“If you see a woman with head covered from ear to ear,
If you see her navigating the traffic with no fear,
If you see a girl no older than six, speaking chaste Marathi,
If you know that ‘ Trekking’ is her idea of fun,
Then you are in Pune, my son!”
Hello and welcome to this land of beauty, tradition, modernity and a fair bit of confused identity that we like to call Pune. The woman brigade of this city has always been rather (in)famous for their killer attitudes, what we in Pune like to call ‘Maaz’. The legends say that the women of this city exhibit certain traits that make us ‘royalty’ and separate us from the rest of the ‘commoners’. So, let’s find out, shall we?
Never Not Wear A Scarf
We are driving on mopeds, we wear a scarf. You find us waking on the pavement, yes, we wear a scarf, heck, even when we sit in the air-conditioned comfort of our cars we are wearing a scarf. This item of clothing has become an inseparable accessory to whatever clothes we wear. Most likely fashioned out of our mothers’ discarded dupattas’ the fashion in which we tie it has long been a topic of intense wonder and bewilderment to the opposite sex. From incredulous questions, (How Can You BREATHE?) to fashion insults, (It looks like floor wiping wala poccha) it has taken everything and withstood the test of pollution and sun. Here’s an open declaration: The Scarves Are Here To Stay!
We are quite the badasses on the road
Heavily armoured with our scarves, suncoats, shades and gloves, we are a force to be reckoned with when we hit the road. You’ll find us navigating the snaking traffic jam lines, highways, potholes and dingy bylanes with equal elan. Also, while we are on the topic, we possess the gift of squeezing our two wheelers in the most unlikely spaces between two vehicles. We know our shortcuts, we know our one ways and not-so-one-ways and better beware of our road rage, even simple expletives we utter so vengefully that they’ll pierce the most unfeeling of hearts!
Our breakfast consists of Chai-Poha and Sambar
Yes, you read that right. While the world eats poha with chatni, tarri or sev, we believe in the spirit of national integration and hence eat it with sambar. Go to any tapri and you’ll see many of us hogging away on these plates of pure joy and rejuvenation along with the trademark cutting chai in our hands. Never forget to ask the kaka for extra sambar! Sllllluurrrpp!
An innate ability of forging familial relations with strangers
In our effort to mix with the commoners, we make them our own for all purposes of social interaction. So, traffic cop becomes ‘mama’, the kaamwali becomes ‘Maushi’, the office peon becomes ‘dada’ and all our friends’ mothers and fathers become ‘Kaka’ and ‘Kaku’. What does doing this accomplish? Absolutely nothing except that we believe that the more familiar the stranger, the less likely he is to exert his ‘maaz’ on you!
Disco te club-shub main ki karaa..!
Yes, while the world looks forward to parties, drinking binges, night outs and dancing on weekends and holidays; we are looking up the best fort to trek to, nearby getaways from the city and quaint little spots to spend time with our friends, colleagues or family. Come rains and the beauty of the green hills around Pune catch our fancy. Put on your sports shoes and go trekking, baby!
We are part of the city’s beats
Come Ganeshotsav and you will see us clad in white kurta-pyjamas, red/saffron dupattas, Nathnis and ‘chandra-kor’; ready to strap on our dhol and tashas for the Ganpati processions. The practices begin way early in the months of July and you will find us brave the rain and sun to reach them. In the procession or ‘mirawanuk’ as we call it here, we have certain groups or ‘pathaks’ that are solely comprised of women only! Girl power, right here.
Dussera, Diwali and Sarasbaug
The most auspicious festivals of the calendar! For us, tradition of these festivals consists of one other important part, going to Sarasbaug! This park, situated near Mahalaxmi Temple at Shastri road, is a meeting ground for many groups of students, adults and families alike. The M.O. is set: Get up early in the morning, bathe with the fragrant body scrub called ‘utna’, dress up in a beautiful traditional saree and head to Sarasbaug with friends and family for the ‘deepotsav’ or lighting of the lamps! If you are in the mood to see some true, Puneri beauties then this is the place to be!