The skins are darker, the writing on the newspapers and de sights, rounder, the temperature, higher, here is the south. Chennai, formerly christianised Madras, is the fourth city of India. Settled along the Bay of Bengal, the town offers kilometers of wide beaches that are the meeting and entertaining spot of the dwellers. Barefoot in the sand, the promenade is agreeable among the indians. They stop you each fifty meters to ask you for informations about your origins or merely to be photographed with you. A glance from time to time at an indian family bathing fully clothed, enjoying waves in a completely wet saree allows a grin and permits joking and kidding, typical indian bashfulness. But the city itself do not worth a long stay, gather all the western stereotypes in a bucket, stir it all, then pour the result on the east coast of India, this is Madras, the most tremendous mess I have ever seen, the mob is everywhere, the traffic is uncontrollable, the construction sites grown up in all corners... In short, Chennai is only one of entrance gates toward the south, nothing else matter.
A sweet french fragrance wraps around the colonial district of pondicherry, three centuries of french governance have let an unerasable french print on one kilometer square perfectly maintained in the centre of the city, along the sea and contrasting with the rest of this indian town. A few colored houses or former mansions or palaces transformed in hotels or restaurants where french written menus propose french dishes, some streets whose the names have a singular parisian consonance, churches with steeples, full of worshippers of the catholic God, children wearing uniforms, chatting on the threshold of the famous "Lycée français", who, eager of improving their knowledge in Molière's language, talk to you freely, give to the city an strange nostalgic melancholic feeling. Yellow, pink, light green colored houses, perfect paved streets, real attempt to keep the town clean, salted scents, demonstrate a deep desire in seeking wellness and quietness.
Eight hours uncomfortably settled in an indian bus are necessary to reach the most renowed indian mountain city. Situated at more than 2100 m high, it stands, when we arrive, wrapped in a nice cloak of mist and clouds. Rain, cold and humidity contrast with the sunny weather of the last days. Turtleneck sweaters, scarves and caps are necessary. If you choose travelling over there, select the right season, because nothing is made to cope with the cold. The hotels are unwarmed, and the nights are peculiarly chill. But, we deserved a booby prise, we attended the genuine local market, settled in the sloped streets and sometimes underneath some fragile roofs. All the mountaineering farmers sell their own crops in an unbelievable din, in a great and sympathetic mess. Kingdom of bargaining, fully colored, under the mocking monkeys' sight.
Munnar is a small town settled on the slopes of the inner mountains. It is also and mainly the world capital of the tea. We get there to admire the perfect cutting of the tea fields in the hilly landscapes that permits them to look like a perfect english garden. The streets are lined by an uncountable number of tea traders who provide an huge variety of tastes, of blends that will suit and will satisfy the most difficult customers. But, if you do not like tea, avoid.
Sometimes named the small eastern Venise, situated between the Bay of Oman and a huge inner lake, we get there to enjoy the charm of a cruise on the channels. Housed on a typical house-boat, sailing on the back-waters, one melts in a peculiar watery universe made of villages populated by fishmongers, palm beer drinkers, pirogue oarsmen.
You are reaching the infinite quiet. The sky is cloudy, sometimes it rains, the sky merges with the lake, only a thin gloomy skyline is discernible. The line between despair and hope.
COCHIN AND KANUR
Kannur doesn't offer attraction and presents all the characteristics of the indian cities, fully traffic-jammed, noisy and dirty, charmless. At the contrary, wandering on the deserted and preserved beaches, the most awesome of Kerala, sleeping in perfect quietness, lurked in indian countryside, represent a necessary halt for tourists in lack of loneliness.
PATNEM, SOUTH OF GOA
Completely cut of the world, Patnem only offers its beaches and its waves untiringly smacking its shores. A stay in this village aims to conclude an exhausting journey throughout the indian under continent. Grilled baby sharks, shrimps, calamaris, sea fruits are on the menu every evening. This special diet alternates joyfully with the traditional "massala" served in each indian eatery. Peace and quiet are the master words in Patnem although the beaches are invaded by foreign tourists seduced by the low prise and the perfect sweetness of the winter sunny days.