#Nostalgia: Seven ‘O’ Clock High On Fergusson College Road

FC Road, Pune
Image used for representation only. Source: wikimapia

It’s 5.30 in the morning, not many souls in sight, the road, wide and wearing a deserted look as if waiting to burst any moment…

A lonely car makes its way up the Fergusson College Road or FC Road as it is popularly known, speeding in the knowledge that there wouldn’t be any vehicular traffic in the immediate future.

Come 7am and like a flower blossoming, the road spills out in a seething mass of humanity, rushing to get to their destination.

College students, eager to make it on time to their classes (or to the canteen as the case may be) jostle among each other, bags swinging. There were many colleges and educational institutions on and around the FC Road which was a gateway for students.

A few stragglers, who got up probably a 10 minutes before the opening bell, rush to Vaishali or Roopali to grab a quick coffee or tea.

This was a typical scene witnessed day in and day out in the 70’s and 80’s on FC Road.

Life had begun. The early morning rush turns into a steady stream as college life gave in to office routine. Well-dressed men and women walked into their offices, located on the road and by-lanes, casting a glance at some good looking student to make their day go better.

The traffic has built up, there is a cacophony of noises with vehicles honking, people shouting and traders screaming out. FC Road has always bustled since time immemorial. This main thoroughfare was a popular hangout for youth and a shopping delight for others.

The charm of the place was enhanced by the many restaurants which were sprinkled all over the road.  Those from Fergusson College preferred Deewar (now gone) exactly opposite and of course Vaishali.

The early hours were often inhabited by elderly couples and a few students whose mindset veered to Vaishali as an educational institution.

By 11am, it became a fashion paradise for the young and a source of amusement for the old. Many an affair has its roots in this restaurant and others.

Outside Vaishali was this small stone structure or katta where a few youngsters sat long periods, sometimes passing comments on a pretty young thing or just wasting smoking cigarettes.

Those at BMCC and the Ranade Institute preferred Roopali – smaller but with an equally good dosa. The attraction was the thali served at lunchtime which drew some people from further up the road.

The afternoon was a little more relaxed with the young crowd now heading homewards (except the science batches) and the office crowd taking up space.

Among all this stood the British Council building. It was a popular place as membership was easier to come by and the collection of books enormous. It was also air-conditioned and many an afternoon could be spent browsing books or sitting in the lounge reading British newspapers a few days old.

Evening time was a mess even then. The road would be congested with traffic and crossing it would need a Machiavellian mind.

The well-lit shops offered a wide range of shopping while the young browsed through the cheap clothes or junk jewellery sold by street vendors.

The restaurants would be bursting in the seams and people would be hanging out everywhere. The old faithfuls would form groups outside their favourite outlets, discussing things fervently, hoping for a coffee before departure for home.

Those with a more relaxed bent of mind headed to the various liquor outlets for a brew or a strong refreshment of their choice.

The hustle gives way to a muted calmness as nightfall sets in firmly. A few gents with more liquor than they can hold, totter out, trying to a light a cigarette and failing miserably.  A couple stifles yawns as the prospect of getting up early next day dawns upon them.

It’s getting to midnight and it will be all quiet on the FC Road front…

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Babu Kalyanpur

Babu Kalyanpur, ( Consulting Editor) has rich experience in both sports and business journalism. Babu has led news desks in Pune and Bahrain and writes extensively on his passion, sports and business besides current affairs and matters of importance to Pune.

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