Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pondicherry- A French Influenced City

Many cities I have visited in Southeast Asia are French influenced and each city has similar charming qualities to it.  The architecture is unique, French cafes are great, art galleries, and historical monuments-it is almost always a nice, pleasant experience. 
Pondicherry is one of those cities with special qualities to it that make you want to stay an extra day longer. 

Starting off my journey, I was dealing with some impatience that has built up(This maybe due to culture shock and traveling for almost four months.) I saw many people riding around on bikes and I knew that was exactly what I needed to restore my feelings of happiness. 

I started biking towards the villages and with villages always comes a smile.  I began to snap out of my funk and focus on what I love-the local village life.  Passing by my eyes peak into their huts seeing their living spaces, the kitchen, televisions, and domestic tasks.  I pass into a small alley and I stumble upon an all girls Christian orphanage and high school.  I peak my head in the gate and waived at the girls and up to the fence comes a nun, Sister Mary Vonogulum.  She welcomes me inside to see the school and sit and chat with her.  I feel more at peace being near her and feeling a spiritual connection.  When I am feeling down, he makes sure to lift me up. 

Sister had been working at the school for more than thirty years.  She is curious about the US and asks questions about my life and travels.  She inquires about why I do not have a husband and says she will pray for a nice husband for me.  I inquire about missionary work and social work jobs and she responds that I should come work with her at St. Francis.  She does not have much information as she eats, sleeps, and breathes the school. 

I ask her what her hobbies are that she enjoys and she said she loves singing songs in Tamil and American.  I ask her to sing some of her favorite American songs and she sings, “Joy to the World”, and I share my favorite American song, “Holy Night.” We both sit and sing together and it lifts up my spirit.  She takes me to both churches where I say a prayer.  She said that many miracles happen when praying at St. Francis. I sit and hope that God hears my prayers.  

I sit and observe the school girls play games and they all giggle and ask me questions about where I am from.  The one little girl is named Priscilla and we joke back and forth about our names.

Sister is very thankful for me coming to visit as she says they never get any visits from foreigners.  We part saying, “God bless you” many times to each other giving hugs and gracing each other’s shoulder.  I am thankful for this encounter and the lifting up of my spirit.

I proceed down the alley and run into a group of boys who I chat with and ask them what their future plans are and they all say they want to be a police man.  The one boy looks like he could be a mafia guy with his slicked back hair, fancy shoes, and cool attitude.   I tell him to make sure he stays in school because I could just envision the streets eating him up.  I part ways giving big high fives and words of encouragement.  Throughout the day I see these boys and girls in the villages. 

I stop in another village when flying the kite and a family welcome me inside. We sit and watch Tamil videos and I pull out some dance moves.  The two girls and parents are laughing hysterically at me. I purposefully like to entertain and make myself look stupid so I can make them laugh and smile.   We share some coffee together and I do not like drinking out of the cup, but sometimes I have to just take the plunge with germs and leave it in my higher powers hands.  

The sun begins to set and I head to the park for some reading and enjoy a chocolate croissant.  I start riding into the major traffic areas and enjoy dodging through traffic standing up on the bike so I can see ahead.  I engage my singing of Kuala veri making some locals laugh. 

I find some amazing shops with the Indian gown and pants set.  I am tempted to buy it, but I know that I can not fit anymore in my bag.  I get blessed by Lakshi the elephant  at the temple.  You give her money, she takes it from the palm of your hand, and then taps you on the head with her trunk.  I just sit and stare at this elephant-so smart the way it interacts with people and it is all dressed up-I just adore her and want to bring her home. 

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