Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To Mumbai, Pune and back

After almost 8 years we went to Mumbai and Pune. Both the cities are still attractive in patches. After all, I lived in those cities for a few years and can't just hate them.

What's new
More fly-overs, more air-conditioned cars were common for Mumbai and Pune. Mumbai as usual, exhibits poverty and wealth that strike you on the face. One big positive is the highway between Mumbai and Pune. It is truly world class in quality and maintenance.

From Dehu Road to Aundh, for every hundred feet that is one new construction. The advertisements promise silicon valleys and such western paradises right along the slopes of Western ghats.

Pune, for its part has its traffic increased a hundred fold. In spite of fly-overs and automatic signals, traffic was bad from Aundh to Cantonment area. Everyone was on the edge and city looked so different with rude drivers. Pune city now has many multiplexes and shopping malls. I didn't have enough time to visit any of them. We managed some time to visit the old city for shopping.

What hadn't changed
The old city remains more or less the same. Appa Balwant Chowk (ABC) has the same book shops I've seen about 20 years ago. The narrow roads and the chawls remain the same. Autos are still cheap. I would have paid more than twice, had it been Chennai. Even the air-conditioned cab between the airport and Dadar in peak traffic costed me just Rs 200 - can't think of that in Chennai.

The greenery of Pune University is still in tact, though I saw some ugly new concrete showing up here and there within the campus.
The ubiquitous red paan stains are always there in every building I saw.

After all, Pune and paan stains are as natural as Chennai and greedy auto drivers.