Amit Paranjape’s Blog

50 ways in which Pune has changed over the past 15 years

Posted in Pune by Amit Paranjape on October 5, 2008

 

This article discusses my observations about how significantly Pune has changed over the past 10-15 years…and yet some things still remain the same.

 

Having lived outside Pune for nearly 13 years from 1994-2007, these changes really standout from my perspective. Maybe people who have been around Pune all through this period won’t think too much about them. It’s typical human nature, that if you live through something, it doesn’t appeal as much as if you were transported back to that place after a big gap of time.

 

Pune teenagers might find this list revealing; especially in light of all the things they take for granted today! Some readers might notice a bias towards Prabhat Road/Bhandarkar Road/Deccan Gymkhana areas. This bias, while unintentional is understandable given that this is where I have lived all my years in Pune prior to 1994 and at present.

 

Here is my list of 50 ways in which Pune has changed in the past 15 years…..(I have many other points in my queue as well, and I am sure readers would suggest a few(?!) more. ). Watch this blog for follow-up articles on the same subject.

 

 

  1. Aundh, Baner, Wakad, Bavdhan, Warje were villages on the outskirts of Pune.
  2. No one had heard of a village named ‘Hinjewadi’.
  3. Senapati Bapat Road, Jangli Maharaj Road, FC Road didn’t have road dividers.
  4. 14 years back, Pune and Balewadi were getting ready to host the National Games – the roads and the public infrastructure were being nicely spruced up, not unlike what’s being done right now! Sad to say, we had to wait for another 14 years for such an exercise. One wishes that such games happen every year!
  5. Pune airport had less than 5 daily flights.
  6. Pune had only one Five Star Hotel – Blue Diamond (It was not ‘Taj’ Blue Diamond those days)
  7. There were no international fast food chain restaurants.
  8. The best Punjabi and Continental restaurant in town was Hotel Amir’s ‘Peshwa Inn’ near Pune station (This hotel has since been closed down).
  9. Prabhat Road and the greater Deccan Gymkhana area still had many old, nice stone bungalows, many of them built by former ICS and IAS officers. The present day apartment dwellers in this area need to thank all those bungalow owners for the excellent tree cover still enjoyed here.
  10. No one had heard the term ‘International School’. Loyola and St. Vincent were amongst ‘the’ schools to go to.
  11. There were only 4/5 engineering colleges (compared with the 20+ today).
  12. Dorabjees, Chitale Bandhu, Vaishali were as popular, as today.
  13. Vaishali Idli Sambar was priced around Rs. 5 and a good snack there for 4 people would run into Rs 60-80.
  14. Amongst the very few places one could order Pizza were, Supreme opposite Sambhaji Park and Darshan on Prabhat Road.
  15. The best shopping area was MG Road – there were no malls in Pune.
  16. There were no multiplexes – Alka and Rahul were the popular places for watching Hollywood movies.
  17. A nice water fountain circle stood outside the University main gate. A long line of Chinese and Indian fast-food handcarts occupied the beginning part of Baner Road. This was a popular hangout place.
  18. Most people in Pune had no idea what the term ‘IT’ meant. Few of those who knew would have thought of it to be ‘Income Tax’.
  19. There were no traffic jams (in fact hardly any traffic) on Prabhat Road, Bhandarkar Road and Law College Road.
  20. The only place where traffic jams occurred regularly was Paud Phata – and yes, there was no fly-over.
  21. There were no banks on residential Bhandarkar Road and Apte Road.
  22. Tallest residential buildings in Pune were 3 storeys high.
  23. Deccan Gymkhana and Koregaon Park were the most expensive places to live in (same as today!).
  24. The only IT Company on Senapati Bapat Road was Persistent Systems.
  25. Even back then, Pune was known as a ‘city of bridges’ – notwithstanding the fact that nearly half a dozen new ones have since been added.
  26. When people referred to that big manufacturing company (biggest in Pune even then…) that manufactured trucks, they would have referred to a ‘Telco’.
  27. Fiats were common on the streets; the ‘hip’ cars were 118 NE and Maruti 1000. Kinetic Honda was the most coveted 2 wheeler.
  28. COEP was still known back then as COEP (not withstanding its brief stint a few years back as ‘Pune Institute of Engineering Technology’).
  29. On Paud road, beyond Vanaz Engineering (and the now obsolete Garbage dump) the city ended. Going to Garden Court/Ambrosia felt like you were going to some place well ‘outside’ Pune. And there were none of the dozens of Garden Court clones in the Chandni Chowk area.
