I started with my first ever job in Mumbai in late June. Being from Pune, as it is, I was apprehensive of living in Mumbai, and was even willing to up-down every day in order to go to work. But being a Sadashiv Pethi Koknastha comes in way of such ambitious plans - why spend minimum of rs 500 daily to go to work? So all up down plans were scrapped, and plans to go and live in Mumbai were made. While all people from Pune who worked at where I worked usually rented in Hiranandani or Chandivali - either 10 mins walking or by ricksha to the office, I had a place I can call home at Andheri - Vijaynagar Colony.
- Vijaynagar-Chandrashekhar Society is an important cultural spot. It is a society built in the '60s primarily for middle class families and hosts Paranjape Vidyalaya, branch of Great PTV association.
My mother spent all her childhood there, and I had only heard of all the fun things that go on there, and was quite skeptical that they actually happen, owing to the fact that some of them are highly bizarre. Anyway, over the last 6 months, all that has been proved wrong, and the magic of living in a society has finally rubbed in on me.
Work, while initially interesting when we had lectures, soon turned into the biggest irritating factor - excessively unplanned hours, unintelligent work, monotonous nature of it, just the fact that it was IT used to drive me nuts. Yes there was free pizza and donuts all the time - but all they did was increase my waistline, and made me even more irritated. In such situation, the colony was a perfect foil to control my temper. As soon as I entered it on my way home from work, I used to encounter 10 people- all with smiles on their faces, which usually bought a sudden upheaval in the mood. I used to enjoy these interactions so much, that later on, even if I reached the society at 6.30, it used to take me 8.30 to reach home. Endless stories, self-boasting, swearing were just a few things that we did during these two incredible hours every day.
The colony life was a perfect way to relax. I knew many people over there from before, as I used to spend months of my summer vacation over there as a kid. This helped me bed in quickly- but I also made a host of new friends, with no restriction to their ages - right from age 3 to age 53 and older, everyone was a friend. Some of the time spent playing football on the paranjpe highschool ground, the time spent with various people on the katta, the ganpati uttsav, will stay in memory forever. I dont think Id have liked the place as much as I did, if the people were not as nice as they were. Being the son of one of the most "dhatingan mulgi" as an Aaji put it, and looking very similar to my Aai and my Mama-who was everyone's favourite, had an added advantage. Half the people recognized and knew me, even though I had never met them before! "Mama cha chhaap ahes. Kevdha shubhi sarkha distos" were frequent compliments! Dinner invitations were always open. I need not call up to tell anyone that Id be coming! You go to anyone at say 7.30 -8, and you were not allowed to leave till you had dinner. This was awesome! :P
Other than the fact that the people were nice, one thing came across very evidently. The people, though from Mumbai, are inherently very much Sadashiv Pethi. Well, the society is a Brahmin dominated - it would be fair to even call it "exclusive to Brahmins" society. People talk in accented high pitched voices. "Chyayla" and a few more crisp, not to be mentioned here words, are used as alternate words while talking. The infinite maaz of some people, the agaupana done by girls, deriding anything you do not like, are all Pethi traits. Being in Mumbai, I had feared that I wont be getting this kind of attitude, but it was heartening to see it being false! The icing on the cake was one of the "Puneri Paati" being put up on the entrance to the Society mandir, which read "Aapla ahankar va chaplaa boot baher kadhunach aat yaave" ( Please leave your arrogance and footwear outside and then only enter). This very nature of the society made me feel as if I was at home!
And home it was- for 6 wonderful months that I spent over there. I have absolutely no regrets over the fact that I went to live in Mumbai for those 6 months. Chandrashekhar-Vijaynagar made me realize, that you can discover home away from home. I always will, love the society, and just keep praying that in such changing times, it retains its charm for a Punekar of being a "Pune within Mumbai".