I don’t like telling people, but until this time last week I could literally have been anywhere in the world.
My days and nights were a depressing mix of sleep, exercise, eating, writing, drinking, movies, overheating and internet failing. I know it doesn’t sound that bad but it was all happening within the four walls of my budget hotels.
I don’t generally do tourist when I travel anyway, but I definitely try and do social. But finding the right kind of social in Pondicherry and Auroville seemed to be a lot like going out looking for sex. I’m sure it was there, keen and waiting, but do you really want to do it with just anyone?
On top of the nightlife seeming like nothing more than stale naan, I also didn’t feel like doing much because I was tremendously sad pants.
Fuelled by emotions and holding on to hope like something out of the Bible, I was more comfortable commiserating in my own self pity than forcing my masala hips into fun pants. But I recently received closure on a door I hurt myself trying to hold open. It was the final smack whammy I needed to get the guts to go out and have fun in a foreign land.
Alas, here’s the real struggle of trying to have a good time on your own in some parts of India, on a Tuesday night.
The night was set to be sweet thanks to my snazzy little purchase from Sri Krishna Sweets. It’s a very popular sweets shop in India and I like popular things when I do emotional eating.
Then, BAM. Closure pushed me over the edge. I put on this nerdy little outfit to hit the town in, without showing off too much offensive skin.
First stop was this seedy bar that I was the only patron in. Ten points to them though, the beer was served at the coldest temperature I’d had so far this trip.
And they brought me out these spicy little corn flake things that tend to be served with beer in Pondicherry. Ten more points for thought.
Alas, I had to minus 50 points for the staleness – and the discovery of this sticky little rubber band wrapped in broken flakes.
I smashed the beer before its temperature dropped and went in search of my next establishment. Asked this guy for some recommendations and all he had to say was “I’m a sacred cow, don’t talk to me, piss off”.
I then saw this sign and thought, YES GAY CLUB. Because surely the gay Indians would show me a good time if the conservative ones wouldn’t.
Only to discover it was a men’s fashion store. Yes, the cultural irony is delicious.
I knew there were more empty bars dotted around the place, I’d seen them, but they were really hard to find amongst all the brightly lit fashion stores. If this were somewhere like Thailand, these bright lights would be offering cocktail buckets and promising not to check your ID. But in Pondicherry, everyone’s looking for a sexy new Sari.
I finally came across another bar. And to my delight it had a ‘Jumpin Rooftop’. (Not sure.)
That’s what it said at the front door anyway. The guy at the bar told me ‘no rooftop’, and pointed me towards this weird empty room with tables and chairs. It was like a small town Aussie RSL with no gambling…
And no ice, lemon or lime for your drinks.
Sensitive to the fact I may have been the only customer for the night, I ordered a vodka soda. (Who knew soda water came with extra punch?) They gave me some more corn flakes, which were a lot fresher than the last batch, but I’m not totally into bowls of suspicious chickpeas.
I necked that drink pretty fast so I could get out before my depression set back in, and got onto the streets where I was actually surprised to see so many people out doing things on a Tuesday night.
Sure those things included browsing and purchasing landfill, but I was usually in bed at this time of night! This was much more bright and colourful than an Indian budget hotel room.
As I walked, I noticed on my map that I was actually quite close to Hotel Atithi, which was home to Toxic, a bar I had read about.
Wasn’t really in my backpacking budget but, IT WAS CLOSURE NIGHT, after all.
I approached the swanky-ish hotel which had old white people marching in and out of the entrance. I made my way up to the rooftop bar and restaurant, and look, even the poshest of hotels in India still have letters missing.
Way over my budget but still only $8.50 for a cocktail, I ordered the Spiderbite to nibble away at my internal turmoil’s ass.
So I ended up eating spiced corn stuff and drinking a chilli cocktail. It was all very uncomfortable and dragon-breath like.
I had four more cocktails and eaves dropped on the only other people in the raving bar.
When I left I couldn’t help but stop and photograph this dog that was sleeping with its tongue poking out.
That’s all on that matter.
I put some serious consideration into stopping at Thanco’s Natural Ice Creams. I’d been two nights in a row already. And that shit is au naturel. I mean, you order the almond ice cream and you are literally full up on almonds in a matter of seconds. If you’re in Pondicherry, go.
I didn’t do it though. I went dirty. I bought 3x 8% beers to take back to drink in my hotel. They taste absolutely rank and weren’t worth the judgement I sustained as a white girl buying three of them.
You have to shower at least twice a day to get off all the India. I love the traditional Indian shower method of filling up a bucket and pouring it all over yourself. I’m a little sick of cold showers, but apart from that I think they do the bathroom right.
I’d like to say I went to bed feeling much better. But that would by lying. I felt really sick. And I fell asleep listening to this song: