Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Moving Day


March 11, 2013

We began our day with our favorite routine: hitting up the Auroville Bakery for pastries and then eating them at the Tea Spot that lies just behind.  If I haven’t described it yet, the tea spot is a covered concrete slab with concrete picnic tables with two metal jugs on stools that have milk tea or milk coffee in them.  The milk tea is delicious chai and the milk coffee is mildly colored coffee water with milk in it.  We go for the chai whenever possible.

Bakery Bliss.
Matt and I shared a muffin, an arlequin and a crazy sugar twisty treat and three cups of chai.  We were meant to be at the Prakti office by 9am, but wanted to catch a time-lapse of the team working, so I sent Matt back to get the time-lapse device we had accidently left at the hotel.

After a short wait and finishing up my cup of tea, we went to the Prakti office only to find the team packing up and leaving.  The power was still out, so they had to go and find a place around town where there was power and internet.  We could relate!

The team had all moved their rooms from the Hotel Bay Castle where we were staying to the Youth Camp guest house down the road.  The rooms are a quarter of the price and they have internet vouchers and wifi you could use just downstairs.  This sounded like a great deal, and the night before, we showed interest in moving, so this get-‘er-done team got us a reservation for tonight.

“Oh!  I guess we should check out of our other hotel then,” we said.  In the back of our minds, we did like the idea of saving the money and being good stewards of the budget, but we also figured that a room that’s the quarter of the price might also be a quarter of the quality and thought that we should maybe take a look at the place before we commit.  No sooner did we think that, and we were moving out of Hotel Bay Castle.

The main reception guy at Hotel Bay Castle was nice to us, and we were pleasant back to him, but on multiple occasions, we heard and witnessed his yelling fights with other customers.  We feared being a victim of his screams as we told him that we were moving out five days early.

We had heard, during one of these conversations, that he will only take cash and that they can’t take credit cards, so Matt and I headed straight for the ATM first to pull out enough cash to cover our tab for the first five nights.  This meant another bout with my favorite, stocky ATM attendant.  Matt and I decided to go in together this time.  He attempteed to come in and help and we both shooed him out.  Hurumph!  We hurriedly got what we needed and got out of there!

We walked into Hotel Bay Castle and were kindly greeted by the yeller.  We swallowed hard and said that we had changed our travel plans and needed to check out now. He looked skeptical and then over at his calendar.  “You were leaving the 16th.”  “Yes, and things changed,” we smiled.

He asked if the room was too expensive or if it wasn’t up to our quality.  We said everything was perfect we just wanted to move closer to all of our colleagues.  He asked where we were staying, and we just said that we were staying with them.  “At their office?” he squinted at us.  “Yes,” we replied shortly.  He seemed convinced, so we paid our tab and went to our room to pack up.  We panicked about him finding out we were going over to the Youth Camp, but figured worst case scenario he’d just yell at us.

We called up our friend Vasu from our cab ride out to Pondicherry, and he gladly said he would meet us at 11am to take us the short distance to our new place.  He arrived right on time and we loaded up our backpacks and checked bag into his car, I got in and Matt followed behind with our moped.  We thought about making the move with our moped, but it just didn’t seem like the best idea.

The view from our room at Youth Camp
We arrived at Youth Camp.  It’s a beautiful place tucked away in the forest, but the cost is accurate to the receive.  Our room is in a building near the back of the lot on the second floor.  No air conditioning, power when it feels like it, and no mosquito nets.  The screens on the windows seem to do the trick, but we still decided to sleep with deet and our pants on.  The bathrooms are communal and there’s luckily a sitter along with the two squat toilets for the more serious business.  The bucket showers are to be continued.

We dropped our stuff of and grabbed my computer with the goal of finding ourselves some power and some internet.  We went for lunch at Farm Fresh where they have the magical mint dosas and honey mint lemonade and, most importantly, internet vouchers with wifi.

You go in and pay for a little slip of paper with a name and password that you can sign onto and use an allotted amount of data or, if you don’t use it up, it expires in three days.  After many attempts and a couple trades, we still couldn’t get the internet to work.  We figured it was Farm Fresh since their power was out, so once we finished lunch, we headed for the visitors center to fill up our water bottles, then over to the solar kitchen to test out their internet.

Alas!  We had internet!  What a wonderful feeling to be connected to the world again.  We quickly used up our 50MB, and realized we should spring for the 200MB plan next time.  We got our credit card paid, our emails sent and our Facebooks updated, so we felt pretty accomplished.

Mouhsine and Xavier meeting outside.
We met back up around 4:00pm at the Prakti office and found an impromptu meeting happening outside.  Matt and I shot a time-lapse of Mouhsine and Xavier meeting by the motorcycles until it went completely dark.  It’ll be a fun way to show how hard these guys work all the time.

Since it was dark, Matt and I decided to call it a day and go find some dinner.  We had our heart set on Roma’s, an Indian restaurant with rockin’ curry, but learned they were closed on Mondays.  We settled back for Tanto’s and decided to try out their other selections.

On our way over there, I found my forehead the landing zone for a giant, precarious bug.  It slammed into my face and fluttered around a bit between Matt’s back and my front.  I was disoriented by the offending hit to the forehead and thought that it must have fallen off, at which point I heard Matt say, “I think it’s on my neck!”

The entrance to Prakti lab with
our hog in the foreground.
I looked down to find a massive cockroach, just like the peeker we had extracted from our Hotel Bay Castle abode, crawling around on the back of Matt’s shoulder.  I swiped it away with a tiny scream…okay, a medium scream, and then had a good laugh at our whole situation.  At this point, we were pulling in front of Tanto’s, so we needed to keep ourselves together.

At the restaurant, Matt had some sort of breaded steak (gasp! In India?!) and I had the fire-roasted vegetable platter.  Both were amazing.  We finished it off with some fresh strawberry sorbet to soothe the sweet tooth, and left feeling complete for the day.

We slowly made our way back to Youth Camp to avoid any more head-ons with flying insects and were excited to see that the power was back on in our room.  We’ve got everything charging that we possibly can charge and are hoping the fan will stay on through the night.