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Master a rock, tree or wave or turn a bicycle into your canvas, with some help from these teachers in Pondicherry

We hear of expats heading to Pondicherry to meet friends, visit the Ashram or explore this part of the world. Eventually, they fall in love with the city and decide to stay on, sharing theirs skills with the community. The story behind this group is similar, but their lessons are of the adventurous kind — tree climbing, rock climbing, scuba diving, circus acts. Add farming and cycle design to the mix and you have many reasons to head to Pondicherry over the weekend. Text: Mrinalini Sundar

Romain Timmers, 34
circus5Timmers has been visiting India since 2006 but decided to stay on three years ago. Before discovering the city through a documentary, Auroville, The City That Earth Needs, Timmers worked as a circus artiste in a French company, touring Europe, and freelancing for a vertical dance outfit. His five years in a professional circus school are now being put to use with workshops on vertical dancing and circus tricks. Plus, a performance, Goutte à Goutt, meaning ‘drop by drop’, is coming up. “Tourists and people in and around Auroville sign up for the dancing. The classes start full swing in January,” concludes Timmers. A juggling workshop costs Rs500. Details: 9626797736

 

 

Fiona

Fiona Guerra

Fiona Guerra and Idriss Madir, 26 and 25
The couple, from France, have been customising cycles for more than a year now. They began with an old style Atlas bicycle (lady’s model). “It was

Idriss Madir

Idriss Madir

our prototype and is hand painted, very colourful,” says Guerra. They work only with Indian models like Hercules, Atlas, Hero, BSA and preferably the old models. “Their look, their mechanic, everything is of very fine quality. Also, we transform them into fixed gear bicycles,” she says. The couple invite people who are interested in painting their own cycle, from school boys to doctors. Four days to about two weeks is spent redesigning a ride. Priced from Rs 5,000 onwards. Details: my.vintage.bicyclette@gmail.com

 

Krishna Mckenzie, 40

Krishna Mckenzie

Krishna Mckenzie

Settled in Auroville for 16 years now, McKenzie, a musician, is from Britain and is well known for his farm, Solitude Kitchen. It is inspired by Japanese farmer-philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka and it has a big open well and solar panels for electricity. McKenzie grows samba rice, organic vegetables, fruits, millets and wheat as well, and visitors are welcome to try their hand at farming, “We also have a South Indian kitchen and if informed in advance, I show guests my methods of organic farming,” he says. There are about six people living at the farm in addition to volunteers coming in to learn farming. Details: 0413 2622068

 

Samai and Juan, 28 and 30

samai

samai

Spanish brothers Juan and Samai Reboul have attracted a lot of media already. Their Kallialay Surf School (KASS) on Serenity Beach, which began in 2009, has seen many converts and last month, they organised their second surf competition. “We want to promote surfing as a professional sport in India,” says Samai who, with his brother, enjoy the company of the growing surfing fraternity from Chennai and Bangalore. “We mostly teach corporates, models, photographers and children of fishermen. Two years ago, model Lisa Haydon surfed with us. And entrepreneur Ayesha Kapur, from the Hidesign family, drops by from time to time,” he concludes. A surfing session costs `800. Details: surfschoolindia.com

Julien Fortin, 32

JulienFortin

JulienFortin

Julien Fortin and team climb the canyon close to the Auroville cheese factory every week — a 20-minute activity. People come down from Bangalore and Chennai during the weekend for either rock climbing or scuba diving lessons. “They generally want to take a break with adventurous activities,” says Fortin. He has taken a team to Hampi, and vouches that it is safe. “These activities make a person more responsible,” he says. Dona Aideau, a PR and regular rock climber, says, “I go climbing every week. We see IT guys from Amazon and designers from Auroville come in,” she says. Details: julien@temleadventures.com

 

 

 

– Mrinalini Sundar

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