If you can imagine long perpendicular streets, with large compounds, brightly coloured villas, mysteriously beautiful doors that beckon you to open them even if just for a wee peep, stately walls that ooze splendour from every inch and pixie dust in good measure that engulfs you in a trance – then you are probably drawing up an image of the French quarter.
Pondicherry is divided into 2 parts : Ville Blanche / White town that forms the French Quarter and Ville Noir / Black town that comprises the Indian Quarter. Okay, I don’t really like how they have named them but well, let’s move to the more beautiful parts, shall we?
From Rue Suffrein to Rue Mahe Labourdonnais to Rue Romain, the beautiful grid of streets will overwhelm your senses and trigger the euphoria over and over again, as you bend across the turns and walk endlessly. The bright colours, the obscure doors will invite you to open them, almost as if they are teasing you because you know that some doors are best unopened. They arouse a fiery imagination and you do not really want to know what is inside for the fear of being disappointed.
Bot how long can you contain your curiosity? “I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I’m not afraid to look behind them”, said Elizabeth Taylor.
Perhaps if you were there with me, you would understand what I meant. So when we found an open gate or door, we shamelessly stood awhile, mouths agape with wonder, eyes taking in every little bit of that wonder, whatever it was.
The yellows we saw everywhere were the perfect hue for the brown rustic doors that opened into multi-coloured walls. I wish I could stay here endlessly, sit on one of those rustic chairs on the rooftop and write away to glory, inspired by the sights and the beautiful silence around.
Along one of these charming streets, we spotted Kaasha ki Asha, a boutique cafe run by a lady from the US who has employed a handful of Indian ladies . I was really ecstatic to go in. The boutique houses some handicrafts, paper, incense, soaps, shoes and ethnic wear downstairs. A winding staircase leads to the rooftop where coffee and light food is served. The prices are a bit steep (the food wasn’t all that great) but the experience atop the roof is worth it. The boutique however can be maintained much better given the beauty of the place and products.
After a lot of roaming, we sat down here to have some cold coffee and lemonade. And this experience is what they probably often refer to as a piece of heaven.
We even found a book sale at one of the corners. And what a joy it was browsing them endlessly as if there was no tomorrow!
All through our stay, we went round the French Quarter atleast once a day. If you haven’t yet been there, please do so. If you have, please go again.