Festival Time.

Today is the first day of ten days of Ganesh festival in India. Today, idols of the Elephant God Ganesha is installed in public places and in homes for private worship. During the next ten days, special worship will be offered as well as festival food cooked for personal consumption and sharing with family, friends and visitors. You can get a bird’s eye view of the festival from this wikipedia article.

Maharashtra is the leader among the states for this festival as it was started as a public festival by a Maharashtrian during the independence struggle. A private affair was brought out in the open as a means for people to congregate during the time when public gatherings were not viewed favourably by the British.

In Maharashtra, Mumbai and Pune are the two main cities for elaborate displays, processions and gaiety. The wikipedia article shows the large Mumbai Deity which is the King of the processions and this one is the one from Pune called the Dagdu Sheth Ganapathi.

The image is of the Deity in the temple. During the procession, it is taken in a chariot drawn by devotees and the chariot is lit by one thousand lamps, now powered by mobile gensets.

My late mother was an ardent Ganesh devotee and would keep an idol for all ten days of the festival and do everything connected with the festival for the full days. After the first time that she did it in our home, my late wife continued the practice as long as she was alive. Since her death, I have discontinued the private installation and rituals.

The climax of the festival will be on the tenth day when the idols will be given a fond farewell by immersion in our rivers or in lakes around Pune. I shall write about that on the immersion day called the visarjan.

Today is also the Annual Id festival for Muslims and Pune is full of gaiety and colourful celebrations all over. As I write this, my son and his friends are visiting many places to observe all the festivities. I used to do it many years ago but am now too lazy to make the effort.

Something unique about where I live.

My blogger friend Sire, in his blog has requested all his readers not to let him down and post about something unique about where they live.

Unable to refuse such an earnest request, here is something unique about Pune, India, where I live.

It is a meditation center that was built when Osho the mystic was still alive, in his ashram. The place has now become a meditation resort, but this post is exclusively about the meditation center.

Sire, not as glamorous as the rocking horse, but unique in its own way, don’t you think?

Revival Of The Whine Bar?

I live in a Co-operative Housing Society consisting of twelve flats (apartments, for my American friends). It is a nice cozy little society and all the residents are quite friendly with each other. All of us, except two have been here from the time the society was formed. Out of the two, one is a member who joined us just four years ago and one has been leased out by the member to someone who is not very sociable with the rest of us.

One member, recently has sold his flat and has relocated to Mumbai. He and his wife came to take leave of me yesterday and he tried to explain the reason for his move. To cut a long story short, he wanted to move back to Mumbai because most of his family was still there and in his old age, he simply wanted to be closer to them. It was a bit annoying though, as he was whining about how Pune has changed for the worse, and how he hoped that in his new Mumbai suburb he will be happier.

Pune was considered to be the pensioner’s paradise when we moved in here. We came via Bengaluru and Mumbai and many other postings before that, with Mumbai being the longest and the most stays. I was in a transferable job then and as a routine, we would relocate every thirty or thirty six months, sometimes at shorter durations too. For most other Pune residents, coming to settle down in Pune was purely for economic and health reasons. One could sell a flat in Mumbai for a ransom and buy a much bigger flat in Pune for much less than the sale price at Mumbai and this enabled many to live comfortable retired lives in Pune. Pune with its very moderate climate and laid back life style was a wonderful place to live in. It no longer is due to “Development and Progress”.It is still better than say Bengaluru though!

The normal topic of conversation when the older citizens get together in parks or social occasions is how Pune has changed and what can be done now that half the benefit of moving to Pune has disappeared. I call these “whining sessions”. I normally do not like to whine about this and voice my opinion that having made our beds, we must sleep on them.

My neighbour’s recent whine in the reverse direction and with the plea that I should also consider shifting back to Mumbai reminded me about Conrad’s whine bar. If he revives that, I can assure him of a lot of traffic from many Punekars (People from Pune), who I shall forward with great glee to his blog. Game Conrad?

Seat Belts.

I was recently in Bengaluru and was being driven around by my business associate there. As soon as I got into his passenger seat in the front, I put on the seat belt out of habit. In Pune it is mandatory and if one does not wear the seat belt, the driver and the passengers are fined. In Bengaluru it is still not mandatory and my associate was bemused. I of course, sermonized on the safety aspect and hopefully converted one blissfully ignorant man.

India, has suddenly become a nation of two wheelers and personal cars after many years of ‘socialism’. Our roads are inadequate, and people who need to be mobile, have to drive around as in most places, the public transport system simply is inadequate to cater to the demand of a vibrant economy in the towns and cities. An indication of the problem of traffic related accidents in my home town of Pune can be gathered from this article.

So, thanks to a post by ellybabes, a soft message with a hard hitting message came to my attention.

It is too good an advertisement not to be shared with my readers who do not wear seat belts and I too reproduce it here.

Post Bomb Blast Pune.

Gaelikaa suggested that I write about Pune after the Bomb blast of the 13th February and I had promised her that I would.

The death toll has gone up to sixteen. Some more are still in critical conditions in some of Pune’s hospitals. Some sixty people were injured and a final tally is yet to be announced. The most significant development post blast was that all the city’s blood banks got many volunteers to donate blood and now there is enough stock to meet a few more blasts.

As always is the case, the authorities lock the stables after the horses have bolted. The German Bakery and the Chabad House both have barricades and surveilance. The Osho Ashram has been provided with sand bags for reinforcement of their walls. In the meanwhile, the bombers have in all probability gone back to Pakistan. At least that is what most Punekars believe.

One politician came up with the most admirable suggestion. He suggested that all politicians give up their security detail so that the police force can go back to do what they are supposed to do instead of providing cosmetic security to the politicos.

The top police honcho of the city, wanted women to stop covering their faces so that all the surveilance cameras can catch their true identity. Pune’s women scooterists look like this specimen:

Apparently this is so that pollution does not affect their complexion. No ban has yet been announced and you can still see these ladies all over the place. Some of them may well be Metrosexual men too! Who knows?

There are also some other ladies who look like this one does:

These are not seen on scooters but quite why the top cop and other worthies have not said anything about these ladies is a matter for another post.

Some candle light meetings to promote peace and harmony were held by representatives of all religions with some short distance marches. The usual platitudes were spewed out.

Apart from these little snippets, nothing significant has happened. Life has returned to normal and partying in earnest has started over the last week end itself.

The Punekar is resilient. Does he have a choice?