There's something about Pune that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. The first time that I had visited Pune was during a college break in 1986. I remember walking around Deccan Gymkhana, drinking in the buzz of the town, watching pretty girls on their bikes, feeling the cool winter breeze and the warm sun. And then I went to MG Road or Camp as it is called and ate lovely sandwiches at Marzorin bakery, washed it down with rose milk, fell in love with a few more girls, bought some real nice music and ate some real fine food.
Pune did leave me feeling good at first sight.
But it was only when I came to Pune to work for a year a few years later, that I really discovered so much more and so many more things to fall in love with. Trekking up Sinhagad and eating pitla bakhar and pakoda ranks high among those amazing experience. Riding out to Khadakvasla lake, or any of the rides past Pashan or the cantonment areas was beautiful at any time of the day. Strolling lazily around camp area looking for good bargains was as good a way to kill time as any. Steak at The Place near Camp with beer to wash it down, biryani at Blue Nile, parathas at Bund garden, coffee and southie snacks at Vaishali or Wadeshwar at FC Road, browsing for books at FC Road or for other knick knacks at Laxmi Road..there is always something to do at Pune.
Another interesting aspect about Pune is the number of destinations that are closeby. Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, two hill stations with their own charm are about 120 kms away or 4 hours away. The forts come next - Sinhagad (an hour away), Raigad, Lohegaon (90 minutes away), Pratapgad (5 hours away) etc etc. The beaches are not too far away. Dive Agar, Srivardhan, Harihareshwar, Dapodi etc are about 4- 5 hours by car and all are rather virgin beaches. Shirdi is 5 hours away.
Shops that close at 1 in the afternoon and open only at 4 in the evening, the ubiquitous food shops selling loads and loads of food items, chai joints, people congregating for endless discussions at Vaishali and other such joints, theatre, music, the FTII and the many film festivals, Parvati, the cantonment area, free snacks with beer...umm, it all adds up to the grand flavour of Pune.