Monday, May 28, 2007

Travelogue: Pune

Pune is my favorite city among the second tier cities in India. Mainly so because I have worked here and have had the pleasure of working with some of the best colleagues, I ever had. Its summer is harsh, cruel and unbearable. April in Pune is worse than Madras May. And thats saying a lot. However, outside of March, April and May the weather in Pune is like a dream. Almost too good to be true. The jogging track inside University of Pune used to be an awesome place. Jogging there in Pune weather is a pleasure in itself. I have no idea if the jog track still exists. There is also a Balaji temple near Paashan (you take left on the fork opposite to Univ of Pune), which visited almost every other day, when I worked here. I went there yesterday for sentimental reasons. Due to the flyover construction near University of Pune, this otherwise neat road is now an much abused road.
Vaishali located in Deccan, is my favorite restaurant in Pune. Vaishali's Masala Dosai would not be too ashamed to stand among those made by some (not all) HSBs. The (Kachi) Dhabeli, is the reason why, I am so fond of Pune. I'd crawl on all fours from Madras to eat it. I can't believe they don't make Dhabeli in S. India. Anybody who has ever eaten a Dhabeli will swear by it. So irresistible. And easy to make. I hope some restaurant guy in Madras is reading this. There is a huge market for Dhabeli. And Ragad-a-patties too. On the topic of chats, Pune calls a rose by a different name and it smells slightly different too. I am talking about SPDP (SBDP?), a lingo that is unique to Pune. It might look like a Dahi Puri. But looks are deceptive. A Sev Batata Dahi Puri is slightly special. They put pomegranates into it. Gangotree in Madras raises the level of a Dahi puri by adding some special dhaal. Here pomegranates twist the Dahi Puri into a different dimension. Poha is another dish, I started eating during my time in Pune. That my office served it morning, noon and night helped the taste acquire rapidly. But I love it. I can eat tons of it.
The tall buildings is one of the impressive aspects of the Pune landscape. Similar second-tier cities like Trichy or Coimbatore may be richer than Pune, but the big-building culture here is phenomenal (probably building restrictions are different here). A 10+ floor building is not uncommon to find. And whats more? They are built with in-house terraces. The in-house-terrace concept is quite singular to Pune. Some houses in a building have a terrace (balcony/patio) the size of a living room. In the Pune weather, this is a dream concept to have. When I lived here, I specifically asked for a house (in Parihar Chowk) with a huge terrace. At that time you could get a 2BHK flat + Terrace in Parihar chowk for around 6.5K. Right now I am told that is impossible.
Traffic horror stories in Pune are comparable to that of Bangalore, which I consider to be the worst and the most undisciplined in India. Pune does not have the I'll-switch-off-the-vehicle-and-wait-for-traffic-to-clear kind of jams like Bangalore, but it resembles Bangalore heavily in terms of indiscipline. Like many cities Pune has its own version and style of indiscipline. If Bangalore can boast of footpath-pavement-driving software engineers, then Pune can be proud of the amount of distance people (female drivers) drive on the wrong side of the road. Sometimes, this looks really funny. Female Drivers. I have never cared to be politically correct on gender issues. I strongly believe that severe gender based discrimination should be practised at Indian RTO offices. I wrote this post for Bangalore, but this seems to be applicable to lady drivers in pune. If law ordaining that - no female in Pune between the age of 16-30 should be given a drivers license - is implemented, the traffic situation would improve dramatically.
On the subject of females, Pune has the best collection of hot babes that I have seen in India. Its like an exquisite collection of the best of India. Chicks from each region have been carefully handpicked and left to roam around in M.G.Road, camp etc. My drool quotient was up several notches whenever I found myself in M.G.Road. Such chicks are also enrolled in Ferguson college. Probably this is the reason why gender discrimination happens, but in the opposite direction, in RTO offices. Pune, as many might know is a growing software-hub. Last time, I looked at s/w export statistics, it still wasn't up there with Bangalore, Madras or Hyderabad - but its got the right ingredients to be up there and its growing fast. I know a thing or two about being a GA in an admissions committee, from that, I can say that College of Engineering, Pune is probably ranked as #1 college in Maharashtra by many U.S universities (take this with some pinch of salt, though). Students from COEP more often than not, tend to do very well and have developed a strong reputation abroad. But I ramble.
Other tidbits about Pune? I guess Lakshmi Road is where females from young to old go for shopping. However, it has a reputation for being extremely boring to men (read as - no hot chics). Auto drivers. How can I forget them anywhere? In Pune this species has a strange habit, which I have never seen anywhere else. They protrude a small portion of their index finger outside there auto. If you are driving behind an auto, you need to have 4 telescopes and 14 Argon microscopes all moulded into a single instrument to see that teeny-weeny part of the finger protruding outside the vehicle. That's an indication for a right-turn. Please spot it. Because he will turn left after that. On a positive side, you don't need to haggle with these auto-drivers. They just show you a card and that's it. They should thank the government, which lets them fix the minimum meter charge at a level they desire. This does not expose them to poverty, unfairness and bad-reputation that drivers in Madras are subjected to. Oh! before I forget, Pune is probably the only place where you'd get Chocolate Paan. Try 'Shaukeen' at Null-Stop (This is a signal sort of a landmark, not really a place or anything remotely close to /dev/null ).
Me, now off to Lonavala, Mumbai and then finally home, Madras.

