Pondicherry Pooch


What a weekend!

As is the usual case here, it doesn’t matter how carefully you plan, how much research you do, or how little you try to leave to chance. It never quite works out how you imagined.

I went to Pondicherry this weekend, it’s a fabulous little town and a real anomaly in that it was a previously French settlement and therefore very different from the surrounding state.

There’s a close tie to the place from an office point of view, one of our team’s grandfather was the first ever Indian pilot in the Royal Flying Corps and was (much later) the Ambassador to France and was involved in negotiating the transfer to Indian control.

It’s an amazing story and well worth a read.



My plan was to get a pre-arranged taxi to take me straight to the resort hotel that I’d meticulously researched and booked online, I gave the company travel desk:

  • The name
  • The address
  • My booking reference
  • A map

The car arrived on-time and we started the 150 Km drive to Pondicherry, I spent some of the time on conference calls and the rest of it listening to music, so the trip to the town went quickly.

And an old friend made his first appearance of the weekend.

The driver turned to me and asked for the name of my hotel…

Somewhat taken aback, I gave it to him and he proceeded to stop the car and ask random strangers for directions.


And again

And again.

Being a modern and well-prepared Thunderdog, I have a local sim card in a smartphone and had been watching him get gradually more lost on Google Maps.

After he asked me once again for the hotel name, I sort of lost patience and very politely* told him to stop the car, showed him the map and told him where to go.

It was fully dark by the time that we reached there, I gave him less than half the money promised and told him that I’d pay him the balance if he managed to find his way back on Monday.

I then checked into my room and tried to log onto Wi-Fi so that I could catch up with what was happening at work, only to find that the code was ‘expired’  – no worries, I trotted back to reception to get another code, only to find the same issue.

Here’s a little known fact about Indian hotels –

Every. Fucking. Person. On. Reception.

Think that they’re an IT expert.

After demonstrating to the receptionist for a few minutes that every code had the same outcome, I was passed to another old friend.


Yes, the small god of hoteliers had decided to possess the hotel manager at this point, who being more senior, along with being rude and incredibly punchable; decided that the problem was that I was using an Apple device.

After what seemed the whole weekend, I proved to him that his own phone couldn’t log on and he reluctantly reset the server.

I had an indifferent dinner, washed down with one of the two options open to me (beer or vodka) and then.

A thunderstorm happened..

Dramatic and vivid, the rain fell in huge warm sheets and the lightning arced across the sky in flashes of white and purple.

It was glorious and it went on for hours.

And I stood in it and laughed while I got drenched.

The next day, I spent a few hours in the sea was lucky enough to see a pair of eagles overfly the coast and a flock of small swift-like birds  and and then travelled to another resort for lunch, washed down with a few vodka martinis or vice versa and then went to Pondicherry in the evening.

I was lucky enough to have met a few people who would share a lot of the day and they took me to an ashram; which for some reason I found to be a sad place rather than peaceful.

The on to a huge bustling temple to Ganesh, the Elephant god; where this poor chap stood outside, prodded by a miniscule handler to take the money from the hands of supplicants and give them a gentle knock to the head.


Inside the temple was noisy and chaotic, gaudy and crowded, I paid for a blessing and only had large denomination notes, so received a bouquet of flowers for some reason; and then sat on the floor and took the sights and sounds in for a while.

It was the most relaxing thing I’d done in ages.


After that, it was time to wander the seafront and watch the locals get on with the serious business of having fun.

The local kids have turned a statue of Ghandi into a slide, in England there’d be health and safety concerns, threats and arrests.

Here there was laughter.

I know what I prefer


After dinner, we trooped back to the hotel and I made the mistake of trying to order a vodka on room service.

Apparently; room service finishes at the same time as the restaurant.  – words still fail me..

I spent the bulk of Sunday alone in town and just wandering the streets, it was hot and I think that my clothes may disintegrate in the wash.

It was great though.

Sitting in a coffee shop having a quiet sandwich and milkshake for lunch, I commented that a piece of music was particularly relaxing and nice to listen to.

