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Punekar Memories I

This is dedicated to my priya Punay nagri, Punyapattan, Pune, Poona:

Diwali is over, and Gulabi thundi has just set in Pune'. Huppanga Bashiyan, bashiyan bashiyan, 75 puray zale, Huppanga bashiyan... the chant goes on as the young boys from the Ferguson College Judo Club do their morning exercise on Hanuman Tekdi, right in front of the Gokhale' Smarak.

100th iteration of the "jor" is over, and boys relax their bodies as they take a usual glimple at Pune' shahar. Except for the boys on the hill, rest of Pune' is hybernating in the god gulabi thundi. The Sun is rising in the East, but still it has not dawned upon the Pune Mahanagar personnels to switch off the new yellow halogen lamps on Jungli maharaj road, and Karve road. Look, a rikshaw is breaking the morning silense as it rushes from Deccan Gymkhana towards Pune Station so that the customer can catch the 7.15 Deccan Queen. Who might be in it? May be a graduate student starting his journey to the land of promise ! This graduate student must be a ghati, living in a Prabhat road bungalow, built by his ICS grandfather!

Hey, can you see that red tower, it matches with the morning-red skies behind it. It is the old Lal Deul, the jewish synagogue. Apparently, till 1960s that synagogue was very active, however, now it is rented out for elocution competitions. Beyond that synagogue is the Camp area. Don't be surprised to meet a Lokhandwala or Poonawala here. The main attraction here is the Main Street. They say it has turned filthy and crowded since the time when it was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi Road ! If you see any scrap newspaper on the road, it must be Maharashtra Herald.

Look to the right, and you will see Pervati. Centuries ago, Madhavrao Peshwa must have glanced at Shaniwar Wada from that end, and decided on his political moves. Stretch your neck little longer, and lift your chin a bit. You will see the Katraj mountains. Since the times of Peshwas, suppy of fresh water was assured to Pune shahar from the Katraj Talaw that lies at the base of the Katraj mountain. Well at that time it supplied water to the Sadashivpethis who were the blood relatives of Peshwa. They say the blood and the water still runs into their veins ! Look behind you; you are right, its the TV tower on Sinhagad fort. Now a days people can go on top by car. Sinhagad might say, "Rasta aala pan maza roobab gela." And how true it is. With the appearence of the road, Sinhagad has been turned into an another "municipality udyan."

Turn even further. That saffron flag fluttering on the british style architecture, is the flag of our Pune University. During British time, during summer, governor of Bombay used to issue his decrees from there. Now they sell degrees there ! Did you hear something ? Oh yes, that's the whistle of the Deccan Queen engine. I think the engine is making its last effort to awaken the lazy Punekars from their gulabi slumber. Just as the multi-coloured, multi -designed quilt gives warmth to sleepy Punekars, so does Pune itself, with its people of various personalities and regions of vivid characteristics.

The graduate student in Deccan Queen is leaving his Pune behind. With him is his newly purchased VIP bag, and a "walkati" of sweet memories of his beloved Pune. And as he is cutting his unbilical cord, another boy, having finished his exercise on Hanuman hill, is climbing down. He is asking his friend, "Did you do your word-list? what the hell is meant by the word NOSTALGIA?"

Lokaho, Atschha.
Satish Y. Deodhar.

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