I was in Pune for a few days last week after ages. I feel nostalgic even at the mention of the city. Pune was my first window into the world outside North India. Which is where I had spent most of my life till then. This is the first time I was living in a place where I did not understand even a single word of the local language. But could understand it almost 100% by the end of my 6-month stint there. This is where I worked first and made some best friends for life. Learned my first lessons in the corporate and software world, and earned my first stipend (money). I still remember the last day of that 6-month stint when I did not want to leave the city and go back.
I had so much fun that I can confidently call it probably one of the best periods of my life. Last week again, the city gave me some wonderful experiences, sharing some of them:
Things To Do In Pune
Gliding in Pune
The Gliding Center in the city belongs to the Civil aviation department, Government of India. And is located in the eastern part of the city of Hadapsar. Their website tells that Gliding has been in the city for more than 80 years now. Being a government outfit, it is highly subsidized, you can have a 5-7 minute joy ride for about Rs 200/-. The general public can go and have joy rides on Sundays except on national holidays and in monsoons. This center trains aspiring pilots and gives them licenses to fly after training. I had the opportunity to listen to the experiences of a friend who is learning to glide there. And see a young lady take her first solo flight.
It is fun to see a machine fly with literally no fuel and fly in sync with the nature around it. Need not to say that the view from the top is awesome…
Every city that you would have visited would have given some horror stories to tell, so here is mine from this trip to Pune. I take an Auto to go to the office from outside my hotel. The guy asks 200 Rs for a distance of less than 10 km and I refuse to go. I spot another auto and he agrees to go for 100 Rs. Just as we move 100 meters, this auto is stopped by the previous auto guy. And he holds the driver by his collar and tells me ‘Madam if you want to go, you have to take my auto and pay 200 Rs otherwise you can’t go’. His expression for the guy he is holding is ‘I will see him after I am done with you’.
I tell him ‘You can’t do this, I will call the police’. He said ‘Do what you want to do’. I go back to my hotel and tell them to call the police, but they refuse. I call ‘100’ from my cell, it keeps ringing and no one picks up the phone, no wonder the auto guy was so confident.
A Math, for a saint that lived in that area, where Cigarettes are offered to the saint along with other usual offerings. This a first for me, I am not sure if this is done anywhere else.
You have to see it, to believe it, it is an amazing space with meditative structures and nature, and people doing what they feel like doing. The bookstore almost makes you want to own it all. I like the fact that they call it a ‘meditation resort’ and not call it an Ashram. And break the expectations that people come here with. There is a tour of the resort twice a day, you can avoid it, but for the fact that this is your only way to enter the place and see it. They show you a video for 30 minutes and then take you for a 10-minute silent walk. It is kind of good as they do not explain or sell you anything, and let you absorb whatever you can.
My favorite place to eat in the city will always be Nandu Parantha. I literally survived this place during my first stint. This time, I could go to Café Good Luck, a cult coffee shop in Deccan, which all my friends in the city keep talking about. I guess every old city has one such cult coffee shop where so-called ‘intelligentsia’ used to meet over cups and cups of coffee and talk and talk. Something like Koshy’s in Bangalore.
Apart from this I ate at La Pizzeria and found it has been bought over by Little Italy. So I have completed eating at Little Italy in the city too after Bangalore, Bombay, and Hyderabad. The food was good as usual.
Arthur’s theme is another place that a lot of people recommended, but I guess I would again classify it as something that had been around for some time and hence popular. Liked the earthy ambiance it adorned. The food was ok, maybe I did not order the right things.
Like always, I would head to the city anytime I get a chance.
Recommend you to read the following Travel Blog on Places to visit near Pune.