It was Shiva’s prayer…..

Yep  – him again. He seems determined to get my attention until I get to one of his temples at least.


I saw markets and temples, statues and monuments, the sun, sea and sky. I was unbothered during this time and as the day wore into evening; I allowed my gaze and gait to become subtly more intimidating so that I could wander through groups of people and even a quartet of cocky-looking cops made way for me, causing a quiet internal snigger.


At one point, I heard a choir singing and walked to a church at the back of the seafront and stood outside for 30 minutes or so listening to a beautiful service in French before wandering back to a rooftop bar for dinner.


I finished the day with beer and lobster and a fantastic view before promising a tuktuk driver 5 times the going rate if he drove VERY fast to the hotel

I’m still grinning now.


I finished the weekend with a walk along river that parallels the beach, watching the fish troll the fishermen by jumping out of the water just beyond the reach of their nets before heading back to Chennai and the office.


All in all, it was an amazing experience, I managed to track down the CEO of the hotel group, emailed him with some observations and have a promise of a free weekend in any resort in India within their group.

First though, it’s the Bank Holiday Weekend.

And Bangkok – there are three of us booked on a flight that leaves on Friday night with no plan as yet, although we may do the floating market and tiger temple trips, which should fill enough time up with lying by the pool and getting drunk on local beer to make a whole weekend.


* A lie, it started with STOP THE FUCKING CAR!!!!!!!!

The 13th Thunderdog

Fog swirls and eddies around, nothing can be seen past the shapes it makes and remakes, confusing the eyes and tricking the senses. Water laps somewhere at the edge of hearing and boards creak. 

A voice calls out. 


A fiery arrow arcs into vision and hisses into water. 

It’s not a bad metaphor for life in some ways, we’re all on that ship and the future in front of us is uncertain and we can’t go back. 

To be fair though, it’s also part of one of my favourite films, you may never have heard of it, or you’ll have skipped over it as being possibly stupid or lightweight. 

LIke all the best stories, it’s a tale of selflessness and sacrifice, of redemption and courage, tolerance and honour; it also has this prayer, spoken by the main players at a point of almost certain death.

Lo, There do I see my Father, and 
Lo, there do I see my Mother, and 
Lo, There do I see my Brothers and my Sisters and
Lo, There do I see my people back to the begining, and
Lo they do call to me, and
bid me take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla, 
Where the brave will live forever.  

It’s a real prayer apparently and dated around 100 AD. 

Something in the acceptance of death and the knowledge that the way you go out depends on you resonates in me and I always watch that scene with an almost childlike awe. 

Anyway, enough of the film. 

I’m back in Chennai, when I last wrote, I was in London and not feeling at my best; my own personal demon had come to visit and I was worried that he may stay. 

He didn’t.. 

I know that I have to sort a number of things out, but I’m not in a bad place at all today. 

I’ve been back five days (almost) and have already moved hotel once. There was nothing really wrong with the first one, just no view of the sky from the pool (or sunbeds ;/ ) and really nowhere to walk to. 

I did go for a walk on Tuesday morning, but the landscape was.. Uninspiring. 


I’ve now moved to the Kohinoor Asiana (if anybody wants to buy me a drink) and it’s a vast improvement, even if I don’t have a beach. 


And once again, I can feel the fabric of reality lessening slightly, I’ve already bumped into Shiva once, via a 3rd party and it seems like we may just yet fuck a few things up at some point. 

Maybe this weekend. 

Which may be the last weekend I get for a month or so, my work trip  is definitely going to extend until I don’t know when. 

So I escaped the city last night. 

I’ve come to Pondicherry, a French resort full of bars and restaurants and plan to spend like a drunken sailor. 

I’ve already spent almost two hours in the sea  and stood in monsoon-level rain last night during an EPIC thunderstorm  – so I think I’ve probably reconnected with Shiva. 

I’m going to find his local temple in the next day or so and say hello. 

Unless he comes out today to help me fuck things up. 

