We checked out of the hotel this morning at 8am, and headed south down the coast to Pondicherry. This is part of the old French colony - French street names, a lovely wide boulevard by the sea and a hot bread shop - more later! The bus trip lasted about 90 mins and we then went for a walk across the town. This was the area where cyclone Thane hit last week and whilst there wasn't much structural damage that we could see, there was a lot of debris and tree branches in piles at the side of the road. However outside of the French quarter it was difficult to see what damage Thane had caused and what was pre-existing! Also one of the parks that we were headed to was closed due to the number of fallen branches.
We went into a temple, and outside was an elephant which took offerings of money out of peoples hands and then blessed them with it's trunk on their heads. We also went to an ashram set up by Sri Aurobindo Ghosh a Bengali who died in 1950. We walked into the courtyard area in silence, and sat in the meditation area for about 5 mins, had a quick look round his old residence, and then left - "a bit too much hippy crap" said G! We headed to the hot bread shop which was a French bakery with fantastic quiches, pizza breads, croissant and pastries and cakes. Early lunch at midday, and we had free time until 1.15 - G and I and two others on the trip just stayed in the shop and had dessert and another coffee - much better than shopping outside in the heat!
We then drove for another hour to get to the train station, and our train to Madurai left at 330pm. It was busy so we had to have our luggage on the floor by our feet - fortunately the gap was big enough. Fairly uneventful journey until 10mins from our destination, and we stopped at a station. Apparently something wrong with engine, so our 5 hour journey became 6.5 as we waited and were then pushed to our stop! Eventually got to the hotel just after 11pm - no tea but still felt full from the lunch and few snacks that others shared around on the train. Watched Big Bang Theory in English with English subtitles.