A city is a living being, of either sex with the peculiar characteristics accredited by years of breathing and expanding. Delhi is a socialite with a 'Government husband'. She hides herself behind the veneer of sophistication. But often at unguarded moments, the face falls to reveal that underneath the magnanimity and laughter, there is savagery. Kolkata is a coquettish woman wearing the traditional red and white sari, but she has dark flashing eyes that are full of passion.
What can I say about Pune? He is a man with the puneri pagadi perched on his head, caustic in speech and acerbic in tone. He likes new things but clings firmly to the old, and moves seamlessly within all walks of life.
Pune breathes. It lives. When I am in the 'gav' area, I look at the buildings - some run down and derelict, some well-kept, but most bearing the ties to an era long gone. The carved balconies and the wide wooden windows are still beautiful. On a quiet morning, one can imagine the Peshwas to have strolled through the same streets. Moving away, it is difficult to know that you are in the same city. The same is true of every city, of course. Nearly twenty five years ago, 'Kothrud' consisted of lush green farms. On the edge of one of the farms was a small temple. Today, Kothrud is one of the fastest developing areas and the temple has morphed into a huge complex on top of a hill in Kothrud.
I have always felt that the epicentre of a city is relative. For me, it is undoubtedly the gav. I do not claim thorough knowledge of the intricacies of the area. In fact, I often depend on well meaning passers-by for direction when the small lanes befuddle me. On bad days, just a single typical puneri obscenity ,issued by an innocuous-looking 'grandfather' when a rickshaw-wala crosses him, is enough to put a smile on my face.