29 July 2013

Pune is not Puny

Pune, located about 3.5 hours south of Mumbai via train, is a bit of a destination in the country for the citizens of Bombay. For me, a lifetime Girl Scout, it's my Mecca. Pune is the location of the world centre, Sangam. But I've already posted about Sangam, this post will be about the city of Pune itself.
Pune had a lot of offer of historical significance. We visited first the Aga Khan palace where Gandhi was interred from Aug 9, 1942 until May 6, 1944. During his 21 month imprisonment, he lost two people very close to him, his wife, Kasturba, passed away on the 22nd of February 1944 and his secretary Mahadevbhai Desai passed away on the 15th of August 1942.
Aga Khan is a beautiful facility. While imprisonment is never desirable, if you have to be imprisoned somewhere, this would be the place to be!

After visiting Aga Khan, we went to the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum. This museum is the personal collection of Raja Dinkar Kelkar. The museum, which displays 2500 pieces for it's "adoring public" (actual words used in description of museum), only shows 12.5% of his entire collection of over 20,000 pieces. Kelkar collected artifacts of Indian heritage. It was a mishmash of items from tools to clothes to jewelry to pottery. It was quite an interesting collection.

After the museum, we headed to the big shopping district of Laxsmi road. Here we wished to eat dinner. We went to a vegetarian restaurant. Because of a mix up with our food (okay the waiter simply forgot to submit the order!), we didn't leave til nearly 8pm.

At 8pm we were ready to take an Autorickshaw back to Sangam, a journey that should take about 45 minutes. Little did we know, we were in for a journey of over 2 hours.

We flagged down a rickshaw, ready to head back. When we told him that we wanted to go to "Phule Neger" (the district where Sangam is), he told us no. Two, three, four more drivers all refused to take us. We had no idea why. Then a nice young man tried to help us. They continued to refuse. He told us it was because it was near dinner time and no one wanted to go too far from home! We were unsure what to do - and no taxis were available.

The young man decided that the best course of action would be for us to take the city bus to the train station and from there take a rickshaw or taxi. We agreed and he said he would accompany us to the station. We had no idea which bus to take or even how to read the signs on the bus (they were in Marathi!) so we were fully dependent on him. Getting on a bus in India is not like in the western world. There is no line and the bus doesn't wait until everyone has boarded. Tammy nearly got left behind as the bus started driving off before she was on - but luckily she made it!

We thought this bus would take us to the station, but when we exited, the young man had us walk across a busy road to another stop. He then explained that the next bus would take us to the station. At this point, things got a bit creepy as he was joined by a friend who was now also with us.
We exited the bus a stop earlier than expected, the driver even said "station is next stop" and had to walk. We could only hope that our young man was leading us to the station and not to harm.

We got to the station and could see why we got off early -- there were so many people waiting to get on the bus at the station, that the reality was that we might not have been able to disembark. Our young man secured us a rickshaw to drive us back to Sangam and then departed. We were lucky that he was truly a nice guy who genuinely wanted to help us.

We arrived back at Sangam without further incident, a bit more weary, with a tale to tell!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Pune, India

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