But the hotel..... I'd had to take the top floor suite for a night, because I'd originally booked from tomorrow, and the room wasn't available tonight. I have a double bedroom, a drawing room with ottoman, all furnished in French colonial style, a very large roof terrace with plants although no views, a shower room, a balcony overlooking the vairy Frainch street outside....all for about 12 pounds. It's tempting not to move down market to simple double for 6 pounds tomorrow, but it's not much fun to have all this without Mal to share it with, so I'll stick with plan A. Strange to be welcomed by Indian staff speaking French, stranger still to be in a community where France and India co-exist ion such a quirky fashion.
More of this later...
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