Two years in Pondicherry have taught him to appreciate the quiet life, says Benjamin Passicos
Two and a half years ago, Benjamin Passicos had one thing on his mind – to start a business outside of Europe. Having heard so much about Pondicherry from his friends, he visited the French colony and that’s where he met Jeraldine Humeau and Caroline Bogelsang, two French ladies who had just started the restaurant at La Maison Rose. Before long, Passicos joined as partner and has had his hands full since. “I spend between 10-12 hours at the restaurant every day,” he says, quickly adding, “not working, just supervising.” We believe him. After all, it was on a visit to the French restaurant that we chanced upon him.
Case for fillet
“My stay here depends on how Pondicherry evolves,” says the businessman, who hails from Bordeaux in France. “Things are looking very good at the moment,” he assures us, adding, “tourism is growing and I like that you get a bit of everything here – from the quiet life at Auroville to the yummy food at my restaurant,” he laughs. But that said, he adds that we must try the beef fillet and cheesecake at the restaurant. Why should we trust him? “I am not a cook. But after 15 years in the business, you learn how to recognise good food,” he offers. Other recommendations from Passicos, 33, are the Indian food at Villa Shanti and the pizza at Tantos, besides antique shopping along the ECR. “You have to visit the antique shops regularly. Sometimes they have something and sometimes they have nothing,” he says, agreeing that one could call it a hobby of sorts.
Though he misses the nightlife back in France, Passicos has come to love the calm that only a town like Pondicherry can offer. He takes time off for yoga (on his rooftop, facing the beach) and for running and kalaripayatu that he learns at Indianostrum theatre. And though he has only positive things to say about the place he now calls home (the fine weather is one of his favourites), he concluddes that there are certain things that only France can deliver — “specific foods like foie gras,” he concludes.
— Ryan Peppin