Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Mid-Week Trip - Pondicherry and Pom Poms



Hooray! I was so excited to rediscover some photos stashed away in my long-forgotten Photobucket account that I thought I'd bore you  share a few with you. A bit of an image heavy post I'm afraid, so do feel free to scroll through and just admire my pom poms if you're short on time.


Gazing at a map of India years ago I fell in love with the name, Pondicherry. I did some research and decided that we needed to visit so we did, first in 2006 (for my 40th) and again in 2010.


The Union Territory of Pondicherry was ruled by the French from 1674 until eventual re-absorption back into India in 1954.


You may know it as the location for Yann Martell's Life of Pi

This was Pi's school in the Life of Pi, in reality a sewing academy for destitute women.
Half the city is typically South Indian, a bustling metropolis heaving with vegetarian restaurants, chai stalls & intricately carved Hindu temples on every street corner. 



But cross the river and the other side remains forever French, wide leafy boulevards, gendarmes directing traffic in kepis and white gloves, blue enamel street signs & restaurants with baguettes, croissants, steak and fine wines on the menu. French is still widely spoken and visible on street signs. Like Goa, beautiful houses waste away, locked up and abandoned due to complicated inheritance laws.


Several have been reclaimed and turned into exquisite boutique hotels.

One of the many gorgeous heritage hotels
Did we stay in one of these beautiful establishments? Us?! Why pay £100 for a room when you can enjoy the same view for £6? 

The Qualithe, Pondicherry

We chose the inappropriately named Qualithe Inn, a shambolic 18th lodge overlooking the Presidential Square. 
The hotel was mental but we spent hours on our rickety balcony watching the street below.
The Indian equivalent of the dodgiest British pub ever, at 13p for a quadruple rum, the place is littered with drunken casualties, patrons and staff alike. We'd find ourselves locked out and have to climb through a downstairs window when the receptionist was too wasted to remember we weren't back and our sleep was frequently disturbed by the manager banging on our door asking Jon to go drinking with him. 


The days were spent exploring around the city, joining organised walking tours run by well-informed locals or chilling in the Art Deco cafe on the sea front sipping pastis and watching the world go by.





Pondicherry still bears the scars of the 2004 tsunami, which made 30,000 people homeless and killed 104.








Another time we took a bus to the Auroville Ashram, the utopian society set up in the 1920s by an enigmatic French woman known as The Mother and Shri Aurobindo, a Tamil Bengali freedom fighter (thanks, Tanaya, no excuse, I've read his memoirs) . The Matrimandir (Sanskrit for temple of the sacred mother), where the chosen few can meditate, reminded us of something from Star Trek. Read more about it HERE.


The domestic tourists on the bus were far more interested in capturing us than the sights of Pondicherry. Whenever the bus came to a halt we were instructed to stand in front of various monuments and smile. Jon & I adorn hundreds of holiday albums throughout the subcontinent.


If you haven't read (or seen) The Life Of Pi then do, its wonderful, although it was actually based Trivandrum Zoo in Kerala (and that's another post). A House In Pondicherry is another must-read if you're interested in discovering more. To get there you'll need to fly to Chennai (Madras) airport, Pondi is just a short ride up the coast.

Wearing - me-made dress created from a vintage sheet, Walsall market pom poms and a 1967 dress pattern (from her royal Helga-ness), 100 denier opaques ('cos it's bastard freezing) also from Helga. 
Hope you enjoyed your trip.
See you soon!

71 comments:

  1. amazing, I loved that place in Life of Pi, so it must be definitely be worth a visit. Your pics are amazing and I love that interesting mix of old European style houses and the typical Indian ones. xx

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  2. What gorgeous pics. Love getting the chance to get a peek of these places. Not sure I'd be too impressed being woken by the manager at God-awful o'clock but what a tale! Love the pom pom trim on that dress - tis a beaut!

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  3. thank you for the beautiful images!
    the lovely man and i had lots of fun in india posing for the family albums after very kind requests. we gave our camera often to the photographer so we have nice pictures of us towering over cute, friendly indian families :-)
    chic dress! the golden colors suit you beautifully.
    i have to find a way to use pompons in my sewing.......

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  4. What an interesting post this morning , love it , photo are amazing , you look fantastic a usual , love your computer pace too xxx

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  5. Always enjoy a trip round India via you Vix! All so amazing. Oh and your dress is yum, especially the pom poms!

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  6. Wonderful photo mash-up! You remind me that I think I've still have a Photobucket account somewhere. Love the practical sense toward your travelling.

