India On My Own travel blog

My room in the home of Aroki and Vasantha

Tours lining up to go into the tomb of "the mother."

I liked her make-up.

Being blessed

This morning I did errands and then was picked up the car and driver of Arokinathan and Vasantha. They are friends of one of my work mates who is a dean at Seattle Central and I moved into a spare room at their house. Having a car and driver is a very handy thing in India. Even though they are in roughly the same economic status as I am, servants are the norm. He is a professor of Tamil language at Pondicherry University and she works for a site that is working with people disrupted by the Tsunami. This afternoon Arokinathan and I went for a little tour. We visited the most famous ashram here, one that centers around a French woman who was a religious exemplar called "the mother." She has been dead for maybe 60 years but her tomb and ashram really draws a crowd. Afterword we went to the nearby temple. I wished in both places that I could take pictures inside, which is much more interesting than the outside. The temple was dedicated to Ganesha, the Hindu god with the head of an elephant. Outside the temple was a real elephant. If you gave her two rupees, she would bless you. She wasn't held down in any way, the picture shows bracelets not chains. I think she probably felt that it was a pretty good gig compared to others she had probably done in the past. After that we drove to a catholic church that was built 150 years ago by the French and was off limits to Indians until after the end of the colonial period. My hosts are catholic as many people here seem to be. One hears French in the street. Many people speak many languages including both French and English as well as three or four Indian languages.

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