17 comments:

S m i t h a said...

dude.. i almost died of nodding. good that u didnt write another paragraph.
weather, vaishali, dhabeli, SPDP, MG, FC, the hot chicks... thanks for not making me feel this alone.

F e r r a r i said...

Same as s m i t h a. I was in Pune for 2.5 years. Amazing city. Are you referring to the roadside Kachi dhabeli? Its too good. *Drool*

Have you been to ABC farms and Riverview hotel beyond Osho Ashram. They have very good ambience. Not to forget the chandni chowk area, with restaurants like Garden Court and Ambrosia. And have you been to Sinhagad? Its a must visit place during monsoon. I love Pune! And the babes in Pune are really HOT.

Nilu said...

seri, Pune nalla irukkattum. athukkaga ivlo atrocious writing?

Hawkeye said...

smitha,

:-) no we arent alone. everybody feels so.

ferrari,

just went to osho ashram yesterday. i have heard of sinhagad. havent gone there though.

nilu,

and i quote.

"evalavu kashtangalukku nadula intha gaalathu ilaignargal blog ezhutharanga. Avangalukku ivalavu thaan theryum, safe'a ivalavu thaan kekkalam, ivalavu ketta porum"

Anonymous said...

Hey yo..Bumped into your blog when i googled for the word 'lagna patrika' a week before i got engaged.Been reading a few posts ever since.Absolutely LOVE your narrative.Amazing blog.
Just read your description on the auto wallas in pune...and almost fell off my chair laughing.
P.S.Don't mind the full-stops.I intended some exclamations too..Its just that my shift key ain't working.
Keep writing..
Smiles..
Suvarna

Sravishta said...

i totally agree with u.having moved from pune to bby last year (still wonder why i did so)... pune's such a nice place to live!!

ps:-rents are STILL lower than what i shell out for half the area in bby...

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that Pune girls are better looking than Bangalore, Bombay and Delhi girls? I'm not able to believe it. Are they that good?

Sundar said...

Hawkeye Bharath,
We seem to have beat the same trail...
DVK - Pune - BLR

Garima said...

Dear Hawkeye,

we are a Pune (India) based weekly tabloid named Intelligent Pune. we have a section in our tabloid for bloggers.
as we were going through blogspot, we come accross ur blog "travelogue: Pune" posted on 29th of May and we liked it .

we would like to write a review on your blog if you dont mind. we will keep you updated on that...
don worry we liked ur blog and we want to encourage bloggers.. that is why we are taking this effort..

pls give ur comfirmation as soon as possible..

Thanks and regards,
Garima

Hawkeye said...

suvarna,

thanks. i am happy you liked my posts. congrats on your upcoming weddings.

sravishta,

pune rates are high compred to what it was a few years before. not a big fn of bombay. pune better than bombay anyday.

anon,

in my opinion - yes!

sundar,

DVK? poorvikam enna. father mother yaaru?

garima,

thanks. you can certainly go ahead. i am curious about the magazine now. let me know when it comes out.

Sunita said...

Hope you had a fun time here. I hope you will see better infrastructure next time(I mean fly-overs all working and moe beautiful buildings) atleast I am hoping.

Anonymous said...

ayyo..WEDDINGS aa?
Have no intent ya...Trust me! Just one.
I'm actually thinking how not to get myself upto doing the jig myself even once.. ;P
hehehe
But then, Thanks much :)
Excited to see your reply here :)
cheers
suvarna

Gauri said...

You're so right about the rickshawallas. It's that tiny invisible portion of their index finger that once threw me off my 2 wheeler. And it was the rickshaw....and NOT my driving. lol.
You forgot to mention the crater size potholes and large swimming pools in the middle of the road during monsoons.

Hawkeye said...

sunita,

incomplete infrastructure is all over india. hopefully all of them shuld be completed.

suvarna,

i didnt mean that in plural :-) you mentioned 'engagement' so..

gauri,

i never learned to spot the index finger. very hard.

andy said...

If you want to eat genuine dhabelis come to Mulund, Mumbai the home for Kutchis who invented this stuff. Chennai would have to take several rebirths to make this. Eating bread is still a no no in south as it is consumed only during illness. So Dhabeli would be a dream.

richi said...

Living in pune fr all my short life (18 years) b4 I came to Alaska, I can most affirm almost everything that u said abt it....great observation mate...

Sathya Srinivasan said...

You might want to try Mansukh's in T.Nagar for good chaat - I believe they also have dhabelis... They are located off of one of the side roads of usman road near Ranganathan street (don't remember the street name), but the chaat is awesome.