Surprise, surprise, it was an early 5.45 wake-up for us the next day. We had chosen to spend the majority of our time in Pondicherry diving with Temple Adventures, the only dive shop operator in the area. We dragged ourselves out of bed after a good night’s sleep and made our way to the dive centre – just 300m from our guesthouse. Sensibly we had stopped by the night before to set up our kit so we got to sit and enjoy the yummy south Indian style breakfast while waiting for everyone to get sorted. There was a mixture of levels diving that day from complete beginners doing DSD to people undertaking their divemaster training. Halle was starting her advanced open water course and I was just following along doing fun dives. We each met our buddies and took a van about 5 minutes to the water.
We kitted up the first set of tanks before getting on board the boat which would take us an hour away to the first site – Pirates Booty. This was a deep site and as we arrived we got all our gear on and backward rolled into the choppy ocean. As soon as I hit the water my mask completely filled with water and even after clearing every time one of the waves hit me in the face it swamped again. I explained to one of the guys as we were clinging to the boat rope to stop us being swept away by the current and he nicely agreed to swap masks with me. Unfortunately, the problem persisted and after some time of gesticulating and explaining (it took some time before my problem was taken seriously) my divemaster Jai swapped masks with me and because there wasn’t a spare had to continue on the dive with my leaky one – pretty nice of him really. The dive was really short due to the depth and all the waiting around at the beginning fixing my mask and Tarun my dive buddies weight. Once we actually got down however, the hiding octopus and huge schools of fish made up for the annoyance at the beginning. There are always teething problems when diving with new kit.
The next task after we finished the dive was getting you and your kit back on the boat with the strong current. After being dragged aboard very ungracefully (there was no ladder) we had a nice 1 hour surface interval to eat some snacks to replenish some energy and enjoy the sun before getting ready for dive number 2. By this time the equipment issues were ironed out and so we descended problem free. However, the second site – Coral Garden – had really bad visibility of around 1m. We saw a few fish and as we were checking out the reef me and my dive buddy Tarun managed to be separated from our divemaster Jai. We waited a few minutes to see if he would check behind him and then swim back but since there was no sign of him we ascended to the surface as is standard practice. We could see the boat but no Jai, then luckily Nischal, one of the other divemasters who was bringing a student having issues equalising to the surface found us and took us back down and reunited us with Jai. Unfortunately, because of all the waiting around and the up and down we didn’t have too much longer before we had to ascend again. We made our way back to shore hoping that the next day’s diving would be more successful and feeling pretty exhausted.
We had great plans to go and check out lots more of Pondicherry that afternoon but firstly – we needed some lunch. On the recommendation of Marjorie who we had met the night before we decided to check out Baker Street Café – a French bakery – and were not disappointed. The only part that was not so sensible was ordering while we were so hungry. I alone opted for the mushroom quiche (amazing), chicken and olive pizza slice (pretty good), lemon tart (sublime) and a refreshing Limca to wash it all down. We wandered back to our guesthouse for a short nap and woke up 2 and a half hours later having slept through the whole afternoon – woops! Special thanks to Majorie for waking us up or otherwise we might have slept through the whole evening.
We were really keen to watch the sunset at the beach so after making a quick stop at one of the tourist shops to book a driver for Wednesday we headed down to the beach for a stroll along the promenade in the late evening breeze. The sunset didn’t work quite as planned since the sun sets on the other side but we still saw some pretty skies and enjoyed our walk through some nice gardens just next to the beach. From here we wandered for dinner stopping at anywhere that might sell white Holi suits. We managed to bargain with some second hand dealers and got some white trousers and a shirt for £2, bargain!
Our final stop for the night was Veedu Biriyani, one of Ravi’s recommended places to eat in Pondicherry. I opted for the chicken biriyani and fish fry as well as trying some of Marjorie’s prawn biriyani. The prawn was definitely the highlight although it was all pretty fantastic. We rolled back to the guesthouse feeling hugely satisfied and excited for our final day diving the next day!