Outside In: Pune – Young & Mature by Yugika Mital

Koregaon Park by night.

Introducing a new series where we have people who’ve made Pune their home talk about the city and what it means to them. We start with this account by Yugika Mital, a student of Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication (SCMC)

To some extent, I’d have to agree that I was among those middle school students who were ‘too’ fascinated by the college lives shown in films and on televisions. You’d always procrastinated about freedom: be it just from school uniforms or a newly found one in a foreign city.

My foreign city happened – Pune.

I do not find myself in a place to tell you how this city has grown, what living here really means or perhaps what are the best places to eat? It’s just been three months since I embraced Pune and my local friends seem to be more of experts in these issues. What I can tell you is what this city has to offer to a soul who has decided to spend the next three years here, dependent if not on anything thing else then the city’s opportunities.

No matter from which part of the world you are, Pune treats you as its own…

Opportunities are not limited to an office, a desk or a cubicle. The biggest opportunity Pune has offered me, as a young adult, in an undergraduate media course, 1,461 km away from home is independence (not so much the perceived freedom). You begin with the tiny and not so glamorous things like buying groceries, doing laundry and refilling the hand wash on the sink because if you won’t do it, no one else will (except when you have a roommate, in which case you share responsibilities). That is independence for me. You make several decisions yourself, for some major ones you consult home but at the end of the day, you know that you are to survive in the world on your own. Pune is great start into that life.

I cannot brag about the Pune nightlife (I have a hostel curfew to adhere to!) but those few late nights that I was allowed with friends, I can say that Pune is welcoming. Its weather is so cool with just enough wind to make you smile and refresh your spirit. Therefore, it’s given me the opportunity to keep questioning myself each time my spirit is lightened, about my goals in life. I had heard that ‘Pune is comparatively safe, especially for girls.’ I have begun to understand this as well. People here are motivated to achieve, like myself, on a quest to understand their lives. This makes you bold and makes you want to stand up for yourself every time. Before males or females or any other way, you see people as people. The city’s open mindedness is most addicting to me.

I have to mention the K P market which is ordinary yet extraordinarily aesthetic. It was that instant when I traversed its lanes for photography that I literally fell for this city. When you struggle to get an auto on its busy streets or just walk through for leisure, you realise that in Maharashtra you need to learn Marathi but with knowing Hindi or English, no matter from which part of the world you are, Pune treats you as its own, well, more or less.

However, this doesn’t mean that it shall caress you like a mother does to her child. Like any other Indian city, you need to be vigilant at all times here as well, distances are large and Vodafone and Idea seem to be the only networks that work properly here, so connectivity can be an issue sometimes. However again, here I found connectivity in a new sense. In just three months, Pune has given me some good friends from all over India, an essential part because with the struggle to stay the original you, you try and adapt to a common route that benefits most around you.

Pune is not a city that is trying to compete with those extraordinarily over the top ones around it, it is in its adolescence right now. For me, it’s still trying to figure out what is unique about it- the weather, the scenic spots that are just an hour or two away from the city, the people or perhaps the ability to offer everything one is looking for- from street markets to affluent malls and scorching heat to the most clear and pleasant skies in July. Pune, I’d say is young and mature with each of us trying to contribute to its identity.