  30. The old Pune – Mumbai highway was often choked up with back-to-back traffic…The Expressway, a distant dream.
  31. Even on weekends, it was very easy to find parking on top of the Sinhagad fort.
  32. Bicycles were very common on city roads.
  33. No one knew what ‘Internet’ meant and email was known to very few. General email access was available in less than half a dozen government organizations such as CDAC.
  34. Cell phones and pagers were things that one heard about from friends and relatives in the US/Europe. People really doubted if they would see such things in India in the near future.
  35. Rs. 4000 per month was a very good salary for a graduating engineer from a top college; Rs 7K was considered exceptional and absolutely top of the line.
  36. Back then, a walk through the old Pune ‘Peths’ revealed quite a few remaining ‘Wadas’, once the primary residence structure in Pune. Today, hardly any of them are left, and the ones remaining are in extremely decrepit state.
  37. Durga Puja, Dandiya Ras celebrations were foreign to Pune. Big Dahi Handi celebrations were something that one saw in Mumbai.
  38. Even back then, Pune was the national leader as far as beautiful collegiate crowd from the fairer sex was concerned. Back then, the teenage boys (and many, if not all men) had a great time enjoying this beauty on strategic places such as FC Road, as the crowd zoomed past on their 2 wheelers. Unfortunately today, with the invention of the ‘wraparound scarf’ it feels like Pune has significantly regressed in this area! Keep aside the security debate for a moment – in the wider interest of the male population, an immediate ban should be passed on this headgear!
  39. Pachwari (5 meter) Saris were commonly seen among middle aged and older women.
  40. Ganpati Celebrations and Immersion Processions were as loud and colorful as today, if a little smaller in scale.
  41. One of the best ways to travel from Pune to Mumbai was via Deccan Queen First Class – and enjoying some great snacks in the dining car. That dining car experience is now sadly gone for ever.
  42. ‘Hindi’ was not commonly heard in restaurants, shops and other public places in Pune. Back then, I used to contend that many non Maharashtrians living in Pune spoke better Marathi than Maharashtrians living in Mumbai!
  43. Few foreign visitors were seen on Pune streets; bulk of them comprised of the Osho commune visitors, in their characteristic garb.
  44. The sobriquet ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’ was commonly used to describe Pune back then…even though the paradise was already showing signs of turning towards the dark side. One hardly hears this name today.
  45. There was at least ‘some’ traffic discipline in Pune. Signals were regularly obeyed. Policemen commanded some respect, and were not beaten up.
  46. Pune television viewers had access to around 5 channels, and they were rejoicing at finally having a choice for the ‘Doordarshan’ channel.
  47. A long standing solution to Pune traffic was being planned back then as well. A popular solution, ironically same as the one being proposed today, was a road along the river banks/over the river!
  48. Back then ‘PMPL’ was referred to as ‘PMT’. Unlike the many modern busses you see today, there were quite a few old ones dating back to 60s and 70s – and those PMT busses had a god given right to breakdown at any busy road/intersection and create a traffic mess. 
  49. Punekars were not very well familiar with terms such as ‘Cholesterol’, ‘Thyroid’, etc. Blood tests were something that was done only if you were really really sick or if you were traveling abroad.
  50. Same as today, Ruby Hall (though much smaller than today) was the best hospital in town.
  51. There were hardly any modern ‘gyms’ in town…’Talwalkar’s’ was a pretty popular one amongst the few out there.
  52. There was only one local English daily – Maharashtra Herald. Now taken over by the Sakal group, it has since been re-incarnated as ‘Sakal Times’.  
  53. ‘Pune Times’ had been recently launched with much fanfare by Times of India to capture Pune audience. Back then Pune Times had real news items, instead of fancy, racy pictures and page-3 items.
  54. Hanuman Tekdi, Vetal Tekdi were extremely popular destination for morning walks.

 

  Note – Please do checkout the second part of this article: 50 Ways In Which Pune Has Changed In Past 15 Years (PART 2)

 

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  1. sandeep tapaswi said, on October 5, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Good start

  2. Chetan Gadgil said, on October 5, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Pune used to be really pleasant to walk around in those days.
    These days, due to the mismanagement of traffic, pollution and town planning, it has become less attractive to just take a casual stroll around.

