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Life in Pondicherry – a photo essay

April 7, 2008

The atmosphere of a place is best captured on its streets and that is why I decided to publish some photographs of ordinary street scenes. They are about people really…I love to photograph people the most. People absorbed in their normal everyday activities.

The first picture is taken on the outskirts of Pondicherry town, but in the union territory of Puducherry. , just before we reached. It was pouring cats and dogs and people were getting drenched as the showers were sudden and sharp. The only people who were not upset at this seemed to be the children. I caught some kids sneaking out of a hut with an umbrella. They stood outside enjoying the water around them.


This second picture is also on the outskirts of the town, but on another day. I was not sure whether he was a holy man. Probably he was an ordinary Puducherry citizen visiting a temple.


The two photographs below were taken on the streets of Pondicherry town, in the French Quarter, or what used to be called “White Town.” Although there are more three wheeler “autos” as compared to cycle rickshaws, the latter too are seen in plenty and make up the unique character of Pondi.

cycle rickshaw

I was not sure about who the woman was who was sitting on the steps, but she was clearly a vendor and taking shelter from the rain.


The beach at Pondi is a photographer’s delight. It is not only tourists who throng the main beach here, but also the locals. Not surprisingly the beach was choc-o-bloc with vendors selling everything from sliced raw mango, gol gappa and puchka, mixtures, cucumber to ice-cream. A typical scene on any Indian beach as we Indians love to eat. However there was something unique in the food items…in Mumbai and Pune we get more of bhel and chaat on the beaches. There was no bhel here.



raw mango

I spotted this lady from afar and thought her quite fascinating as she seemed to be attracting the crows. They flew about her as if creating a halo round her head.

woman and birds

Just another beach scene. The rain and the wind had made the sea a trifle choppy and gray but it seemed to attract people all the more.

Beach sea

I saw this lady tourist outside one of the monuments. I found her interesting because she was dressed in heavy silk though it was blistering hot. She looked comfortable too! Later when I examined the photograph I saw that she was doing something odd. She was feeling her husband’s pocket for something even as he was handing over some money to her.


A vendor selling amulets taking a break from the heat in the car park

poor man

(Photographs copyrighted to me)

Related Reading: What to see in Pondicherry – a photo essay for tourists
A visit to Mamallapuran – a photo essay

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    April 7, 2008 10:22 am


    In all your photos of Pondicherry, I miss the jetty. Is it still there or was it destroyed by the tsunami?

    It used to be a great place to walk out to the very end. I did this most days of the month I was there, morning and evening. One of my hopes was to see the sun rising out of the sea, but I was doomed to be disappointed. The horizon was always shrouded in haze at sunrise.

  2. April 7, 2008 10:29 am

    The jetty is not there. Just something jutting out of the water! It has appeared in the background of some of my photos, in fact there is one in the background of the woman with the crows. No one can go there now. Unless there is some other jetty. There was none other on this beach where we walked from one end to the other.

  3. April 7, 2008 10:57 am

    I have heard there are a lot of french style cafe’s all over the would be fun to hang out those places..

  4. April 7, 2008 1:28 pm

    Interesting Photos. Sliced raw mango with chilli powder,salt ….. I love it !

  5. April 7, 2008 1:41 pm

    lol….that was a nice tour…:)

  6. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    April 7, 2008 2:19 pm


    Sorry, I must have missed the shots in which the remains of the jetty appear (there was only one). The photographs are somehow taking a long time to download this time, and in my impatience I must have missed the relevant ones.

  7. joss permalink
    April 7, 2008 3:45 pm

    This morning I thought to myself, ‘Where is Nita going to take me to today?’ How lovely, we’ve been to Pondicherry. It’ so much more interesting to look at photos that have been taken by ‘real’ people than photos in guidebooks. I love the way you get up close to people, or do you have a long lens?

    Keep writing, and snapping. Much appreciated.

  8. axinia permalink
    April 7, 2008 4:09 pm

    Nita, I LOVE your Photo-Essays, always!

    I must admit, because of these posts I learned to take “lively” photos too. Before I used to concentrate only on the beauty astect, now I try to capture the moments of people´s interactions, some situation etc. THANK YOU, NITA!

  9. April 7, 2008 8:16 pm

    Rambler, there aren’t so many of the french style cafes. they are a lot of the ones that serve french food and have french names but the ones I have seen in Paris are very different. There are a lot of open air ones in Paris with beautiful awnings and you don’t see that in Pondi.

    Vivek, I too am find wordpress a bit slow. They have revamped quite a few things lately and perhaps that is the reason.

    Xylene, Vishesh thanks. Glad to know that I am not boring readers with my pictures!

    Joss, I go right up to people and take their pictures! 🙂 People don’t mind at all. At times they don’t even notice! I guess a foreigner would be noticed more. for example I was just a few feet away from that lady in the silk sari and she didn’t notice me although I took several photos of her.

    Axinia, thanks! And welcome! 🙂

  10. syedjunaid permalink
    April 8, 2008 2:09 am

    kewl post,
    but i don see any mention of French arcitecture or cafe’s which seem to be quite a spot for tourists,

    Anyways kewl piks , I’ve been planning to go there for quite sometime.

    I urge you to read the title of the essay -“Life” in Pondicherry. This is about ordinary street life. If you want to look at Pondicherry from the tourist point of view you can go through this post, the link which is given at the bottom of the article. Not that I think highly of the so-called “French” cafes, but yes I have talked about the architecture briefly in that post. – Nita.

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