We arrived in Pondicherry after dark having driven through stunning and seemingly contradictory sites. Of note was a wetland bird sanctuary next to a landfill and new high rise development (pic). The closer we got to Pondicherry, the more impacts from Cyclone Thane we saw--it hit this region a few days ago. There are hundreds of downed trees and obvious flooding. Remarkably, there are still many traditional palm thatched roofs still in place.
Our hotel is lovely. After the 3 hour bus ride we were painted with an auspicious Bindi on our foreheads (colorful mark), given cool lemonade and a cool cloth for our hands and face. After a quick meeting post arrival we ventured forth in small groups for dinner. We had to navigate around the many downed trees, which was the perfect opportunity to collect leaves (for botanizing)! Unfortunately, the waiter threw some samples away while we were at the buffet, but I will recollect those, and many more along with pictures, in the daylight tomorrow. A medicinal botanist, and colleague of Eliza's, will give us a talk on the preservation of medicinal plants tomorrow evening! I am really looking forward to it and hope to learn some species.
Family/genus list so far in Ponducherry
Moraceae, Ficus, two species, one in fruit
Apocynaceae, Stenospermation, in fruit (cf)
Azadirachta indica, 'Neem'
On our way we also stopped at the DakshineChitra Museum/community service project where we saw a traditional puppet show that depicted a scene from an epic (pic) and a few of us had henna drawn on our hands (pic).
Pictures on the way...