Pune Memoirs, 2005/06
The humble and priceless Nokia 3310 suddenly behaved like Cinderella not giving me bhav and going blank out of the blue like the girl that you flirts with only to get cold stares in return. There was not a single instance when the battery didn’t conk and was getting increasingly tired with not just that but everyone pulling ironical, ‘Throw it away….change your phone.”
Me being me, I was reluctant to split with my old and personal blue Nokia that gave such homely feeling that makes it easy to flap open, move the battery, remove the sim or switching on and off in comparison to today’s smartphones that are such a pain in the ass. The worst feeling is that I was dying to get a new phone and at that time, the craze during our final year at Fergusson College was the funkily designed and sexy Nokia 6600. Almost everyone owned this handset. I was growing bonkers and getting jealous of everyone owning this prized handset that came in two colors, black and white.
There was Ruchit who owned the Nokia 6600 and every time, I saw him at our college hangout in Savera and the times we would share the same table, his oval-shaped prized gadget would make me burn with envy. Oh! Nokia! Why have you stopped innovating? Cut to the past, there were the TY exams to concentrate on but the mind was preoccupied with a new phone. I remember once our festivals was in full swing, can’t remember which one and it must be either Oorja or Wallstreet when I hopped from college to Savera for a quick coffee. The man hailed me to join his gang with Gulshan and some chicks gulping coffee and he splayed the handsets right in from of me, ‘yeh dekh! 6600…see how many there are! yahan pe bhi wahan pe bhi.’
I made a straight face, “Mein kya karoon agar tere paas 6600 (What can I do?) Tere Ghar mein aake bhangra karoon kya (Should I come and do bhangra dance at your house?” It was so much fun spending the most wonderful times with Ruchit and people, the fun conversation and hanging out in college together to laughing over tea and coffee. As I look back and time takes me to those near perfect days, it feels like yesterday only. Life was so simple. Savera was one place where everyone knew everyone in our college hang out, laughing together, puffing and gulping the favorite filter coffee. What a happening crowd of Fergussonians! The place where I met and made the most wonderful friends and would spend the whole day ratta maro for the final year exams.
We discussed everything, right from college life, to exams and career aspirations, films, the economy, politics and almost anything. Early morning bird needs only one motivation and it’s the sheer bliss of sitting at Savera where I would hop straight as early as 8 a.m having coffee with a fag before hopping for lecture.
I remember one of the tables that were opposite the side that gave the wall view of Shirke bungalow, a couple of jovial uncles in their 80s used to sit, smoke and laugh on the biggest table that could accommodate 8 to 10 people. The dudes were a jovial lot brimming with life and so amusing to hear them speaking so enthusiastically or reminiscing about their good ole’s days at Fergusson College. How the uncles laughed heartily? It gives you a sense of what life is all about and listening to them gave so much energy to the body and soul. I was so in awe of them, their zest for life and there was never a dull moment for they lived to see the city changing in so many ways, narrating tales. Life should be like that only. Age should be no factor deterring someone to have fun and the intact mojo of the senior citizens deserve respect. I was wondering how life must have been on the Katta (campus) for them in those days.
I remember having a conversation with them and one of them told his friend that he often saw me sitting, sometimes alone or with friends at Savera to read the newspaper and having my coffee. He told his friend, ‘He is such a good boy’ and to me, he said, ‘Enjoy life, man. Make the most of life. Stay blessed.’ In life, there are so many people who make a difference to existence and sometimes plain strangers bring a smile to the face. There was something divinely amazing about them, their never say die attitude and growing with grace in Pune. Often, I would spot the uncles from a distance and would say a hi to them where the greetings would be met with such enthusiasm. The roaring laughter, friendship bonds that grew strong at every fleeting second and crazy souls in the uncles would later become a mirror image of my life. I was a Savera addict. Everyone was!
The best thing was the annas. Yes, I hate calling them waiters and Dinesh Anna was one who knew how I love my coffee, shakar alag se. Everyone in the restaurant was family. So much that once Adi once told the anna, ‘Uska ek putla banao yahan pe (Erect his statue here). Yeah, Adi was wondering how I gonna survive once college is over and everyone would be missing me since I am forever there. The dude even suggested that my statue should be placed right in front of the Savera entrance so that when people enter, the first thing to notice would be my greeting and at least, my shadow will loom large. “Your statue should be built here man,” he told. Ha!
Of course, I was forever sitting in my second home and everyone would joke how we Fergussonians peeps, have done a double BA, one in college and the second one BA in Savera for hanging there forever. I remember watching my latest crush, one of my juniors sitting in the company of her friends and I was on the last table in the smoking zone. Of course, my friends were curious to know about my crush. I nodded them to see her with the eyes since she was with her friends and told in hushed tone on her identity. The moment she got up and turned her face, everyone went aha and of course, I was a bit flustered asking them to behave normally to avoid that she gets a hang of things.
The nights of being plainly bored at the apartment on FC and running across the road towards Savera in the hope to meet some people was something very normal. You can always be sure to meet friends or acquaintances. It was 9 p.m one evening and I hopped to Savera in the hope to catch up with some folks. I did saw the usual suspects and didn’t take the main entrance in sheer excitement but waded my way from the pavement to shout like a mad person, ‘Kya re bhai log!’ There was Tootoo, Sane and a host of other dudes who are our seniors and they bobbed their heads up to see me. I didn’t know what fell on their heads or what went into mind for they blinked for a second and started laughing. We chilled out together and the soulful conversations with them, in particular, Tootoo who is passionate about everything gave wings to the bond and friendships that I shared with my seniors. He has always been someone whom I looked up to it and a magician who can lift the mood, make everything so easy and remember he would always urge me to create my platform than waiting for someone to do it for me.
There is also Ajitabh bhaiya with whom I recently connected on FB after nine years and he was one of the people who played an immense part in my formative years. A senior who was always passionate about cinema and we would booze together, having tea and coffee where conversations would veer to psychology, human identity and not losing one in the crowd or pointless to live for others lent so much perspective to a life of self-worth. I remember there was a Doctor who would come to Savera, the time I was trying to learn Marathi and he would urge me to repeat with confidence, ‘Bhariya’. Of course, the broken Marathi that I started to learn in those days and the reason that I am able to follow every conversation is by sitting with people like Tootoo, Sane, Suhrud, Amol, Sudhendhu, Chanda, and Koko.
There was no group or clique as such in my book of friendship. Friends are friends. Right from fun moments, pep talks and crazy cum wild times, there was no limit to living life and the next chapters you will be introduced to those amazing friends, quirky characters and of course friendships that bore no expiry date.