Pune Memoirs (7): Million dollar tee

I ain’t Indian idol;

I sang on the street;

A fan boy;

In exchange not for dime but a white tee;

I sang, therefore, I won.

Million dollar tee on FC Road.

It neither made sense to them nor to me. Yet! I bagged a white Indian Idol tee on the white truck painted with the bright blue colors scribbled Indian Idol. Nah! It didn’t happen during my first year in Pune but the second year in 2004. The cute girl told me, “I couldn’t understand what you were singing but love your courage doing that on a busy street.” In exchange, I gotta the Indian Idol tee for free, so much for shouting my lungs out. Ha!

It was a sunny afternoon. I enjoyed long walks, right from the flat to FC Road on my way to Deccan when I saw a white truck filled with Indian Idols dudes and babes-event management peeps-doing street promo. I was always star struck with everything glamorous. I stopped in my track and my heart grew like a balloon dangling in the air when nervousness crept in. The sweet girl wearing the Indian Idol white tee-everyone was- asked me to hop on the truck and sing a song or recite a dialogue on the busy Fergusson College Road. I did! Heart beat, lil bit of stammer and secretly prayed that none of the Fergie crowd saw me. I was already dreaming of being a celeb, something that remains un-achieved till date. It became my few seconds of fame. It’s another story that one fateful day I was doing the laundry and imagine my horror to see the prized gift drenched in colors. The remaining tees shed color spots that spoiled the prized one to make it unwearable. Pointless to say that I kept it with the color stains on display in the room.

Copyrights@ Vishal Bheeroo

Copyrights@ Vishal Bheeroo

How I love strolling at Sagar Arcade, playing FIFA games till midnight at the cyber cafe-I didn’t own a comp- and of course, buying books at the book shop in the basement. I vividly remember that the first book I bought was a biography of Amitabh Bachchan and was bowled over by the shining black cover in a shot of his younger days, wearing a long sleeve tee of the same color.  The book penned by Bhavna Somaiya was an inseparable buddy and where I get to know helluva lot about AB. The saddest part is the book was borrowed by my PG’s owner but never got it back. Some things were not meant to be. Sob! sob!! Remember buying it on a Sunday and the book wala told me its’s a good offer at  350 bucks and that the price would soon treble. One shop that caught my fascination was 49& 99 at Sagar Arcade where all things are priced pretty much between both options. Got myself a funky, large mug whose handle was broken after some time by the maid. Ha! Another  tale of broken heart.

An ongoing romance started with Archies Gallery on Deccan to shop for birthday cards, posters, diary and soft toys to win hearts. It was a universe where you can win over the heart of  your love interest (s) with cards to swoop them off their feet and of course, the nuts and raisin chocolates beautifully wrapped. It’s a great stress buster, flitting with ease inside, admiring the souvenirs, goodies and heart shaped V, wrist watches, rings and what’s not. Archies is filled with romance. It was at Deccan Road that I was thrown into the arms of the favorite street bookshops just after Archies on both sides of the road, buying as much as possible for there is no limit in living King Size, grabbing for cheap and the collection grew four fold over the years.

You know the beauty on FC is that you have a myriad of choice, be it road stalls or small bookshops.  The Popular House is a small, cosy place nestled in old Pune style  perched among the array of traditional wooden shops at Deccan Gymkhana. I loved them all. It was a time when we had only one Hi-Fi Bookshop. That was Crossword on JM Road where we would go and read books, sitting in ac, shopping for cassettes and CDs, almost made a killing during heavy discounts  seasons. Once I got 2 books for 250 bucks during the November discount. What a steal! Of course, Mc Do was  a minute away and after snuggling to books, the stomach craved food for thought. Mc Do was quite an easy food option.

When you walk down on FC Road, you are pretty sure to meet an acquaintance and it cuts short your journey by stopping for chai conversation or daaru. One evening, I was walking along with Neraj and Aditi when I saw a couple of girls waving high and bye when the two started teasing me  to no end with the Mr popular tag with the female crowd. What fun times! The tiny bookshops we visited on FC was a life saver where we would buy Q & A subject wise books, Pragati, preparing for exams on the last minutes. The same moustache and short guy ran a juice shop parallel and the strawberry milkshake was pure bliss. Yes! It was in 2003 when were still buying cassettes which didn’t go into oblivion to be replaced by cheap net downloads. I owned quite a few cassettes, CDs and VCDs that costed me a fortune. The small shops gave us good discounts. Remember the Moser Baer VCD for 30 bucks!!

Hong Kong lane! Yes we have that in Pune. It’s just near Garware Bridge where I’ve been for a couple of times, shopping for tiny stuffs and it was just an excuse to visit the intriguing place. Hong Kong in Pune! It sounds fun, isn’t it!  You name it, you get a panoply of stuffs for grab, pirated CDs, cool hair band for dudes, vintage bags, utensils, mobile covers, colorful caps, chappal, bangles, trinklets, wallets and many more. I walked past the lane to explore when I found myself at the breezy  Deccan Gymkhana, a haven of peace, often shopping for fresh veggies and dropping in at the post office. I’ve done that a couple of times, sending cards and letters to Mom & Dad. Tell you a short cut wala secret? You can walk at HK Lane and curve your way to Deccan Gymkhana.

Done and dusted with the chapter on FC Road which stretched towards Deccan and HK lane. Makes me wonder if I had to write at length, there are so much to retrieve in my memory box. Ya! Everyday, I did my most favorite thing. eating a plate of juicy gulab jamun for 5 bucks to the heart and tongue satisfaction.  I bet a book won’t suffice to recollect magical days on FC.

Stay tuned for a new chapter in the Pune memoir next week.


  1. Pune is a fun city Vishal. Have been there. Also, the “cute”, “sweet” girl you kept mentioning.. somehow even after reading the entire post, I couldn’t get away from those references😛 Wish you hadn’t colored the tee😛

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