There was a time, when daily hustle bustle of the big city, engulfed life. There were timings to be kept for waking up and dozing off, alarm clocks were matched to train station timings, and 5 minutes here and there would mean losing out your favorite seat. These were small things that mattered so much; that simply being out in the morning to breathe some fresh air seemed like some sort of a luxury. All exercise and catching of breath happened either running for the bus or rushing to the train. Climbing up and down the foot over bridge and jostling the crowd was daily massage I did not sign up for. Thats life in the fast lane in Mumbai for you. Long train travel across suburban Mumbai to reach work and even longer queues for buses and auto rickshaws to get back home. At a mere 28 years i was already exhausted. Unable to give enough time to family, unable to maintain a social life and more importantly unable to give time to myself.
Then life took a turn for the better, the start-up AD was working for decided to move to Pune! Initially it spelt disaster for me, my company had no offices in Pune and how long AD decided to stay there was unclear, whether this was permanent move, would that mean changing jobs for me – all the balls were in the air and I could not afford to drop even one. I decided to stay back in Mumbai initially. The logistics had to be sorted out about this whole Pune move, career wise, finance wise and obviously family wise. Both our parents were extremely supportive, having been through such times themselves they understood my concerns and his desire to take some risks and backed us. The job hunt for me in Pune was not very promising, with the recession etc and most companies on backfoot for hiring. Moving from Mumbai was just not an option. A very informal discussion with my manager led to a solution I had not dreamed of. The company would allow me to work from home, as long as all working criteria were met and the work did not suffer. I would need to travel to Mumbai as when required. All in all it meant a green signal for me to move to Pune, and a very unpleasant 3 months of separation would come to an end.
In all this time, I managed only 3 trips to Pune, and was impressed with what i saw. It was just like any other emerging metropolis. My image of a sleepy old town, with very typical Puneri folk was wiped out in an instant. My first travel to Pune landed me directly into Kalyani Nagar – skim past this area and you are reminded of South Mumbai in an instant. A very upcoming and developing suburb, it took to my liking instantly and we decided our next abode would definitely be in this area. Limited with our finances, we settled for a 1BHK flat in an old society – but it had a vantage point. The location was superb, literally stones throw away from the Mall and multiplexes, biggest restaurant in area was across the street, all consumables were at arms length and everything else only at walkable distance. My initial grimace for not finding a house with a view disappeared within days when I figured out what advantages the house had ;P.
Life began slow here, we arrived with bare minimum furniture, just enough things to survive. Most of what were needed laptops, books, Television, mattress, cupboards and gas stove. Thats it I thought to myself, the first night i closed my eyes – this will be home. I had taken a couple of days off just to set up everything in the new house. Cleaning up, unpacking, cooking it all had to be fitted in while managing work. With travel out of picture I suddenly had more time on my hand, so I cooked regularly. Exploring the new living area was a lot of fun too – but auto rickshaw meters in Pune were running faster than my heartbeat, so i took to walking around, it is best way of exploring the place :). Acclimatizing to neighbourhoods like Koregaon park and its numerous lanes, the camp area and of course the temptations of the malls, purchasing new tid bits for home, my time was consumed by these. My now broken camera along with me walked many a sultry evening absorbing Pune. The setting sun shedding light on new avenues in life.
AD took me to office one day, I took to liking his colleagues immediately, some I had met before in Cleartrip and some I met for first time. They have a very close bonding, dinners at our place and hanging out became part of many a evenings. His boss did not mind me working out of their office too, they had enough space to lend me a table which was a very friendly gesture. Someday’s working alone from home often made me quite lonely. I had begun to miss the whole work atmosphere, fun with colleagues and office outings etc. Chai and coffee breaks were too by myself and not very enjoyable. Soon working out of AD’s office became a regular thing, atleast once a week, as on Thursday there was a power outage for more than 6 – 7 hours. I did not miss my own office so much then, as we went out for lunch with his office folk and there was always some or the other happening there to keep me entertained. Watching them work from sidelines, often gave me a kick too. In their initial days I did pull an all nighter with them a couple of times. Pizzas and Red Bulls were great companions then.
Soon after we moved here, a few other friends from Mumbai also did – they too decided to set shop here and I began to miss Mumbai a lot less. Pune is traveller’s paradise, except for a brief spell in Summer, you can travel around through out the year. There are forts, hill stations all which are within reach of Pune. City is decorated with historical monuments from Shivaji’s times. Our first travel was to temple at Parvati. Then venturing out to Sinhagad, Aga Khan Palace, Panshet, Kamshet lakes and Pavana Dam. I had always pestered AD for not being able to trek, but we got an opportunity after coming to Pune, Quasi planned out a 4 day trek to Harishchandragad and before that I managed a trek by myself with ShikharVedh gang to Tornagad. The travel to office was limited to 5 Km for AD, he took to cycling there, the spell lasted a good few months till monsoon set in. Rains in Pune are wonderful, the place completely transpires into a green blanket and weather is nothing short of European romance.
Many people had warned me of how I would not be able to fit in and be out of place, and how Pune does not offer a social life, but it all proved wrong. Pune has some of the best eating joints, from the very Puneri Shreyas on Apte Road to Bedekar misal. A wide variety of Parsi food from Dorabjees to Zamu’s. Koregain Park is filled with little gems of places with the most surprising cousine – Our favorite has been Arthurs theme and Tertulia’s. Not to mention the little micro brewery which makes a lot of noise on social circuit called Doolally’s. Never did i get a chance to enjoy such a variety in such a short span of time. FC road and JM roads are a foodies haven, with popular joints like Vaishali and Good Luck Cafe to gorge at.
On of the best things to have happened is that I got back to my hobbies, writing and photography. The more we traveled the more stories there were to tell. Desire and passion to write were back and i was slowly mastering the art of photography. I got active on twitter and made some very nice twitter pals- it was a totally new experience of socializing. Suddenly I did not feel so exhausted, there was always something that kept me busy. While all this was happening, work kept its pace up and did not hamper career front, I got my promotion and my raise and things were looking good. Friends kept visiting and so did family. The home began to take shape as more and more “things” came into the house. Walls got photo frames and shelves,mattress got a new bed, windows got new curtains, the cycle is now replaced by a motorbike and life as we knew it changed for the better.
We still visit Mumbai often, but we long to be back in Pune. The city has taken my heart and Home is where the Heart is ….. We both are still pursuing our dreams and desires, and working equally hard to fulfill them. But in the midst of all this, life in Pune has given us that little cocoon to take a breather once in a while and I still have some time left to LIVE a little bit more.