I don’t know why but I had this urge to eat the Tamil Idli as soon as I entered Pondicherry. But, to my surprise, the small kiosks to the big restaurants, nobody was willing to serve idlis in lunch. But, as adamant as I am, I immediately embarked upon Mission Idli on the lesser known streets of Puducherry (meaning the new city), ignoring the French Boulevards, the Beach Road, the Aurbindo Ashram, and the pretty girl near the Ashram. My search took me to almost each and every nook and corner of the suburbs shown in the Puducherry tourism map, but to no avail: the Idli remained ever elusive. However, in the process, I have become the real estate guru of Puducherry and am already advising a well-known idli chain pro-bono with an assurance that they will serve idlis in lunch across Puducherry.
Now, since I have seen so much of Puducherry, let me share some gyan. First and foremost, the places ending in “pet” don’t have anything tummily about them; they are just names; some of them are excellent residences, yet others are not so good; my personal favourite is Lawspet, but the best value for money might be Mudaliarpet or Orleanpet; however, my first stop was Duryapet, which, in spite of being a semi-slum, was pretty clean. While discovering “pet”s, I also discovered some “uppam”s — again nothing tummily about them — Kotakuppam, a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood, is affordable and clean, and, but for its Muslim tag, would have been attracting lots of real estate interest — I think there is a clear real estate opportunity lying there for the secularists. Aryinakuppam is another neighbourhood I visited and found it chic and posh. But, one neighbourhood which I just couldn’t visit in spite of trying too hard was Nellithoppu — every time I headed there I landed up in the city bus stand with numerous Modi posters in the skyline, and each time I duped Modi by jumping onto the East Coast Road and taking a u-turn from Kotakuppam.
So, after lots of hide and seek games in the hot sun, my moped gave up and got punctured and got running only after the sun glasses became almost redundant; I scooted to the French Boulevards lest the dashing sun glasses should turn into a liability; but it was already too late: the sun had eclipsed, and the pretty girl had moved into the Aurbindo Ashram for devotion, where I was denied entry for I wasn’t devoted enough (towards Aurbindo of course).
So, finally, I sauntered to the corner kiosk at Bharti Park via the Beach Road; this time the Idli was available, but my devotion was clearly misplaced, or, may be not: the Tamil Idli was certainly delicious.
©2014 Ankur Mutreja