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April 12, 2017

Blogger Ritu Arya’s Guide To Puducherry

Compiled by Tina Dastur

She spills her go-to neighbourhoods for retail therapy

In a way, Puducherry reflects my life, or the balance that I am trying to achieve. There’s a little bit of chaos and the usual bustle, but I’m still able to escape into nature and just relax and daydream. My personal style follows in the same vein. One day, I’m out in messy bed hair, an oversized T-shirt and sneakers, and the next, I’m spending a little more time layering clothing and neck-pieces, tying a DIY turban, putting on earrings and sticking on a bindi. How I dress every day depends on the state of my mind. Hurried, at peace, anxious, happy — all these feelings dominate my picks from my wardrobe.

It lets you be you. I believe comfort comes above all else. And in such a hot and humid place, you cannot compromise on that front. At the same time, its tranquil vibe puts your mind at ease, so you are cool and calm and urged to be in your comfortable best.

There’s so much to love. Firstly, there’s the beautiful French Quarter. With its stone pathways, bougainvillea-covered walls and sea-facing buildings, it’s a blissful experience. Then, there are the people; all the locals and tourists are dressed so distinctively, and it really is the perfect way to observe style and culture.

Kalki, Café des Arts and Janaki are my usual suspects. Kalki on Mission Street is well worth a visit if you are interested in regional Auroville brands. The outlet offers an assortment of products that range from essential oils and candles to books and more. Café des Arts is a great place for solitude, where you can curl up with a good book and nibble on delicious food. It even has a small curated boutique for clothes and jewellery from where you can pick up souvenirs. And lastly, Janaki in White Town is where you can shop for high-end designer brands.

There are some interesting local brands. Naushad Ali, Maroma, Upasana and Living Art Lifestyles, to name a few…. What’s interesting to note is that although most of them started in Puducherry or Auroville, they aren’t just local names anymore. With their concepts and products, they’ve made themselves popular on both the national and international circuit.

White Town and the main market area are my hubs to pick up funky stuff. I am constantly inspired by the variety of things these creative places hoard. Shopping aside, I retreat to this colonial heritage guest house called Villa Helena, where I enjoy sipping on coffee in their lovely garden cafe and chatting with their staff who, by the way, are incredibly warm and welcoming!

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