Humorous, poignant and witty is how Purushottam Laxman Deshpande's work is remembered by most of his fans. The Marathi writer, humorist, stage actor and composer was often referred to as 'Maharashtrache laadke vyaktimatva' (Maharashtra's beloved personality). After spending time in Mumbai, he eventually settled in Pune with his wife, until he passed on in 2000. If you are a fan of Pu La’s literary genius, here are some spots that will remind you of him:
The murder in the castle
Returning from a binge on chivdas at Chitale Bandhu, I got into an argument with my brother. The contested topic was the legitimacy of murder for succession. Not that we planned to murder each other, or anyone close to us. This was simply an intellectual exercise. Politics has always been fraught with unscrupulous individuals willing to dirty their hands to achieve power. Alexander, Machiavelli, Henry VIII, the Borgias et al were more than willing to kill to meet their needs. Soon we were driving down to Shanivarwada, the destination of one famous murder in the city of Pune.
The palace of Shanivarwada is one of the most ambitious pieces of architecture in the city of Pune. The palace and administrative headquarters of the Peshwas served as the perfect centre to plan their Deccan conquests. The foundation was laid by Balaji Baji Rao in 1746. His statue still sits atop a horse outside the palace entry gate. Every peshwa who followed in the footsteps of this magnificent administrator, added something to this fort. Each part of this castle has been planned with careful detail. The Delhi darwaza, the main entry point, is a sight with its spiked doors that could give an elephant brain damage. There is also another secret passageway called the ‘Mastani darwaza’, for the Peshwa’s secret lover, Mastani. The five petalled pond in the centre of the courtyard is another aesthetic addition to the place. There are granaries with complicated ventilation systems, passageways that ensured an invading army would be lost in the palace, gates protected by watchtowers et al. Damn! These guys thought of everything. Except, how to escape murderous and power hungry uncles.
The third battle of Panipat laid the foundation for the dissolution of the Maratha empire. The crowning of 17 year old Narayanrao as the Peshwa after Madhavrao sowed the seeds of discord. The miffed uncle, as always, planned a coup. On the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi in 1773, Raghunathrao’s guards entered Narayanrao’s chambers and attempted to murder the Peshwa. Unwittingly, Narayanrao ran to his uncle’s doorstep crying for help. Safe to say, none answered. He was murdered under what is now called, quite ominously, Narayan darwaza. Legend has it that Narayanrao still runs around the castle on full moon nights crying for help. We wanted to stick around, but were reminded by amused passersby that it was not a full moon night.
As for Raghunathrao, history tells us that he ruled as a Peshwa for exactly one year, before disgruntled administrators threw him off. He was sentenced to exile, while his wife was convicted of being the main conspirator for the murder. That did not end the red mist at Shanivarwada. Legend has it that another peshwa, Madhavrao II also committed suicide by leaping off the walls of this same building. A fire in 1828 destroyed all major structures within the fort, leaving charred walls for visitors to peruse. No one ever lived in the castle again. Unless you count Narayanrao’s poor ghost!
This story took place in 1998 when my band called “Love Day” was fairly popular in the circuit and we used to get invited to perform in different parts of the country.
We were invited to perform here in Pune but the organisers had no clue of the kind of people attending, what you guys must realize that in those days rock concerts were not very common specially when only local bands were performing without any famous band involved
Anyway with no clue of what kind of song list to prepare, we went ahead with our regular list which was a mix of some heavy metal, alternative and some straight up mainstream rock
After our sound check, we could see a crowd of about 75 people was already there and we were feeling quite good. We started with a Stone Temple Pilots cover called Big Bang Baby, by the time we were finished we had managed to bring down the audience to about 8 people out of which 6 were friends. The organisers came up to us and said that the people were expecting “Dance” music or Bollywood numbers!!!!
Well we weren’t going to play that kind of music so we continued with our set and wrapped up in an hour. When we were done, our friends came up and said good show and all, what was really funny is that one of them said “Hey Guys, you see that fellow there in the corner, doesn’t seem like he understands this music but he has sat through the show, I think he is a FAN” to which the lead vocalist of our band Peter replied “Where the F*** is he gonna go? He is my Driver”
Though a big enough city with the same issues of traffic, pollution, congestion as Mumbai, Pune has been an escape of sorts for me. It's one of those getaways when you want to flee your own city, but don't want to head for the hills. It's close-by (thank you Mumbai-Pune Expressway!), the weather is almost always better than Mumbai and it's got a great food, drinks and of course, party scene!
Pune, being a cousin of Mumbai of sorts, has always felt like second home and has never let me feel like an outsider or a tourist. I've had a lot of great trips to this city. I've never really needed a specific reason to go to Pune even, I've just gone when it beckoned: when I accompanied a girlfriend who wanted to meet her boyfriend, when I went to a concert, when I visited cousins, when I went with a bunch of friends all loaded in a Qualis just escaping Mumbai....
One of my fun trips here was in October 2011 for the Pune edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender that was held at Laxmi Lawns in Magarpatta City. I was there with a fun bunch of colleagues and we spent the evening singing away to Indian Ocean, Raghu Dixit Project and Papon and The East India Company's beats! Such a great time.
Besides everything else this city offers, the food here tops the list for me. From upscale restaurants offering world cuisines to lip-smacking street food, from spicy biryanis to mouth-watering cakes and cookies, Pune has it all.
One of my earliest memories of eating out in Pune is of when a cousin had once taken me to a popular restaurant called Vaishali on FC Road to sample Pune's 'SBDP'. Huh?? Sev Batata Dahi Puri, I was enlightened!! Despite it's 'trying-too-hard' name and similarity to Mumbai's street chaat, it was super -crunchy, tangy, cold, creamy, sweet, spicy and a burst of flavours all at once!! I went back for more.
The flavourful, hot vada pav is available at almost every nook and cranny in Pune but I also make it a point to relish some other Maharashtrian specialities like poha, sabudaba khichdi and vadas, misal pav, mirchi vade, kosambir vade...the list goes on!
After a good shopping run on MG Road, I kick back by sitting on the top floor at Marz-O-Rin with their legendary cheese & chutney sandwich that I wash down with a thick strawberry milkshake, as I watch life go by on the bustling street below. Ah, bliss!
On one trip I spent a relaxed evening at Sheesha in ABC Farms, which is a great terrace restaurant and bar that also serves hookah. It's got an awesome vibe and you know it's great with the way its always packed with locals and firangs. A good place to just sit back with some kebabs and beer, that'sjust what I did. Next on my food stops: for some lip-smacking biryani, I always head to Blue Nile, an old-school 2-storey restaurant in Camp area. Their biryani is legendary...oh and don't miss the caramel custard!
Of course, returning from Pune without that thick, round, buttery loaf of sponge cake and melt-in-the-mouth Shrewsberry cookies from Kayani Bakery is nothing short of a sin, and I'm no sinner!
All this food talk is making me super hungry, lunch time!
the pune bazaar walk
5 stops, Easy
It's amazing what a tour of any city's markets can teach you. This one, for instance, will start by teaching you about the grandeur of the once powerful Maratha empire. It will give
Story: Pune to host Western Classical orchestra after 20 years
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