Saturday, August 30, 2008

Morning in Pondicherry (Puducherry)

On Sunday, August 24th, while we were having dinner in Puducherry, my tote bag was stolen. Unfortunately, in the bag was my passport, Krishna's Indian passport, my Person of Indian Origin card (my visa), travelers checks, some cash, our camera (my son's), and our cell phone. :-)
So, that's why there's been no input on this blog. I like doing it with pictures.
Today (August 30th) I got up really early with Gopal and Krishna (who have been walking early for days). At about 5:30am we walked to the beach and watched the sun rise over the Indian Ocean (correction: Bay of Bengal). (I think the rest of Puducherry does the same thing.) There were a lot of small fishing boats out there. It was really beautiful.

Later in the morning, I took my first solo trip running errands. For those of you who know me well, that must be sort of shocking. But, I get very confused here. The streets are overwhelming with activity at every level imaginable. And on most street corners there are no street signs. You can figure out which street you're on by reading the store signs; some list addresses in English. In the meantime, you really have to watch every step because there could be a pipe sticking out of the sidewalk or street, there could be various sized piles of shit, sidewalk tiles may be missing, a construction project may be underway, there may be a trench full of sewage, business being conducted on the sidewalk, etc. Pedestrians are at the bottom of the food chain, and that food chain includes buses, large and small trucks, cars, autorickshaws, bicycle rickshaws, mopeds, motorcycles, bicycles, bullock carts, cows, dogs, and other pedestrians. We're all sharing the same space. It's very nerve-wracking to me. It doesn't help when you think you have rights as a pedestrian. So, today I got to the main post office and I found the beauty parlor where I want to get my nails done on Monday. I was soo proud! And, boy, was it hot out there. On my way from the post office to the beauty parlor, I passed this public park we like to walk through.

So, back to the story of our lost stuff. We couldn't submit a report to the police until the following (Monday) morning because they needed specifics, like passport numbers, etc. We finally got the police report Thursday night (four days). Sigh. We couldn't go to Chennai to the U.S. Embassy to deal with my passport without that police report. We couldn't do anything without it. Since we're retired and really not doing anything, this is an inconvenience, but we're not super stressed about it. The biggest concern right now is being able to replace my PIO card/visa. We are learning from people who have had the same problem that replacing it here in India isn't really possible. We may have to deal with San Francisco to replace it. And we have a time limit of four more months to straighten out my visa.

Wednesday, August 27th, was my son Mike's birthday. He would have been 39 this year. Krishna, Gopal and I walked to a beach at the far end of the beach/promenade so I could spread some of Mike's ashes into the Indian Ocean (correction: Bay of Bengal). Women here wear strings of fragrant white flowers in their hair, so I took a 2' string to scatter with his ashes. It was so hot, an endurance test. But standing in the surf was wonderful. (Then we got a "Hot Brownie with Ice Creams" on the way home. Happy Birthday, Mike!)

Our landlord gave us a new chip for our spare phone, Krishna's son Raju blocked the stolen chip and will send her phone from Delhi, we bought a Nikon CoolPix P50 camera, and put a claim in to American Express for our travelers checks. Tuesday, we will go to Chennai to meet with the American Embassy and the Foreigners Registration Office, probably returning on Wednesday.

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