Rahul and I left Mumbai by train. When we entered our “air conditioned” car we were hit with an intense heat. I could feel my lungs getting singed. It did cool down a bit as we got going but it was quite a shock to the system. Trains in India have a long legacy and especially the Deccan Queen route from Mumbai to Pune. Many shanty towns of abject poverty line the route. The route takes you up the Deccan Plateau which is a much drier and more temperate climate than Mumbai. Rahul and I were both relieved when we could feel the cool evening air of Pune.
First tuk tuk ride: let’s just say it’s like a video game except you really can die at the end. No doors, no windows and two backpacks in a tiny bumper car-esque vehicle on a road where nobody cares about lanes or speeds. Whoa!
We arrived at our Air BnB around 9pm. We were greeted by our host, Rahul (!), and he showed us to our flat, a healthy three flight walk up. Rahul is an Osho devotee (remember Rajneesh?) and was in a hurry to get to meditation but he showed us how to get the filtered water, run the water heater and wifi connection. He was enthusiastic about the view from our room but, since it was so late, we couldn’t see anything so had to just take his word for it. And how impressed we were when we woke up! We sat captivated by the sight of Kite hawks and Egrets soaring through the sky! An amazing Rain tree was the centerpiece, looking like the “tree of life,” joined by Almond beach, banana and coconut trees. The Thane river runs along an embankment. Here is a photo of our view.
We toured the garden below; pomegranate, lime, kumquat. As the day passed we could see an ever expanding variety of animals below; water buffalo, goats, wild pigs, pelicans and Drongo birds.
The air in Pune is very bad and I feel the need to limit my exposure to the polluted air. Many people burn garbage which creates a lot of smoke. The river is completely polluted, with sewage running through it’s currents. Garbage and excrement are everywhere. A little boy, not more than 4 years old, came to me and begged. When I said no he left but not after smacking my bag hard. It was a shock as I had just said goodbye to Rahul, who went to work, and it was the first time I’d been completely on my own in India. I’m feeling grateful today and reflecting on the plight of those less fortunate. If I ever feel like I don’t have enough I can just think of that little boy.