You know what? I don’t know if I’m writing this because I’m depressed, or because this actually is the state of affairs.
“This” being the fact that Pune has changed. For the worse.
Go and stand at, say, Apte Road, Deccan Gymkhana. At around one in the afternoon.
Earlier, at that time of the day, not a soul moved on that road. Let alone that road, not a soul moved in Pune. Shutter down, doors closed – offices open, perhaps, but only naam ke vaaste.
Heavy eyelids, ponderous breathing, steetched legs and good night time.
At least, that used to be the case. Today, even on that soporofic road, even at that ghastly hour, you see people up and about. On their bikes, in their cars or just walking. Not only are they awake, they’re – horror of horror – filled with purpose!
Earlier, that ghastly disease would afflict only Mumbaikars. Only those nutcases would walk around with a glint in their eye and an aim in their stride, glancing at their watches every now and then. Punekars wouldn’t even wear watches, and if they did, it was only because Dada/Anna/Appa had gifted it to them on matriculation (HMT, standard edition, pale white dial and great ugly strap). Not because they wanted to know what the time was, good lord, no.
You could make out the time easy enough. If the streets are empty, it must be afternoon time. That’s how it worked.
And like I was saying, not anymore. Today, you have people strutting about, talking on their cellphones, checking their e-mail, getting places and doing stuff.
The defining characteristic of a Punekar is to not do stuff. It is to chill, to take it easy and not raise a sweat. Unless you’re playing badminton or tennis. That’s ok – so long as it’s Vaishali immediately after.
And that’s another thing. What on earth is up with Vaishali? But we’ll leave that for another day.
The main point is this: I can live with the crowds and the dust and the heat and the traffic. I mean, I’d rather not, but what the hell. But for the love of the Puneri spirit, stop being so damn busy!
It’s not us. Stop!