Come on, accept it. Despite all your rues, woes and the troubles which start the moment you step out of the house and temporarily stop when you return base, the city of Pune always becomes your home or at least in parts, your heart belongs to this city. And as any good citizen of this melting pot of a city, you wish certain things would make this city so much more livable. It is always easy to crib but not very easy to pinpoint the problem and probably suggest a solution which you think is right.
It is so funny that how much ever you grow up, you never get tired of asking the question: why should we have a wish list? Why, indeed? Majority of us are inclined to go through a moment of utter rage at least once a day, regarding any civic issue. Some even go through a few such moments where tearing your hair remains the only option to show your frustration. To counter it, we need to come up with our own wish list which not only convey our feelings regarding the issues but also be taken seriously. And Diwali is the perfect time to throw out all the rubbish and bring in the new.
HERE’S THE WISHLIST
While the list tries to cover the city and its issues on a whole, one might miss out something by mistake. But as they say – to err is human and forgive divine.
Pune’s traffic can be called the 8th wonder of the world. It reeks of utter disregard for rules, a whole lot of rules which make no sense and a complete lack of public transport. Each day is a struggle to fight the growing traffic. The public transport (bus service; will come to rickshaws later) suffers terribly from the condition of the bus to their frequency. The roads are in some wonderful condition (pun intended) while most of us see two-wheelers drive like fiends even on footpaths.
Wish: We prefer being more realistic and giving out wishlists which are more practical. Firstly, if we start to follow simple rules of, for example, not breaking the signals despite temptations and threats, it shows effectively. Most Punekars would also be happy if the political leaders would spend the public money on better transport facilities like good roads, good buses than the BRTS which is simply a waste of a project, lessening the fares for rickshaws, etc. But alas, they feel the money is better spent for making huge hoardings that adorn every nook and corner of the city!
The bane of any Punekar’s life is the richshawala bhau who probably does his own thing, despite the meter in the rick. If you stay too far, you are screwed. Stay nearby or in the central locality, still a problem. And then comes the extra money over the meter. Most non-Punekars are the ideal bakras for getting fleeced, especially if staying near Hinjewadi, Wakad or the outer circles. And then there is a shady racket of the change which they never have and they think we have. The result of all this is a big headache and spirit to fight daily with the bhau who refuses to ply when you have to rush. The way they drive is another topic altogether.
Wish: It is our fervent wish to see the RTO for once strike terror by whipping their…errr whips and making errant rickshaw drivers come to senses. Interestingly, instead of waiting for three complaints against a rickshawala to confiscate his license, why not fine him heavily on all three occasion and then take away his license? There can be many possibilities here, people.
Admit it, that compared to what the city can do, the amount of tourist seems less. There are historical sites, good landmarks and lots more to intrigue one and all. But yet again, we fall short of creating the right atmosphere for a traveller to move around in ease. The public transport which should be the backbone of a city, fails on this count too. Plus, not many places of tourist importance are kept neatly. The biggest question is the reason of why were are not going gung-ho on promoting the city?
Wish: We wish that instead of putting money on some mismanaged festivals and other programs to attract tourist, we could use that for fewer but meaningful shows which can be the hallmark. Also the money saved could be the very thing to spruce many sites of tourist importance. Yet again, we harp on the fact that a good transport system will work wonders for bringing in the tourist.
A Sense of Belonging
The city has transformed itself from being just a pensioner’s paradise and Oxford of the Eat to a thriving city for young people coming to work in the many IT companies and other sectors which dot the Pune industrial horizon. Increasingly, a lot of non-Punekars are making this city their homes. But few can call it their city in the true sense, because of a certain division between those who call themselves true Punekars and those who stay in a certain sphere of the city and do not venture out to explore this city.
Wish: This needs some help and loads of push from the citizens. Try by first becoming a tourist and exploring the city. Let the flavour of the city seep into you to truly understand what makes the Sadashiv Peth jokes so funny or what angers the Kothrudkar. If the city is embraced in its true flavour, it would probably work for bringing down the so-called Punekar versus outsiders battle.
We have a truckloads of wishes this Diwali to put forth. And despite the obvious space, the website might not be able to stand the weight of our wishes. We wish for a night and cultural life which everyone can call their own. At home by 11.30-12 does not interest a crowd which wants options to have a great time. Cyclists in the city demand better cycle tracks (and free of bikes and pedestrians) and roads or traffic which is more kinder to them. We wish for road rage to get reduced and a happy Punekar walking instead of jumping round the street. We wish for a safer Pune for the working women. And finally, we wish for the real Pune to come back which was progressive and in the forefront of anything radically inspiring.
Photo Credits: deoblog.com, www.dnaindia.com, www.worldcarfree.net, getahead.rediff.com, commons.wikimedia.org