Posts Tagged ‘Fergusson College Road’

I was reading a Facebook status update by Ramesh Menon and it brought back memories of my days in college way back in the late 1970s. Let me ‘assure’ Mr Menon that even in those days there were hooligans who molested girls and misbehaved on the streets.

I remember one Holi when we were having fun outside Vaishali restaurant on the busy Fergusson College Road. We weren’t allowed in by the management if we intended to spray colours. All that Naik, the manager at Vaishali, had to do was to tell revellers to have their fun outside – and no one objected. It wasn’t what happened inside Vaishali that day that I remember, but what happened outside on the busy street that has stuck in my head till date.

We were, on that particular Holi day, having fun outside Vaishali when two girls from our class came out of the Fergusson College Girls Hostel gate. Suddenly a bunch of guys noticed these two, one of whom was in a white Tee. These guys just surrounded them, before any of us could react or warn the girls. None of us knew what transpired inside the ‘ring’ made by the boys, but when the guys left I only saw this completely shaken girl, her white Tee and pants camouflaged by myriad colours, hand prints in all the ‘strategic’ places. She had been molested (and that’s the only word to describe what she went through) in public view, on a busy Fergusson College Road, in the presence of her peers, none of whom dared to help her. I thought it was a pretty disgraceful thing to do.

I don’t know if all the guys who molested her were from the same college she studied in, but they were not exactly the kind one would like to associate with even if they were last people left on this earth! I still remember the look on the girl’s face. I don’t think she expected to be celebrating Holi in this way. She had wrapped her arms around herself and was shaking in shock. I knew who the girl was and I’m sure some of my friends who read this post also did. It was a sick thing to do but all of us – and we were aged just 17 or 18 then – pretended like we didn’t know anything and left.

Many years later, while living in Salunke Vihar, we celebrated Holi every year, the way it should be celebrated – with colours, guzzling beer, going on a drive with the girls and generally having fun. Sure, some of the guys did take a few inadvertent ‘liberties’ but it was followed by apologies. Heck, we had to live there and the girls we were with, were the ones who would eventually be invited to the parties we had in the colony. Quite a few of them were pretty stunning, so most of us knew which side the bread was buttered and behaved ourselves!

Of course, we joked that we didn’t wish to be chased by some retired Fauji armed with a loaded rifle around Salunke Vihar, because we had fooled around with his daughter/s! But the truth is we did maintain some decorum. It wasn’t like there were no affairs happening around, but during any public event or even a private party, we usually behaved ourselves! We drank ourselves silly but were usually well-behaved around the women! There was something else about the Army culture that I liked as a ‘civilian’. People wished each other. We wished all the elders we knew and met at whatever time of day. We also knew, because of the friends we made, that it only took one phone call and a friend would be at our doorstep to help. I don’t know if I can say that today. I guess I really miss those good ol’ days…


Some of my friends requsted that I use paras….so here it goes again

Went to Vaishali after a long break. I’m pretty sure that if the management of this eatery on Fergusson College Road in Pune, ever gave out ‘frequent visitor’ discounts, they would go broke, because half of Pune city would be queuing up for it! There’s so much you can say about a place you’ve grown up in and, which in turn has grown on you. I don’t know how life would have been without it, but in the last forty years that I have spent in Pune, so much has changed, but Vaishali has remained that constant factor.

Maybe, in the last decade, visits to the place haven’t been that frequent (read daily!), due to work and familial commitments, but one never misses an opportunity to visit the old haunt (like this Saturday to meet an old colleague after nearly a decade) and meeting my old friend Lingo (real name Lingappa, but who knew or cared?) to all you ! Back then we did a few things in Vaishali that even kids of today would baulk at doing in a public place! Ask the old-timers why the proprietors cut down the branches of a tree that hung over one corner of the restaurant. There’s an interesting nugget behind it, but I’m not telling!

Way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Vaishali was always thought of as a college hangout. But that changed one Sunday morning. Imagine our surprise when in walked Pune’s First Family – the entire Kirloskar clan right from the grand old man himself to the youngest – and tucked into the fare! I believe from that day onwards Vaishali gained instant respectability! We were also quite cool, one day, about the fact that on the next table was sitting a certain Smita Patil with friends! I don’t think anyone of us even wanted to scramble out of our seats and rush to her for an autograph! Most uncool!! There were times when we’d eaten there and were either too broke to pay or fell short of money. And the friendly waiters allowed us to leave after we promised that we would pay up the next day. It was a promise cast in stone! We never reneged on that.

I can happily say that whenever I’ve been there lately, I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table. The marvellous thing about Vaishali is that, although down the years it has changed its prices, look and ambience; it has managed to retain its charm and free spirit. There are a lot of things that money can’t buy – the feeling of being in Vaish is one of them. And here even Mastercard doesn’t work!