108 experiences in Pondicherry

Introducing the Guide

Meeting Peter Richards - January 2011

Your book is called “108 Experiences in Pondicherry, Auroville and Nearby”.

What does “108” mean again?

Front cover of the book 108 experiences in Pondicherry, Auroville and nearby, writed by Peter RichardsOh, right! It's a very special number in India and other places because it divides by so many other numbers and so is useful for organizing chanting on strings of beads.

And the 108 beads on the cover?

Those beads are in a shape 108 experiences in Pondicherry. I've chosen as the logo for our new publishing centre. One of its geek meanings is "place of interest" and it's in the shape of a basic kolam, patterns put down every day in chalk or rice powder at the entrances to so many Pondy homes to attract the goddess Lakshmi.

What's this book for?

This book is like a downloaded database of 108 things to do in Pondy and hereabouts. It's short, chatty, written in contemporary English and - the important part - loaded with current information for visitors to, and residents of, Pondy.

What about a French version?

If a native speaker thinks it worthwhile to do a translation, I'd be happy to discuss it. It's always good to read something is one's first language.

What three places would you direct a visitor - any visitor - to Pondy?

  1. Beach Road in the evening.
  2. Bharathi Parkduring the day.
  3. Francois Martin Street in the Ashram Quarter and Suffren Street in the French Quarter during the day, and Mullah Street in the Muslim Quarter just before sunset.

All to see Pondicherians and other visitors. Plus they're all free.

How would you describe Pondy in three phrases?

  1. Distinctive: the Boulevard Town is unlike anywhere else I know.
  2. Booming and morphing: the economy in Pondy is surely growing at over 20 percent per year, if we include all the various colours of money: white, grey and black.
  3. Relaxing and stimulating: Pondy is both. You can get away from it all and emerge again into it all in a moment.

The three best things about tourism in Pondy ?

  1. The real charm of most (but, of course, not all) residents of Pondy. Pondikaaran are insouciant, chatty, and hopeful that a smile will make everything better. Including sometimes, quite bad service.
  2. The remarkable range of distinctive, value-for-money shopping.
  3. The comprehensive range of accommodation for visitors.

The three worst things?

  1. The traffic.
  2. The Grand Canal.
  3. The traffic.


The availability of consistently good eating experiences, particularly at the high end, is not much greater than it was ten years ago. And the places serving it are largely the same now as then.

Who are you?

I'm just another person who came to Pondy a fair time ago, and was captivated.

I'm Canadian but I'd be more exotic as an Azerbaijani. So be it.

I'm from Vancouver, Azerbaijan.

I'm retired and writing and publishing books, but it would be more interesting if I were Ang Lee's cousin. So I am.

Have you ever done travel books before?

There was an earlier series (2000-2005) called Experience!India with three editions on Pondy, two on Auroville and one on Mamallapuram.

What's coming next from 108 experiences in Pondicherry ?

A fiction called Duty and Desire, a story about a number of Pondicherians of different ages, genders, ethnicities and fates, all of who must choose as we must all choose: what to actually do when caught between what we think we should do and what we think we'd like to do.

Where to find 108 experiences in Pondicherry?

Kasha Ki Aasha, Grinde, Living Art, Cre'Art, Focus...

Price : 150rs

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