My Realm

Meet me - know me - read my posts and try to figure me! Well I am someone who is always thirsty for adventure, someone who simply hates playing sheep(u know the types - follow the herd!). An enthusiastic trekker, who loves to travel and ever ready for one of those wierd new found sports- luv to make new friends and njoy being my family's pet :)!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Pune City... Cultural Yet Congested

Staying in a cultural green city like Pune, and moreover being born and brought up here is a true boon. Being brought-up from a green laid back peace-loving smiling face city to a transformed concrete rush-hour and rule-less civic full of outlaws was a true experience to witness. And I was amongst those few so called original punekars to experience this evolution.

Well this write is not about how the transformation took place, its more about the congestion and fight for space in all aspects.

Back then, roads would be pretty much empty -and the Jungli Maharaj road being the best and a "German engineering" developed road that was the best of its times (and mind you still is). Then, the streets would be full of 2 wheels, to find a 4 wheel (engine powered and not hand carts) on road was a luxury- all eyes would follow the vehicle (Ambasadors ,Premiere Padmanis were most of the lot who dominated the lot, with Marutis just making a revolutionary step on the concrete carpet). Crossing roads was a luxury and signals on the city streets and major junctions (Alaka talkies junction - Balgandarva junction etc.) were more of nothing but just a mere formality for proving the fact that signals were a way for the future to effectively and efficiently maintain traffic congestion (if that ever occurred- early eighties chuckle in the background- ). City back then -for me atleast- was just Navipeth/Deccan surroundings and all the other peths. Khadki, Senapati Bapat Road, Kothrud, Aundh, Baner, University, Camp(to some extent), Vanavari, Hadapsar were all nothing but outskirts (some of these names were not even known to true Punekars of the little quaint humble city). Getting into a traffic jam meant being stuck at a bottle neck road and full of irate 2 wheel drivers, cyclists, buses and a little few trucks and just a couple of cars(if any).

Now-haan -now. Pune has expanded to Hinjawadi Kalyani-Nagar Bavdhan etc. No longer is Aundh /Baner an unknown or a distant dream for many(and all for that matter) - as it now calls itself as the heart (or atleast the replaced heart) of the city. Peths- Raviwar/Rasta/Bhavani etc- have come to be called as the congested pit of the city. Spotting a 4 wheeler on the road is no more a luxury, rather a liability on the sorry condition of the tarred (rip-tarred, pebble/rock filled, ditch aloom, cob-webbed with thick coaxial cable tentacles ) roads. City Signals are still nothing but a showpiece of magical transformation of peppermint lights (red, orange and green) -Those who like the color red wait and stare at it and those who don't just wade off. The white lines on the roads, which signify order are simply used as a concrete floor painting for many, or as a teaser to dare riddle drive the threaded white line. Crossing a road at a signal is nothing but a danger to the unwary pedestrian, since it is he who would be at the receiving end for crossing the road at a signal that supposedly dominated by engine wheels.

Night driving is nothing more that a curse for any Punekar (may he follow or not follow the traffic rules). The day -outlaw- rules no more change for the night, rather they mutate(or should I say add on) to a more daring circus. Edison invented the light bulb(that actually glowed) and got the noble prize for the same and came to be called as the father of light (or whatever), Punekars harnessed his light and invented the dark-mayhem and got the monopoly award for the same and which has come to be spoken by many "If u can drive in the city roads of Pune -u can bloody well survive on any damn road in the universe!". High-beams were invented to make a long dark stretch of road appear more bright for the vehicle to warn of any upcoming obstacle, well who says we don't know. Driving on the congested roads at night is like witnessing a laser beam battle- vehicles driving on any side of the road full on high beam on a well lit road, and both cursing each other to turn it down!.

I thank the inventor for the rear view mirror invention in a car(that has an anti-glare feature), you see its tough to see what's ahead on the road when a beam glares directly onto your eye- more so even if its through your rear view mirror glaring a high beam from the vehicle -mostly buses,trucks - behind you! Don't be surprised if you see me playing some stupid game with my left hand handeling the gear (-down to the left below-) and the mirror (-up to the left above-) while trying to concentrate and drive on the dark road ,letting my right hand play its own game of high-low beam with the right toggle while managing to steer at the same time. So much so with my feet as well, the right leg keeps dancing between the clutch and brake while the left foot tries to maintain some speed and decelerate at most other times!. No wonder you would find many -*NEW* - Punekars getting tired and worn off after even a *short* drive!

Well so much said about the misfortunes of driving in Pune roads and traffic (and mainly highlighting just a couple of the countless instances), Pune still has managed to stage the odds, by now becoming one of the top IT city in country (was also ranked first on one occasion in terms of IT exports) even with such a poor infrastructure of roads.

Sure many true Punekars say that he city is adulterated with many different *unwanted* cultures and similar changes and also in terms of pollution its being ranked as one of the most polluted city's is the world!, still one would stand by the fact that its always better to settle down in Pune rather than any other city, since its a mingle of cultures and a city of knowledge :-).

Well no one trusts the traffic-cops anymore, or so say many "hamesha kone mein chuppe hote hain - jab bhi koi signal toda to pakda usko aur jeb katta... kabhi signal pe khada hokar chalata nahi usko" (Always hidden a corner -whenever anyone breaks a signal he is caught and is fined- never stands at a signal to work it out). Well as a welcoming change to this situation what I see is- atleast now- the city's traffic cops give you a chalan (receipt / cheque) for whatever you are fined ! :-)

City roads are bad and trenches are deep on many roads, but at the same time they are our tomorrows link to the distant, expanding city of Pune's, corners of Pune district.(One day -may be one day - and I don't know when that day would come when Pune would be a cultural city still full of the right infrastructure and the most modern of technologies and civic rules and rule abiding citizens). Sure Pune is a must have place to anyone- Its proximity to historical forts for all adventure travelers, the perfectly suited climate and most importantly for its wonderful citizens. Its a wonderful place to be in!

I have been to other disciplined city's around the world in the U.S, U.K., Singapore, France etc. But I never dared to drive on their disciplined roads. Reasons:
A. Well its too boring to cruise on a straight road with no challenges (You know dodging a pot hole, cows, buffaloes, dogs etc. has its own charm).
B. Its too boring to get from Point A to Point B with no adrenalin rush at any point in time!
C. Its too difficult to follow all the rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-))

Pune.. Oh just my dear dear Pune... :-)



Blogger Prashant Varma said...

Hey Vindy,
When I moved to Pune from Bombay, I was really disappointed. It seemed like an urbanized village and it didn't help that I was staying in Chinchwad. Slowly, I got accustomed to the Punekar's way of life & now when I look back, I sure am glad that I spent the best days of my life here. I too have seen the 'growth' of Pune from a quaint, educational city to a chaotic, money-oriented one. I think its time to take Pune to the next level and the first thing to do is to improve the infrastructure. I was really taken aback by the traffic conditions and other public services when I visited Pune from the US recently. People should shirk off their 'chalta hai' attitude and take active participation in preserving the beauty and converting Pune into a truly national city, forget international.

10:26 PM  

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