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  7. Such cool photos! It's great to see India through your eyes :)
    Love the pompom detail on your dress - I just love pompoms so it's perfect!

    Hugs x

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  8. What a gorgeous post, Vix, I always love to see images from your Indian travels, and Pondicherry looks fascinating. Love the tales of the Qualithe, and that temple is astonishing. Just what I needed to see on a dull Wed morning in March, a burst oh southern Indian warmth and colour and vibrancy, so thank you for that.
    O, and nice pom poms, love! Stay warm, love ya! xxxx

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  9. Lovely photos, Pondicherry looks like a beautiful place!

    I'm loving the pom poms on the dress too. Fab! x

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  10. I love your Indian posts so much ... so interesting and colourful ... just like you! Thought Life of Pi was a great film. M x

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  11. Great post Vix. I had no idea that part of India was once ruled by the French, such is my ignorance. How very interesting. Loved your story about The Qualithe, one place you won't forget in a hurry.
    Love your pom-poms.
    xx

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  12. Thank you for sharing your wonderful Pondicherry experience , sounds absolutely fabulous to visit !
    Always love to watch pictures from India ...
    That Qualithe hotel looks fantastic , full of charm ...Must've been quite a place to stay for a while ...
    One you won't forget for sure ...
    Your pom poms flowery dress is so beautiful on you and matches the curtain perfectly !

    ~ Have a bright day Vix ~

    ~ La Dryada ~

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  13. What great pictures Vix , it's so nice to see them and to see different country.
    I love where you sit at your computer and the curtains are divine and the dress is awesome to !, have a great week Best wishes xxx

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  14. Well, first of all, I'm likin' the wooden file cabinet and computer table, Vix! Wow.

    The haunting beauty of deserted buildings and landscapes of Goa are strangely soothing and settling to my mind this morning...

    (Oh! I forgot to note the pom poms.)

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  15. i love your outfit in the 1st and last photos. and lovely photos.

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  16. Look at you in your pom poms! So cheerful and charming.
    I've always wanted to go to India, but have never been and your India blog posts just make me want to go even more. Someday...

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  17. Wonderful photos and interesting history, Vix, thanks for sharing. I'm smiling thinking of you and Jon living in peoples' vacay memories. Love the pompoms .. and the patchwork drapes!
    P.s. You are right about Polyvore. I joined it ages ago, did one or two collages, then have never went back. Cool concept but I don't have time for it! Xo

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  18. That is so interesting! I never knew there was such a long French occupation of India.

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  19. Fantastic - I always love your armchair/virtual trips! Never knew the French were in South India d'oh. Gosh you had me at kepi :-) You look fab and warm and I want a home office just like yours! xxx

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  20. Wonderful, Vix! Your photos are art, and your narrative makes for an irresistible story. xox

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  21. Pondicherry, it even sounds wonderful, no wonder you wanted to go - there is something about India, every time I look at your travels I am drawn to go despite me being an utter wuss over flying - your pom-pom frock is awesome! pom-poms make everything good x x x

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  22. I think I may have said this before but never mind. The great thing about visiting places like India is that you get a fund of stories (usually mad)to bore everyone to death with back home. I love it! The other thing (and I've definitely said this before) is that India is soooo photogenic. Great pics, Vix, and I'm loving the pompoms. You can't go wrong with pompoms I feel. xx

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  23. Love the dress! the pom poms are perfect. Really you need to be writing a book 1,000 uses for pom poms.

    I did like Life of Pi.

    Great to see your photos. The colours are gorgeous and the history was very interesting.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  24. What a beautiful name, Pondicherry. Your photogrpahs are quite amazing.

    How sad that so many lives were lost during the Tsunami.

    I chuckled at the thought of you two having to climb in through the window and getting woken in the small hours to go drinking.

    Having read this, I realise I haven't logged into photobucket for quite some time, and am eager to see what photographs I've stored away.

    Have a lovely day Vicky.

    Loving your bed-sheet dress and pompoms by the way xx

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  25. Pondi is one of my favouritest places, thank you for the pictures..Just a little correction though Aurobindo came from Bengal, there was nothing Tamil about him..Yes, as you can probably tell I am Bengali and very proud of Tagore, Aurobindo and the likes x

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  26. Also I am going later this year to Chennai and Pondi, would you like to come join us? x

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  27. I love your travel posts. They're a nice break from the everyday. And give me vacation ideas.

    I'm mad for ball fringe and want to put it on everything.

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  28. What a fascinating place … thanks for sharing.
    xx

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  29. lmao at the Qualithe Inn!
    Gorgeous city. People should just reclaim the abandoned houses. Such a waste of beautiful property.

