Monday, March 21, 2011

Poona Wonders

The second largest city in Maharashtra and the education capital of India, Pune has always welcomed communities, students, job aspirants and pensioners. It is a hub of the vast students’ population not only within the country but also abroad. With the maximum number of schools and colleges anywhere in the world, it is a city that witnesses an influx of thousands of students every year. With this migration, Pune has seen a metamorphosis of its culture- a culture that is cosmopolitan yet integrating with the distinct Marathi society of the city.

Coming from different backgrounds of the society and bringing in their own customs, traditions, ethics and values, education is the only string that has put together all these social and cultural systems brought in by the students to Pune. The serendipity of this phenomenon is seen in every corner of the city. Be it the tapri in front of the college or a Café Coffee Day outlet, the broad-based discussions ranging from the politics, movies, music, the latest gadgets in town, over a cup of tea or coffee is a common site. Although there is an existence of such a homogenous environment, like-minded people find their set of friends having the same interests and believing in similar ideologies.

The question that arises is what are the consequences of this to the development of Pune? The answers can be seen everywhere. The emergence of malls, multiplexes, night clubs and coffee shops have chalked the contemporary map of the city. These developments have its own pros and cons. The coming up of these institutions of modernity has added a metropolitan dimension to the city. Youth is such a powerful target audience that big brands cannot miss a chance to grab the markets and attract them. The major newspapers of the country exist here. Intelligentsia is welcomed as educationists reside or come here as visiting faculties in the educational institutions.

The problem that the city is facing is that modernization is only concentrated to the part of the city where the students and the IT hubs are based. The ‘city’ area which preserves the historical heritage of Pune has been untouched by these modernistic tools. The congested, narrow lanes, old buildings and the bumpy roads have not seen the dawn of these materialistic development indices. Though, some may criticize that it has preserved the distinct culture of Pune, which is the land rich in history and has kept their linguistic bases intact.

The art and culture scenario has also seen a paradigm shift with the existence of the students’ population. There is a mélange of existing cultures and new cultures with both existing parallel to each other. At one part, there are takers for Indian classical music and Jazz and on the other hand, Indie- rock bands and metal also find audience. Another interesting aspect is the acceptance of fusion music. A sitar- piano concert see a lot of youth turn up in the city. In terms of theatre, experimental theatre has come up in a big way and the local theatre groups are trying out new ways to blend Marathi folk theatre with contemporary genres.

Pune art scene has a distinctive facet to it. It has brought art to the public. It is not something only the elite enjoy. Thematically, Pune’s art scenario has a dominance of depicting everyday life and the simplicity of it attracts people from all walks of life. Enter an art exhibiton and there are artistes, teachers, students and even housewives discussing and sharing their views.

Be it ‘Oxford of the East’, ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’ or ‘Land of the Peshwas’, Pune is ever- changing. Through ages Pune has adopted whatever has come on its way without losing its true essence. It is this spirit of the city that keeps it alive giving space to everyone irrespective of all differences.

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