What’s wrong with the Punekars?

Posted: February 17, 2009 in Pune, Punekar

What’s wrong with the Punekars? I’ve lived in Pune since 1968 and have seen it change from a sleepy, small town to a bustling, truly cosmopolitan city. And unlike a lot of old timers who crib about the city losing its identity etc etc. I think Pune is a city which has a little of everything, which is a lot better than the metros, where everything is in excess! But I’ve seen a perceptible change in the behaviour and attitudes of present day Punekars these past few years — for the worse – be it an issue with traffic, an irritating neighbour or even Valentine’s Day! Don’t ask me why, because it even has me wondering. In today’s Pune, neighbours are at each other’s throats and come to blows either because the lift door is left open or someone accidentally drops some rubbish on the staircase. Anywhere you go, whether on the road, or in a restaurant, or even in a housing colony, people prefer to talk with their fists than with their mouths. I am not saying that this wasn’t there earlier, but nowadays you see it happening a lot more. And age is no bar.
Look at the way someone reacts just because his vehicle gets a scratch, even when it is his fault. The first thing someone does is to reach in through the front seat window and slap the driver. Talking isn’t the solution anymore. There’s an impatience bordering on rudeness which you see today, that wasn’t there earlier. Very often that rudeness spills over into aggression. Earlier, I, like a lot of others, thought, that ‘outsiders’ were the cause of the problems, but then I realized that it wasn’t them because they usually behaved themselves for fear of being targeted. It’s us. Take, for instance the completely juvenile idea of Valentine’s Day — I’ve seen it being celebrated for years in the city. It was never a big deal and done more for the fun of it. If no one else, it at least had the flower sellers smiling! But never have I seen so much hate on display, these the past few years, to stop such a meaningless event. By making so much noise, these so called moralists have given Valentine’s Day the importance it doesn’t deserve. But reasoning with some loonies might just give you a broken head, if not a broken heart!
An assistant RTO inspector once told me that one could get another 50,000 cops to police the streets, but nothing would change unless the people themselves wanted to change. He wondered how these same people (referring to the Citizens of Pune), follow every traffic rule when they drive in Mumbai! Soon after I returned to Pune a few years back from Lucknow, where I spent four years, I was on my way to work when an auto-rickshaw driver, in a hurry, cut across in front of my car in peak hour traffic. I angrily stuck my hand out of the window to demand where he was headed. When he saw my UP-32 registration, he said menacingly in Marathi “Tikde parat pathvu ka? (Should I send you back there?)” He was quite taken aback when I said to him, also in Marathi “Tula ani tujha baba na, doghana hee, mee tikade pathveen (I can send both, you and your father there).” He was shocked to find that someone from UP could speak Marathi! But think for one second if I had really been from outside Pune and there had been an altercation….
I am just wondering what’s got into the people of Pune! And for a city that prided itself for its culture and ethos, it’s time to introspect

  1. Zubin Kabraji says:

    Need more education – in better schools – to be taught by people who have morals (not ideals) and get rich ideas.

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