“Koi haath bhi na milayega jo gale miloge tapaak se
Yeh naye mizaj ka shehr hai zara fasle se mila karo”
When Bashir Badr wrote these lines, he probably had Pune in mind.I first travelled to Pune in 2008 to learn German at Max Mueller Bhavan, a small but cosy looking building that is situated in the green cover that is Boat Club Road.
Pune was still not the IT hub that it is today and neither had the skyscrapers mushroomed in every corner yet. Aundh, which has now become the center of the city was till then the one of the last corners of this pensioner’s paradise.Undoubtedly I felt in love love with the serenity and the quiet.
But what puzzled this Delhi born student was the Maharashtrian way of life-which seemed distant and aloof.Almost all of my Maharashtrian classmates kept to themselves and looked at me with as much curiosity as one looks at a multi colored bird.
But because my stay was short lived and the prospect of coming back to Pune quite low, I did not bother much and enjoyed the student life and the night life at Koregaon Park till the very last day that I departed.
Then 2012 happened! By then I had got married and shifted to the city once again for the sheer reason that Pune had now become an IT giant almost overnight.And thanks to my better half’s job life took a u-turn and this time there was no escaping the Maharashtrian way of life!
The fact that this time I was no more a pajama wearing student who gets upset when other flatmates wipe off her ice cream hidden away beneath karelas and a bunch of palak but a married woman who needed to have a social circle to survive!
So began cultural shock part 2.I realized that unlike my Delhi neighbours who probably knew all my cousins better than me and could take out all juicy information from an unsuspecting victim in the short journey of an escalator, my new neighbors in this western part of the country did not give a damn! I once lived in an apartment for one whole year without knowing anybody and vice versa.In Delhi if somebody doesnot know you then probably there is something wrong with you.
But here this was how things worked.
And then there was this nonavailability of chaat paapri that almost drove my taste buds crazy and the day I was served two paos with seekh kabab I almost sunk into depression.I finally came to terms with the fact that here pao is what coriander is up in the North.
Did I mention how the sabziwallahs would quote a different price to me, once they realized I was an OUTSIDER.Sometimes i wondered whether i was hallucianiting until I beat them in their own game.I can now speak enough marathi to survive incase i am ever kidnapped.
My cravings for visits to Janpat, Sarojni or Lajpat Nagar could not be satiated by trips to MG Road and I just could not understand what was a shopkeeper gaining by keeping his shops shut from 1pm till 4pm everyday.It baffled me to see how dedicatedly people preserved the tradition of an afternoon siesta.
And then the unimaginable happened.I did not realize when the city had taken me into its folds until I came to Delhi for a short visit.To my surprise I had begun missing home, that Pune had now become.
When I was new to Pune, my eyes would invariably look for cars that had a DL number plate, I would feel a strange comfort in spotting one.And now in Delhi , I had begun looking for MH.
When someone inhabits a city for too long it begins to grow on the person, until the person and city are one.And that is what happened to me.I longed to go back to the solitude and serenity.
Maharashtra is an apt name for this unique land.For not only does it have the highest GDP but its culture is far more civilised than many.Probably no where else can you see a rich educated women touching the feet of her own maid and seeking her blessings. Haldi Kumkum is one such occasion where married women irrespective of their social standing are treated with equal dignity and respect.
And don’t even get me started about the fine cinema and literature that the state has to offer.Most of the Marathi movies are so rich in soul that it is not surprising that they are often bestowed with the National award.
My music loving feet that once jumped into action at the beat of the punjabi dhol, stomp with equal enthusiasm of dhol tasha during Ganesh Chaurthi.I dance like a maniac when Zingat is played anywhere and go completely berserk
when the celeberation ends with Kallulacha Paani -the party anthem down here.
Your heart surprises you when it shows you that there’s always space to love some more.My own heart that sulked for days when it parted with Delhi has found itself accommodating Pune in its tiny space one day at a time!
Of course I still crave for Delhi winters and the cold minted jaljeera with golgappas but lets just say that Delhi is the love of my growing up years that taught me to be fearless while Pune is the mature and refined love that quietened the storm in my soul. Both remain precious!
“Kabhi lagta tha jo anjaana sa
Aaj pehchaan meri ban gaya”