Ride about Town
On our first day at Pondi, we imagined cycling through Rue Suffren till Paradise Beach, rather we found ourselves going around in circles and landing at Rue Labourdonnais. Riya and I never got our hands on bicycles, but we had a better experience with the rickshaws.
It was an early afternoon, while heading back after lunch, we landed in a lane that comparatively had a lot more cars travelling though. The road was flanked by huge hoardings that looked like movie posters but turned out being wedding posters- starring the bride and groom, with headshots of family members as supporting actors. While that pretty much got anyone’s attention, we spotted a stunning auto rickshaw* that had blue spokes with red rims. The owner of it was enjoying a slow smoke, his faded shirt and slack lungi coincidentally blended in with the chipped off walls, but he sported the brightest blue chappals*. My aqua skirt has always been teased for passing off as a brassy lungi and I told Riya, “Well he’s got our concept right.” Riya could not help laughing to herself, “ Well could I be any more shabby, I’m wearing my pyjama pants?” We jokingly asked if we could ride his rickshaw and he laughed off saying, “Why not?”
Murali, riksha driver, kept on saying, “ Anita, smile Anita.” And in that moment my pursed lips broke into a smile and he was happy that I got rid of my straight face.
In a while, he ended up calling a gang of his friends who were amused by our little request. And there was Riya riding a rickshaw in the middle of the road. We ended up calling it the family photograph. They all hurled up and sat on one end, laughing away and wondering whether they were going to be featured in a newspaper.
One of them especially, Murali, the curious one asked me for my name. Unfortunately he picked it up as Anita, and while being photographed he kept on saying, “Anita, smile Anita.” And in that moment my pursed lips broke into a smile and he was happy that I got rid of my straight face. In a matter of seconds, many stopped their cycles and offered there’s. From a floor someone was yelling, “Would you like to be photographed here?” A few insightful ones were sharing directions to antique stores. But in the end when we politely thanked them, they just had one request, to see the photograph. Murali looked at me, smiled. The next day we never saw the rickshaw, it was a shame, I wanted to know if the owner painted his own rickshaw because it was truly a stunner.
Follow Atheena to Perhaps at Pondicherry N°4
Here's the lingo guide:
Dugbe* - A market situated in Ibadan, Nigeria
Gele* - A type of head scarf commonly worn in many parts of Southern and Western Africa
Malayalam* - The native language spoken in Kerala, India
Rickshaw* - A wheel operating vehicle in India
Chappal*- Colloquial term for sandals
Bharatanatyam*- A major genre of classical dance that originated in Tamil Nadu, Kerala
Chechi*- Colloquial term for sister in Malayalam
Ammachi*- Colloquial term for grandmother in Malayalam
Mutta* - Colloquial term for egg in Malayalam
Run parallel, meet at intersections, skip a few lines, the line of thought has journeyed across a few latitudes and longitudes. To more miles before the big sleep. Cheers, Atheena
While he is searching for the right frame, he believes, that art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Perhaps he is lost in Pondicherry or found in Cochin.
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