I just returned from a trip to Goa.
Now, this might cause heartburn amongst some of you, especially the ones who are like minded. The rest of the universe exists, I hold, so that we may make trips from wherever we are to Goa on a periodic basis, and those of you who agree will wince upon realizing that I’m back from the land of feni.
But fret not, dear reader, this is not going to be a column that rhapsodizes endlessly about Goa. This column, instead, is about Belgaum.
For one reason and another, we were only able to leave Pune in the early afternoon, and as a consequence, we found ourselves unable to to drive all the way to Goa in one stretch. And so the itinerary included a night’s halt at Belgaum.
And honest to god, it was like traveling back in time, rather than across the NH4 in space.
Belgaum, particularly in the evening, is just like Pune used to be years ago. Quiet, serene and unhurried. Laidback, desultory but charming at the same time.
Tree-lined avenues abounded in the locality we stayed in, and there was a pleasant breeze all through the evening. There was hardly any traffic on the road: why, we reached our chosen restaurant in barely ten minutes, if that.
And by the time we were done with our meal (Niyaaz: excellent biryani, passable kebabs, missable desserts) and were driving back to our hotel, it was as if we were in a ghost town. The time could not have been more than 10 pm, if that, but there were neither people nor vehicles on the road.
And that, I assure you, is exactly what Pune used to be like years and years ago.
There was a time, and you young whippersnappers will not believe me when I say this, when the Pune University signal would be utterly bereft of traffic by nine in the evening. Fact, I assure you.
And that is why I enjoyed my stay in Belgaum so. Because as I said, it wasn’t so much about driving to a city, it was about driving back in time to the Pune of old. If you get the chance, do drive down to Belgaum and spend a couple of evenings there. I do not know if there are things to be done and sights to be seen: there very probably will be.
But most of all, just take the time to stroll about town in the evening, and savour the feeling of a very likeable city that is not yet been taken over by traffic. Entirely, I assure you, worth your time. God, I miss the Pune of old.
Only two further pieces of advice, if I may:
One, if you have made it all the way there, why not go on to Goa?
Two, if you do go to Niyaaz, be sure to eat the biryani, and be sure to miss the phirni. One is entirely excellent, and the other is entirely pointless.
He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
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