Our love of the Siesta: It is the hallmark of our civilisation

The sixteenth year of the twenty-first century, and there is no other way to put it, has been an utter, complete disaster. The passing of George Michael, Brexit, and The Election Results are but three items on a rather long list of Things That Shouldn’t Have Happened But Did Anyway In 2016. I’d have given you my two penn’orth on all this, but that’d mean parting with currency, and our household currently has an embargo on the outflow of the doubloons.

But what I can (and will) do is infuse this post with a generous dollop of gratitude. Rather than female canine and moan about all that was wrong with 2016, I plan instead to be grateful for places, people and things that are still around, and because of whom the world in general, and Pune in particular, are better off..

Such as the rather happy realization that you, I and anybody else in this city can always pop into Marz-O-Rin and partake of their sandwiches. Sure, they make you huff and puff your way up a flight of stairs these days, but the sandwiches are just as good as they ever were – and that, in my book, is a blessing we ought to be thankful for. For the world would be more grey were Marz-O-rin’s sandwiches no longer in it.

Or the tekdis. If you are on Fergusson College Road in the middle of the day, it will take you less than ten minutes to make your way from that madness, and into the serene welcoming embrace of the Maruti Hill. Ditto if you are caught in the traffic snarl that goes under the nom de guerre of Law College Road. A ten minute walk, and hey presto, you are up among the trees on Vetaal tekdi. These oases of calm still exist, bang in the middle of what is an increasingly busy city, and that’s a good (wonderful, actually) thing.

Our love of the siesta: it is the hallmark of our civilization. The unabashed insistence that we place upon a little bit of the shut-eye in the early hours of the post meridian is what separates us men from the naively enthusiastic boys of Bombay, and downed shutters in the afternoon still being observed all over Pune city is proof of the fact that we still have our heads and hearts screwed on the right way.

Or how about the ineffable, and yet all-too-palpable Puneri spirit? Mix equal measures of curmudgeonliness, sarcasm and dourness and garnish with a healthy dose of gruff kindliness. Top up with an acerbic wit, and you have a quality that resides within every true blue Punekar’s heart. It is what sets us apart as a city, and I’m glad to report that it is not going away anytime soon.

And come to think of it, much else besides. Sure, Pune has changed over the years – grown bigger, and more crowded and all that jazz. But certain things haven’t changed at all, and have meant that Pune remains, to this day, a wonderful city with wonderful people. As final proof, I offer this: isn’t it a truly wonderful, miraculous thing that Touche, The Place serves sizzlers of impeccable quality even today? And what warms my Puneri heart even more is that not only has the taste not changed – but neither has the staff!

So yes, I’m as sad as the next Puneri when I think about Manney’s the bookstore, for example, and how it is no longer with us. But I also think it would be worth our collective while to thank any deity of your choice for all in Pune that is just the way it was. Pune is about these age-old stories, after all, and some of them are very much around.

And if that isn’t worth being thankful for, I really don’t know what is.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni