The Travel Post No One Asked For – IV: Pondicherry

There is only one time-tested way to beat the summer heat of New Delhi. No, not nimbu pani. It is to simply get out of New Delhi. That was my plan last month when I set out to select a place based on vibe, visuals and most importantly, wife’s choice. So, Pondicherry was decided upon (almost) unanimously. For those who rightly failed geography in middle school, let me take this moment to educate you about Pondicherry.

Pondicherry is a beach destination of the size of Cyber City Gurgaon on the east coast of Tamil Nadu. It is called Puducherry in Tamil, the name comprising of two parts ‘Pud‘ meaning beautiful and ‘Ucherry‘ meaning unbearably hot during summers. It is basically Goa without the rampant problem of hoards of drunk Punjabi men making everyone around them uncomfortable.

Pondicherry has a rich French culture, because this town was a territory of what we now know as “Republic of France”, and it boasts of a lot of restaurants which we now call “Le French Restaurants because they start with Le”. Other than French cuisine, Pondicherry is famous for French buildings, which are normal buildings but with jaundice.

Now you may come across multiple travellers who will overtly romanticize French quarters of the city, but if you take my word, they are just buildings with yellow walls. The shade of yellow is one for which, if you use in your own room, you will be judged by people even from East Delhi and you can forget about being friends with people from South Delhi.

One of my favorite things about Pondicherry was the vibrant night life, which meant that after 10PM almost all the restaurants (Le restaurants) were closed and you had all the time in the night to be sad about your choice of season to visit Pondicherry. During evening time, however, Pondicherry is a lively place with cheap rates of alcohol and live music events including, but not limited to, Remo-like-artists singing out Shigdi-bagdi-bagdi-beyaa and other such songs which made no sense to you because neither do you know french, nor do they sing here in that language.

Pondicherry is in close proximity to Auroville, which is a meditation ashram where people come to find inner peace and overpriced handicraft items. If you do not believe me, just ask me how much I paid for a pack of 10 incense sticks there. The answer is ZERO because the pack was very expensive and I didn’t buy it. I did buy a T-shirt saying I ‘heart’ Auroville because it is compulsory as per the modern rules of travelling, although it turned out to be the wrong size.

I also did my first Scuba dive there, but I’ve already written a separate post about that. So, the take-home message is that for a vacation, only if you’ve been to Goa too many times, and are looking for a change, think of Pondicherry. Then decide against it and go to Goa instead.

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Scuba Scuba Rehta Hoon…

I enjoy having good conversations with my friends about sports, and in my opinion, the kind of sports you play or like says a lot about you. For example, if you do adventure sports, my opinion is that you’re an idiot who doesn’t value life. I’ve been called a coward for that (and for asking for a groin-guard while playing cricket with a tennis ball because I’m a terrible batsman) a lot, so you can imagine how the conversation went when my wife suggested that we go Scuba diving on our vacation.

As you can see, I have a problem with TWO things in that sentence. FIRSTLY, when I am on a vacation, I strive and work really hard to try and not do anything at all. My idea of a good holiday is lying on a hammock and sipping cold beer irrespective of the destination, be it a beach, the hills or a city highway. If I’ve paid for transportation and lodging to reach there, my idea of relaxation is to pay no heed at all to any noise around me, including my wife’s rants about her choice of spouse.

SECONDLY, not only is she trying to get me off from my bed/hammock/beach-chair on a holiday, she’s asking me to take a dive underwater. If you believe me, this idea of scuba has been falsely romanticized in the movie Ram Teri Ganga Maili (or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, I’m not sure), because there is nothing scarier than water (if you’ve ever had a bath on a winter morning in Delhi and your geyser wasn’t working, you’d agree with me).

While they DO tell you that your Katrina Kaif lookalike trainer will help you have an experience of a lifetime followed by a cathartic bout of crying afterwards, what they DO NOT tell you is that you will actually have to go underwater without having waited for another 3000 years for evolution to sprout gills in human body. Of course I had a heart-to-heart with the trainer regarding the safety:
You: How dangerous is Scuba?
Trainer: If you stick to our instructions and follow our lead, there will be no harm.
You: Harm? You said harm! *Runs off frantically leaving a me-shaped hole in the door*

Due to factors like risking losing my wife’s respect, I made up my mind (gave in to her demands) and took the plunge. Approximately one hour of panic-filled time under water, the trainer finally gave me the most interesting news of my trip: the training drill in the artificial tank was over and next day we would go to the sea and dive for real. Next day, dressed up in a tight Scuba spandex and feeling like poor man’s Deadpool, I went Scuba Diving at last.

It was indeed a great experience. I came out and tried to cry to make myself feel like Hrithik Roshan, and I failed at that. Nevertheless, I felt this raw, rejuvenating energy inside me after the dive so I promised myself one thing: I will write a humor post about this in my blog.

The missus is proud of me, and has already decided that our next vacation should be at a bungee destination. My sphincters start losing control at the mere thought of bungee, but I’m sure if I ever develop enough will power to do it, and my heart doesn’t give away mid-jump, it’ll be worth another humor post.

I did my dive with the wonderful people at Temple Adventures (Pondicherry).

Check them out at http://www.templeadventures.com

Do ask about me. They’d probably remember me as the guy scared out of his wits. No! The water was from the sea and I did not wet my pants!

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Saving Doctor Ryan

There are very few things that get the people of India truly united: cricket match against Pakistan, a Lata Mangeshkar song on TV around 15th of August, and mob mentality to beat up doctors. There have been multiple reports of doctors getting beaten up by disgruntled attendants of patients all over the country, with various government agencies and police not doing enough to ensure justice or provide for further security. The onus is now on the doctors to save themselves by doing something which seems to have a 100% success rate: Write an article about it on social media and change their Facebook display photos to a black dot.

It is not easy to give up a vibrant social life and the chance to keep a head full of black hair before marriageable age by opting for medical in eleventh standard and then go to work every single day in constant fear of not being able to return home with all our senses and limbs intact. Still, the least we can do is to try and find out what is it exactly that we do to deserve getting beaten up by people who expected us to treat their loved ones.

One of the most prominent issues with public is lack of attention by doctors, specially in the emergency room. Yes, the manpower is limited in most government hospitals, and every doctor has only two hands to work with, so whenever the mob breaks the hand of a doctor, it becomes quite ironical as a public contribution to improve healthcare in general. The emotions can run high in an ER, but keeping them in check is what we humans are capable of doing. You don’t see an emotional movie and run to the director’s home to beat him up (Unless you are members of Karni Sena and the movie is Padmaavat which, I swear dear members of Karni Sena, I did not watch).

Sometimes, the attendants are not satisfied because they wanted some other treatment that they read on WhatsApp messages like ‘7 life-saving benefits of rubbing uncut lemon and jeera on your elbow’ and Facebook memes. When a patient is in the hospital, it’s about trusting a doctor and his knowledge and experience for treatment. You won’t go around telling your lawyer “Sir please use tareekh-par-tareekh dialogue, it always works in movies”, because it’s his area of expertise. We too, no matter how embarrassingly, have passed a lot of vivas and exams to reach here.

A few reports have come up about doctors being beaten because of lack of availability of ventilators. The medical fraternity should take steps to assure the general public that the doctors do not take ventilators to their homes to inflate balloons for birthday parties or use as exhaust for bathrooms. We are as helpless as patients in terms of availability of ventilators. We offer our apologies, because that is how we have been taught to behave, and that is probably the only thing we can do.

Trust is a very small, yet a very powerful word. You may not always like how we work, but there is a legal way to settle things. Doctors work in a hospital, where there are no tea-samosa or lunch breaks, no weekends or national holidays and yet most of us say we love what we do. Serving humanity makes us happy.

Please don’t make us hate that last part.

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