The last time I visited Pune was a decadeand half ago.
Around that time, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun was still running in Liberty.
Around that time, Sunny Deol had natural hair and was winning National Awards.
Around that time, Azhar was captain of the Indian team and Vinod Kambli was the next big thing.
Around that time, baggy pants were considered the in thing.
Around that time, Star Sports was called Prime Sports, Star Plus was all English and Baba Sehgal ruled MTV and Channel V.
Around that time, Narasimha Rao was running the country and Rahul baba was probably running around trees with his Colombian girlfriend.
What I am saying is that 15 odd years is enough for a lot of change to happen. Logically, I should have expected the cultural capital of Maharashtra to change too. However this is Pune, the pride of Maharashtrians, the centre of the grreat Maratha rule and the home of the famous Puneri Paatyas. For a city with a rich history of over 4 centuries, a city proud of its 4 centruies plus history, 15 years is peanuts. So not much change was expected.
Could not be more wrong.
The Pune of the early 90s was a sedate city with not many avenues of entertainment. It was a senior citizen city in that quite a few of retires, well, retired to this city. Every afternoon, the city came to a standstill since it was time for the afternoon siesta. And the people could be rude. Which is symbolized by the writing on the famous paatyas. Google Puneri Paatyas, get a person fluent in Marathi translate it for you (if you are not Marathi versed) and then lie back and marvel at the sharp wit and “do not give a shit” attitude of the Puneri shopkeeper.
The Pune of 2010 is vastly differant. Due to the IT explosion, a lot of business has come here. This has led to the city getting a sort of facelift. The place has become a virtual phataka. I counted around 9 eateries of different genres in and around my hotel. The mall next to the hotel has a food court and a swanky Big cinema multiplex. The crowd is young. The air was full of energy.
However do not forget the centuries old history. Some things still are the same. People still seem to get out to have breakfast at 8 in the morning. The pace is not breakneck like Mumbai. The quality of life is not compromised by the increase in professionalism. Senior citizens are still around and seem to have fun. I saw some of them playing chess in a CCD. Perfect mix of the old and the new. And the paatyas still remain glorious though few. And good old Chitale Bandhu still shuts down during siesta time.
Pune seems to have assimilated the winds of change rather than getting bogged down by it. I wish that Mumbai coud learn a little from its neighbour. Pune does not seem to be a bad place to live in.