We were supposed to leave at 7 am, and beat the traffic bound for Hosur...but just as we were ready to leave, KM discovered that someone had stolen his small Canon digital camera at the conference he had attended in Pune. An all-out hunt was launched just in case he was mistaken( he wasn't) and we left at 8.30 am instead...and the first hour I crawled 25 km! The next 3 hours were much better even though after we left NH 7, the road was not great. The Ramana Ashramam at Thiruvannamalail looked so calm and peaceful. KM took over from there, and it was such a pleasure driving on the old road (the new road is the East Coast Road between Chennai )..with all the old ethnic trees...tamarind, banyan, peepul, palmyra, palm, and mango trees...Often, the bright green lace of the tamarind trees created a beautiful bright canopy through which we were driving... so refreshing to the senses! I do love all the African tulips and the Rain Trees and all the trees imported from elsewhere in the world; but our own trees have their own beauty......I was very sorry that after the small camera fiasco, I didn't have the heart to take the larger one! There was a huge banner at one empty plot of ground, announcing, "Sight for Sale", (they meant, Site for Sale)which alone would have made the camera worth it! Not to mention the fabulous sight of an Indian Roller flying right across our windshield and sitting temptingly on a nearby tree, probably knowing that I had no camera!
As the evening progressed, the light became molten gold, and suffused the entire atmosphere. Tamizh has such lovely imagery which includes the colours...."pon maalai pozhuthu" (golden evening time), "iLam pacchai" ('young' green)....as the sky turned red and then shaded to purple I gave thanks for my eyesight, which made enjoying such beauty possible!
We stayed in a beach resort called the Pondicherry Ashok, run by the ITDC, a beautiful beachfront property that is being run into the ground by unaccountability and apathy. KM had to go another 20 km to his meeting, but I enjoyed, first, the wireless dialup on Reliance on his laptop ( a little slow, but works fine) and then a long walk on the beach as the waves lapped my feet...."swimming" was supposed to be allowed in the sea, but the sight of fishermen looking fairly intently at me (if that's the way they look at a 51 year old, I wonder what PYTs will feel like!) put paid to any such thoughts, and I contented myself with the walk, watching all the sand crabs scuttling in and out of their holes, and a rare find, a starfish, unfortunate mollusc that the fisherfolk fell on in glee and were taking away.
The room was FULL of mosquitoes and I wanted to tell the management that they should charge the mosquitoes more than they charged us, as we were only 2 to the 200 moskies in our room!
The next morning, it was KM's turn for a short walk while I indulged in a very rare sleep-in. Then, while he attended another meeting in the town, I went out in the HOT sun around the young but flowering trees in the property, and was rewarded by the sight of hoopoes, two common kingfishers near a pond, several rose-ringed parakeets scolding each other, and several purple sunbirds and flowerpeckers, and black drongos. The heat finally drove me inside, and I drove off to Pondicherry town, to join KM for lunch, after which we had an equally enjoyable drive back to Bangalore....on the way, we spent some time in JIPMER trying to contact one of my doctor friends (who was very busy that day!)...the JIPMER campus is also green and lovely, but the wards of any hospital depress me very much.....I suppose doctors and others who work there get used to death and disease....?
Visited practically the only relatives we have, in Hosur and came home tired but content.