Pune meri jaan!

I’ve always loved Bombay. So when I moved here a year back, I knew I had to make the most of my 3 years here. In no time, I felt like I could call the city my own. Baroda, my hometown, will always be a special city for me but Bombay had managed to encapsulate me in its realm. Jeet Thayil had once rightly said, “I found Bombay and opium, the drug and the city; the city of opium and the drug Bombay.” Bombay was a drug and it managed to woo me completely. I was of the opinion that no other metro city could compete with Bombay. I believed in the “Mumbai is a city, Bombay is an emotion” ideology. 

Last month, I happened to visit a really close friend in Pune. I’d heard so much about Pune: of the abundant educational and employment opportunities, of how it was a great place to settle and of how it had preserved its culture in a way that Bombay had not. Before the trip, I knew I wanted to explore Pune, but I was certain  that I could never love Pune as much as I love Bombay, I knew I would still think Bombay was better, I thought Pune was just another big city trying to compete with Bombay. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

One thing I hated about Pune was the explicit lack of road sense. People drive haphazardly on the roads without any fear. But then, Pune doesn’t have the traffic that makes people in Bombay go crazy. You never get stuck in Pune for hours and as you drive, you can see trees and gardens around you, you see temples and synagogues around and things like these are delightful to watch.

One misconception that a lot of people have about Pune is that it is a ‘dead’ city. So many people have told me that Pune is boring and that there is nothing to do during the weekends and that they can’t wait to go to Bombay or Delhi and party. During my trip, I found Pune to be an extremely lively and welcoming place. I went to quaint little cafes, legendary eateries and high-end restaurants and pubs; I even had anda bhurji and maggi from roadside stalls in the middle of the night. I saw the quiet of Pune and the chaos and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the perfect balance of these two was what made me love Pune in the first place.

As far as food was concerned, it was a very mushroom-y weekend for me. I tried a lot of mushroom dishes and I loved them all. Pune is a highly underrated destination as far as food is concerned. I discovered some very good places to eat in Pune and I was satisfied with most of my findings.

Here are some of the best places I visited in Pune:

  1. The Urban Foundry:

Urban Foundry is a newly opened resto-pub in the Balewadi High Street, which now houses some of the most interesting places in Pune. The seating area is large and the ambiance is very intriguing. A lot of thought has gone into designing the place. The USP of the place, however is the food. The fusion of new and old dishes has been done very well and some of the fusion dishes found here cannot be found anywhere else. I tried the Thecha mushrooms; Thecha is a spicy Maharashtrian chutney which is eaten with bhakri. Urban Foundry serves stuffed mushrooms topped with Thecha chutney. This dish made me grab a glass of water right after the first bite, but it was delicious and after some time, I didn’t mind the spice. Urban Foundry also has a 6 bottle pack called ‘pop and chug’, which includes 6 premixed cocktails in small bottles. This was also very good and well-priced.

2)11 East Street Cafe:

11 East Street is housed in the centre of the city, in Camp. It has been running successfully since the past 8 years and I could see why. It is a cafe, restaurant and bakery, all in one. The ambiance gives out a typical London vibe and the dessert bus adds to it.I continued my mushroom tasting session here by ordering a dish called ‘Mushroom with love’, which is mushroom curry with rice. It was delectable to say the least. I also ordered a Bombay mojito which was very well-made. The desserts stole the show though. We had the red velvet pastry, the banoffee pie and a really good dessert called ‘Drops of Jupiter’ wherein caramel sauce is poured on a ball of chocolate. The waiters here used to perform Uptown Funk very often and they performed that night as well,on popular demand. Conclusion- must-visit!

 

3)Marz-o-rin:

A visit to Pune is incomplete without a visit to Marz-o-rin. It is to Pune what Candies is to Bombay. It is a very simple yet cosy cafe which serves tasty, reasonably-priced food. It was almost full when I walked in, but the service was up to the mark. I had a grilled sandwich which was very good. The view of one of the busiest markets in Pune added to the experience.

4)Brugge:

Brugge is a tiny cafe within a chocolaterie.Brugge sells its own chocolate and mind you, they have a lot of variety. Upstairs, there is an extremely pretty cafe where one can have coffee or macaroons or a quick bite. I felt like sitting there all day, reading a book and sipping a cup of coffee. The macaroons that they serve can be skipped but do try the coffee and the chocolate at this place.

5) Effingut Brewerkz:

Effingut is located in the affluent Koregaon Park. It is one of the best breweries in Pune, a city that is known for its breweries. The interiors, although a little dark, were interesting. They have 8 different types of craft beer, of which I tried and liked the strawberry cider and the German wheat beer. I again ordered a mushroom dish here, a mushroom alfredo pasta. Now I’m usually not a fan of alfredo sauce but I loved this one.

6)Alto Vino, J W Marriott:

We went to Alto Vino after Effingut for dessert and it was a great decision. Although quite pricey, the tiramisu was one of the best I’ve had. They have a big bowl of tiramisu ready and they  cut up a huge piece and serve you on the plate, which is quite different from how it is served at other places. Every dessert-lover should visit Alto Vino or Pune Baking Company(Also in Marriott)

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7)Raasta Cafe:

Raasta Cafe is the perfect place to chill with friends on a weekend and enjoy good music. When I visited Raasta, a Sufi music night was going on. Now this is something we don’t get to see in Bombay very often. Bombay either has Bollywood nights or it has EDM music playing. I thoroughly enjoyed the Sufi music even though I’m not a big fan. The moment the singer started with ‘Agar Tum Saath Ho’, I knew I loved the place. The food is good and cheap and the interiors are minimal yet comforting.

