APTI, Day 4 – Sangam Guide Centre, the Old Fort at Pune (Shaniwar Wada)

Saturday was a day to take it easy and combat jet lag. We started the morning off by visiting the “German Bakery” for some breakfast omelets. Although its name suggests otherwise, the German Bakery is actually run by Nepalese or Sri Lankans; their nationality is a bit of a mystery. Steven’s various friends, who among them speak various Indian dialects, have been unable to identify the language spoken by the workers.

However, the food at the German Bakery has some resemblance to what you might find in a bakery in North America, although, as always, with some local quirks.

After breakfast, we made our way to Steven’s office to make use of the Internet and get a few odds and ends done there. Irene wanted to visit Sangam, an International Girl Guide Centre, which happens to be just a short distance away from Steven’s office. Irene’s sister-in-law, Penny, has been to all of the other World Centres (Switzerland, the UK, and Mexico) with her three daughters, but has never made it to one in Pune, so we wanted to make a vicarious visit for her.

Pool and Palms at Sangam

Garden and Dorm Units Pool and Courtyard at Sangam

Pool & Palms at Sangam

Garden & Dorm Units


We began by walking but ended up getting a rickshaw for the last little distance. After walking around the grounds for a while and asking if the gift shop would be open, we found out that the gift shop only opened at tea time. We were just about to give up and leave, when someone noticed us and asked if we wanted a tour. We happily agreed, and ended up staying for lunch as well, which turned out to be a traditional Maharashtran meal, albeit toned down a bit for the participants, who had only just arrived the day before.

The day was fairly hot and drippy, so after lunch, we made it back to Steven’s apartment to cool down a bit with a mid-day shower.

Toward evening, when it was cooler, we made our way into an older section of Pune to visit an 18th century fort/palace. The palace and surrounding walls and battlements had been built by a rich and powerful family at the beginning of the 18th century. Unfortunately, the palace itself, a seven story complex, had burned down late in the 18th century, leaving only the stone foundations, but the walls and gates are still very much intact.

The fort gates View of the grounds from atop the gate Irene and Steven on the fort wall

The Fort gates

Garden from atop the gate

On the fort wall

While we were at the palace, we drew a certain amount of attention as the only westerners in the entire complex (and the only “tourists” sporting a camera). A pair of young teenage boys followed us around for a while, giggling to themselves, until they finally mustered up the courage to ask where we were from. Then they scooted off. Later, a young boy of five or so came up to me with a big grin and said “Hello,” obviously having been coached by his father, who was standing in the background. I extended my hand, and said, “Hello, there. How are you?” at which point his father prompted him to say, “Fine,” and he scuttled off with a grin on his face a mile wide. It was a curiously charming moment.

We rounded out the day with some more Indian food at a very nice little restaurant near Steven’s apartment and came home to get some much-needed sleep.

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