We’ve all asked/been asked a very popular question- Nature or City life? For me, I don’t have to think. Although the comparison is wrong (considering why life amidst nature is helpful) I will always choose city life for the memories I’ve had while growing up. Life for me, as it was for everyone, was mostly uncomplicated. Incidents, people, and places left a strong impact on my very being. So much so, that I would feel restless to my very core if I was to leave Pune and live elsewhere.
Life in the very heart of the city is obviously very different from the outskirts or modern suburbs. If you were to shift aside the congestion and traffic, city life is very eventful; everything which happens with the city, happens with you. Everything around you makes you feel as if you’re at the center of it.
My childhood eased past most of the hurdles simply because I was always surrounded by a lot of people. A lot of people silently guiding me towards adulthood; with their mute teachings on day to day activities, I learned the difference between surviving and thriving. For this, Pune will always be home for me. Even if I am literally homeless in this city someday.
I stayed exactly behind Garud Ganpati. My childhood woke up and went to bed while gazing at peddlers selling jackets and sweaters in winter (and raincoats during the start of the school year). My family’s ancestral house overlooked the street parallel to Laxmi Road. I have seen Ganpati visarjans in a way which would make any Dhol Tasha fanatic absolutely jealous. It seems now that the view was a metaphor for my childhood. Perhaps always in the right place for the right occasions, always eager, always arriving.
Bedekar Misal, Kheliya, Akshar Bhandar, such iconic shops and eateries were a stone’s throw away from where I lived. I remember walking through the crowded Patrya Maruti lane, chasing my friend as a game through the Munjabacha Bol.
Throughout my childhood, I’ve met people who have been incredibly influential in making me understand what a true Punekar is. My memory is hazy, but I distinctly remember what the city looked, smelled and tasted like; it was comfort, the much needed comfort before I had to slide on my adult shoes. This intimacy which the city life gave me towards people has helped me tremendously in my life. On days when I face an identity crisis, I know where I belong. Even if I don’t, I only have to step out and find my way.
All images by Parmeet Kohli