    I think PMT was also slightly less accident prone in those days…

    BTW, nice blog – keep blogging!

  3. Suhas A. Kelkar said, on October 6, 2008 at 4:37 am

    Boss,

    You missed one of the BIGGEST differences. 14 years ago, girls did not wear masks while driving around their two wheelers! Going around in Pune used to be a lot more pleasant because of that…..now they all look the same😦

    Also I totally disagree with your following statement,
    >> #10: …. Loyola and St. Vincent were amongst ‘the’ schools to go to.

    Yes, they were the hip schools but not “the” schools to go to by even a long shot! Please edit it properly or else I will be greatly offended🙂

  4. Unmesh said, on October 6, 2008 at 4:44 am

    lol on #38🙂

    So would you say Pune has changed for the better or worse? Did they use to play “Mr. India” songs at Ganapati Mandals back then, like they play “Pappu cant dance…” these days?

    Its reassuring to see that timeless events such as the “Sawai Gandharva” are still running to full houses.

  5. Amit Paranjape said, on October 6, 2008 at 4:46 am

    Suhas,

    Please check #38 regarding your first query!

    Regarding your opinion on schools in Pune then and now, that maybe a completely new topic -:)

  6. Shailesh Joshi said, on October 6, 2008 at 4:51 am

    Good to see how much has changed and regressed and progressed – by looking at your reflection.

  7. Arati Halbe said, on October 6, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Lot of controversial statements you’ve got, havn’t u? Like talking about best schools and hospitals!
    I like this collection a lot
    Few more to add
    1. Teenager girls wore salwar kurtas most of the times, today, teenage girls might ask how to wear one with a dupatta. Teenage boys had their hair cut short

    2. One had to stand in long queues for Bakarwadi and hear that it got over. Thankfully now Chitales have machines to do bakarwadi and still maintain the taste!

    What has not changed is the song “hoton pe aisi baat” is still played for ganrshotsav by natu bag mandaL! Also baker’s basket sold yummy pastries

  8. Anuradha Kulkarni said, on October 6, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Great blog!

    Some additional things-

    1. Never thought there will a P1/P2 parking in the small lanes of Prabhat Road.

    2. Most of the kids either walked/biked to their schools.

    3. There was a very small datta idol near KNP. which is now tranformed into the big and nice datta mandir.

  9. gabhijit said, on October 9, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Sorry for the previous one.. Can delete that one..

    Some Nit Picking…

    #17. It was on Pashan Road

    #48. It’s PMPML (Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mandal Limited I guess).

    Additions

    #51. There was no BRT

    #52. Concrete Cycle Tracks was something foreign or even from outer space.

  10. Mahesh said, on October 12, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    I don’t agree that Ruby Hall remains the best hospital any more. Now it is a 5-star hotel with some doctors added like salt and pepper.

  11. Ashish said, on October 30, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Hi Amit

    I can add a few more of mine

    1) One could walk at the centre of GaneshKhind Road at 9 PM in the night- today inspite of the flyover and all one has to stop even at midnight

    2) There was just one traffic signal betwwen Symbiosis college and where the road ends

    3) Senapati Bapat Road was so beautiful from where one could see the Chaturshingi and the Vetal tekdi- today with the ICC everything is gone

    4) Distances were so short and the city ended soon- my friend used to stay at Aundh and we used to jokingly say that just after 10 minutes from his house we come to Bombay!!!

    5) There was no commerical place on Prabhat road- it was not officially allowed

    6) Sadashiv Peth had only one Nonveg hotel in Durga unlike the entire Nonveg galli opposite Tilak Smarak

    7) I genuinely belive that it used to rain much lower in monsoons in Pune unlike the last 5-7 years where we are getting rains like mumbai!!!

    Valwache paus in April was very common

    9) Flate rates at prabhat road stood for several years at 800 Rs/ sqft in late 80s till they stabilised at 1800 for several years and then were 2600 till probably 6 years back- today they are 8000!!!

