Monday. The start of a new week and the time to go on a new adventure again. We have some time off every morning and we had to find something for ourselves to do. We decided to bring a visit to ‘White Town’, as the locals call the French city centre of Pondicherry. We called our favorite TukTuk driver Das and raced to our first destination. On the way there we realized he probably ‘missed’ a few short cuts to make some extra money. We couldn’t be too bothered about it though, we were enjoying the labyrinth of people, animals and millions of vehicles. Having way too much fun!
As soon as we drove into White Town, the vibes of Pondicherry felt different. The streets were cleaner and broader and the houses were bigger and less colorful. By now we are ‘real world travelers’ and the European architecture and ‘boring streets’ weren’t adventurous enough for us. So after looking around for half an hour and taking some photos under the French street name signs it was time to head off to the Indian part of the city! We saw our first Hinduism temple, filled with flowers, signs of elephant Gods and saffron colored lions. Kar did some shopping and apparently paid twice as much for it. Oh well we’re still learning how to bargain in half English/half Tamil. We walked around, saw shops filled with handmade pottery, sari’s and herbs. Overall the morning was very chill and it felt good to be away from the project for a couple of hours.
After 2 hours the beggars, street sellers and the heat were getting on our nerves. Do not underestimate these 3 factors, they are the main challenges for tourists here, and although we are not here as tourists, we are still dealing with these 3 main mood killers in our first week. The beggars will follow you like loyal dogs, except they aren’t as cute and cuddly. The 20 street sellers will surround and scream your head off with ‘Cheap cheap’, ‘special discount for my friend’ and ‘I give you special price, special for you’. And last but not least, the heat! Oh man, the heat. Forget about frying an egg on the sidewalk, this kind of heat would fry an egg inside the chicken. By noun it was about time to call Das again to pick us up and safely bring us home. As far as ‘safely’ is possible in Indian traffic, which is starting to become like a game for me. Every day we dodge cows, pedestrians and countless vehicles, and it almost gives me some nostalgia of my favorite online game I used to play as a child.
The rest of the day was mainly playing games, I discovered ‘mini ball’ with Nelson, Devin, Surrender and Djavageh. The 5 of us try to keep the mini handmade aluminum ball up in the air and our high score is 36 right now! Our goal is to get it to a 100 within a week hehe. I’ll give you an update soon. 😉
We followed the Don Bosco routine by washing, studying, watching the news, eating dinner and praying. However, there is one more interesting thing to mention. I’ve overcome my fear of the Indian ‘Bum Gun’. The only thing scarier than driving in India is using the bathrooms. I got lucky in the first few days , wherever I went there were our traditional Western style seat toilets with toilet paper, however that changed yesterday. I had my fingers crossed as I walked in into a bathroom I hadn’t used before. There was a normal seat toilet so with a relieved sigh I sat myself on the toilet. You never know here in India, if you aren’t lucky you get to have a squat toilet (at least it gives you a good butt hehe), which is basically a hole in the ground with two foot grip pads on each side. Anyway, after my relieved sigh, I looked around me and saw no toilet paper. O gosh, I had no choice and had to figure out how to ‘wipe’ with a ‘bum gun’, which is exactly the way it sounds. I figured it out, however from now on I’m undoubtedly gonna hoard any toilet paper.
I’m slowly becoming more Indian as I use my Indian sim card, bum guns and from now on wear Sari’s! That’s right, we got our Sari’s! We got someone to measure us and
handcraft our blouses. We got to fit them today which was quite interesting. The dear woman that we paid for making our blouses kinda forgot Dutch girls have boobs. After a lot of squeezing we finally got into our blouses. Next up: the actual Sari. These 4 meters of fabric go all around your body in multiple directions and seems impossible to put on, it’s a bit of a mystery with the many pleats and folds. However with some help of our sweet Indian cook, Rosie, we finally had our Sari’s on! We surprised Father Maria and Brother Chinna who had to take a ton of photos of us. We showed the kids who were very entertained by their ‘Dutch trying to be fake Indian’ volunteers. We felt beautiful in our light blue and green Sari’s which matched our eyes perfectly, but felt like uncomfortable puppets at the same time. After twirling around for a couple of hours, we decided we had enough of them for now and changed into our comfortable loose baggy pants. Anyway, the photos turned out great and it’s probably the best souvenir we could’ve gotten for ourselves.