Monday, March 11, 2013

Motorcycle Mayhem


March 8, 2013

We woke to an 8am alarm.  I could get used to this for sure.  It was the second and final day that the Prakti team had all together since Minh, the COO, was headed off to Bangalore to the Unreasonable Pitch Event.

We all hopped on our motorcycle caravan (Matt and I as riders, of course), and headed for the bakery.  We got another assortment of delicious French rolls, croissants and loaves of rosemary bread and took it to go.  We ate breakfast at the office where we were served chai tea again.  Oh, so heavenly.

The group was ready to jump into the in-depth conversations on how they were going to move forward.  Matt and I hung out for most of that conversation without filming.  Lots of nitty-gritty.

For lunch, Mouhsine took us to the Auroville visitor’s center where they have a restaurant.  We had a little bit of a mishap due to some construction on the main road, and all the bikes got split up.  I was on Katherine’s moped, and we found a dirt road that could take us the long way to the visitor’s center.  We lost one of our guy’s completely.

That's the giant gold globe, the Matrimandir
We sat down at a long table in a big, open air building that had domed ceilings for every section.  I think this construction must help with the heat.  The cool concrete helps on you feet, too.  Our final motorbike couple arrived after being disoriented through the construction, so we had our whole crew for lunch.

Matt and I ordered up the mustard chicken and Matt tried the watermelon juice.  As usual, the food was fantastic!  We’ve had so much good food here from so many different cultures.

On our way out of the visitor’s center, we took a gander through the museum they have set up on the premises.  It explains what Auroville is and why it was created and shows the plans for the city center.  Auroville was made for the free-thinkers and has no rules except for no organized religion.  Everyone must follow the one truth – except, I couldn’t find what that one truth was.  Might be something like being peaceful with one another.

A model of the city from the sky
In the center of the city, they’ve build a huge round garden with paths leading out to the circle like a big wagon wheel laying on the ground.  In the middle of this garden wheel, where they plan to put a giant moat, there is a golden sphere.  There are three stairways leading into the sphere where you encounter a spiraling ramp that takes you around and around until you plop our into a massive, white, padded room with tinier spheres scattered throughout the inside.

Katherine said that there are still questions of whether or not this is an exclusive location or if you can book a tour inside.  I’m interested in checking it out, though.

We stopped at an espresso stand before leaving for everyone to have their espresso fix.  That little cup of espresso really hit the spot.  Matt had some Turkish coffee with extra grit and enjoyed that as well.  All coffee’d up, we headed back to the office where the group split up and tackled their larger issues in smaller teams.

After they wrapped the big meeting with the whole team, we decided to all head our separate ways and then meet back for dinner at 8:30pm.  Sabagya was my ride back to the hotel while Matt was waiting for Minh to finish up at the office.  Sabagya’s bike was being a little finicky, but he finally got it started, so I hopped on.

We pulled through the dirt driveway and onto the paved road, and as soon as we hit our first curve the headlight went out.  Mind you, it’s 7pm and completely dark outside.  The only light we could see was a car headed around the curve we were in the corner of.  Sabagya pulled off to the side of the road and we waited for a moment.  The headlight came back on, so we continued.

Then, blackout.  We thought quickly, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out his iPhone and launched his flashlight app.  He handed it to me and I held it over his shoulder so we could see the road ahead of us, and he turned on his right blinker, the only light still working on the bike, so that other cars could see us.

People honked at us, pedestrians laughed at us, but we just continued on pleased to be able to see the road.  Thankfully, it’s only a few minutes to the hotel (or…castle, as Matt and I call it).  We arrived to meet Anandan and Erik out front who had a good laugh at our situation.

8:30pm came around, and because Minh had to pack up and meet us at the restaurant to catch his night bus to Bangalore, we were down one bike.  This meant we had an extra rider.  We pulled a Vietnamese-pile-on and loaded Eric, our driver, me and Matt onto the bigger motorcycle to get to our dinner location.

I’m glad we were just eating in town because that would have been an uncomfortable ride to Pondicherry.  The Shawna sandwich, as we called it, arrived at an Indian restaurant in that was hidden down a dirt road behind one of the main streets.  I’m glad we have people who know where they’re going and what they’re doing because if I had to direct, we’d all starve.

Matt ordered up a tofu masala with nan bread, and I ordered the corn masala with rice, and we both had some mint tea.  It was absolutely delcious!  Hands-down the best Indian meal we’ve head yet here in India.  I hope we can find that place again, because I’d love to go back.

Minh left for his taxi which then left an extra bike, so Xavier got his first riding lesson.  He was very nervous about it, but he did fine.  No more need for a Shawna sandwich, which I was happy about.

Tomorrow, Mouhsine is going to meet us at the bakery in the village then take us to rent a moped for the rest of our time here.  The scooters go much slower and you don’t need a driver’s license for them, so it will be Matt’s and my mode of transportation for our last eight days here.  More to come on that topic.