Changing face to Pune.

My earliest memories of Pune are from late 70’s, when after my marriage I visited some of my wife’s relatives in Pune. After sometime, my mother-in-law also shifted to Pune so we visited her practically every year. I have fond memories of the city, every time I visited it.

In those days, most people lived in sprawling bungalows with trees all round and there were very few cars and two wheelers on the road. In fact on my first visit to Pune, I was shocked to see there were no fans in my sister-in-law’s house as they weren’t needed.

A few of the Bungalows which have survived.

Pune, with its proximity to Mumbai has always been very strategically important to whoever ruled India, right from 1674 when the Maratha empire was established, upto 1818, when the third Maratha war broke out. The Peshwas were defeated in the Battle of Khadki and the British established a large cantonment in Pune. Later, in 1895, the headquarters of the Indian Army was later established here.

A few of the Bungalows which have survived.

The climate of the city was so good that it was not surprising for the Officers during those days to choose Pune as their home after their retirement. Slowly however, it became the second largest city in Maharashtra, after Mumbai and due to the presence of several well known educational institutes, it became a major educational hub. It was often referred to as the “Oxford of the East”. Then came the IT revolution and after Bangalore, Pune became the second IT hub in India. Several multinational IT companies set up their offices in and around the city and population grew with many migrants from all over the country coming for work here.

Now Pune boasts a population of 3.3 million and is now the 9th most populous city in India.

A few of the Bungalows which have survived.

This has put a serious strain on the housing in the city. Bungalows have been brought down to make way for multi storied buildings with flats and the city has expanded in all directions, even beyond the Airport. As a result, the city is slowly turning into a concrete jungle and has started facing harsher climates and water scarcity. Due to water scarcity, the green cover is also depleting fast. The story not so different than some of the other cities in the country, like Jaipur and Bangalore etc.

Dry trees in the Pune University
Dry trees in the Pune University
Another one (Bungalow) bites the dust.
City expanded, no green cover.

On my latest visit, I was shocked to see less green cover, very harsh afternoons and mosquitoes in the evenings. I feel we need to give some really serious thoughts to our urban planning, and stop plundering the environment in the name of “development”.

Humankind, a humbling experience.

Yesterday I was in Ahmadabad and while coming to the Airport, got a chance to visit Humankind, an NGO in Sabarmati area. It was truly a humbling experience.

Humankind’s journey started in 2005 in the neighborhood slum to provide education to underprivileged children and adults under their noble project  ‘Literacy for All’.

Terrace of Nanakram Super Market, where Humankind holds classes.

ONGC covered this terrace classroom and saved the kids from the vagaries of nature.

A covered classroom is always better than studying under a tree.


They operated under the shades of trees till one realtor Nanakram came forward and allowed them to use their terrace in their nearby Super Market. Then came ONGC who provided a roof over the children’s classrooms.

Their challenges however did not end there, as it was a huge task to mentally prepare the parents and their children to come and attend the school but ultimately power of education won.

Beautiful message – “Hum sab ek hain”.

Admission closed.

A young kid studying.

Today there are about 120 children who are taught by Volunteers, who range from retired professionals, social workers,  College kids, who visit in their spare time to share their time & knowledge and even an Indigo Airhostess. Some of the social workers are former street children who have worked their way out of destitution with the assistance of the NGO. One of the things which personally impressed me was the team’s gender-balance and their motto “hum sab ek hai” particularly in Gujarat.

If you interested to know more or provide help in any manner, you may contact them directly –

F/3, 1st Floor, Nanakram Super Market
Ramnagar, Sabarmati
Ahmedabad – 380005
Contact (+91) 9925097708, 9825723632











Postal & Courier Address:
F/3, 1st Floor, Nanakram Super Market
Ramnagar, Sabarmati
Ahmedabad – 380005
Contact Numbers: (+91) 9925097708, 9825723632


The Indian and the Laundromat

Recently while checking in my luggage at the check in counter at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, I was asked, is that all the luggage you have. This was not the first time that I had been asked this question. So I looked around me at the others waiting to check in and I realised that most of the people had at least thrice the number of bags me and my wife had.

It set me thinking about all my travels both overseas and inland and the huge bags which my countrymen and women carried.

Something  I never really understood. So I decided to explore this further.

For my US Tour I had a chance to travel in a Group Tour for a good thirteen days with lots of my fellow countrymen and women.

Finally I think I have the answer to a very important question – why do Indians travel with so much luggage?

My tour had a number of people from Gujarat,  Maharashtra and Karnataka. After talking to them in detail, I discovered that since most of them are vegetarians they carry snacks from India as they can’t trust the food in an alien land, particularly America.

Also since they are travelling to new places they want to be in their best attire and since they won’t be able to wash their clothes they are carrying as many sets of clothes as the number of days of travel, phew!

I tried talking to some of them but seeing their reaction I thought it would be better if I to put it to words and hope that some of them read it.

Data from travel research shows that Indians always carry the largest check in baggage and if sources are to be believed, one reason for the recent reduction in baggage allowance is India or Indians.

So my dear countrymen on behalf of all travelers, my request is, try and ask in restaurants about Vegan and Vegetarian food, you may be surprised. Number of people in the world are turning non meat eaters.

