Date: 16 April
Location: the floor, under the fan, Villapurram railway station
Notable sightings: more rogue cows
In the last few days we've been to Mamallappuram and to Pondicherry.
Mamallappuram is a little seaside town that seems to boast stone carvings, palm trees, seafood and Ayurveda clinic. Ayurveda is a traditional form of Indian 'medicine' and involves treatment, based in your 'dosha' or type, using essential oils and massage and less fun things such a fasting and ear candling. I ate prawns the size of my foot and picked my own lobster. (Or, rather, he picked me by trying to nip me. Cheeky bastard.) We saw stone carvings in various forms: bass relief (second largest in the world), monolith, cave. We visited the Seashore Temple which was damaged by the 2006 tsunami and gave me a little taste for Angkor Wat, Cambodia. We drank a lot of Kingfisher at the beach hut.
Pondicherry is close by and is a French colonial beachside town with a pretty little French Quarter (and Indian three quarters!). You're not allowed to beep your horn in the Quarter and, while 50% of drivers blithely take this as a helpful suggestion and not a rule, it's still blissfully 'quiet' for India. Pondi is also the setting for the beginning of Life of Pi (but there's never been a zoo there) and the locals didn't take to my tiger jokes. Lots of businesses in Pondi are owned by the Auroville Ashram (see last post) which is a little eerie.
People and animals continue to be everywhere. There are goats walking across the four serious-looking railway tracks ahead of me right now. I'm really hoping they're not suicidal because the train is due soon.
EDIT: train ride complete. It was everything you'd expect from an Indian rail trip so I won't say much but to answer a question I've always wondered about: yes, it drops straight onto the tracks…