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  30. I'm still laughing at the hotel manager pounding on the door to get Jon up and out drinking with him, hilarious! Pondicherry looks beautiful just like all your photos of India, I wonder if I can ever get Chris to go :). Your connection there is strong and I can see why and it has nothing to do with the fact that your celebrities over there it just seems like the perfect place to unplug and be intrigued by everything.

    This dress is beautiful and I am resisting ordering a bunch of Pom Pom trim because you make me want it on everything!
    Love you honeyxxxxxxxxxxoooooooo

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  31. Interesting photos! Picturesque, bright, amusing...what India itself is. Looking at the photo of that mandir one would never guess that it is a temple. Amazing!

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  32. gorgeous photos and exiting to read .

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  33. It looks amazing and very spiritual. What the man in the orange robe making? loving your dress i really must try and start making some dresses as i can't seem to find any vintage ones only trouble is i don't think i have the patience anymore. Have a lovely week, dee xx

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  34. Thanks for sharing your photos it's such a treasure, they are beautiful. So enjoyed the history you gave us as well. I love your organized work space and that outfit is so cute..love it on you! Vix, I want to move in with you Lol! ;-)

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  35. The colour of your red 100 denier opaque tights is beautiful and coordinates beautifully with your gorgeous you-made floral dress! You are incredibly talented! I love that you include maps with locations and your route indicted on them! I got a chuckle out of the photo of you and Jon where you'd been instructed to do a tourist pose. You've been to India so much I'm surprised you don't have dual residency (or do you?). Your account and photos from adventures at fascinating old ornate budget accommodations like the Qualithe Inn are fascinating. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    http://www.full-brief-panties.blogspot.com/

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  36. Love these travel posts - and your stories! Especially the part about the drunk manager trying to take Jon drinking.

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  37. Well I would have been perfectly happy with just a few shots of Pom poms but Wow Pondicherry. I love that you chose to visit based on the name. So beautiful. Sigh....it's been such a long time since I've been to India. Thanks for the trip!

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  38. Pondicherry sounds like very exotic, it's a so evocative name for a place, and now it's really interesting, with all its mixed cultures and traditions!!, I never have too many pictures of your Indian adventures!, nor too many pictures of your pretty embellished clothes!, pom poms are fabulous!
    besos

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  39. Oh Vix, you are amazing. I adore "visiting" your home - it is so charming and full of personality. Pom poms are cute, and every time I see them now - I think of you. :)

    I enjoy your writing very much! You are a wonderful storyteller, and pictures are great! I have never been to India, but I can understand why people asked to take your and Jon's photos. (I am surprised they don't do it in England!) It reminds me a travel to Asia with little Anya. Locals asked for my permission to snap a photo of her too. :)

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  40. Darl, you can run hours of travel pix in front of me and I'll never be bored! I love these post, I love these pix.The Qualithe reminds me of the Hotel Oxford in Cairo with it's dodginess-hideously compelling and makes for great stories!!!
    The thought of you and Jon in loads of Indian photo albums just cracks me up!!!! Hilarious!
    I'd love to dribble around Pondicherry, and like you, am seduced by a great name-I have longed to go/travelled to many a place with a fascinating and beguiling name!
    Your pom poms ROCK! As do you, lovely.
    Love Helga xxxXXXxxx

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  41. These photographs are so fabulous! You could write a book with them. I love the way you have taken shots of random things like the pink bike. Treasure trove! x

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  42. So glad you found your photos of Pondicherry. They're lovely and clearly depict a very exotic place. There's no way I was going scroll past those interesting pictures and your stories to go with them.

    I love the shots of you at your computer. You keep your space so tidy! And your pompom dress is great on you.

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  43. I stopped off in Bali in my way back from Oz just because I liked the sound of the name. When I retire I plan to over-winter in Goa. Thanks for sharing your photos, I always love to hear about other peoples travels . Sorry, short sentences, just on my way out xx

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  44. Great photos and I love your frock
    Twiggy

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  45. What a wonderfully colour saturated post, from the pompoms on your gorgeous me-made frocks to the streets of Pondicherry to your fabulously engaging stories of your adventures on the sub-continent. You had me giggling too at the idea of you having to climb in through windows past all the comatose drunks and Jon being summoned to quaff his bodyweight in alcohol. What a gorgeous building that Qualithe hotel is. Oh, those balconies. If I have the choice of looking out at a grey and drizzly March day or being 'bored' by your travel reports, I'll be bored every time please. More tomorrow? Xxxxxxx

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  46. Hi my dear!! I so enjoyed this post as I remember seeing Rick Stein here and fell in love with the place, would love to go there, your descriptions and pictures are gorgeous thanks for sharing! xxx

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  47. I also love that name - Pondicherry, sounds good enough to eat. Loved this virtual tour of the place and your travel tales (especially the dodgy pub!). These are such wonderful photos!

