Pune The most liveable city.
On the clear October afternoon day 2019, I visited a small hillock on the side of Parvati in Pune for spending an hour or so in peace and tranquility.
This is the place one can have an overview of almost entire city swathed in greenery of monsoon rains.
Below me the city with its criss -cross bazaars, blaring horns, the grisly roads with open drainage culminating towards swollen rivers, looked a sprawling one. The skyline has assumed alarming proportions.
The city looked gorgeously green .
I could see one more distant range of hills followed by a stretch of plains, a fascinating view.
The clouds started gathering and the sky was overcast .
A loud growling followed by a lightening , instantly it began to rain, a cold steel rain.
I took to my heels literally and did not give hoots to the beautiful surroundings, but hurried to get on to main road and continued to walk on looking for a cover to avoid being drenched in the awful spattering rains. The chaotic traffic of cars, two wheelers ,where every vehicle was trying to overtake the other ,the honking of horns plunging the street into deafening noise center much to the displeasure of pedestrians.
Among the generality of Indian males ,I am medium sized—five feet five ,very wide of shoulder and eventually because of my size I could take brisk strides and run in between the thickly rains for getting on to take refuge under a cover.
I did manage to stand in the corner of a sweet shop. There was a sizable crowd already, a couple making way for me with a wry smile. Puneites are friendly people and very conciliatory especially to senior citizens.
The rains continued pouring down and did not seem to abate at all.
Recently Pune had rains without any warning and the city almost got drowned with hundreds of vehicles being carried away in the fierce rains and the winds that was not less than any hurricane.
I watched the dripping trees and the clouds coming down over the distant valley giving it a hazy look all around.
As I was standing waiting for rains to stop,I heard someone calling me not far away “ kaul sahib, kaul sahib here I am Prasad”
I saw a tall hefty man coming towards me and standing face to face, I stared at him with a glimmer of remembrance in my eyes ,I recognized him instantly. “ hello Prasad how are you here.” I asked, little puzzled. He was carrying an umberalla big enough to take me underneath.
we walked into a nearby restaurant for a strong sweet tea with hot Kachoris.
“ So Prasad tell me what are you doing now.”I said with a beaming smile. “ ah! cannot believe seeing you after 35 years.it is amazing unbelievable” I continued startled .
“Me too “ Prasad replied with a guffaw.
Prasad was my head inspector in Jg glass factory long back in 1970’S, good at job and a great singer. He was handsome tall with wrestler’s body having six pack muscles, very affable in nature, a pleasant lively smile lit up his face all the time.
I being the head of quality department, he was very obedient and respectful subordinate.
we had a long conversation over a few steaming cups of teas.
“ I could educate my only son to be an engineer and he has become GM of an MNC from Germany, kaul sir” he declared with some sense of pride.
“ you can call me kaul only ,no need to say sir Mr Prasad. you are my friend and one time colleague’ I corrected him
“ no kaul sahib you are my sir all the time. It was your constant drumming that motivated me to educate my son Ravinder.” He said apologetically.
“ do you still sing? “
“ yes I do “
“can you sing that Rajesh khanna song” I asked
and he started singing in his profoundly melodous voice.
“ Tum ne kaajal lagaya Din mein Raat ho gayi chup gaye Tare nazare oye kya baat ho gayi .”
The other guests turned their heads to listen him and cheered him for his singing the Bolly -wood block buster of yesteryears.
As Prasad emerged a singing celebrity in the small crowd ,engrossed in the new found fame, I went into a reverie to ramble through my memories about my first encounter with bright and beautiful Pune.
I walked into Pune ,the city of my dreams, ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’ , ‘the queen of Deccan’ as popularly called those days, on 21st june 1961 to look after my ailing sister shanta whom I called fondly Bengashi.
My father had coaxed and cajoled me to take the vexed long trip to assist my brother in law Raj nath Wakhaloo ,who had moved into the city in 1959 on Govt of India assignment in Post and Telegraph Pune division. Raj nath ji popularly known as Wakhaloo Sahib, a typical Kashmiri Brahmin, tall handsome ,with chiselled features a long straight nose , dimpled chin ,liked the city and its people , its mild climate and hilly topography .
My brother in law, JEEJAJI, was waiting for me in the pleasant morning at the Pune station.
I walked the platform and hugged him ,thanking him profusely for coming to greet me in the early morning.
We went to home ,a small low ceiling ill ventilated one room rented apartment in Soomwar-peth in the city. His office was at a stone’s throw from the residence hence the choice of hiring that apartment.
After dropping my luggage, and having a hurried brief breakfast ,we drove down to the Dr Karve Clinic at the foothills of Parvati ,where my sister Bengashi was admitted. My sister was glad to see me and hugged me intensely, the tears flowing down her cheeks profusely.
she was having clot on the lower leg and being under treatment of DR KARVE, one of the best doctors of Pune at that time.
I was supposed to look after my sister as my brother in law J e e j a j i was attending office.
I successfully completed my assignment to my best ability, looking after my beloved sister with ease and comfort. Went to Kashmir back after nearly two months.
At that time I could have n e v e r imagined Pune would be my permanent home town some day.
As providence would have it I got my first job in Pune as management trainee way back in 1970 in a glass container manufacturing unit after great efforts and started liking to live in Pune.
My sister’s prayers worked for my settlement .
I lived in Meera Society near Shanker Seth road, a new decent colony with built in spacious apartments of most advanced building technology.
Here I struck acquaintance with Mr Pran Tickoo working as a senior engineer in Tata Locomative engineering company . We soon became great pals and spent lot of good time together ,mostly enjoying ‘Boti kababs’, ‘tandoori chicken’ and many niceties at Dipen’s barbaquee run by an affable Punjabi couple close to Petrol pump on Shanker Seth road. Pran Tickooji had flair for attending to social activities and displayed leadership qualities and enjoyed doing so very much. Currently associated with many such social platforms contributing his mite to the good of society.
Pune city was very alluring beautiful with almost no traffic and big broad roads ,having hilly background with trees all along the routes making beautiful long avenues to look at.
It had shades of my Srinagar city ,with Parvati hill standing in the heart of city like Hari Parbat of Srinagar city. The pleasant weather was one more similarity to my Kashmir.
Pune is the second largest city in Maharashtra after Mumbai, with nearly 5.05 miliion population currently. Situated 1840 feet above sea level on the Deccan plateau on the right bank of Mutha river.
Pune has profound no of Nicknames ‘ Oxford of East’ ‘ Queen of Deccan ‘ so on and so forth
with its cool sizzling climate, vibrant greens adding tantalizing serenity to the Nature, Pune stands out a thriving city to live in .
Pune is always young with its young student population, and is nerve center of arts crafts ,offering opportunities for jobs, research and has been a commercial hub for many industries.
I woke up from my reverie and called for Prasad ,who seemed completely absorbed and enjoying the new found popularity.
“shall we make a move now” I blurted out to Prasad .
“yes sir yes sir” he replied briefly.
The rains had stopped and I looked for an auto rickshaw to take me to my residence in Bibwewadi.
Prasad called for one and I squeezed in and it zoomed away without allowing me even to say goodbye, with a foreboding of having seen Prasad for the last time.