This summer, my parents and I decided to travel to India and visit Kolkata and Pondicherry. I was so happy that D could join us for the Pondicherry part of the trip.

I’m sure our trip would have been a lot more enjoyable had we visited in the winter. The heat and humidity was unbearable and constantly going in and out of air conditioned rooms to the hot outdoors made us all quite ill, which didn’t make for the most pleasant of trips. Nevertheless, we did manage to do a bit of sightseeing. Most of all, it was some much needed family time for all of us. Here are a few photos from our trip:

my first time flying Regent Air – it was pretty good!!
Dhaka – Kolkata
we’ve landed safe and sound – Kolkata, June 2019
driving into the city – Kolkata, June 2019
mmmmm vegetable thali — so good!! Kolkata, June 2019
Metropolitan Building – Kolkata, June 2019
with Eid Al-Fitr happening in a few days, New Market was incredibly crowded – Kolkata, June 2019
the famous Hogg Market – Kolkata, June 2019
dad and I in front of the Victoria Memorial – Kolkata, June 2019
my parents and I by Hooghly River – Kolkata, June 2019
some afternoon cards by the river – Kolkata, June 2019
goddess statue along Hooghly River – Kolkata, June 2019
a ride over Howrah bridge – the sixth longest cantilever bridge in the world (it was the 3rd ever when it was built in then 1940s) – Kolkata, June 2019
I loved the feeling of Mother Teresa’s house. It was so peaceful. The nuns were welcoming and kind. The space was simple and open. I went up to see Mother Teresa’s room – just a bed, a desk, and a small cabinet. The museum that housed not only Mother Teresa’s things but also showcased some of her correspondence over the years was really interesting. I would definitely go back to spend more time here – Kolkata, June 2019
Mother Teresa’s tomb – Kolkata, June 2019
Mother Teresa’s House – Kolkata, June 2019
taking shelter from the rain – Kolkata, June 2019
Jorasanko Thakur Bari – unfortunately we couldn’t go in to the ancestral home of the Tagore Familythe house of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate – Kolkata, June 2019
trying out another airline: IndiGo – internal flight: Kolkata – Chennai
D met us in Chennai and we all drove down to Pondicherry (about 3 1/2 hours away)
breakfast views – Le Pondy Resort – Pondicherry, June 2019
morning views – Le Pondy Resort – Pondicherry, June 2019
Le Pondy Resort – Pondicherry, June 2019
Le Pondy Resort – Pondicherry, June 2019
I would definitely recommend this hotel. The grounds were beautiful, the service was great, the food was good, and the general atmosphere was very relaxing – just what you want for a vacation.
Auroville – Pondicherry, June 2019
Matrimandir – Temple of the Mother – Auroville – Pondicherry, June 2019
The visit to Auroville was underwhelming. I thought it very zen-like and that there would be a place where we could meditate and get a feel for the peaceful living promoted by Sri Aurobindo. The place wasn’t well orgnanized. Even the information center didn’t have clear information of what was going on, where we could go, and how we could explore the place even more (apparently you need to go in person a few days ahead of time to book an appointment to get taken inside). I understand not wanting to have tourists walk around a meditation space, but I feel like they could have done a bit more for visitors.

The visit to Sri Aurobindo’s ashram in town was an even bigger disappointment. You had to take off your shoes and keep them on a shelf on one side of the street (no tags or anything, you just leave your shoes and hope they’ll still be there when you get out) and then you have to walk across the street (on the street which was SO HOT), to get into the ashram. At the gate 3 elderly men where there and were barking orders, yes barking orders: Shut off your phone! Show me! Open your bag! Show me your phone!
My mom moved to the side so that others could pass by her as she looked for her phone in her purse and a man roughly said to her: You, wait here. Don’t go in! Show me your phone! They showed no patience at all – kind of the opposite vibe you’d get from an ashram, don’t you think?! We entered and my parents were exhausted from the heat and the humidity. Mom was running a fever and not feeling well at all. I saw an empty chair and told her to go and sit there. Again, another man rudely said, No. I explained she wasn’t well, and he just said, Shhh!! No! So we had no peace or enjoyment at all of the ashram. We briskly walked around the Samadhi, which was a shrine for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. We were then directed to a small, overpriced bookshop that had books and pamphlets about their practice and ideals.
I felt no spirituality whatsoever in this place – just bullying and commercialism.
this incredible Banyan Tree in Auroville – Pondicherry, June 2019
cool graffiti for this sushi place – Pondicherry, June 2019
a different type of commute – Pondicherry, June 2019
a peaceful river ride – Pondicherry, June 2019
Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple – Pondicherry, June 2019
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Pondicherry, June 2019
a night of live music by the water – Pondicherry, June 2019
D & I in Pondicherry, June 2019