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  48. Looks like such an interesting place to visit. Sorry I've not stopped by in ages, good to see you're still living the dream and looking fabulous. Xx

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  49. What a fabulous post, Vix... a real feast for the eyes, thank you!
    I've always been a little bit in love with the name Pondicherry too, ever since hearing it mentioned in a history lesson back in school...

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  50. I love all your travel posts! Having wanderlust in my heart I'm always excited to learn new things about your travels to India, so nope didn't bore me, quite the opposite! The dodgy hotel you stayed in looks like something you would find in the French Quarter in New Orleans! Can you believe I still haven't seen "The Life of Pi"? Gotta get on that asap! XXX <3

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  51. i did enjoy my trip!

    i think you'd make a fab tour guide and i'd be the first to sign up. you and your pom pom's are beautiful. x

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  52. i did enjoy my trip!

    i think you'd make a fab tour guide and i'd be the first to sign up. you and your pom pom's are beautiful. x

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  53. That looks like a great trip and hilarious adventure with the accommodation you had. I read Life of Pi years ago and as soon as you mentioned Pondicherry I recognised it. I also love your pom poms. I have been meaning to make some little ones to decorate some boring lampshades.

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  54. Your a super wonderful trip ~ loved the photos too !

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  55. I love when you post about your travel adventures. Also, I've heard that there are quite a few Art Deco buildings in India still standing. It's a pity the complicated laws don't let anyone to enjoy those great homes and just let them rot away -- what a waste!

    Love,
    Masha

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  56. Wonderful pictures, these places are what I think is true beauty. I got all nostalgic for own trip to India many years ago - might dig me piccies out. Just hope these places never change, they are pure treasure. I absolutely loved Life of Pi and rarely watch films twice but that one I could. Betty

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  57. I will always love reading your travel adventures Vix - what beautiful photos! We have a trip booked (although not to India!) in June and I'm counting down the days already. Also - everything is better with pom poms. FACT!

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  58. Ant there's me though Pondicherry was in Wales, I know it's a shame, poor old duck!

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  59. Beautiful pics Vix. It really is another world isn't it? I like the name too. It reminds me of Pontypandy in Wales where Fireman Sam lives. Perhaps you should visit there too? Actually I'm not sure it's real...
    I wanted to visit Balamory in Scotland and there's no such place. Why am I talking Kids telly to you? That's also another world I'm sure you're fortunate to have not visited! xxx

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  60. Why yes! I did enjoy the trip! Great photos, each one worthy of framing. I can't wait to get traveling again. Our 16 yr old doesn't want to go anywhere cool with us but we're counting the days until we can leave him home with the dog.
    Looking lovely working there at your desk!

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  61. Great photos Vix. Looks an amazing place.

    X x

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  62. Great photos Vix. Looks an amazing place.

    X x

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  63. What lovely pom poms you have ;)

    I always enjoy travelling to India vicariously through your posts. While I consider myself pretty adventurous, I don't know that I would cope well there. I suppose it is different when there are two of you. The Quailithe Inn sounds like it would be the perfect setting for a series of short stories!

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  64. This is a great post! I have seen Pondicherry from your eyes..I have been to Pondicherry today…Didnt go to the ashram though…

    love
    http://www.meghasarin.com

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  65. Loving your pom pom dress, I hadn't even considered adding pom poms to the sleeves!

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  66. Woah, that golden dome is AWESOME! I'm glad you found more pics!

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  67. I agree with Helga (all she said!), we love your travel pics, let us know if you "find" anymore. Great frock too!
    Red the Elder

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  68. oh wonderful photos! Pondicherry as always spiked my interest too though not enough to just GO there!
    i love your pom pom dress too! xo

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  69. What a wonderful visit to India on dreary rainy day!! You really need to write a travel book!!!

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  70. Oh I love India so much! Keep sharing your amazing photos! I really want to go back! My brother and sister in law are moving to Goa permanently at the end of the year so i'm sure I will be going there more frequently from now on.
    As always I love your outfit especially the pom poms. xxx

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Don't be shy, if you enjoyed your visit leave a comment, I can come and visit your blog if you do.
Love from Vix
xxx