Pondi As The Locals Call It 

9/1/23 – 13/1/23
The blog would be way too long if I were to label off every one of our activities and what feelings they brought out of me. So instead of each blog, I will write about our locations and the most impactful events we encountered.

Someone else in the group perfectly encapsulated our thoughts with Pondicherry (Pondi). “Stimulation Overload.” The pacing, vibrancy, sounds, smells, and every one of our senses is pushed to the extremes. Our tour facilitator tells us that Pondi is a city that can settle us into India, so Delhi seems exceptionally daunting right now! I feel so tight simply walking the streets. Should I risk going close to the rubbish-ridden gutters or rikshaw-riddled streets? In comparison, Pondi contrasts the one-hour drive between Chennai and Pondicherry, which was rather dull and grey. Puducherry is a small beach town that’s constantly sun-struck. Everything is French-inspired caused by colonisation: the architecture, the cuisine, and the landmarks. But the norms and people drift it so far from anything western, familiar. That’s the most considerable beauty of the place.

Ganesh Temple
Our bodies are still compressed from the plane, but the program must go on, so on our first full day, we took a morning walk to the Ganesh Temple. I can’t describe the intricate designs, so hopefully, the photos will do it proudly.

We watched the tradition of smashing a coconut for Ganesh, a sacrificial act. An older sir came up and did the ritual himself. He asked us to please excuse out of the way for him to view Ganesha. Seeing the passion in his heart and the twinkle in his eyes as he closed them to pray before throwing the coconut. Seeing the Mana he has for the ritual could’ve lifted stadiums to watch him for that moment.

Yoga & Bollywood Intro
Our first night ended with an introduction class to Bollywood with our instructor Gilles. Followed by an introduction to Yoga taken by our instructor Susie. Funny enough, I’m immensely excited about both practices. I want to take a practical thing back home to my peers rather than some fridge magnet or selfie. Imagine if I could play a Bollywood and perform a choreography to it. I also remember what I said in the interview when Nick asked me if I would join in with dancing and Yoga and not feel embarrassed. I told him that the embarrassment would be from my lack of trying and that I’m a beginner, so I’m not expected to be movie material. Both sessions were intense because our brains were stretched to remember the moves, but there’s no doubt that it’s super fun!

Here is the song we just started learning.

Pondi was the perfect city to start our tour on, the city was great to transition into the Indian lifestyle, but it still had that easy-going pace that’s familiar in NZ.

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