    10) For MBA entrance preparation there was Sujata Khanna only and for GRE there was Dilip Oak only unlike the mushrooming classes as of today

  12. Ashish Apte said, on November 3, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    And a few more:

    1) There used to be tables also outside Vaishali hotel before it was renovated sometime in late 1990s

    2) Chocolate Mastani costed Rs 8 bucks in late 80s, was Rs 18 in late 1990s and now it is Rs 50 in first decade of 21st century

    3) Durga nonveg had 2 hotels-one on Tilak Road which is now closed and the other in the lane opposite Tilak Smarak which still exists today

    4) The very famous hotel Durvankur on Tilak road was actually a small unknown hotel called ‘Swad’ till late 1990s where u used to get authentic chicken gavran

    5) There used to be a temple bang on the middle of the road which connects Nal stop to the next signal (before Mhatre bridge. It used to act as a natural divider for vehicles moving to Mehendale garage to the right and to those moving staright ahead to Mhatre bride. This temple is now relcoated just on the footpath

    6) S M Joshi bridge was a causeway till 1998 where one had to go down steeply and then move up towards garware college and only 2 wheelers used to ply on it

    7) The only place where one could have an Energee drink (from Mumbai’s Aarey) was a stall at narayan peth near Ahilyadevi school

    8) The original chowpatty of pune were stalls built at beginning of pashan road which served chinese food- these are now shifted to te end of senapati bapat road

    9) The sight of common mongoose was really very common on Prabhat and Bhandarkar road due to plenty of bungalows which existed at that time- today u will hardly spot mongoose in these areas

    10)Law college road was a 2 way raod till 2004-after which they changed it to 1 way between canal junction and karve road

    11) Kharadi, Chandannagar, never existed on the map

    Overall to sum it up- Pune was like a breath of fresh air if anybody came from places like Mumbai- it still is today but the charm is slowly going away

  13. Manisha said, on November 4, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Amit, Thanks for taking us down the memory lane !

    Here are few things I can add !

    1. Italian, Mexican and Thai foods were yet to enter into lives of middleclass punekars.

    2. How can you forget ‘Parvati’ to the list of places to go for morning walk!

    3. M-80,M-50 and Luna were common on the roads

    4. Venky’s, Chitchat (on JM road), Supreme were some of the famous joints for fast food (which was not called fast food during those days)

  14. Amit Paranjape said, on November 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Ashish, Thanks for the additions.

  15. Amit Paranjape said, on November 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Manisha, Thanks for your feedback and the additions.

  16. Santosh said, on November 16, 2008 at 11:20 am

    You missed out on “West End” a premier place to watch movies, I can get you pictures of what West End looked like before Arora Towers came up there.

    With 10+ floors Arora Towers was a defining moment for Camp-side.

    Sweet Home (Laxmi Road), Dorabjee’s Restaurant were major foodie joints.

    Technical Book House was “the” place to go for hard-to-get techie books on Electronics (and later Computers). They even sold copies of games written in Q-BASIC

    Kwality’s Ice Cream on East Street was probably the first ever place to have more than 10 flavors of ice cream. Pune folks were thrilled to have an actual ice-cream parlor.

    Amongst “the” schools were St. Mary’s, St Helenas, Bishop’s these guys have been around for Donkey’s years. Some of them even older than 160 yrs.

    Sindh & National Housing Society were jungles. Aundh was a Forest.

  17. Amit Paranjape said, on November 16, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Santosh,

    Thanks for your comments and inputs.

    Yes, you are right…West End was a great theater before Aurora Towers took its place..Though this was sometime in the 80s..hence didn’t include it! BTW – Did you know that the original Aurora Towers Hotel plan had a big tower on top of the 10 storey building, with a revolving restaurant at the top? I remember seeing that picture for many years, before that building was completed. Apparently, that plan got shelved since they didn’t get the required permissions from the military..? I am not sure.

    On Sindh and National, I think I will have to correct you. These societies were established after independence and have been around for a long time. The earliest memory I have of Sindh society was early 1980s and I do remember seeing many decent sized houses there at that time as well.

    Thanks
    Amit

  18. […] would like to thank all the readers for the excellent feedback and new inputs on the first article in this series. Please click here, to check it out if you haven’t already read it. This second part is a […]

  19. Vikas Khengare said, on March 25, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Hi Friends,

    This is giving lot of good information about Pune.
    Punekaranche Pune ….

    Thanks

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  21. Srinivasan said, on December 27, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    #37 is wrong in the Durga Puja Part.

