Pichavaram Mangrove forest is a hidden jewel near Pondicherry. We took a 60 minute boat ride, and it started off as a standard backwater ride, but we were soon navigating a boat through a maze of small waterways and natural tunnels created by the mangroves was an amazing experience.

We went to Chennai to visit some friends and drop Yicong of at the airport.  We stayed in a sketchy hotel and we crammed 6 people in a small room.  While in Chennai we got around the city by cramming 8 people in a small car. We also visited the zoo and the beach. 

I recently found a KFC in Pondicherry and its surprisingly better than the KFC back home in Kentucky.  My favorite item on the menu is the paneer zinger.  The Paneer Zinger is the best veg burger I have had in India. The paneer has 2 layers with chili sauce in between coated in bread crumbs with some chili mayonnaise. 

We visited the shore temples in  Mahabalipuram a village about a 2.5 hour bus ride away from Auroville.  The Shore Temple, built in 700–728 AD, it is named so because it overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is part of the World Heritage monuments of Mahabalipuram and commands the most stunning view of all the monuments. The complex consists of three temples, one large and two small, located right on the shores which also has been it’s destroying force throughout the centuries. Many of the carvings are barely visible and many have ceased to exists. Although not badly damaged in the tsunami of 2004, it exposed an old collapsed temple built entirely of granite blocks. This has renewed speculation that Mahablaipuram was a part of the Seven Pagodas described in the diaries of sailors, of which six temples remain submerged in the sea. 

This is my new apartment in Auroville at the Needham guest house.  

The only problem is that the giant ants keep biting you if you sit on the floor and it can get hot during the daytime.  What makes this place awesome is that we have 2 fans, a deck that overlooks the woods, internet and 24 hours of uninterrupted power!

Matrimandir Visit

My boss Jorge, got us passes to visit the Matrimandir and do silent meditation for 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, no photos are allowed to be taken, but thanks to the internet I have found a couple of good pictures.  I had to take off my shoes before entering, once inside I was given clean socks to wear in order to maintain the pristine environment. I made my way up a winding ramp and entered the inner chamber, the place of silent meditation. The architecture inside the structure both inside and out of the inner chamber was magnificent.  The room was completely white, but was mostly dark, with 12 decorative columns incorporated into its design. The center of the room contains the largest optically-perfect glass globe in the world.  The globe has a natural light beaming down from the ceiling into the glass. You could actually see the beam of light in the room. I entered the room and sat in silence on cushions near the back wall. After a 30 minute meditation session, I walked around outside and went under the Matrimandir where the sunlight exited at the bottom of the sphere, into another glass globe at the center of Lotus Pond.  The pond is intended to look like a lotus flower. Water beautifully flows down the petals to a center pool beneath the glass globe. This experience definitely felt a little cult-like, it is not a cult, nor any form of religion. The Matrimandir has no images, no organized meditations, no flowers, no incense, no religion or religious forms, which makes it very hard for me to grasp, let alone describe. With that said, I can only describe it as a memorable and interesting visit that I will never forget and I hope to go back soon.

The Rules of the road in India

  1. It is perfectly acceptable to cross 4 lanes of traffic if you need to take a right turn.  Just aim your vehicle in your intended direction and the other vehicles will eventually move.  It’s just like one giant game of Froger.
  2. If driving on the wrong side of the road saves you time than its perfectly acceptable
  3. There is always room to squeeze between 2 cars when on a bike or rickshaw.
  4. No rules apply to Motor bikes drive on any side of the road
  5. When in doubt use the horn.  The person who is the loudest gets the right away.
  6. Cyclist should pray to their gods before leaving home.
  7. Don’t hit cows!  In addition to numerous stationary obstacles, cows can be anywhere in the street.  Usually you will find cows on the side of roads or in the median, but they can be found just chilling in the middle of the road.  All of the traffic will just flow around the cow but other animals and people are not so lucky. 
  8. Don’t stop for pedestrians!  Just because someone may be trying to cross the road don’t stop unless you enjoy being in collisions. 
  9. Traffic Lights:

    Green – Go

    Yellow – Go Faster

    Red – Check for cops then Go

  10. When driving at night always keep your bright on.

  11. Always keep money for bribes!