Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pune ahoy!

A couple of months back and completely out of the blue, came instructions from my bosses that I was being transferred to pune to acquire SME clients in pune, nasik and aurangabad. Logically it seemed like an okay thing to do (not that I had much choice in the matter) and hence we packed up all our stuff and shipped our arses to the city of two-wheelers.

We've been here for almost four weeks now, and I'm missing mumbai sorely. Everything seems different here, alien in some way. Thats quite surprising since its not as if its in a different part of the country where there would be a cultural shift. Pune is a fking 4 hour drive from mumbai, and i'm anyways no stranger to this place at all. All through my childhood I've spent a decent chunk of my holidays here visiting an odd assortment of uncles and aunts and cousins. And then over the last few years, there've been these numerous visits to my in-laws, especially during the time that my wife was expecting. I guess we react quite differently to places when we are just visiting. Was suddenly reminded of an old song, one of my favourites from Sting:

I dont take coffee I take tea my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I'm an englishman in new york

See me walking down fifth avenue
A walking cane here at my side
I take it everywhere I walk
I'm an englishman in new york

I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an englishman in new york

Over the last few days as it has slowly started to sink in that I've actually left mumbai, the city of my life, and come here for a few years (hopefully not more), i've begun to compare everything. Mostly i'm amused at the idiosyncrasies here, and try not to get irritated. Let me just list some funny stuff:

- the locals here are bloody rude most of the time

- a huge proportion of restaurants and shops open after 10:30 am

- many shops still shut down for a few hours in the afternoon

- shopping malls start their air conditioning only during evenings on weekdays and a few extra hours on weekends; the staff greet you with glistening faces and clothes sticking to their bodies, but you dont notice as you start feeling suffocated within 15 mins...

- there are no taxies anywhere

- the rickshawala's will always always always ask for extra money

- in many parts of the city there is no concept of home delivery

- the famous "puneri patya" - oversmart, arrogant and hilarious - are everywhere

- bikers remain in the leftmost lane till the last minute for a right u-turn and vice versa

- people comfortably drive on the wrong side of a crowded road if its convenient for them

- every few meters at every possible intersection and break in the divider vehicles from all directions converge to reduce average speeds to sub-20 kmph and create one of the most inefficient traffic scenes in this side of the world

- maids, shop keepers, rickshawala's, drivers, etc, glare (and sometimes shout) at you when asked to do a little bit extra; they will coolly let go of opportunities to earn something extra if it: interferes with their chillax time / they are not in the mood / the way you ask them touches their over-sensitive ego / you appear shocked at their exorbitant quote / etc etc.....

- it is very common to see a girl in the drivers seat of a 2 wheeler with the guy sitting pillion

- it is also very common (and very very disturbing) to see large-sized, rough-looking bearded men riding a scooty or an activa

- the girls all ride with 95% of their faces covered with scarves or dupattas so that a hyper-mumbaikar like me constantly expects one of them to whip out an AK47 from an innocent looking purse

- thrice i have seen a biker stop IN THE MIDDLE LANE of a busy road to answer his mobile and then slowly, taking his own sweet time move to the side while yakking away, head tilted 90 degrees to hold the phone

Shit, what a list! Proved again that I crib a lot. :-) But all said and done, the weather is really good here. A pleasant break from the hot and humid mumbai; and since i dont exercise at all, my sweat-pores are really on a break. The girls are quite pretty too, especially the konkanastha brahmin babes (shivaji park types). Also seems like their dressing sense has improved by miles from what i remember; spotted a few bare shoulders and belly buttons; not much of arse-cleavage though, i guess low waist jeans are yet only to be seen at Mithibai, HR, Xaviers and the like.

And its a more relaxed city, perhaps just what i need. Take time out to see the birds and sniff the flowers and shit like that, you know... Other guys who've shifted from mumbai to pune say that the initial comparisons are akin to withdrawal symptoms, and that once i've been here for a year, it will be almost impossible to go back.



Anonymous said...

The last line sums it up. I am dead sure the city is going to grow on you like an unwanted mole in a place I cannot mention here.

And more importantly, you are going to turn into of them (yeah, I know, I'm sterotyping here), riding your scooty on the wrong side of the road while talking to me on the phone without the hands-free while dropping your maid back home because you asked her to do some extra work and thereby creating one of the most inefficient traffic scenes in this side of the world. You will be wearing your faded white kurta. The thin one through which one can see things one should not.

You gonna love it there man.

Vivek Rao said...


I like the part about dropping off the maid after she has done something 'extra'.

And stop peeping through my kurta. It makes me feel so...violated.

Rashmi said...

What are you talking about being violated.. nothing compared to the Vaishali Restaurant incident when Leji and I were violating Ashish (Bubu) all thru the evening. Dont you know why is he called Bubu in the 1st place?

Unknown said...

You're being too harsh on Pune. Look at the positives

Imagine, if the semi-skilled labor doesn't care, surely the while collar would be even cooler. And exptrpolating your experience here in Mumbai in that bank, you could be the King of the world there. So what if you don't meet your targets, atleast you'll have your afternoon siestas, working alternate days & resting out of office during rest of the week.

As far as riding on the wrong side of the road is concerned, they're all potential NRIs (given the tech culture there). In anticipation, some ppl start practicing fake accents, some like to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Big fat bald men driving pink colored mobikes shows that it's a progressive city where one can express their individuality of being gay & stupid

Malls shutting off air-conditioners shows their concerns about the environment and saving power. Also, helps prevent spreading H1N1. So what if you feel suffocated and step out without shopping. DO you think the shopkeepers care for your bloody business! No wonder the poor Biyani has become almost insolvent!

Hope to see you ride a pink scooty soon!



Vivek Rao said...

Saale, in mumbai everyone used to buzz off from office by 6:30; here i sit till 7:30 atleast trying to figure out some way to do business as its a bloody tough market.

I'm sure, as time goes by, i'll inevitably go through the punefication process, but someone please shoot me before i start riding a pink scooty...

Archana Rao said...

hehehhe u on a pink scooty!!! but for ur height a scooty may be more comfortable than a bike!!!
Can i be the one shooting you? But bef i shoot you i would want to click a picture of you on the pink scooty... wearing a yellow/pink helmet... and then circulate it to all your friends... if i do that i think u'll shoot urself anyways...

but seriously.. dont become a pune type person.. with loads of attitude.... and cribbing abt everything... job.... traffic.. work.. home... everything.... (oh and not to mention the fact that some of ur your other friends have belly dancers in their office and you dont!!!!)

And please get ur fat and lazy ass back to bombay as soon as u can.... Mumbai is the best.....

quasibaba said...

@chana Look whoz talking from Dubai.

@bubu ROTF about the thin white kurtas

I think if Khekdu decides to live there like a visitor on a mission of cleansing, no one can take the Mumbai out of him. I would rather think he would convince some Punekers to give up some of their Pune and replace with some Mumbai.

But he will fall in love with that place because of its laziness - it goes so well with his own! Imagine a city full of people who appreciate that fine art! A whole city!!! :)

Moti will become motier. But there are other fair fat females there for her to feel comfortable. hehe.

Vivek Rao said...

Q, i'm just happy you didn't start your comment with OMG....


Pawan Arora said...

Reading all this reminds me of Ahmedabad. It is ditto out there except for the weather.

As one of your friend commented, once you get use to the place, it is going to be very difficult to come out of it.

Enjoy the stay, take life at ease, reduce stress, reduce your dependence on gelucil, enjoy your kids childhood to the fullest. Jobs are just means to live life and they are not the life. (I think I should also take this advise).