I am sure each one of us living in Pune or Mumbai must have got into such a debate. Being a Mumbaikar, I was always against Pune, be it with respect to anything. But like they say, life always gives you the thing that you least expect. And the most unexpected thing that happened in my life was getting a call from my dad saying that he had been transferred to Pune, where we would be shifting shortly.
The first week in Pune was quite tough for me. Adjusting with the climate, food, and moreover the rikshaw drivers took a toll on me. A Punekar is usually known for his/her arrogance (arrogance for others, ‘swabhimaan’ for Punekars), but within a week I realized that it is a pure misconception. The people here are as sweet as the stuffing in Chitle’s ‘bakarwadi’ with just a spicy tadka at the outer end. A Punekar just sticks to his/her fundamentals and beliefs, and that’s what makes a Punekar stand out of the crowd. The people I work with changed the view I had about Pune, the one I had before coming here. They helped me with every single thing possible without any expectation. I realized how ‘Ganesh bhel’ is different from any ordinary bhel stall, and why it has a website of its own with hundreds of followers.
I also came across some terms which exclusively belong to Pune, for eg. ‘rao’, ‘lai bhaari’, ‘bhau’, ‘kissaaa’ etc., to which I was resistant at first, but eventually got attached to it. The most weird thing that happened when I went back to Mumbai one weekend, where I got into an argument with a friend of mine and to my surprise, I said something which I never thought I would, it was the term ‘kai rao’. The response that I got from my friend actually kept me thinking for a while, he said,’ I can see the Mumbaikar in you fading, you are turning into a Punekar‘, to which I said, ‘correction, its The Punekar’ (in a tone typically like proud Punekars).
Well yes, the city of Pune is actually addictive. No matter from where you are, it overpowers the ‘citykar‘ you were before. I was confused as to what exactly is the adhesive that ties people together in this city. And soon realized that it’s nothing but the true Punekar that resides in every individual living here, and now it wouldn’t be wrong to say, that it resides inside me as well!
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