    Durga Puja was a big celebration even in the 70’s . Used to go with my bong classmate.Near Agri College. Even Range hills. All night cultural programmes. Seen the entire Kathakali performance (night long ) at a Durga Puja Programme (before 1977!). It’s always been a big get together of the Bongs of Pune.Of course most of you guys would not be of an age to remember that,probably,so just for the record..

    The second part is correct. Never seen a Dandiya Raas taking place in those times.

    Incidentally, as a follow up on pay packets, an engineer in 1975-77 probably got around Rs 350 (Big manufacturing firms)and was considered very well off!

  22. Rahul Sheth said, on April 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Hey… loved all the stuff… very big trip of nostalgia… but few points…
    1) marz-o-rin was still a favorite eat out on mg rd.. much smaller though.. with just a take away counter & no sitting…
    2) dandiyas were a big draw in camp area even in ’80s… Mira Soc & oswal bandhu samaj grounds…. both on shankarsheth rd…were the big draw… for the young crowds…
    3) There was a rivalry between the two areas: deccanites (read FC) & camp walas (read Wadia) was legendary… incidentally i lived in camp & cycled to FC… so i belonged to both camps…:) & enjoyed best of both… the sophistication of Deccan🙂 & the fun care free spirit of camp :>
    4) m g rd was a two way street…
    5) holi was still celebrated in a clean yet fun way w/o lumpen elements…

    but best was u could be in any & every part of pune within 20 minutes flat!
    also the new areas including kalyani nagar magarpatta, airport rd, nagar rd kondhwa etc were fringe areas… not happening places… that they are today…

  23. Amit Paranjape said, on April 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Rahul – Thanks for your comments.

  24. Sohil said, on October 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Just 1 more… Most of the Irani Cafes doesnot exist anymore😦.

  25. Anu said, on October 12, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Interesting blog to read!

  26. neeraj said, on July 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    This blog is simply great and it took me to my college days. All points covered by writer and also added some points by visitors. You all are simply great and your observstions are really hats off. I will suggest one thing … How come adding some old photos taken by our visitors of roads and tekdis and monuments and hotels. These will add flavour. A humble suggestion.
    Thanks
    Neeraj.

  27. sushma said, on July 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Major nostalgia trip!
    Loved point #38🙂
    Dont agree with # 50 at all…the or now!
    # 54 is one which has remained unchanged over the years.

  28. Amit Paranjape said, on July 17, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Sushma – Thanks for the comments! Yes, re: point 50, ‘best’ is too subjective. I guess, I wanted to say, ‘the’ or ‘one of the’ most well known / popular hospitals.

  29. Amit Paranjape said, on July 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks Neeraj for your comments. Photos would be great..hope some folks have them.

  30. Shubha said, on July 18, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Nice one Amit- a real trip down memory lane.

  31. Sumita said, on July 18, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Thanks Amit, it’s good to have a list…always happy to go back in time.some good things have happened..Cement garbage bins have gone since then. So have buffaloes from Model Colony that were the bane of my life in the late eighties!

    The pretty bridge in Aundh connecting to the Chest Hospital has become a huge bridge now, thankfully the old police stations are still the way they have always been!

    We had a family of mongoose in our garage till a couple of years back. Our bats who used to hang in our windows have gone a while back:(

    They blasted out the khind on Senapati Bapat Road but Parvati has lots more trees or am I the only one who still finds it beautiful when I stop at the Saras Baug signal?

    Am sure there is much more more..but with all the change around, walking back home from Roopali after a coffee, I still feel life is good!:)

  32. Amit Paranjape said, on July 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks Sumita. Good additions to the list!

  33. Amit Paranjape said, on July 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Thanks Shubha for the comment.

  34. Pinakin said, on January 28, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Regarding trees on Parvati I agree with Sumita’s comment, the only positive difference, though the slums have increased manifold the tree cover has increased too.

    I remember I could run from the top of the hills from the back side of parvati towards the housing board buildings or the sunflower farm ( near Shahu college).

    Now with increased tree cover you cannot run…but the sunflower farm is gone.

  35. Ajay said, on January 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    “Hinjewadi”, what’s that? its Hinjawadi

  36. Amit Paranjape said, on January 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Yes…agreed, we should spell it as ‘Hinjavdi’!

  37. Anuja said, on March 23, 2014 at 3:42 am

    Really enjoyed reading this post…..and remembering the old pune🙂


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