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Monday, 01 May 2017

Pune, India: Exploring the 'University Town' - Page 2

Written by Richard Taylor
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The flower stalls dominated, as they did around most Hindu temples, the vendors knotting the blooms into garlands for the faithful. Among the jam of carts and motorbikes, one woman stopped her scooter to exchange palm fronds with another lady. She wasn’t alone. Palms were waving up and down Shivaji. I was mystified. It wasn’t Sunday and it wasn’t Easter and this wasn’t an Easter-type country, at least not here.

Next on the list was the Shaniwarwada Palace. This had been the chief residence of the Peshwas but had been severely gutted by fire in 1828. The outer walls remained, lofty in dark brown brick but after a cursory inspection it seemed the interest here was more historic than architectural.

A three wheel cabbie dropped me by the last stop, the twenty-five acre park called Sarag Baug, a former lake, now graced with shade trees, benches, ponds, lily pads and an eighteenth century temple called Talyatia Ganpati, again dedicated to Ganesh. Given my Pune park observations, the place was unique – people were actually using it and I surmised that it was the temple that drew them in, although the students were here too in droves – stretched out on the grass with their books and iphones and gossip with nary an oak tree in sight.

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That evening I returned to my wok whiz-kid and his down market haunt. He smiled a near imperceptible smile, asked me where I was from, snatched up a menu card and suggested the hot and sour soup and the chicken hakka noodles. They were excellent. I thought of franchising the place, or at least offering my services, treating those metal tables to some spit and polish. It was my last night so we shook hands and returning to the hotel, I stopped at a tidy little bakery for some sweets and chatted with the proprietor, a charming little man who was missing several teeth.

“Great food in this city,” I told him.

“I don’t like Indian food,” he said.

A future customer, thought I, with pony-tailed visions swirling in my cranium as India’s Noodle King, the next trendy hangout for the university town’s young scholars.

All seven million of them.

©Richard Taylor


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Last modified on Monday, 01 May 2017

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