Expectations play a huge role in what we see and that becomes the reality for us. Same was true for Pondicherry alias Puducherry. It reminded me of secondary school history chapters laden with images of the erstwhile French colony, the much glorified French architecture, and the symbols of peace and spirituality that Pondicherry is much associated with — raises the bar on expectations. However, the advice from well wishers subdues it when they call it “nothing much of a ‘tourist attraction”. Ignoring both, we set out on our journey with minimal cognizance of what to expect.
And as a blank canvas that opens up a world of opportunities for an inspired artist, that’s what Pondicherry did to us in terms of its offerings. Whether it was the Auroville village built upon the philosophy of cluster economics or the Aurobindo Ashram reverberating the sounds of silence, each step gave unto itself a signature stroke on the canvas of Pondicherry. The delight of exploration was heightened in its depth with the companionship of a friendly and meticulous cab driver, who explained the story behind each and every curve of the city. The interconnected streets through the erstwhile French colony still holds close to its heart the legacy left behind by this European invader. The pathways opening to the vast ocean is a sight to behold and the rocks skirting the shores promise nothing less than a million opportunities to meet the endless ocean beyond.
Pondicherry, I realize, at the end of the journey, is a window to opportunities for exploration. But more than an exploration of the outer world, it instigates an exploration of the inner world. An idle mind can be a devil’s workshop. But a free mind -the one devoid of the engagement with day-to-day routines, promises nothing short of exhilaration and exuberance, as one breaks free of chains that bind oneself to self and other-imposed structured living. And to all embarking upon this journey, all that I have to say is your choice – whether to be idle or free – will make all the difference in what you draw out of Pondicherry.