This was my first trip to Pune. Funnily though, what I will remember most is the two hour gruelling queue to board the Shivneri bus back to Mumbai.
Mistake: Returning to Mumbai on a Sunday. Of course, everyone else was going to have the same agenda. Did I think I was the only one making use of the weekend? I reach at 5:15 PM and join the queue. It is already 2 km long. The sun is hot on my back, I start listening to music on my blackberry. This will move fast, I tell myself. I notice a fair, tall chap by the pole on the porch next to the door which leads to the ticket counter. I am standing 50 people away from him. There are families with bawling children, students, old men. The boy behind me is restless, makes recurrent noises, pushes his bag brushing my side every time we move a step forward. And that happens one-step every fifteen minutes. So, in one hour I had moved only till the porch. I peeped in to see the ticket counter. Maybe the ticket man was extra efficient. I would get my ticket in no time. It’s six o clock now.
I peep in, and there I see the tall, fair lanky chap. Who was surely a kilometer ahead of me? What was he doing by the ticket counter still? The chap behind me starts to make irritating clucking noise and I raise the level of Annie Lennox on my BB. I can be very, very patient. Just ten minutes more maybe.
But the ticket guy had stopped selling tickets. He was waiting for the next bus to come before he could resume. Meantime he was shredding some papers, making neat little rows of chits, his top three shirt buttons undone, his sweaty under shirt bunching on his paunch. Weary, tired we give him dirty looks. He does not notice, continues to cut neat rows of paper.
Then I move forward few more steps. 6:45 PM. Surely, now we will get our tickets. We have been standing here for over one and half hours. But another few buy their tickets and move out hurriedly before the ticket guy stops issuing them. He walks out to chat with his fellow men in nearby cabins. How can the buses be full already? There were just ten people ahead of me!
Another fifteen minutes pass. I read the Sunday Mid Day stacked on the table. Shift from foot to foot. People start to crack jokes on a mass bus breakdown. Smile resignedly at each other. I have half a mind to walk out. The last minutes are the most trying.
7 PM. The tickets come. I feel like rushing past to get my share. A middle aged woman comes running in, breaking the queue, begging for someone to get her a ticket. She is angrily jousted out. I try to feel pity. But again, it has been two hours. I am beyond sympathy.
Finally, 7:15 PM. I get hold of those tickets. Ah, dear Lord.
So, for almost two whole hours, I spent staring at.
Pune impressions: Afternoons hot and dusty, nights very pleasant. Very chic crowd, atleast in Koregaon Park. Auto guys try to fleece (makes you thank God for Mumbai cabbies). Apartments though are dreamy. I stayed at Magarpatta city. Lots of coffee and cakes.