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Right up your Rue: Your weekend guide to Pondy

July blows in a light breeze that shakes up the ennui that has settled over the city’s local enterprises in the summer months. The flow of Puducherry-born citizens, settled in France, but returning home for a summer break, bearing gifts and spreading camaraderie, gains momentum now. This is the time when restaurants and shops begin to thrum with a new life and you are likely to hear Tamil segueing into French and vice versa in unexpected places. Bon weekend!

Tourist Ticker:



Park right: One of the first things you notice about Puducherry’s streets is the befuddling parking. As a newcomer, it is not uncommon to wonder if buildings have done away with parking space, for parked vehicles will counter you, everywhere you turn. Earlier this year, a one-sided parking rule was enforced to regulate traffic on the commercial road. This arrangement was designed to switch sides every six months in keeping with requests from shop-keepers. After six months of left-sided parking, the traffic authorities have made arrangements for cars and bikes to park on the right side of the road for six months, starting this July. Don’t forget to park right!

Tuck in:

Bring out the chocoholic: Every now and then, there is a study which comes out, extolling the benefits of dark chocolate. Apparently, there are enough people trying to prove why chocolate should be part of your life! Pondy’s boutique chocolate store, Zuka, celebrates World Chocolate Day which falls on July 7, two days prior to the event, for the benefit of weekend visitors.



Annually, the store introduces new desserts and chocolate treats on this day. Apart from a selection of truffles, you can try their fusion mousses and desserts which blend variations of strawberry, orange, mango and blueberry with chocolate, caramel or espresso. From Watson’s Favourite to Drunken Dragon, the store promises the spread will be as eclectic as the names. All chocolates and desserts will be sold at a discount of 25 per cent this Sunday.

Desert storm: For those who crave North-Indian cuisine, Pondy offers a handful of small, yet smart, places to sate their appetite with dishes that bear a stamp of authenticity. But, this weekend, you can indulge in food from the North-West of India in a fine-dine setting. Legumes, the vegetarian restaurant at Hotel Accord, hosts a Rajasthani themed food festival from July 3 to July 12. Vegetarians can look forward to a spread of delicacies straight from the desert for dinner. Open from 7.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.

What to do:

In Pondy:



Plan a do-it-yourself heritage trail: If the Franco-Indian heritage and architecture of Puducherry is one of the factors that lure you back to the city, then there is news to warm the cockles of your heart. The Puducherry Government recently accorded 21 buildings with heritage structure status, giving an impetus to heritage conservation in the former French colony.

While a few have been restored already, some are under restoration and others are in need of extensive work. If you prefer to read history through old buildings that have withstood the ravages of time and hold stories that run a century long, plan a do-it-yourself heritage trail. See how many places you can tick off the new list. These include both popular and less familiar buildings like the Aayi Mandapam, Raj Nivas and Pondicherry Museum (Rue Louis); buildings on Beach Road like the Old Light House, Old Band Stand (near Nehru Statue) , Old Court building, Tourism Office and Le Café; Cercle de Pondichery, Assembly Building and Government Maternity Hospital on Victor Simmonel Street; Foyer du Soldat (Rue Law de Lauriston), Clock Towers (on Grand Bazaar and Bussy Street), institutions like Calve College on Mission Street and Soucilabai School on Vysial Street and museums for Bharathidasan (Perumal Koil Street), Bharathiar (Eswaran Koil Street) and Subbiah (Vellalar Street) in the Tamil Quarter.



Big screen moments on a rooftop: Spend Friday nights in July on the breezy rooftop of a brightly painted old house in the Tamil Quarter, watching a flick unfold on the big screen. SITA cultural Centre on Rue Candappa Moudaliar introduces SITA Fridays from this weekend, on July 3 at 6 p.m. The social nights hope to bring together local residents and travellers in a relaxed ambience with cushions and candles thrown in! Strike up a stimulating conversation, discover a weekend activity, or get some insider knowledge in between Indian short films.

Awaken your aesthetic sense: Artists who settle down in Pondy swear there is something in the sea and the city that inspires creativity. If you have a latent artistic side, the tranquillity here may awaken that, believe folks at Tasmai. From July, the gallery in Kuruchikuppam introduces weekend classes on art appreciation “How to Look at Art”. The sessions will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays. For details, call 0413-2221052

In Auroville:

Make upcycling part of your decor: Auroville is abuzz with a spate of ideas on turning eco-friendly and environment conscious. The Auroville Up-cycling Studio is dedicated to creating useful objects from what is discarded. Learn how to turn old package material into furniture with Marc, at workshops scheduled on Saturdays in July at Udavi School Edayanchavady. To register, contact 9442006807 / or e-mail marc.barandard@gmail.com

Turn into a vegan masterchef: The organic thali in Soltiude Farm and Café at Auroville give a new meaning to the concept of the traditional mid-day meal. Made with locally and freshly harvested ingredients, the thali has a distinctive fresh taste. On July 17, 18 and 19, Solitude Farm will share its knowledge on preparing healthy vegan meals through a weekend workshop. Over three days, participants will learn how to cook with fruits and vegetables harvested on the day from the six acre farm. From healthy dosas and wheat-free chapathis to nutritious chutneys, mixed salads, herbal teas and smoothies, the workshop will also focus on raw food. The workshop will also provide participants with ideas on creating their own permaculture kitchen garden. For more details, e-mail krishnamckenzie@auroville.org.in

Insider tip:

Do you have friends who are waiting back home expecting a souvenir of sorts from your Pondy trip? If they possess a sweet tooth, pack them some truffles or bar chocolates made in the city, suggests Naveen Karthikeyan, long-time resident. Or head to ‘Cotage’, the restaurant /café which is under the aegis of the Aurobindo Ashram. Order a bag of cashew toffees and your will have only murmurs of ‘merci’ from family and friends, he assures. “The cashew toffees at Cotage have a distinctive taste, which is hard to match.”


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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 2:43:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/travel/travel-guide-to-pondicherry/article7379039.ece

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