The Fizzy and the Still

by Ashish

Puneris must do everything their own way.

Apropos of nothing, settle down for this tale. Pune has reached unmanageable proportions in terms of traffic, people and infrastructure. It’s unmanageable by the highest of standards now, so the PMC had given up the ghost decades ago. Still, every now and then they resolve that they must do something about the city. These noble sentiments occasionally get translated into action, and still more rarely, the action taken actually approaches something that might make sense.

One such action was a proposal that rag-pickers on the streets be utilized to collect garbage from all over the city. Since the garbage department ( specifically, the garbage department within the PMC – not the PMC itself) was spread too thinly in terms of both resources and staff, this made eminent sense. It made sense to the rag-pickers themselves, since this was plainly a way of augmenting their income. It made sense to the NGO’s, since this allowed for sustainable income generation. And it would have made sense to all the households in Pune, since these kind of partnerships have a higher chance of working out than leaving it all to the PMC.

The proposal was a weekly wage of 10 rupees be paid by each household to the ragpickers (or some such trifling amount). Seems like a win-win situation, no?

No. Not to a Puneri, it does not.

Certain grand old members of the species ventured out of their homes, went all the way to the PMC, utilized whatever means they had, and got the order rescinded, by establishing that garbage collection was one of the duties of the PMC, and they (the households) shouldn’t have to pay for it.

Presumably, this involved litigation, numerous trips to various offices and a lot of heartache. It certainly involved sums amounting to more than 10 rupees a week, and the victory was nothing if not Pyrrhic. For it merely resulted in the status quo being restored, and garbage collection once again becoming the dubious responsibility of the PMC.

Still, to the Grand Old Punekar, this made no difference. That wasn’t the point. The point was this: they nitpicked, they won. So there.

Incomprehensible as this may seem to you, dear reader, that is what a Puneri will do. They will willingly and knowingly walk off the beaten path, even to their cost, because that is the Puneri way of life.

Every now and then though, this idiosyncrasy is worthy of being lauded. And one such case is the redoubtable Frams – makers of Dimple Cola and other delightfully vague drinks.

Dimple Cola is Pune’s typically defiant answer to Thums Up, Pepsi and Coke. Bottled locally, it is a cola drink that is not especially better than the aforementioned worthies; in fact, to a non-Puneri, it might not even be worthy of mention.

Apart from Dimple Cola, Frams also makes an apple drink and a rasberry drink. All of them taste quirky… they taste different. They might never win favour and weightage in a market research survey, and they might never catch on as mainstream choices. They certainly don’t taste bad (in fact, I think they taste heavenly), but they do taste different.

To a Puneri, however, its not the taste that matters, nor the price. It is simply the fact that one is drinking something ‘hatke’, and what’s more, it’s Puneri!

Bring it on!

And so in different establishments around Pune (Burger King being a prominent example) these drinks are served and consumed with pride.

Try them the next time you are in Pune, especially so with a burger at Burger King.

You’ll be very Puneri if you do.