pondicherry street

Those streets, those damned streets. A memory tucked in every corner. Of loneliness and friendship. Of success and failure. Of discovering and losing something. Oh Pondicherry, you are like an old flame. I don’t know whether I love you or hate you.

I entered from the JIPMER side of the city. JIPMER somehow grander than ever before. Old hostels crumbling, new ones springing up. You somehow expect time to stop at a place when you leave it. Time and inanimate objects are brutal in their ways in this regard, utterly indifferent to human desire in the direction and speed of their flow. They refuse to be faithful to your idea of how things should be. Almost everything was the same and somehow it was all different. So much change, yet riding around the campus I could imagine every walk in that humid environment to the classroom, labs or the clinics. The visit to the 2 rooms I spent most of my time in medical school, 226 and 227 Lister House, bringing back memories of those thousands of hours of conversations, of heartache, of tensions, of loss and of friendship forged in the fires of adversity and the cauldrons of camaraderie.


The most regular snacks haunt Casino somehow lessened. Changed layout, fewer visitors. New places having their day in the sun. The noisy JN street unchanged. Casablanca still as popular as ever. Many new swanky hotels dotting the roads around the city. The French quarters pristine and as always out of place geographically and somehow out of sync with time. The coffee shops all the same. Just with some of the staff gone and the family-run ones with older people at the helm.

The bakeries as good as ever.

Promenade still one of the best restaurants  in terms of ambience and cuisine.

baker street

The beach road with the Gandhi statue somehow strikingly similar to the Johnny Walker label also same yet subtly different. The abandoned port nearby , undiscovered by most tourists, but perhaps not for long as changing times were reflected in the cleaning up act going on there and the sand that must have been kept to create an artificial beach. Still peaceful and secluded but not for long if the activity around was any indication. Those sunrises when an unknown flautist  used to come there and play almost every day, every day I went there to see the event at any rate. We were silent companions apart from the shared music for over 6 months at the time of sunrise  never exchanging a word yet silently acknowledging each other.

The feeling of being at home in a city which I am now effectively a tourist to, the pain and joy of familiarity, the memories that are like webs in every corner, nostalgia hitting me in the gut as I take any and all turns; Pondicherry you will always be a home to me, no matter where I live. For I truly grew up in this town, this beauty and beast of a town, the one where I truly belonged and yet never did.

Au Revoir – at least for now.

By- Aseem Mahajan

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  1. deepak damodaran says:

    Those streets, those damned streets….indeed….makes vagrant of us all.

    It is not a garment I cast off this day, but a skin that I tear with my own hands.
    Nor is it a thought I leave behind me, but a heart made sweet with hunger and with thirst.
    Yet I cannot tarry longer. The sea that calls all things unto her calls me, and I must embark.
    Then I shall stand among you, a seafarer among seafarers.
    And you, vast sea, sleepless mother, Who alone are peace and freedom to the river and the stream,
    Only another winding will this stream make, only another murmur in this glade, And then shall I come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless ocean.
    – Al Mustafa, Khalil Gibran