An Open Letter To A Punekar From A Punekar

(In context with a conversation between me and two of my friends, one being a Punekar and the other, not so much.)

Dear fellow Punekar,

I find it utterly pleasing that you hold such paramount passion for this city. The conviction with which you speak for and about Pune makes me smile; I am extremely proud of you.

However, there still remain a lot of things which can be changed, about the city and us, as Punekars, but please understand that this letter is a suggestion rather than a set of instructions. A true Punekar would ultimately do as he deems fit, but I would like you to be patient with what I’m about to tell you.

This city is a beautiful affair of culture and modernisation. With each passing day, Pune, along with us, experiences something which rivals the way we live and think. It is pivotal to realise that these things are changes which occur in every city, every resident of the respective city undergoes it. How we let it affect us however, is within our own hands. Embracing a change is easier said than done, I know, but we must stop being critical of the fact that the city is changing. Understanding how and why the changes are happening will help us in the larger picture; I believe it will be integral in retaining the sweet soul of our city in a positive way.

Let me tell you- I, too, once detested the fact that Pune has a horde of outsiders. It is but natural, living and growing up in the city gave me a certain perspective about my home place. Seeing the city from the view point of a person who has shifted here is a magnanimous task, but it is essential. Not every person who has moved here wants to change the city according to the scenario they have been comfortable with; I know that this is your biggest fear about the change. It was mine too, once. Most of the people who have moved here are in love with our city and the way it is, they are in no way inclined towards changing it. You really need to understand and accept this fact; our city is the way it has always been, at its roots. Our lifestyle demands change in the world we live in and that is why we feel that the city is undergoing severe changes, but it is not.

The extreme discomfort a non-Punekar might experience is something we really need to take into consideration. We are the city. We are the hosts and it is our responsibility to make their lives comfortable in any way we can. I’m not asking you to bend your beliefs and change the person you are. But simple compromises go a long way; understand that living in harmony with everyone is beneficial for being and feeling happy. We cannot expect people who haven’t grown up here to constantly understand or follow our traditions; it is impractical to expect so. Judging them, ridiculing them and alienating them will hamper our city’s image. Be patient with them, they are citizens of this city as well now. They have equal rights to form their own opinions about the city and express them. Don’t be so harsh with them; our city has a history to be proud of. Let’s make it unequivocal by embracing opinions and implementing them if we see them fit, there is nothing to lose by accepting the fact that some things, no matter how dear they are to us, need to change.

As to those who have shifted here and can now call themselves Punekars; please understand the city you have moved into. Understand its people so you get to know why a certain individual behaves in a specific manner, this city is an unbelievably layered city. Things will not be easy, as I’m sure you already know this, but it’ll be worth it if you attempted to get along with local residents. Pune has a lot to offer, but like any other city, it will take its time with you. Not every local resident holds ill will against you, so please do not stereotype us. Making fun of our accents and our names, even though you mean it in a jovial manner, will not be taken positively by a lot of people. Cultural differences play a huge part in our country itself; please know that even you need to be patient with us.

Punekars are a proud lot, it’s just the way it is, and if you respect us, we will shower you with every ounce of respect as well. Get to know us; our hearts are indeed big if you give us a chance to prove it to you. Let’s live and experience and grow with the city together, there is enough space and love for each one of us here.

Your fellow Punekar.