After three hot days in Chennai, I left for Pondicherry, some 150km away. The best way to get to Pondy is by road and take about two and a half hours from Chennai. The road, which is called the East Coast Road or the ECR, is smooth and makes a good drive, At some points, you can even see the Bay of Bengal on the left, which makes it irresistable for anyone to stop for a coffee or a snack. Our snack stop was Motel Mamalla, near Mahabalipuram. I reached Pondy at ten at night.
The next morning, I was at St.Anthony Government Aided High School, which has around 850 students. Made as a society in 1946, the school had education till class Xth. This was also the main project for Pondicherry Round Table No.70, a table that has budgeted Rs 900,000 for the construction of classrooms in a new wing. Ladies Circle No. 40 had also contributed Rs 100,000 to this project, plus an additional Rs 37,000 from the Round Table India Foundation. The school also has a hostel attached, in which RT70 have installed a refrigerator and donate grocery regularly.
The students who come to this school are mostly first generation students; their parents being illiterate. The families, who send their children here, are very poor, and thus the school only charges Rs 15-Rs 20 per month as the fees. The Ladies Circle has also done other projects at Dominique Xavier’s School, where they have held medical camps, donated furniture for classrooms and organized various HRD programs for both teachers and students.
The beauty of Pondy lies in two places The French Quarters and the Auroville. To enjoy Pondy, walk all over the French Quarters, and see the various sites, especially the Ashram, and beautiful hotels like La Promenade, the Duplaix and the Neemrana. Make sure you visit INTACH and get the map for the walking tour. Tis two and a half hour tour walks you through the French Quarters, making sure you don’t miss anything. Apart from site-seeing, eat well at the many restaurants and shopping places. Don’t miss Coco-La on Mission Street, for their dessert. This gentleman has learnt the tricks of the trade from France and opened this divine chocolate shop. No wonder Cr.Anu is ready to eat everything in sight!