to Pune, you could almost start believing that life is a mammoth
conspiracy against foreigners. The visitor needs a survival
kit to be able to handle the city and much more the life in
the streets. Not to worry though, God helps people in trouble-they
say. (Well, He pretty well should, because in this city
If you are looking for public transport, which halts where
you want to get on or off, take a bus. You just canít miss
the red PMC monster, (miss the sighting. I mean no guarantees
for the bus), since the only part of the bus which doesnít
make a noise is the horn. The trouble here is that you have
to wait for the one that does halt. Even if in other cities,
sufficiency of money can take care of everything, here the
corresponding necessity is patience Ė lots of it, at that.
Rickshaws seldom oblige. In the first place you donít find
any, if you do he is probably having his lunch break or has
his meter tied up in protest of the killing of a fellow driver,
a month ago.
But taking the bus has itís own risks, do so only if you have
a good fighting arm, complete confidence in your toe hold
and a healthy scorn for the laws of gravity, for this over
loaded monstrosity has a habit of tilting to angles of 45
degrees. If you donít possess this qualities-WALK.
If you are a pedestrian (and you donít have much choice
in this matter as finding transport can be next to impossible.)
remember your place is on the carriageway, since pavements
are meant for hawkers. Start limbering up for the urban Olympics:
high jumping over the debris, long jumping over pot holes
hurdling over lying humans-try not to breathe.
Crossing streets can be a cakewalk. Just stroll to the other
side at any point except the zebra crossing, holding one hand
a loft to stop the on coming cars. Only two things can occur,
either the cars will come to a dead halt or you will. But
here the odds are in your favour thanks to the axle breaking
conditions of the road. As the officials of P.M.C., committed
to the people, say: the roads are deliberately "MaintainedĒ
in this state so that cars donít speed and so slow speed doesnít
Being a driver in pune calls for a specials set of skills.
The first is to stay out of the way of the buses, the vendors
and pedestrians. Second, the potholes (these are responsible
for disappearance of vehicles in numbers which exceed that
of ships and airplanes lost in the Bermuda triangle).
And the third, the white and blue clad policeman manning the
intersections and giving contrary directions. A complete disregard
for the traffic lights is a basic necessity.
If you are caught in a massive pile up and there is no policeman
or traffic signal to blame, the cause is a procession or a
morcha . And then as you wait in the endless pune traffic
jam think not of time as wasted, but as an opportunity to
have a glimpse of eternity.
Despite all this, if you can survive on the streets of pune,
they say you can survive anywhere.
But, chances are, you wouldnít want to.