Four Days in Pondicherry on ₹ 2666

Achintya Savardekar
Published: May 2019

Multi-talented Achintya can ‘easy peasy’ whip up a meal for 70 people. All of 10 years, he is an avid reader, a powerhouse performer and a mini-encyclopaedia on automobiles.

We left Bengaluru on a rainy evening and boarded the Puducherry express train from Yeswantpur station. We travelled in a second class sleeper compartment. Soon after boarding, we finished a packed dinner and some of us played UNO, while others listened to music on my ipod connected to a laptop. Later on, we played dumb charades and my friends hopped between berths before we finally got tired and slept at 1:00 am.

DAY 1

I woke up at 6:00 am and woke up the others. We arrived at Pondicherry! All of us boarded our pre-arranged bus and the driver took us to our hostel (YMCA YOUTH HOSTEL). All of us bathed and went downstairs for a breakfast of soft idlys and crispy vadas. We then left to Gingee fort, 82 km away from the hostel. The fort is a popular tourist destination. It took us 1 hour 15 minutes to reach there. Gingee Fort is also called Chanchi or Jinji in Tamil Nadu. It is located in Villupuram District, approximately 80 km from Pondicherry. A guide told us that the fort is so secure that the Maratha King Shivaji called it the ‘most impenetrable fortress in India’ and the British referred to it as ‘The Troy of the East’.

The entry to the fort was free. The fort itself is 800 feet tall and surrounded by a moat. The complex has a Chenjiamman temple. There were granaries and prison cells, which we were not allowed to see. There is a pond called Aanaikulam, which seemed spooky & creepy to me.

We were all looking around and playing when one of my friends fell down and had a head injury. He had to be rushed to the hospital. I accompanied him and distracted him from the pain. Finally we left at 6:38 pm and reached the hostel at 9:00 pm. We ended the day with a meal of Chhole & big delicious Puris. We then decided to go for a walk along the beach before going to bed.

DAY 2

I woke up and relished a masala- dosa and curd for breakfast. After refilling my water bottle, went upstairs to wake everyone up and we got ready. At 9:45 am., we boarded the bus and headed to Auroville. It was a nice drive. At Auroville we enquired about going inside the Matrimandir, but they wouldn’t allow us. So we dined at their restaurant and explored the surroundings and went for a nature walk. By then, it was 4:45 pm.

We took the bus to Auroville beach where we swam, played, caught clams, tiny crabs etc. We reached the hostel at 7:30 pm and after a bath, cooked the clams we had collected, in a bucket using an electric coil and seawater. We then lit a bonfire and cooked Maggi over it.

After dinner, we headed upstairs and played ‘dark room’ in our dormitory. We walked to the other dormitory and shared horror stories with each other for 2 hours. When we got tired, we went back to our dormitory and played UNO while listening to music. And finally, all of us slept.

DAY 3

I woke up and woke the others. After a breakfast of chapathi and jam, we boarded the bus to white town. I loved white town, as it is a beautiful place with lot of old buildings full of character. Some of us went shopping while the others went to a park. We bought keychains and cotton candy; my friend bought a very expensive soap dish from the store Anokhi. We also visited the French war memorial and museum, where I shot a video on my phone, of all the different kinds of guns that were used in the olden days.

We went on to visit an old fashioned theatre where we watched rehearsals for some time, followed by a trip to a book store. We joined the rest of our group at A2B and I had a lunch of noodles and sprite. I bought an ice cream too at one of the many gelato stores. We headed to paradise beach to watch a beautiful sunset.

We paid a visit to a near-by bakery and bought cupcakes and ice cream again. When we walked back to the beach, my friend was showing his soap dish to everyone. Suddenly, it slipped and dashed into the rocks below and we could not do anything! We went back to the hostel at 7:30 pm and that evening I left the group.

DAY 4

After going back to school, my friends told me what had happened after I left. They spent Day 4 at Krishna McKenzie’s farm Solitude, then reached the hostel, packed and left for the railway station. They had ordered pizza at the station and 2 delivery people delivered 20 pizzas each. The third delivery person came when the train started to move and he had to chase the train for twenty kilometres, but managed to deliver the pizzas. “The only problem was we needed more pizza, but we shared and managed,” they said. Next morning, they were picked up from the railway station in Bengaluru by their parents.

The trip was decided and organised by a group of my schoolmates who formed an ‘outdoor team’. We were a group of 45 children and 6 adults. Each of us spent INR 2666 for the trip, not including our shopping, ice creams etc. We used the pocket money given by our parents for this.

What did I do after leaving the group?

After leaving the group, my mother took me to our hotel in white town and I had a long bath, a dinner of pasta and a beverage and slept.

The next day [Day 4], I woke up late at 10.30 am, I enjoyed pancakes with blueberry sauce for breakfast and went to Auroville again and showed my mother around. I had lunch and aparajitha juice which was yummy; now I am growing an aparajitha plant at home. We went to a play arena where I had a lot of fun riding a Quadbike. We walked around Promenade beach in the evening and went out to a fancy dinner at Villa Shanti.

The next morning, we went for breakfast to a café on the Beach and then went shopping to the same place I had been to with my friends. After that we went back to the hotel and checked out. Our drive back to Bengaluru took us 5 hours and I saw an awesome Ford Mustang on the way. We stopped for a late lunch and finally reached our house at 8:00 pm.