Today we left the relative peace and quiet of Goa behind for the busy, noisy and traffic choked city of Pune. The journey went smoothly aside from one false start when the taxi driver realised he’d left Jenny’s case behind at the hotel. Some beautiful scenery as we made our way to the airport; implausibly green rice paddies on one side and water lily strewn wetland on the other, with clusters of bright red flowers among the white.
Last night as we were settling for sleep we were jolted awake by some very loud banging and crackling sounds close by in the local housing behind the hotel. Then the same again several times during the morning. I asked the breakfast waiter what they were and he explained a baby was born in our neighbours home late last night and as Catholics they celebrate with the firecrackers to announce their good news. The echoes all around today were the near relatives adding their congratulations at the new arrival.
It’s hard to be a passenger in a car in India as the rules of the road are so completely different. Overtaking on blind corners is the norm and right of way is a concept that seems to be simply decided by the value of the vehicle you’re driving. So there is a kind of hierarchy with walkers being the lowliest, followed by push bikes and scooters – a big flashy car can just storm its way through anything and everyone else yields to that! Beeping is not something you do always to express annoyance or even necessarily to tell someone to get out of your way – it’s also a considerate means to let drivers know you are approaching from behind. Trucks have big signs plastered on them saying “Horn Please”.
I was a little apprehensive arriving at our flat, as it was not at all my first choice, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find a light bright airy space that I can happily spend time in. One quick cup of tea and we were straight off across town in a rickshaw to Dorabjees which is an international supermarket selling just about anything and everything including a great organic selection. The return journey seemed to be rush hour despite it being a Sunday and I couldn’t help but marvel at the skill of the driver as he weaved his way through a seemingly impenetrable wall of traffic. It’s amazing how everyone manages to flow around each other even when it seems a crash is completely unavoidable. Again rules appear completely optional with multiple layers of traffic – no organised lanes as such and even people driving in completely the opposite direction seems to be tolerated without comment. At one point as we were zooming through an underpass a scooter kept pace with us despite our speed and there was a shouted conversation between the two in Marathi as our driver relayed directions. I spent a good part of the journey clutching at the chair seat, eyes tightly squeezed shut. Glad to be home safe and ready to get some rest before dealing with tomorrow’s necessary bureaucracy to get registered for classes.