Also if you are planning to travel in future, particularly overseas, please remember most of cities have the facility of public Laundromats.

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A typical Laundromat.

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The look and work exactly ilke the washing machines used at home. Operating instructions are at the top of the machines.

You can go there with your dirty laundry and wash clothes as if at home. You can do this under 10 dollars for a full load of a machine. This way you will not only help yourselves but others too.

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If you do not have washing powder, you can buy it here.

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It is recommended that after your clothes are washed you put them in a drier.

Trust me travelling light will make your travel more enjoyable.

See the pictures it is really easy and convenient to use a Laundromat.

Happy travelling.

New York and its garbage.

NY is a cool place like the rest of US.

However, during my last visit there, one thing I did not found so cool was its ability to generate garbage.

New York’s 8 million residents  alone produces 36,200 tonnes of garbage per day with US producing 33% of world garbage due to its high level of consumption.

The Department of Sanitation, New York handles nearly 13,000 tons per day of waste generated by residents, public agencies and non-profit corporations. The rest is handled by the private  companies dealing in garbage management.

I was staying in a hotel in Times Square and during my early morning walks I came across the garbage kept out by the hotel next door. If this the amount of garbage one hotel generates, imagine the garbage generated by all hotels in Times Square. Only 17% of this garbage is recycled in New York.

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Day’s garbage kept out for collection.

The city’s annual bill for collecting and disposing residential trash is constantly going up. Cost of disposal is about $400 million today due to the higher cost of transporting and landfilling garbage being out of state.

NY has a long-term plan to reduce costs by recycling more, reducing waste and building a waterfront waste transfer system less dependent on trucks and able to use containers to ship garbage by barge.

However, I could not find any evidence to show that some work is being done in this direction.

From whatever I have seen in a week during my stay there, 80% of products are used only once and thrown out by Americans. They are served huge portion sized of meals and coffee, most of which ends up in garbage. The amount of food disposed as garbage could alone feed a small country in Africa on a daily.

I tried to find, why do New Yorkers create so much garbage?

Simply because in their busy lives they do not think about garbage or where it will end up. Most people think that those black plastic mounds of garbage bags on the street are magically transported to some mythical solid waste heaven.

Garbage in black bags all over the city waiting collection (picture taken from the internet)

In our Hotel alone, 1 person on an average uses 3 spoons, 1 knife, 1 fork, 2 plates, endless tissues and 2 coffee cups for 1 meal breakfast.

With no landfills in NY the picture I am afraid is very scary.

I think it is high time that US stops lecturing the rest of the world, how to conduct themselves and starts looking inwards.


Connecting thru passion

When you talk to young people these days, invariably the conversation steers towards the social media like Facebook or Twitter and to some extent LinkedIn for professional activities.

As a Blogger I am also an avid user of social media. But like they say, to write a blog is only 10 percent of the job done, the balance is how do you get people to read it.

I used to write my Blogs on Google and share them but was not happy with the response I was getting. So I decided to set up my own site but again with limited success.

Affimity Homepage.

Then I read about our own home grown Affimity in the daily newspaper and wanted to try it.

Now my posts on Affimity, be it photos, blogs or other articles, get good response from people I don’t know.

Unlike Facebook where only your friends see your post in the jungle of posts, Affimity comes with a breath of fresh air. Affimity works on channels like food, parents, working moms, fitness, jokes and fashion which are shared by people having similar interests.

I have now been on Affimity for less than a month and I am getting a lots of encouraging comments on my posts. On some of travel stories people have thanked me about letting them know that off beat places can also be fun. My high came a few days ago when somebody not only liked my picture but added that she liked the way I had framed the shot.

Thank you Affimity.

Anna koot – a traditional veggie dish

In our home, on the next day of Diwali, Anna koot subzi is prepared as prasad. Traditionally you have it with pooris but over the years we have had this with roti.

One of the reasons on why it is cooked could be to finish off all the remaining vegetables after days of celebrations and festivities and two after consuming a lot of sweets this also helps in cleansing the palate.

Nevertheless with the onset of winters new veggies such as green peas, cauliflower, carrots etc are easily available and being seasonal taste divine. What I find most interesting about this subzi is that it tastes different each time it is prepared because of the combination of vegetables.

Now let us talk about what goes in,  potatoes (new), cauliflower, chopped Sem (broad beans), sangri (radish beans) (this is by far the most important ingredient), carrots, radish, peas, french beans, cabbage and capsicum.


For flavour of spices you add ginger, green chillies, green fenugreek, asafetida, red chilies powder, salt to taste, and green coriander (finely chopped).

How to prepare? Wash all of these vegetables, peel potatoes, floret cauliflower, remove thread from both the sides of the sem, remove stalk from both ends of the sangri, peel the carrots, radish and cut the capsicum into smaller pieces after removing the seeds. Wash and grate ginger. Wash green coriander and chop it finely and chillies too.

Pre heat oil in a wok (remember we do not use mustard oil for this veggie, although all dry subzis are cooked in mustard only), add asafoetida and ginger.  After that you add green chilies and gently fry the spices.

Add all the chopped vegetables, add salt and red chilly powder then mix all the vegetables. Sprinkle some water, cover the pan and cook vegetables on a medium high flame till it is done.


Keep stirring in between.

You are done.