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Monday, December 06, 2004

About Cities and an ode to Pune

Category: Misc About Pune city

Think of a city and a related word that defines it comes to mind.

Bombay - Fast, businesslike, cricket, bollywood, freedom, magical, dreamy, and bindaas - a city of dreams
Hyderabad - Clean, hi-tech, and laidback (nawaabi)
Bangalore - Happening, silicon valley, IT, pubbing, and fantastic weather
Chandigarh - Well-planned, rich and beautiful
Kolkata - Intellectual, happy-go-lucky, strikes, old world charm, cricket, joy, and poverty (a contradiction, isn't it?)
Nagpur - Slow, dull, hot, and oranges
Delhi - Rough, gaudy, impolite, and political (no offence meant to anyone whatsoever)
Shimla - Cold, honeymoon, winter, and snow
Cochin (Kerala state) - Beautiful, serene, and peaceful
Ahmedabad - Moneyminded, foodie, prohibition, and now even *communal*
(no offence)
Surat - Diamonds, clean, and foodie
Mysore - Historical
Chennai - Orthodox, traditional, and intellectual
Patna - Crime, corruption, and politics (No offence)
Lucknow - Grace (Tehzeeb), politics, and cuisine
Jaipur - Pink, beautiful, heat, history, and colours.
Goa - Beaches, feni, Bohemian, and parties
Mahabaleshwar - Strawberry, and holidays
and ofcourse what will Pune be-

Pune is vibrant, has a lot of two-wheelers, is a student city, and is steeped in the middle-class values of stability, security, good education, respect for elders, peaceful, god-fearing, and being happy and contented.
(And somehow I don't seem to have any of these middle-class values except for respect for elders, while Punit has all of them. Must say, he is six years younger than me, still is more mature, intelligent, and worldly-wise. I just go by my gut instinct, fall flat on my face, kiss the earth, and I'm ready to try that again!)

If there is one adjective to define Pune (Poona, I prefer the old name, it is more cosmopolitan), it has be Intellectual.

For me Pune is an intellectual beauty (and somewhat arrogant too, aren't intelligent and beautiful girls always a bit arrogant, and that's how they should be, it's fun wooing them), the kind of a girl who won't care for what car you have, what's your bank balance, and which brand you wear; but one who can be wooed with a beautiful poem on her birthday, a bouquet of roses, a bar of chocolate, a walk in the rains, followed by a hot cup of tea by the roadside teastall (tapri), and an evening spent sitting by the lake; throwing pebbles in the water, and watching the sun set and the stars shine. :-)

Pune is an intellectual city like Kolkata once used to be.
(I'm drawing an analogy and not taking sides. I'm not a Maharashtrian, nor am I a Bengali. I'm an Indian).
In Kolkata, people think but don't do anything or at the max. end up calling a strike, while in Pune people think and therefore they act and progress. And that is why even though the greatest freedom fighters and inspiring figures during the 20th century came from West Bengal, it is backward in a technological sense in the 21st century.

What is Pune's specialty or should I say something unique (one and only one) about Pune?
Girls on two-wheelers. Girls on bikes - on Kinetics.

Pune has the most no. of two-wheelers in Asia, or is it Bangalore, that is number one now? I guess there are more bikes in Bangalore, but Pune is special.

No other city in the world will offer this site, especially in the summer - of girls, dressed in colorful salwar suits, with scarves round their neck and face, driving two-wheelers (Kinetic Honda) to college and work.

And, *not exactly tongue in cheek*, girls are the worst traffic offenders. Isn't it anywhere in the world? They never stop at traffic signals, always turn without the indicator on, or else turn the right indicator on and turn left, stop in the middle of an open road to send an sms, talk on the cell phone when the lights are green, and always get away without a fine saying they're hurrying to college or work :-)

And no wonder, because of its vibrant student-life, Pune has always been the first choice for any auto manufacturing major to test their vehicles. Kinetic launched their latest two-wheeler, 'Zing', specifically for the college girls market segement, and I suppose it is doing very well.

Three things about Pune
a.) It has the most number of netcafes in India and the highest home PC internet penetration.
b.) It has the most number (overtaken by Bangalore, I suppose) of two-wheelers in India.
c.) It is the most polluted city in Maharashtra, even more polluted than Bombay is.

Pune needs infrastructural development, and once that comes through, it will be a metropolis, right now it has pretensions to being a metropolis, like I have pretensions to being a writer.

Do you have things to share about your city or would you like to describe your city as a maiden?

I read a fantastic article on the CSJ web site. A beautiful description of NYC from a journalist's perspective. Check it out. Evocative writing, makes you feel like you're in the city, following each heartbeat of it.

Sometimes I feel should I take the GMAT, atleast I'll have the score and then, if at all I want to go to the US for studies, I can try. But somehow, I'm 28 and no one studies at 28, people get married and settle down. Taking a test is never an issue, getting a loan, or arranging finance maybe difficult, but isn't impossible. I can get a score of 600 on 800 without any preparation at my current level; and a score of 720 plus on 800 would be good. I'll take a mock GMAT on one of these days, just to see where I stand.
There's a world I haven't seen, and somehow I *feel* America is where my dreams are.

Although all these thoughts will evaporate once I get a job and I'm back to the 9 to 9 grind, and I will become comfortably numb with an easy, safe, secure, simple, and moneyminded life.

Right now I'm thinking because I don't have anything else to do.

Bye for now

I'll take that night shift job so I'll be back to a routine and stop dreaming. :-(