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Pune, where peace lets you find your inner self

I love Pune because it connected me with nature besides giving me ample space and time to think

pune Updated: Aug 06, 2017 14:19 IST
Deepak Dalal
Deepak Dalal
Hindustan Times, Pune
i love pune,deepak dalal,sahyadris
Deepak Dalal found inspiration to write two of his books from trekking on Sahyadris.(HT Photo)

If I had continued to live in Mumbai (the city I’m originally from), I don’t think I would have ever taken to writing as a career. Mumbai doesn’t give you the space or the time, nor does it have the ambience for reflection and creative thought. Poona does, at least it did possess those qualities then.

My wife and I moved to Pune in 1988. Back then, Poona was a city with tree-lined roads, gardens, and acres of empty spaces. Our home was in Aundh (it still is today). In those days, we hardly had any neighbours. I remember that the University was one of our favourite places. With its old colonial palace and gardens, the University is a grand place even today. But back then, in addition to being beautiful, it was empty, serene and peaceful too. We had those gardens and open spaces all to ourselves.

For someone who hailed from the crowded, polluted Mumbai, this was an enlivening and refreshing experience. It was like this wherever you went in Pune. Pashan Lake was empty and surrounded by wilderness. Baner was a village with fields and mud roads and no streetlights.

I guess peace and tranquillity are not everyone’s cup of tea. There are several opinions when it comes to open spaces and serene surroundings. Peace isn’t exactly what people hanker for nowadays. Most of us like happening places and Pune certainly wasn’t a happening place in those days – far from it. The pensioner’s paradise tag the city possessed was certainly true. Pune wasn’t crowded and it was peaceful. This was the city I migrated to after marriage. After Mumbai, Pune was a haven, a place I grew to love.

It was in those early years that I decided that I would become a writer of children’s books. As I have mentioned earlier, if I was living in Mumbai, this probably would never have happened. Mumbai was too happening and too fast. Pune was the opposite. Pune provided me space and ample time to think. I understood back then that there were other things I wanted to be besides being an engineer.

Pune connected me with nature. My garden was where I started to take an active interest in birds. In fact, it was those early days in my Aundh garden that have inspired my latest series (The Feather Tales Series), the books I am currently writing.

The first book I wrote was titled ‘Lakshadweep Adventure’. Although the Lakshadweep Islands have nothing to do with Pune, it was an outdoor sport, windsurfing, which I learned in Pune, that provided the platform for this story. Khadakwasla Lake is where I learned to ‘windsurf’. We used to travel there every weekend for windsurfing. After years of windsurfing on the lake, a friend suggested that we undertake a windsurfing expedition to the Lakshadweep Islands. That is how I made it the islands and wrote my first book.

Pune has also inspired two other of my books: my Sahyadri Adventure stories – Anirudh’s Dream and Koleshwar’s Secret. One of the lesser appreciated aspects of life in Pune is the city’s proximity to the Western Ghats or the Sahyadris, as the hills are also called. Unlike Mumbai, where exiting the city is an expedition in itself, in Pune it is easy to slip out and enter the Sahyadris.

After windsurfing, another passion that consumes me is trekking. The Sahyadris are fabulous hills. We Punekars have no idea how lucky we are to have such a magnificent range at our doorstep, and Shivaji’s Forts, which crown the Sahyadris around Pune, are amongst my favourite destinations. I fell so deeply in love with the Sahyadris that I eventually set two stories here.

So, yes, I have to thank the city for inspiring me to change my career and take to writing. I will always remember my earlier years in Pune fondly. But I have to add that the original Pune, the city I grew to love, is fast fading. The peace, the tranquillity, the wilderness tracts, the tree-lined roads are mostly gone. I still love the city, but if I move the clock forward and if I were young and fresh and new to Pune - the Pune of today - I doubt that the modern, messy city could ignite the creative urge in me.

First Published: Aug 06, 2017 14:18 IST