the french were here

Unkown to most of us, the French were able to colonize on city in India. The main motivation for going to Pondicherry,was to find French food and crossiants. I had been given names, addresses and directions to find these delicacies in the midst of naans and curries. As usually, arriving at my destination proved challenging..
I had made a deal in Mamalapurran with a motorizd rickshaw driver named Ravi Shankur..yes i have his card, to drive me to Pondicherry,two hours away for 800 rupees($20). I had decided to pass on the government buses at this point. Ravi doesnt show up but sends another guy. As we begin the journey, my driver asks if I would mind if he dropped me 7 km outside of town and i take another rickshaw into town because there was a high tax if he drove his vehicle into Pondicherry.. I agree to this.
Thrity km before Pondicherry,I notice we are going in another direction.. My driver stops next to the public bus and tells me I can take this bus the rest of the way and give him his 700 rupees. My breaking point had been reached as I screamed at him and all the other oogling
Indian men surrounding men. I have had it with India I shouted, you are all a bunch of thieves. Either I pay 1000 rupees or I am on a public bus for 2 hours more. My driver had to pay 150 rupees to get another rickshaw to take me the last 10km into town.. he begged my forgiveness and was gone.
Yes I did find amazing crossiants and cappucino in town, as well as some tasty French food, and lovely French style architecture and boulevards. My French friend Pascale,had recommended I visit Baby Sarah’s Home, a orphanage in Pondicherry funded by a German journalist and run by an Indian family. Kartik,who managed the orphange and had previously been one of the young men living there, picked me up in the Baby Sarah auto rickshaw. This was a high point of my visit in Pondicherry. Again I experienced how difficult life was for the majority of Indians. The orphanage had 70 childaren, 40 of them were retarded and disabled,the other 30 children were normal but had been abandoned by their mothers or abused by their families and had been saved by the orphanage. Many of the former residents of the home,stay on and work there helping with the children. Victoria,the wife of the founder who had died 4 years ago of a brain hemorge at the age of 46,has kept Baby Sarah’s home alive, funded by their German donor each month. The name of the orphanage is the name of the German donor’s daughter. I spent several hours photographing and visiting the children. While I was in the office with Kartik, I noticed a letter requesting about $200 for two wheelchairs for two of the children we had met.
He said it would take a year to get any money from the government.. I volunteered to donate
that amount.. My brother also agreed to contribute. One of the recent arrivals was a child,age 1 1/2 who weighed 1 .5 kg. Her mother had starved her so she could go into the street begging with the child.. The orphanage was told of this and went and took the child from the mother.She has been there a month and now weighs 2kg and finally smiles. This is one of many stories. I will post photographs of the children as soon as possible.
My next stop on my Indian journey will be the town of Mysore. I decided to skip Bangalore which has become the IT capitol of India. I also didnt want to be tempted to stay there too long as it is the most modern, upscale city in India. This will be my first attempt at public transport.. the overnight train from Thansjavur to Mysore 2nd class AC.. to be continued..

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