Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pune - A changed city

My knowledge of Pune and its localities was limited to the core Pune that existed ten years ago. We had a house at Prabhat road and many relatives and friends lived at Sadashiv Peth, Navi Peth, Shukrawar Peth, Kothrud, Boat Club road, Ghole road etc. Areas I know included what the Puneites referred to as Gaav. “Kuthe gelela re”? “Gaavat jaun aalo”. This conversation would prompt you to think that someone had just been to a village far away from Pune. But the ‘gaav’ in Pune is the old city. For me it was the most fascinating quartier of Pune just like Girgaum in Mumbai. It is located in the centre of Pune. It has old buildings, wadas, differently named Ganpatis, Gates, Alis’ and Peths and also where the PMT buses, hundreds of cars and thousands of rickshaws, two-wheelers and cycles compete to get across through the narrow roads and lanes, gallis and bols of the ‘gaav’.

Then across the Lakdi ‘pul’ towards the west is the Deccan area and roads leading to Shivaji Nagar, Erandwane, Kothrud and Ganeshkhind. And outside the ‘gaav’ on the eastern and southern side are Queens Garden, Camp, Swar Gate, Prince of Wales Drive, and Satara Road. On the other side of the Pune station areas like Tadiwala road, Dhole Patil Road, Boat Club road, Bund Garden and Koregaon Park.

I knew all these areas well and had also ventured into areas like Yeravda (no, I didn’t get myself admitted), Viman Nagar, Aundh, Baner, Pashan and Paud. All these were called suburbs of Pune then. I had also heard of places like Kalyani Nagar, Salisbury Park, Fatima Nagar and Lulla Nagar which were developing rapidly.

So when the Volvo bus entered Pune, I was perplexed at all the new areas that have come up which I guess are the Mecca of the BPO and the IT industry…. Names that I have never heard before… Hinjewadi, Pimpale Gurav, Wakad …

Pune like any other Indian city has changed over the last ten years. As you approach Pune via the expressway, you will notice all the hoardings screaming out ‘real estate boom’ to you. You will see hoardings announcing various projects of builders like Naik Navre Associates, Darode Jog Associates and so on. Even the names of the projects have become more cosmopolitan than the traditional Maharashtrian names that you could see ten years ago. So you will find projects and buildings being named California & Frangipani instead of Parvati Heights & Deccan Apartments.

So last week when I visited Pune, I decided to take a very long walk which stretched across almost half of Pune to find out for myself how Pune has changed in the last ten years. This is the first post of a series of blog posts on Pune.