This morning, as usual, we awaken to the bristles of Indian stick brooms on pavers and quarreling birds in the palm out back. Honking two-wheelers, and the weak whine of rickshaw horns comes next. We don’t have air conditioning, and so the ceiling fans spin all night and the windows hang open to let in the breeze. There are no screens, and so mosquitos have been buzzing, in spite of the electric prallethrin cookers that flicker orange through the night.
The yellow Symbiosis school bus arrives between 7:35 and 7:40. It’s a block to where the bus stops, and the trash pickers, mostly women dressed in soiled but colorful saris, work the dumpster at the end of the road. There is also a young man who sweeps the sidewalk, at least where the sidewalk is intact. Many Punaikars are out walking, a few with pet dogs. On exercise days, Rebecca heads off to do yoga at the law school early, or we drop the kids at the bus and walk down to the Deccan Gymkhana grounds to walk or run on the 400 meter dirt track. Some mornings I get out walking, mostly north, to explore neighborhoods; or I get up with the sun to run, most often for an hour up along the ridgeline trails and road under the vetal tekdi. Running is really only possible in the early mornings as the air becomes thick with exhaust and smoke by mid-day. On the days when we are not exercising Rebecca and I check our e-mail and read the Times of India before she heads off for a day at the law school. She does not need to arrive early most days, as most of the action at the law school seems to unfold after lunch. Though on teaching days she goes in early, and spends time meeting with her LLM students. Most mornings the general custodian of our building, Somnat, sweeps and swabs our floors; he also empties our trash and takes the papers to the recycle carts that ply the streets. The calls of the men pushing the recycle and vegetable carts have become a familiar part of morning song of Pune.
I’m charged with house chores-dishes, making beds, laundry-as everyone on sabbatical probably should be. Once the house in order, I read and write through early afternoon. A few days each week I head off to one of the fruit and vegetable stands, or to one of the small neighborhood markets. Afternoons we often head to the pool. Because the kids were home from school these past few weeks with stomach problems, we arrive at the pool when it opens, at three in the afternoon. At this time of day, we mostly have the tanks to ourselves. Later, lap swimmers arrive, children for swim lessons, and then the members of the swim team gets to their daily workouts somewhere around five. Rebecca and I have both managed to get a decent stroke back, and the fifty meter pool is a delight; the kids swim a few laps, and play in the shallower pool.
Most Indians eat dinner quite late. But we are not Indians and so we tend to eat earlier in the evening. Eating out is always a possibility, as a fabulous dinner for four runs anywhere from 250-600 rupees all in. (forty rupees to the dollar.) If we have not been swimming, we shower together (we are less inclined to the bucket shower these days, as one of our bathrooms has a shower head) or the kids do homework or read. Computer solitaire is a hit with everyone but me. On weekend nights, most recently, we watched two movies on the computer-Ratatouille and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
Weekends we explore the city of Pune. From our home in Deccan-Shavajinagar, we have visited Central Pune, Bund Garden, Aundh, Kothrud, Kalyani Nagar, and other Pune peths. We spent one afternoon at the eighth-century rock carved Patalweshar cave temple, dedeicated to Lord Shiva, marveling at the thick stone pillars of its central nandi mandapa. Last week we climbed the steep stairs to the hillside Chaturshringi Temple, dedicated to the goddess Amba (Durga), and then scrambled across stone and scrub to the ridgeline above. We’ve visited the Iyengar Yoga Institute, the Osho Meditation Resort, fabric and clothing shops on Laxmi road, book stores in Aundh and M. G. road; walked in the city parks; and taken in movies at big multiplex malls.
Last Sunday, after climbing up to Chaturshringi, we stopped at one of the roadside stalls to sample the cane sugar drink, freshly made with lime.
The sweet green drink, incredibly refreshing, runs about six rupees. We then browsed the books at Crossword for an hour or two on Senapat Bapati road before hopping a rickshaw to the City Pride complex in Kothrud for an afternoon viewing of a delightfully bad Korean film set in Los Angeles, D-Wars.