Given the hassle it caused us with travel, and the episodes that resulted from it, I feel I should give Pongal, and our experience of it, an entry unto itself.
Pongal is the festival of the sun. It also marks the New Year. And like any good festival, affords the country the chance for a good stretch off work. We first came across it when on the 12th when we were trying to book travel for the 16th and were told that everything from Mahabalipuram to Varkala was booked till the 23rd, from Chennai to Varkala available on the 19th. All as a result of Pongal (previously, Sandro had booked tickets to Hampi, which is further, at 2 days notice.)
As the Pongal weekend approached we saw stages being set up and more people began to come into town. On Saturday the friendly conceirge/porter at our hotel told us that the tourist board in town had organised a trip to a local village for Pongal celebrations, all free and all we had to do was go to the tourist office at the time shown on the flyer he gave us.
Me, Sandro, Mikey and Marta, decided to go. Mikey and Marta are friends Sandro made in Hampi. Marta is Spanish and Mikey is Scotish, they're married and live in Barcelona, they are really friendly nice people.
We turned up, and were pretty promptly piled on to a yellow bus decorated with balloons. It soon became clear that the bus was not big enough. But, in the Indian way of not admitting anything is wrong they didn't tell us we would have to wait till a suplementary bus came. We stayed on the bus, awaiting a prompt 2pm departure as had been advertised. This however, was not the case. 2pm came and passed, and still we sat crammed in a yellow metal box in the sun. The balloons began to burst in the heat. Eventually we could take no more and flopped out, dripping with sweat, to dash and buy some watermelon. I went in search of a cold Coca-Cola, happily I found one, and nothing has ever tasted so good.
In time a second car/van arrived and we set off for the village.
To be continued...
I will add more, but it's 3 here now and me and Sandro are going to pick up the turtle I had made for Tom at the stone workshops.