 

I visited other places like Agent Jack’s(which runs on the same concept as Bar Stock Exchange), Swig in Koregaon Park, which I felt was slightly overrated and Bombay High, a club which has good music but is quite expensive. I would also recommend everyone to visit Dario’s which is one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve visited. I ate at Dario’s around a year back and I loved it.
My Pune trip would have been incomplete without exploring the historical monuments that the city is famous for. I visited Shanivar Wada first, since I’d been fascinated by it, thanks to Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The place, although magnificent, was not well-maintained. A lot of people had written their names on the walls, a practice that I hate. It was also quite dirty since people has recklessly littered the place. The monument still looks very beautiful but the soul of the place has been messed with.

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a panaromic shot of Shanivar Wada

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Another place that I visited was the Aga Khan Palace and Museum, where Gandhiji and his followers had been kept. This place was extremely well-maintained and has a wonderful quiet to it. I could hear the pleasant sounds here, no noises; there were no chocolate wraps thrown around, nobody was shouting, everyone was reading about the history of the monument and examining the artifacts . I’m no fan of M.K. Gandhi but this visit was surely fruitful.

Pune also has a very beautiful synagogue, in Camp, which I could only see from outside since it is difficult to obtain permission to see it from the inside. Some travel groups, though, organize walking tours of the city, which includes a visit to the synagogue.

As I left Pune with a heavy heart and some indelible memories, I realized that I had developed a newfound love for Pune. It’s not like Bombay, but maybe that’s the reason I loved it. Unlike other mega-cities, Pune doesn’t seem to be running in the rat-race. It is developing slowly, at its own pace. It is a developed city, has so many opportunities for students and professionals, yet it has maintained its roots. It is cosmopolitan and welcoming yet one gets a Maharashtrian vibe from the people. It is not congested with buildings and skyscrapers, but has open areas and gardens. It is the perfect mixture of the old and the new. It is not fast but at the same time, it’s not ‘dead’. I always thought of myself as someone who could settle in Bombay, but Pune cast its own spell over me. I still love Bombay but time and again, Pune keeps on seducing me with its splendour. And sometime, when I feel like rejuvenating my self, I’ll know where to escape to. Pune is a place for those who love life and wish to celebrate every single moment, without compromises. It is a place every Khanabadosh must visit every now and then,to escape from reality while being surrounded with it. Visit Pune for Budhani’s cheese wafers, for Marz-o-rin’s sandwiches, for the spicy anda-bhurji near the station, for all kinds of fusion dishes at Urban Foundry  and for a quiet walk in Aga Khan. Visit Pune to experience a normality that is wonderful in each aspect. Till then, be Khanabadosh.

 

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Being Khanabadosh

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I’ve always loved reading and writing but never once did the idea of pursuing my passion as a career come to me.  I belong to a family of science graduates and  most of them are lovers of the written word, so I loved science as well as literature but never thought of the latter as a career option.

Another thing I’ve loved is travelling. It was on an exchange programme to Germany 3 years ago when I realized how much I love exploring new places, meeting new people and making memories that will last a lifetime. Travelling gave me friends I would remember for a lifetime, opened my mind to new experiences and challenged the way I see the world. Moreover, it taught me that all over the world, people are the same and a smile & a couple of pleasantries is all it takes to break the ice between two strangers.

I believe in living to eat and not eating to live. I love trying out new cuisines. Like Bunny from YJHD, it is difficult for me to find my dal-chawal. I love my Thai curry as much as I love my penne pesto. I cannot do without the spring dosa in my college; and the panipuri guy near my home makes the most spicy & tasty sevpuri. I love food and talking about food. I am a vegetarian foodie, something which may surprise a lot of people who think that the ‘real’ foodies are those who eat meat.

It wasn’t until middle school that I considered any career option other than science and when I decided to explore other careers that I could pursue, I was spoilt for choice. There were so many things I thought I could do but there wasn’t anything in particular that I absolutely loved. I wanted to be a lawyer, an anthropologist(mainly because I loved the confused expressions of the people who didn’t know what it meant).  I wanted to study human resource management, literature & language; I even considered the most common degree confused students prefer, an MBA. It took me quite some time, 5 years of high school to be precise, in order to zero down on what I really loved in life and what I’d want to pursue as a career.

It’s taken me a long time to decide a career path, and I still cannot name one specific thing I want to do. But what I’ve realized is that I don’t need to sacrifice my passions for a career. I realized that your passion and your career can be the same thing, as long as you put your heart and soul into it. So with that thought, I’ve decided to start this blog. I love writing and I’d like to write in order to create an impact. I wouldn’t like to limit my blog to a particular genre, but I’ll be starting with food and travel blog posts.  I’ve decided to name it Khanabadosh because a)I loved the meaning. Khanabadosh means a nomad,who travels for food b)I love the song ‘Khanabadosh’ from London Dreams, in which a Khanabadosh is someone who travels to fulfill the hunger of his/her dreams. A Khanabadosh refuses to be dictated by the norms of society and is unafraid of breaking stereotypes as long as it helps him/her in fulfilling his/her dreams. As a person, I’ve always questioned most of the things people follow blindly; I try to find the “why” behind the “what”  and I believe in the power of dreams. This is my dream and I want to live it. I hope to spread the importance of being Khanabadosh through my blog and if it helps even one person achieve his/her dream, I will consider this venture to be a successful one. So with that happy thought, I declare Being Khanabadosh, live!

P.S. Lots and lots of food and travel posts coming your way soon. Stay tuned. Till then, be Khanabadosh and never stop dreaming.

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