So I live in this queer little city called Pune. I guess it’s rather large now, but if you’re neighbours with Bombay, you’re always going to feel a little small.
Now, Pune, like so many other Indian cities, has a very rich past. The Pataleshwar cave temple dates right back to the 8th century, and after that the chunk of significant monuments and architecture in general was created during the rule of Shahaji Bhosale, Shivaji, and Baji Rao during the 17th and 18th century. Then of course, we had the British, who made Pune the ‘monsoon capital’ of the Bombay Presidency. How romantic that sounds. Anyway, the British Raj left behind the cantonment, the Pune municipality, and numerous educational institutions (Deccan college, Fergusson college, St. Mary’s school, just to name a few) along with some heavenly bungalows, of course.
So here we are, in 2010, with this beautiful, diverse history right before our eyes.
Oh and damn it, some post-independence, IT obsessed ugliness as well.
Still, no place like home, right?
I have to admit, I’m not really as attached to the city that I grew up in (and continue to do so) as others may be. But that’s not the point. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you keep with you memories. Fond ones or not-so-fond ones, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care much for fate, but I strongly believe that everything a person does, every single sweet/beautiful/horrific/intense/upsetting/lethargic/stupid memory makes you who you are. If you let it.
My favourite part of Pune would have to be the cantonment area. The daily ride to school and back taught me so many, many things. I’d always be the first to be picked up, and the last to be dropped back home, so I’d spend a good 2 hours by the window every single day. And what did I see?
The sweepers by the footpaths, the army boys going for an early morning jog. Even a traffic jam had so much character. Occasionally we’d see an elephant or some camels, and go crazy with infectious excitement. I remember peering at the sun for a very unhealthy amount of time, so that after a while it didn’t affect my eyes at all. Everything began here. This was my world. I saw so much, and I thought about it. I’d make up the rest of the man-on-the-blue-scooter’s day in my head, I’d come up with ground-breaking theories of my own, such as the sun was actually the moon, and vice-versa (You see, after I had stared at it for so long, it didn’t seem so bright any more. Thus, I concluded that it had now very subtly transformed into the moon.). And I loved every moment of it. I never felt the need to talk to the rest of the children in Iqbal uncle’s van.
The cantonment will always remain dear to me, be it because of the daily matador rides, Milan’s, Nithya’s and my long walks after school, or simply the silence in the narrow lanes surrounded by, I’m saying this again, those heavenly bungalows.
The other magical part of Pune is of course, Old Pune. I like the sound of that. Reminds me of Old Manali, and Old Leh. Anyway, so, Old Pune. Parts of this area haven’t changed for centuries. And it’s FANTASTIC. This heavily hindu oriented maharashtrian domain merges beautifully with the muslim area of Camp. The style of living in both the areas is pretty much the same, except instead of temples you’ll begin to see mosques, and instead of a Sai Seva Cafe you’ll find the Taj Cafe.
Quite unlike the cantonment area, I only began appreciating Old Pune after school, when I came to study at Fergusson College. Just one moment to take in the colours, the sounds, the odours, and I was hooked. Since then, 2 years ago, I’ve made several trips into the heart of Pune, to buy cheap cloth and colourful bangles, for lazy Sunday morning photography sessions and even a ‘heritage walk’ ( which I highly recommend to anybody interested in their city’s history).
Then there are all those places which gradually gained meaning and importance due to various reasons. The bed you sleep on may be terribly precious to you, but for someone else it’s just a few blocks of wood stuck together. The same goes for every other object. A toothbrush, a tea stall, a house. That’s the beauty of being human. The ability to attach meaning to something, and allow it to have a completely different meaning for someone else, or none at all. I have several of these special little haunts. Pasteur on MG road, Savera, Hermes Heritage, Malaka Spice, Good Luck, Gokhale Nagar hill.. I could go on.
Happiness only real when shared.
Of course this city would be quite dreary without all the people I’ve been with and become so fond of. Friends and family, family and friends. If you let it, it’s easy to erase the lines that have been created between the two. And it’s a good thing. Nor, I’ve come to realise, is time a major factor in building strong relationships. Sure, my closest friend and I have known each other for about 15 years now, but all that it creates is a certain degree of undoubted ease with each other. I’ve been terribly lucky to meet people just a few months ago, with whom I share an equally significant relationship with. All that holds one back is one’s own set of rules that he/she prefers to live by, because they make one feel safe. But once you break away from these flimsy bits of thread that you so carefully wrap around yourself, there’s a great chance that you might be very pleasantly surprised.
So this is my first nervous little post, for the people and places that I love.
Have a fun day/night