Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pune Weekend

A quick trip to Pune (a city from where my mother hails) with family, and it was time to visit the popular local haunts. 

For those not in the know of certain popular eats, Bhel (mentioned in the first photo with prices) ,  is a spicy concoction of puffed rice, garbanzo(besan) crispies, chopped onions, tomatoes, chillies, coriander, with peanuts , chivda and a bunch of mouthwatering sauces thrown in, and nicely stirred up. The man selling these, is the third generation in their family to do this trade. A photo of the founder grandfather, resplendent in his white beard sits alongside the stall. My mother and uncles remember the grandfather running the stall. Prices have gone up multifold, but then so have the customers !

Kalpana Bhel ! :  The Heritage Bhel of Pune, on the road that leads from Tilak Road to Sarasbag and Peshwe Park. Several of my overseas relatives head here on their first day on arrival in the city.

A closeup of the stuff that goes into the Bhel.

Holding its own place on the left in the face of richer stalls with lesser taste ....

This was at Shanipaar , in the heart of the city , much frequented by traditional folks in search of traditional foods, outfits, utensils, jewellery etc. This bull with the wise countenance stood right in the middle of it all, oblivious to traffic signals, two wheelers, honking etc.  And probably despaired at what the world had come to. 

An ancient Wada (traditional joint family dwelling) built by the Peshwe's ;  Vishrambagwada today, houses a few municipal offices, registration offices, and  places where newborns are brought in for mandatory inoculations.  Currently, under external renovation , and also housing an exhibition on the evolution of Pune.

Detailing of a beautiful window ; several such adorn the facade of the Vishrambagwada.

Another old dwelling , possibly on its last legs, struggling to exist amidst the rain and surrounding nonsense in concrete.

The merchants' Ganpati, in the Tulshibag area .  Tulshibag is a walled set up, housing an ancient Ram Mandir, and various shops selling very traditional utensils and stuff, not found anywhere else. Several shops selling traditional toys and jewellery.  This Ganpati is outside the actual Tulshibag enclosure, where a thriving market sells everything cheaper, than most malls.  

The current hot selling necklace item. Possibly hankered after by young girls.

More jewellery. Earrings. Rings.  Clips. All bargainable.

One of the entrances  of Tulshibag.

Detailing of brass artifacts in a shop. Reflections of civilized transport of old.  Tongas. Bullock carts. And items of musical recreation.  Eat your heart out Audi, Mercedes, BMW and  Bongos.

Just outside Tulshibag, en route to the Reay Market , grain shops selling pulses, grains, whole turmeric, puffed rice, and lots of sun dried convenient summer products, earlier prepared at home by families, drying stuff on terraces.  Terraces have disappeared, and these shops satisfy the need.

Calling this coffee would be intolerable blasphemy.  This is a wonderful glass of freshly crushed sugarcane juice, with a squeeze of lemon and ginger and served ice cold, on a hot afternoon at Shanipaar, at a place called Murlidhar Raswanti Gruha, which has large paintings of Lord Krishna's childhood on its walls. An old matriarch would earlier sit at the cashiers desk,  in a nine yard saree, head covered, and minutely observing things through high powered spectacles, and she would tell you what you owed.  They ranched out into snacks, and rental transport in her lifetime, but sugarcane juice remains the main business.  I have never seen the place empty. She has now been replaced by what looks like a nondescript son. .

A view of the Reay Market, or Mandai , an old very thoughtfully constructed heritage structure.  The main market of vegetable and fruit retailing, with stalls and stuff inside.  We got questioned by the police when they saw the camera, and they wanted to know if we were photographers.  They insisted on seeing the photographs I had taken, and the bhel and sugarcane juice must have convinced them to let me off.

Traditional artifacts  used on auspicious occasions and worship are sold in several shops like this outside the main market. The items hanging at the top are door decorations called Torans.  This was one of the smaller shops, and the owner , realizing that he was being captured for possible world wide  viewing,  put on his best pose. His outfit is also a very traditional mens' outfit consisting of a white loose pajama/trouser  called "lenga" and a shirt, all impervious to fashion. 

On one side  of the main Reay Market structure, is the newer  uninspiring  set up, to hold smaller sellers. The area between the two structures, in season is often awash with heaps of green peas, carrots, greens , beans, potatoes, and so on. I did notice onions, but given the current outrageous price, no one was buying.  I too decided not to photograph them.

 Another view of the Reay Market Mandai

A typical view outside the newer structure on a slow moving hot afternoon.  Ladies with sun coats and scarves manoeuvring their two wheelers is a common site.

One more unofficial lane for selling fruits.

RIGHT OF WAY.      On our way back from Pune to Mumbai,  on the  misty  , rain drenched expressway , traffic graciously stopped on the request of these shepherds, as hundreds of sheep and goats crossed over on their way down to the lower plains. Unlike us , who waste a lot of energy and pollute the atmosphere with petrochemicals when we travel,  this movement of goats and shepherds has green implications, where they descend down to farm areas , decimate the weeds in a natural way, allow shirring of wool and weaving of rural style  blankets called "kambla", and encourage give and take in kind amongst farmers and shepherds..