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India: Pondi to Pune

Tale of an epic yet cruise-y journey across the country en route to Osho.

sunny 34 °C
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Pondi to Pune

I felt my South Indian journey was drawing to a fitting close.
I'd heard so many different accounts and rumours about Osho; the man, the myth, unique meditation practices, and his opulent ashram........
It would be a missed opportunity not to go to Pune.

Fellow intrepid traveller and dudette was also curious enough to make the long journey and check out Osho.
We had an interesting time on motorbike trying to find Pondi train station to get tickets, as we had both arrived by bus.
Getting lost in a city is a great way to discover it. We met some interesting characters whilst asking for directions - and when goras are cruising back streets (albeit looking lost), locals seem to find humour and delight - saying hello, smiling and waving and occasionally asking for their picture to be taken.

No tickets available for tomorrow… but an early start the next day enabled us to get TAKTAL (2AC seats) for the 25 hour train journey leaving the following - from Chennai to Pune.

From Pondi to Pune it is roughly a 30(!) hour journey (not including wait times between bus and train)

Chennai Stop

First - a 4 hour air con bus ride ride to Chennai where we met Ana's Indian pal, Mukesh. He took us to Chennai beach for sunset.
It was a really nice stop.
Chennai beach isn't exactly Goa or Varkala - the water is horribly polluted and the sand is browny-grey.
However, the atmosphere is great!! Lots of food stalls - chilly corn, cooked fish, popcorn, ice cream… and smiling folks everywhere playing music full blast, distorting from their mobiles phones, taking photos (Indian's love photos, and are photogenic); unwinding from their day of work or study.

Train to Pune

Waiting for the epic train near Chennai Central:

At 22:30 our train to Pune departed Chennai Central. We had 2AC seats so had plenty of space to sleep and reeeelax.
One of the fellows in the berth opposite was a fierce snorer and I had to wake him up a few times to try and get him to lie in a different position.
The horrid fables about Indian trains told by those who haven't been here are largely untrue.
As long as you book an AC seat the toilets are routinely cleaned (often there is a western style available), as are the berths (even mopped every 8 hours or so), and passengers get fresh linen upon arrival.

Lunch and dinner are served on the train (or you have 15 minutes at major stops to get off and find something). We didn't have much choice; Thali or Biryani. We got one of each and shared - for both meals.

We arrived in Pune late and found a nice hotel easy enough - this one had an Osho book store attached.

We registered for Osho the next the morning...

Posted by SkinnyFists 03:50 Archived in India Tagged chennai pune trains_india india_beaches

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