Grandma and her boys

Monday, 25 August 2008

Pune - India what a place.

Yesterday we arrived back from a 5 day trip to India, we stayed with the Madison Agent from here in Dubai. Girjit and Pria, so we saw the privilaged side of Indian life.
Eric has been friends with Girjit for more than 20 yrs now, he has asked us often to go to Pune...and finally we have made it.
They entertained us in their home which was a really nice house, of course one of the better in Pune, It was so great to breath fresh air and have nice cool temp's even if they were still in the 30's.
Girjit and Pria's house is run by servants, there is always at least 2 servants around the house, in fact the whole running of the house is done by these servants plus others who come in daily, almost like the days of the Raj. What ever is your wish they produce it, not sure if I could live like this all the time, I would guess the boredom has to kick in somewhere.... but just think of the embroidery and quilting you could get done. But while we were there we loved it.
but we saw houses and houses of course..... most Pune residents are not of great means in fact we saw abject poverty there with people living in tied together plastic sheets and sacks. There is a great number of homeless and stateless people in India from surrounding countries with no passports or papers thus have no rights.
Pune itself is very rundown and dirty, I think the first thing that you notice is the dirt, we were told that the people have lived like this for ever and don't notice it anymore. The only residents that notice it are people that have been overseas and see how others live. Many people from this area of India especially the villages have been with in only a short distance of Pune in their lives..

Now if your idea of India is places like Bombay and Deli.... read on as you will be amazed.

We took a trip to a Lake area two hours from Pune where Girjit is having a new home built, it is going to be amazing with views to die for, it is also in the hill station area, so we are looking forward to visiting it again in a couple of years, when they are in residence there.

For another two days we went off for a trip to Mahabaleshwar south of Pune.
I am sure in the books and films that have been made about the British Forces in India you would have read or seen the "Hill Stations" that the British wives used to go to in the summer while their husbands stayed in the heat of the low lands.
Mahabaleshwar is at a height of about 1300 meters above sea level used to be a summer retreat for the British when they were ruling India. Also, it used to serve as a retention camp for Chinese and Malay convicts. Mahabaleshwar today boasts the finest variety of Strawberries available in India and it is due to the fact that these convicts started to grow strawberries because of their inherent skills and the amazing temparatures and rains. We stayed in a place called, Brighland holiday village, almost at the entrance of Mahabaleshwar. The hotel was built on the side of the hill and all areas had amazing views of the valley.

This is not one of them, but had to throw this in as it is a hotel that is swathed in plastic to help keep out the waters of the monsoons, we experienced the rains...and yes! the hotel is open for guests.

Old Mahabaleshwar, where the famous temple Panchganga is located. This area is of great importantance to the river Krishna as the river originates from here

The views are breath taking.

There must have been some lovely houses in this area in the early 1900's some still remain but very rundown and unkempt, which is so so sad.

We saw monkeys and ground squirrels(Chipmunks)

We went to eat in typical British built race Course in Pune, it was built most likely around late 1800's early 1900's it was still run in the same way and with the same traditions it was like walking back in history.
This area is also a strong military area, so in Pune is all the camps and we saw buildings like the " Officer's Mess" built by the British while there still being used and painted the same as they were, the gardens were like English gardens, again a walk backwards in history
I found Pune fasinating with its traffic and people and on the streets there were hundreds walking all the time, the traffic is unbelievable, dodging and weaving with thousands of motor bikes and scooters, Pune boasts the most 2 wheel vehicals in India.
Outside of the city you saw the children going to and from school all immaculate in uniform, many walking 4 or 5 miles back and forth, these children are fed at school and this will be most likely the only food they will have for the day, thus the children of the poor villages go to school regularly and without fail.
I found the following in an artical about Pune. so I just had to include these Do's and Don'ts from the local police information.

1. Try not to follow instructions of any stranger. Always confirm from local people around. A lunatic may be trying to be fool you.
2. Always buy tickets before entering any tourist attraction. Entering such a place without ticket is a punishable offense and you can be fined for that.
3. Defacing or harming any Public of Heritage property is not at all appreciable act. You can be fined or even prosecuted for such an act. So, try refrain yourself from such an activity.
4. Always prefer police run Prepaid Booths, Private Boothe fool foreign tourists as they are actually fraudulent travel agents
5. Never carry so much cash while traveling in crowded city bus as your pocket may get picked up by someone. Do take care of your belongings.
6. Don't travel around the city during office hours as you may get struck in a traffic jam.
After this trip our views of what India is like have really changed, and are looking forward to a revisit in the future.

No comments: