Life can change in a moment.
Suddenly I decided to pack my bags and move to a different city. Not that sudden though, since I did have about 20 days to prepare. There was not a day when I did not lament about having to leave my city, Delhi. Delhi is home, and leaving home is never so simple.
I entered Pune while it was raining hard. Rains had delayed my flight was by half and hour, it took even longer at the conveyor belt. Flights are sometimes painful experience for me, since I have a peculiar trouble in flight. So delay was certainly unhappy, coupled it was though by yucky in-flight movie: Chandni Chowk to China! More about that later.
I reached my friend’s place enjoying the view of hills (yes, there are places in Pune where you can have a glimpse of Western Ghats). My friends, Akshay and Rashmi welcomed me with warmth; they were also overjoyed at rains. This joy was not to last for long, since it did not rain for next few days even with overcast sky. That is catastrophic in Pune since entire water supply is dependent on water from dams. Less rains mean water shortage. Rashmi actually threw a party when it rained, you can imagine how much rains mean at Pune. 🙂
So back to Pune, it has pleasant weather, such a huge relief from Delhi heat. Pardon me if you find me comparing Pune to Delhi, home is always point of comparison to a new place.
Pune also has lot of greenery, which Rashmi fervently prays that remains so. (She thinks we should start a tree-plantation campaign in Pune, I agree.) I know Pradeep Kishan wrote a very expensive book called Trees of Delhi, but its hard to spot trees and parks in regular colonies, residential areas and even public roads. (I was lucky to live in a residential colony in Delhi that boasted the presence of most parks, both public and private. ) But in Pune, many roads are lined with trees and some apartments have been built as though they are in lap of nature. And I had the fortune of passing through Pune University’s lush green grounds.
Southern command of army is based in Pune; it has some picturesque places in its well-maintained, immaculate lawns. I have only had few glimpses from auto while going on my way to work. I tried to soak in as many sights I could during these rides.
I stayed with my friends for about 20 days that I hadn’t bargained for. Though I must admit that I had a whale of time with them, watching movies, WWE and debating on few inane issues. 🙂 I had to stay with them because the apartment I had chosen to rent (and my balcony faces a park) was to be handed over to me 20 days later.
I have now moved into my own place, and immensely enjoying my privacy. This is first time I living alone ‘technically’.
I have not yet started visiting tourist places, but I did have occasion to visit some nice restaurants courtesy my hosts. I ate nice Italian food; sampled some great sizzlers. You ask me whats the big deal about it? There is; since usually these cuisine are outta my reach in restaurants as I do not eat onion and garlic. But tell in a Pune restaurant that you want ‘Jain fare’; most likely you will get it unless the dish has a already prepared sauce that has garlic. (Of course that did not save me from Akshay’s good-natured jibes about eating Jain sizzler :P) But I had good food, and that’s what matters. I am yet to find good South Indian in Pune, most places I see have sweet-tasting Sambar. 😦 I have found good places for North Indian food though.
Before coming to Pune, I was apprehensive about being an ‘outsider’ in Maharashtra. Outsider in my own country. But I am happy to say that I didn’t have a single bad experience, every such fear was misplaced. I have found Marathis to be very friendly people. Be it coming downstairs to help me with a jammed lock of my house or giving me directions around or helping with my luggage or suggesting me where I can get cheaper, good quality wares, they have been good to me so far.
There are two downsides to Pune. Public transport is not well developed. It certainly doesn’t have a well-connected network of buses as in Delhi; and there is no Metro. I had long ago abandoned buses in Delhi due to rampant eve-teasing (there is no such eve-teasing in Pune, yay) but Metro was important part of my travels. Here, with my own transport, I am at mercy of autorickshaws. Autorickshaws too are more expensive than Delhi since Capital city uses CNG. Every km costs 7 bucks compared to 3.5 bucks a km in Delhi. So larger the distances you travel in Pune, bigger hole in pocket you have. Autorickshaw, as they do everywhere in India, never miss an opportunity to fleece you. It is easy since, unlike in Delhi, meter throws up only kms and not the money. At least once a day, an autorickshawala tries to rob me by quoting wrong amount. Thankfully, I have learnt to calculate fare without the rate card rest of Pune carries. I hold my ground with autowalllahs. We call them Bhau here, its equivalent to our respectful Bhai sahab.
Pune shopkeepers are known for their legendary siesta, at least 7-8 people told me about it on the day I arrived at Pune. They open their shops at 11 and close it for siesta from 1 to 4pm. A far cry from business-oriented Delhi where what would they not do to catch more customers. 🙂
Another negative is that Pune is very expensive city. Fruits and vegetables are two times more expensive than in Capital city. A regular samosa costs about 10 bucks in most places around my office! Transport, as I have already mentioned, is expensive, so Puneites don’t like to travel far off distance like we regularly do in Delhi. My grocery bills are inflated, thank God for Sodexos. I made a strange observation here. In Delhi, usually local grocers are cheaper than any mall like Reliance Fresh or Big Bazar. Its opposite here. The local shops in or outside my society sell me everything on MRP; while I can get deals in malls that save me money, I can earn points as member and get gifts. I compared and calculated, malls are cheaper in Pune!!!
Pune stay has been nice and pleasant so far; hope to report interesting things soon. Next time when I write about, I promise there will be pictures. 🙂