Monday, May 28, 2007
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.