Of all the neutral cities I have been to, my times in Pune turn out to be the best everytime I go there. And I truly love the people and the air of Pune for this.
To begin with you definitely need to know what a 'neutral city' is. Ok. So, a neutral city is one with which there is no 'give and take'. For example, cities like Tarapur (a small nuclear town), Rawatbhatta (another nuclear town), Bombay, Delhi and Boston where I have lived for a considerable amount of time and have been involved in some 'give and take' DO NOT come under this category. (Delhi, however would be on top in its category. But thats beside the point). So under the category of 'neutral cities' comes places like Pune, Goa, Dehradun, Chennai and New York where I have spent just the right amount of time without becoming an integral part of it.
Of Pune I still have a faint memory of my first visit there as a 8 year old for some relative's wedding. I remember the overnight journey from Bombay to Pune by road in an Asiad Bus with my grandmother. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway wasn't built then and the journey took us more than 5 hours through the ghats of Khandala and Lonavala. We reached Pune at around 4 in the morning and even today I can't forget the freshness of setting my foot for the first time in Pune. A small happening but a one I would cherish forever.
Since then every visit to Pune has presented a new and adorable Pune to me. Be it for a state level award ceremony with 2 classmates (who chose to become doctors !) and parents (when I discovered the 'educational hub' history of Pune), scouting a home for my uncle (when I discovered the serene and beautiful landscapes of Pune) or the last three visits to my bro's college, when I discovered a young and vibrant Pune. With the myriads of B-Schools sprouting these days in Pune ( the result: an energetic, pleasure-for-all-eyes crowd from all over India) and the recent Commonwealth Youth Games 2008 the city has got a completely new look all over it. And the Mumbai-Pune Expressway being operational for a long time now the Bombay-Pune journey only takes less than 2 hours.
The visit last week was particularly special as the family had been planning on a quiet and relaxing time together out of home for a long time now. And so it came with me and mummy landing in Pune for the weekend at my bro's place. Had a refreshing outing to the temple at Alandi followed by the famous Ganesh Temple courtesy Dagduseth Halwai. Then an amazing and sumptous dinner ( I am enjoying food these days courtesy The Gym :). More on it later !) at the food court of the Pune Central Mall followed by the scoops of Gelato ice cream ( A kind I enjoy at par and sometimes even more than the flavours of Baskin Robins). For mummy all cones are cornetto and all cups have to be vanilla ice creams. But she enjoyed it too! The bro was refreshed too and the family was all tired after a great day's adventure. That night I had a nice sleep after a long time. As I had already explored the hangout places in Pune during my two visits prior to the last with my bro, for the next day we planned to watch a natak ( which I was seeing after 7 years!) at the Bal Gandharva Rangmanch which was refreshingly hilarious. Then followed it up with Delhi 6. A cool and awesome movie with a splendidly pleasant performance by all, especially Sonam Kapoor. (I haven't see Saawariyan yet but Sonam Kapoor is really cool!). At the end of the movie I was reminded by a friend's call about a mail from Novartis that I had missed regarding my preference for the date of joining!! And so ended the weekend and I returned mentally and physically the next day to the place where I have been having a wonderful time of my life for the last 5 years.
The whole weekend and particularly throughout the movie I thoroughly enjoyed one sweet feeling! Watching a movie of a place on the top of the list of my Non Neutral Cities at a place on the top of the list of my Neutral Cities !!
What is your 'neutral city' list like?
Let there be light :)