Pune Memoirs, 2005-06:
I was shifting to a new place for the umpteen time. Except, this wasn’t my doing but the owner based in Australia was coming to India to sell his flat since his brother, the caretaker, was fleecing him. I loved to death our former flat, the spacious hall, furniture, TV, couch, my cozy bedroom with attached bath and balcony view jutting across Pashan lake and the mountains. Every minute spent in the comforting flat was counted to make the moments last forever. I was sure of not getting a place like this Sus Road Apartment that was a short stay of eight months.
A life of extreme in Pune, from Pashan to FC Road, the only perk of cutting travel and walking distance to college, taking comfort that would be there for a maximum of four months. I ended staying six months in the city. We were already in December and the next stop was Mumbai, the dream destination. The tempo reached the new place owned by aunty and was dead tired emptying the tempo with one cupboard, 2 tables, 2 mattresses and now useless kitchen utensils since there was no cooking option. A large green window opening towards a huge tree sprawling and leaves often falling inside the room on the first floor. The window was stiff and exerted my energy but it wouldn’t close. I dozed off after dinner so much for 2.5 k room on FC Road.
A single room separated by a glass sliding window and meaning that I get to see the faces of the two neighbors. The next room at the corridor’s end was occupied by two good guys and who would in no time become my flatmates and good friends. I was in for a bad surprise and didn’t have time to empty my treasure trove, a red bag filled with a collection of CDs costing a fortune over the years and books. I had a night out with friends and just imagine the next day to see most of my priced stuff mysteriously disappearing. I felt dizzy and almost fainted. I scampered to my neighbours but none had an inkling.
Occupants staying next door concealed a smile and feigned ignorance. The same guys who stayed in the opposite room. Later, I found my stuff lying in their room and they were listening to songs owned by me. Music can play the biggest detectives. Thieves! I just stormed inside their room to ask what my stuff is doing inside their room and they shameless told they took it. Assholes! They slid open the window separation and barged inside my room which means they were basically thieves and thugs. I took all my stuff away and cracked the code on how not to let them slip uninvited in my room again.
Most of the times I was crashing at the house of my former flatmates, a place I left a year back and that the thing about good friends, welcoming me back as if I never left, eating and boozing together. There were many times when uncle and aunty would treat us in a rude way right from the time water was flowing in my bathroom till the knee making it an almost impossible task to shower. When we complained, the owners who stayed downstairs ignored and told that it’s our responsibility. I was praying for the exams to soon get over, counting days to storm out of the place. Finally, a solution was found and asked the two guys, B and K if I can shower in their room. We became friends.
Guess the bathroom! A spot on the tiny balcony and water filled in the bucket carried from the overflowing bathroom the moment water tap to the room. Of course, a door separated the room from the balcony and later we stick newspapers on the window so that nobody gets to see us boys, one at a time of course, naked. Sitting and complaining about the landlords become a favorite pastime. I remember B lending me his blue Nokia handset since mine conked till the time he sold it and told me to get a client. That way, I can earn a commission. Such was the bonding, chillax and easy-going At some point, I shifted in their room large enough for three people since for some reason or the other, the one I was in being let off to someone else.
There was never an issue between me, K and B and we stayed together, becoming friends over the short span of time. Quite an experience to share a room with three people. I have this habit of sleeping with the light on and thankfully, both dudes never had an issue with that. A strange sense of bonding over our common fight with the owner and spending the time chilling together, at times, going for dinner at BMCC mess just behind Fergusson College.
The time was soon coming to an end for the three of us would go our separate ways and how! This huge shared room was the place I studied for the exams at night, smoking like a chimney and guzzling Red bull to stay away for entire nights since four papers in a row fell on consecutive days. A month hitting an end means time for rent, being constantly pestered by the owners and subjected to their constant verbal aggression. But, the three of us decided that we would not pay the last months for we unveiled the cunning mind planning not to give us back the deposit money.
My classmate, Neraj from college came as the last-minute savior and the time he was heading back to Nepal, many of his roomies were leaving more or less at the same time. He told me to come and stay in the nice bungalow rented at Shivaji Nagar for the one month left in his Pune days. It was a nice and sprawling duplex and downstairs, sufficient space to keep cupboard, extra table and unnecessary items shield by the roof. We had to go for the kill. K went down in the pretense to ask aunty about some idiotic things very sweetly and he confirmed that the next morning, both are leaving Pune very early at 5 a.m to visit relatives in their village and will be back late evening. Time for me to sneak out.
I woke up early in the morning with stress running high on the blood and walked to college, had a coffee at Savera our hangout, came back stuffing personal belongings with both helped me with the packing. Man! My stuff accumulated over three years were huge and past noon, the truck came. I was offloaded along with my belongings, hugged both Kunal and Bharat. As he told me, had uncle and aunty been nice with us, we would have showered them with gifts. Both followed suit and committed the perfect crime.
Pune is a city that grows on the person. We simply thrive in the city with seamless affection and outpouring of love. When you decide to leave, there is an unknown force that wouldn’t let you go. I ended up staying for a couple extra months since the final results were forever delayed. The miseries were not over and having a roof one moment, being made homeless the next moment. It was not the only tiff I had with a room owner. The coming Pune Memoirs will narrate the homeless struggles and the nomad me before I hopped to Mumbai.