Yesterday I had mentioned that the cleanliness of the Church accommodation left a lot to be desired. As I was returning after the morning mass to the room to vacate it I found the priest in charge of the Shrine doing his morning rounds. I pounced upon the opportunity to inform him of the filth and the reason for it; the wardens are invariably too drunk to get work done and the lady sweepers do what they are best at – gossip. I took him to the block and showed him around. There was a flurry of activity immediately thereafter. The priest told me that it was very difficult to get the work done by the labor due to union interference! But I got the distinct impression that administration is slack. Certainly funds cannot be an issue.
In stark contrast to the previous days’ experience the road condition between Velankanni and Pondicherry was good only in patches – nearly 80 kms of the 145 km stretch of the ECR is yet to be taken up for four laning, and building bye passes. As with most places on the way through villages two wheelers, particularly motor cycles, and the four legged animals, particularly goats, have the right of way. Hence, motoring has to be very skillful and patience should never desert you.
After safely lodging the bags in the Puducherry (as Pondicherry is now nown as) Railway Officers’ Rest House and getting the testimonial from the Station Manager, I decided to go to Auroville. The purpose was to visit the MatriMandir, as I had never been inside after the construction of the dome was completed in 2008. Unfortunately, prior booking is required and visits inside are permitted only for a few hours in the morning. It was a huge disappointment, but I guess that would be provocation for the next trip. The boutiques run by the Auroville has some amazing stuff, but they are frightfully expensive – seems to be targeted at the foreign tourists and the well healed Indians. Not belonging to either category I restricted myself to a cup of coffee from the stall. At the stall they sell syrups of the Hibiscus and Aparajitha flowers. Since I had not seen the latter, the lady plucked me a white Aparajitha flower growing in the premises. The flower is extremely beautiful and one is once more amazed at Nature’s art. The syrup is made with the Violet Aparajitha flowers. On the way back I checked out some furniture shops selling antique pieces. I almost fell for a very unique writing table – was way out of pocket for me and therefore was not too difficult to resist. Sometime….
Some excellent bargains were there at the 99 store on Rue Romain Rolland. The Anglo French Textiles also has a discount sale on. Could not resist buying a couple of very colorful bedsheets.