An early start, at 6 am. Even too early for the tuktuks.
Our driver Shivan, collects us from the Kumarakom hotel. We think he slept in the car the previous night.
It is still dark in the surrounding Kumarakom villages. Men are out doing their exercise, walking along the roads, naked above the waists, adjusting their dhotis as they go.
It is noticeable that there are no women exercising.
Our travel time to Kochi airport is 2 and a half hours. We are on a domestic flight on Spicejet to Chennai - formerly Madras.
Security at the airport is tight. Males and females are separated at security, taken into a curtained booths and frisked.
Armed security guards saunter with Israeli uzis on their shoulders.
Spicejet is similar to Virgin. All organised, no problems. We pay an upgrade of $20 each to sit at the front of the plane. Our complimentary chicken sandwich is declined..................................
A quick trip across the foot of India. Bangalore sits somewhere below.
We land, and meet our new driver in this state of Tamil Nadu. His name is Kumar!
The Chennai city is frenetic, and many of the 8 million people appear to be on the streets or in crowded buses.
Kumar has to concentrate with the driving. The speed limit is now 80 kms per hour on highway 53.
He offers a coffee stop. This is a wonderful revelation. The Tamils grow great coffe here, and they also make fabulous coffee here too! A little different, where the milky coffee is so hot it is served in a little metal cup sitting in a little metal bowl. The trick is to pour the coffee from one bowl to the other to cool the coffee. It works a treat. We are happy.
Pondicherry is a 3 hour drive of 150 kms.This amazing small city is divided into two sections - French and Indian.
The French quarter has french colonial architecture, French street names, French people living there. It is quieter and cleaner. One could think they were in France, except for the vegetation.
We are staying at a hotel of 10 rooms in the Tamil quarter. It is designed on a Morrocan riad style. A central open to the sky courtyard, allowing ventilation.
The Tamil quarter is noisy, dirty and full of vibe. The food at the hotel is Tamil and great.
We venture out into the street. Too tired to negotiate the constant noisy traffic, and avoid getting hit by a motorbike or tuktuk. The tuktuks have attention seeking horns, some sounding like babies crying, others having musical tones.