Posted by: dalefaio | January 3, 2012

Leg 2 – Pondicherry to Thanjavur

Team Tuk and Roll cranked out over 180 KM on Monday, finally arriving in Thanjavur after dark but beating the flag down deadline by three minutes.  Along the way, we visited a temple which we had to enter and count how many main structures were inside.  The longevity and timelessness of the temples here is amazing.  There is a sort of stillness and serenity within the temples that brings an overall sense of tranquility and well being.  We also went to Silver Beach to answer the question of what the four identical objects are at the entrance to the beach (dolhpins).  While we were there, Jeremy, Udayan, and I walked out into the water and dipped our toes into the Bay of Bengal.

Moving on down the road, we were feeling a little hungry so we decided to try out this place called Puthur Mess in Chidambaram that Jeremy had read about on a blog.  The blogger said that she had been to El Bulli, and that she felt the Puthur Mess was an as memorable dining experience, and truly fantastic food.  For those not into food off of the beaten pass in Tamil Nadu where things like health inspectors are about as common as ice bergs, do yourself and all of the other hungry customers a favor and steer clear of Puhur Mess.  This is grilled meat, and seafood central.  The shrimp, prawns, fish, and chicken is cooked over barrels of bright red embers on a grill that is about as big as a standard round trash can lid, and is made of something that resembles a pizza stone but is about five times as thick.  A walk inside the cramped quarters divulges, a room full of about 60 sweaty dudes in an earthen and thatched enclosure, eating rice, and meat grilled in thick chili paste, and onions all served on a banana leaf.  It was truly delicious, and Jeremy and I both agreed that the fish was the best of the protein combo that we bought.  We got lunch for eight people, and a couple of big waters for about $12.

After the team, and our support crew ate lunch under some nearby shade trees, it was time to buckle down for the 80-90 KM trudge into Thanjavur.  The last 50ish KM were pothole city, and with the sun setting in our eyes, and heavy traffic on the outskirts of town, the end of the night was a tad sketchy.  You quickly learn to share the roads in India.  For a journey such as the length of the one we had today, you litterally see hundreds of times, a four wheeled vehicle headed one way, a couple of motorbikes on the opposite shoulder going the other way, and a truck and trailer haulin’ a pair right down the middle, threading the needle… on a two lane road.  Everybody just skooches a couple feet this way, a few inches that way and it’s no big deal.  Not on straight stretches of road, this happens on any stretch of road all day long, and it’s not minimizing the perceived danger by people who drive in the US, to say that it’s not a big deal.  People share the road.  It may seem, and probably is dangerous as hell but people really are looking out for each other, and everything works just fine.  All that being said, Udayan and I gritted our teeth a couple of times when it was pitch black and we could see the headlights of a bus or truck coming right at us, and we could also see another pair beaming right next to what was bearing down on us.  “So, he is going to move over isn’t he?”  “Ummm, we can probably drive into the bushes and be okay.”  What if there’s water there and we flip over, get knocked out and drown?”  They always move over, of course.  What were we thinking?

We made it into town shortly thereafter and actually had a good day time wise as we were something like the 4th and 5th teams to arrive.

Tuk and Roll moves on down the road for a new adventure tomorrow.






  1. Note that we weren’t driving faster than 40mph at any point of time… (Rickshaws can’t go faster). So maneuvering isn’t difficult.

    The worst part is that everyone has their high beams on at night. Its like a nuclear weapons race to mutually assured destruction (except that everyone is chicken at the end).

    I think it was on this particular leg that we learnt our lesson to not drive after dark.

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