Hello! My name is Sasha, 25. I am travelling by bike in India. 4500 km remaned behind.
This was my 27th of November, 2012.
All days when I move to another city start in the same way. I hope to get up at 6 but do it at 7. This morning begins in a guest house for 10 dollars. This place is much better than that I spent the previous night at.
I buy take away food beforehand not to waste time. Today it is Chicken tikka and naan bread.
Outside is a huge city with the population of more than ten million people! On the one hand there are a lot of interesting places there but on the other hand it has all negative moments like noise, dirt, smog, traffic jams…
I packed my staff and asked an Indian from the receprion to photograph me. Meet Janny (Royal Enfield Bullet) – my bike. We’ve been together in different situations and helped each other out. Here I pretend to be awake, Janny pretends it will start from the first time.
I am leaving Chennai and 200 km are ahead. I want to see Pondicherry – a former French colony in India before darkness. So I have to hurry up.
The workers of the guesthouse are surprised to see a cam on my helmet.
The navigator leads me through unknown streets…
I am surpside to see a place called “Coffee Point” on the way. I hope to drink normal coffee there. The matter is that in India they usually drink tea and instant coffee like Nescafe which are too much for me… Coffee machines are only in the networking cafes. But as far as I am going to Indian France maybe someone still drinks normal coffee here.
But nope. The coffee sucks here too.
I photograph myself and keep going.
In some dozens of kilometers Janny stops. It breaks on the highway 66…
Royal Enfileld bikes are not reliable, I should say. Though I even like it, it becomes a real adventure.
I replace the plug and Janny starts. But something is wrong anyway. We should check it in Pondicherry.
Big highways around the cities are of high quality in India, almost like in Europe. But when you turn to regional roads hell begins…
I enjoy local views.
I mount a camera on the helmet.
In twenty minutes I am there, looking for guest houses.
I came there in a wrong time as it turned out – during some holiday and all guest houses are full. It’s so hot and I start getting nervous. I use the main rule of travellers – I sit and have some rest. Then I buy fresh juice from some grandfather.
He tells me there is a normal hotel nearby, I come there and find vacant rooms! The main rule has worked again.
The room here costs 20 dollars. I unpack and go to the bathroom.
The I take a walk in Pondicherry. It turns out to be a very interesting and unusual city. It has beautiful European architecture, clean wide streets, many trees and cyclists. It reminds me of Stockholm or Paris, as if it has nothing in common with India. This territory belonged to the French. Now I feel like somewhere between Europe and Asia.
Many streets still have French names, there is a French consulate, policemen wear uniforms from movies of Louis de Funes. Many French old men live here.
All roads lead to this embankment where people walk, eat ice-cream and look at the waves.
You can see them but stay dry.
I leave the place and soon find myself in the suburbs – in fishing villages – here France ends.
Life here is bustling.
Usually foreigners are not allowed to temples, but I could come in. I saw the man there who was carving wonderful wooden sculptures.
Near the temple the girl is dancing.
Every morning people make such patterns with powder to drive out evil spirits.
Then I meet these guys who ask me traditional questions. Where I am from, my name, where I go etc. I ask them if they know a mechanic to repair my bike. They do and we agree to meet in the evening and go to him together. It’s always like this in India – some problems get solved by themselves, with no efforts from your side.
I return to the embankment and find a cafe there.
At last I find good coffee! It is strange to see people in sarees in such a European place.
I go to the hotel to meet with the Indian students and find a mechanic at last. By the way, you can talk heart to heart with anyone here.
The guys come and we soon find the mechanic. His name is Jiva, he smokes and wait for us. It turns out that the bike’s timing was badly adjusted in Chinnai and used a wrong plug. These people are honest and their services are cheap. I pay him less than two dollars.
I am finally at the hotel. I download photos in the social networks. Hotel Wi-Fi does not work so I take a cable from the reception and use for my laptop
In the evening I meet Tom from Wales who travels with his wife around the world. We discuss musical festivals, Indian cities and even Russian politics. I am happy that my English has improved for the last months. It’s a state language in India so I have to speak it.
I go to bed late. Tomorrow I will go to Auroville – an experiment city of the future where all people live a spiritual life outside of religion, politics and ethnicity. The population of the place now is 1,800 people, and the city is located ten kilometers away from Pondicherry.
I like to wake up and see something different in the window each new day!