Enjoy your weekend wherever you are. 

Keep searching through the fog…..

Departing Dog

It’s the last day of the current visit and life has been, erm. Interesting for the past few days

I did some touristing on Sunday and went to Mamallapuram – or Temple Bay if you like. 

It’s a pretty cool area, filled with ancient temples and some pretty impressive natural rock formations. 

It would be perfect if it wasn’t for people. 


Epic, unbelievable mongery at a UNESCO World Heritage site no less, people hanging off of carved elephants, jumping all over fragile stone carvings, grinning and gurning all the way. 


Also lying under a huge, amazingly well balanced rock, pretending to push it upwards. I honestly stood there willing it to fall.. Sadly, it remains unsmeared with stupid humans. I never actually got a second for a shot that wasn’t filled with Mong, so had to go behind the rock to get another shot. 

And got this awesome picture of the sun on the stone 


We then attempted to shop – I had changed an extra £100 up and was fairly flush with cash and ready to spend money. 




I now have a permanent association with the moustache and hairstyle and I saw variants of THIS in shop after shop.  


“Ah, a white face, welcome sir, the price has just gone up by 500 percent”

I tried to buy jewellery – no luck, the prices were through the roof and there was no fun in negotiating at all, so i walked out of every jewellery shop. 

Given my close association with Shiva, I tried to buy a statue – even worse luck. I laughed outright in three shops and walked out with the owners following me. 

I looked at ornamental knives and budgeted around 3000 Rupees for what in reality is shoddy work with ornamental handles. 

“This is a lovely piece sir, look at the quality, this is Damascus Steel”. 

*feels blade wobble inside the grip, looks at steel*

“That’s not Damascus”

“Yes sir, it is”

“No it isn’t”

“Honestly sir, I swear to you, it is Damascus Steel”

“No. It. Really. Isn’t”

“Tell me sir what do you think it is?”

“It’s poor quality steel that’s been acid etched, badly by somebody that has only ever seen Damacus Steel on television”

“You could be right”. 

And so it went. 

I bought nothing, the naked greed was offputting and I gave up and went for dinner. 

Monday was pretty much a standard day, gym, beach, pool, work, dinner, bed. 

Tuesday was a crappier version, but had one interesting interlude. 

I walked to the beach  to find one of the local “craftsmen” lurking. 


I met him last week when he insisted on walking with me then trying to extort $50 US for showing me some fish. 

Yesterday he had a small statue of Shiva, so I asked the price. 

“1800 Rupees sir”

*loud laughter, walks away*

“Sir that is a very good price”

“Go away, it’s too expensive I can buy one that size at home for 500 Rupees”

“No sir, you cannot buy for that price here, I cannot buy for that price”

“Go away”

*walks down beach for thirty minutes*

“Sir, seven hundred Rupees”

“See? How can I trust you now? You dropped your price by eleven hundred, you were trying to cheat me”

“Five hundred”


So I have a Shiva. 


It’s cheap work and I’m going to buy a better version that I can actually display with some pride and to remember our time together. 

Because I think the cunt is trolling me now. 

I wandered along the beach this morning in a reflective mood, I knew that I’d have to come back, but wasn’t sure how long for or what the scope of my job would be. 

I put a structure for the offshore service together last week and suggested some pretty big changes as I was sure that there was trouble ahead somewhere and that a whole slew of issues needed to be addressed. 

As I walked the beach, I put checklists together and compiled questions in my head for the team as it was the first stage go live for the service today. 

Once that was done, I had some breakfast and then got thrown around by the waves for thirty minutes. 


Then it was work time and the excitement of a new live service. 

Which isn’t going to happen anytime soon. 

It’s been pulled by the client for reasons that are still unclear. 

I already know I have to come back and most likely put the structure I designed together, I don’t know how long for but have already asked how much a house is to rent. 

And on that note, I’ll carry on with the day, go back and finish packing, then fly home. 

Maybe @AntiChrist_666 was right. 

We’ll see.