Our time in Pondi has passed by unnoticed as we have adjusted to our new environment and habitat. To take a break from the intriguing readings, the sandy beach and the dazzling pool, many have committed themselves to certain local weekly activities. This, many believe, is a wonderful way of learning and experiencing a new culture. If the activities offered by KulturStudier are not enough, then there are plenty of other things to do in Pondicherry. Below are some of the popular activities described:

The young men in the video above, vigorously spinning the bamboo staffs in almost perfect circles, are demonstrating the art of Silambam. This martial art derives from Tamil Nadu and is used throughout other Tamil Nadu communities (Sri-Lanka and Malaysia.) As most other martial arts it takes years for one to master, however, I am sure after a few weeks with our enthusiastic and very patient trainer Velo – we will all be fighting crime in the streets of Pondi, creating our very own Ninja Turtle group!

Tabla Drumming is an ancient drumming technique originating from India. It consists of two drums which are both played by ones’ palms and fingers. Tabla is often played in classical Hindu music and within devotional temple music, however, as Pintoo Dan, our tabla instructor (Above left) has taught us; one can easily play jazz beats and, well, pretty much any other beat on the tabla (except for double pedal), to groove and jam with others. Every lesson begins with a cup of sweet tea and an Om, which Pintoo Dan elegantly draws on the top of each of our new pages in our notebooks (Above right.) The Om symbolizes Brahman – to give us godspeed during our lessons and to thank the gods.

Bollyhop is what our dance instructor, Lovely, calls it, and is a fusion between Bollywood dancing and jazz/hip-hop. This is great fun and a great workout, leaving most of her students soaked in sweat, as our bodies explode into movements, synchronizing with the beats and rhythms. The new dance moves acquired will definitely make each and every one of us dominate the dance floors back home!

After our first bollyhop class last week, a few of us were invited to Lovely’s wedding day. It was a beautiful spectacle at the exotic ceremony, with the bride and groom dressed as an Indian king and queen, while the guests dressed as Indian royalty and nobles. The ceremony itself included a lot of chanting, talking, fire, camera flashes, children racing around, some pink mint drink, and a film crew. Oh, and of course a delicious lunch afterwards. The party must have been hectic.

Other activities includes Mama Rani’s (from Raj Maison) cooking classes, Classical Bollywood dancing and weekly cultural nights where Indian documentaries and Bollywood movies are played at our home cinema.