July 2010 – Sitting in my knee-high boots on the rickety hostel bed, surrounded by my many suitcases, I thought to myself, “This is it, it’s official, and there’s no going back now.” I had moved to the so-called city of students, Pune. I remember bawling my eyes out for the first few days. Little had I known that, nearly 6 years later, I’d be sitting in my flat in Pune, writing this article, and proudly claiming to be a Punekar.
Having landed from Morocco during the monsoons, my first step into Pune was literally into a puddle. And muck. My pretty boots were filled to the brim with water and tattered at the soles, so I eventually traded them in for a pair of rubber shoes that everyone seemed to sport. And then, the rains didn’t seem so bad anymore; I even enjoyed the occasional chai under the pitter-patter of droplets falling on my head.
Must calm down on the Pani Puri… also McDonalds has veg burgers?
After one episode of a Pani Puri binge session gone bad, I had learnt my lesson that not every thela I came across on the road had to be eaten at. Nevertheless, I continued to OD on Rama Krishna, JJ Wada Pav, Anna’s Maggi Point (I think every college has one), chai and bun maska, and kettle-cooked Maggi secretly made in hostel rooms. Not to forget, at the time being a vegetarian and discovering that McDonalds served vegetarian burgers totally flipped me out; to the point that I ate one nearly everyday of my first year – #noregrets
Roadside shopping… why don’t we have this abroad?
Nothing compared to the thrill of shopping for little trinkets at MG Road, Clover Center and Wonderland!I felt like I had discovered a little paradise. The jewelry store Sudhan (in Wonderland on MG Road) was another hidden gem and by the end of my college years, I had pierced my ears eight different ways!
Dear parents, can I get a bungalow in Koregoan Park, please?
The least expected from Pune was all the greenery, especially in Koregaon Park. While its North Main Road was busy with eateries, shopping outlets and tourists bustling about, the first few inner lanes offered a strange serenity of their own. The first four lanes held a majestic charm to them; wide roads lined with large banyan trees with their roots plunging to the ground.
So people in India drink way more than my parents let on
I had come to Pune under the impression that everybody here was rather sheltered; did not drink, smoke, or party – was I wrong and how! Slipping away from college for a drink at Toons or Hidden place had become a ritual. Eventually we discovered High Spirits and Bladder Burst and let’s just say I had no idea anyone could consume that much alcohol.
Initially it was not one bit easy making friends – the way I dressed and the accent didn’t really help either. I also realised that, in Pune, you have to find your “type” of people; you know, the kind who drink and indulge in such activities. Once I had learnt to blend in a little, the list of new people I was meeting kept on spilling over itself because everyone knows everyone! The excitement of meeting so many new people so quick was almost overwhelming.
6 Years Later
By now, I have fallen in love with the city’s monsoons, my cup of chai with the rain pattering away against the window, and that smell of damp earth. I am still OD-ing on food with so many new eateries to try. Always up for a bun maska and chai, any time of the day. Still buying jhumkas from MG Road. Still cannot get enough of KP (still want that bungalow). Still drinking the night away. And Pune’s become home. <3