I am a week away from going to India for a holiday. :)
This is somehow making me more and more nostalgic.
I have always been really proud of the city that I was born in - Kolhapur. Every city has a personality. Like how Paris always reminds you of fashion and perfumes, Switzerland reminds you of chocolates,knifes and Roger Federer (how is he doing these days?) and Brisbane is for the Gabba and beeah (beer). In India too every city comes with her own aura.
Pune , the city that I grew up in is where everyone talks like a book. Even when they want to insult each other, Punekars tend to use "Kalidas" and "Shakespeare" from their arsenal of knowledge. Shopkeepers close their shops from 1pm-4pm in the afternoon (to enjoy an afternoon nap) and if you want to make "shrikhanda" when you expect people for a dinner on a weekday you have to schedule the "chakka" purchase taking Chitale Bandhu's convenience into account!
Everyone including the fruit seller in Phule Mandai to the ticket seller at the railway station think they are somebody really important and special, which would also explain my behavior at times. :)
However my birth city is a complete contrast to Pune and sometimes I am really glad that I got the opportunity to go away from Pune and look at it from a Kolhapuri's perspective. If you talk like a book in Kolhapur, they interrupt you (usually with swear words that would lose their charm if I use their English equivalents) and tell you that you are not normal. While talking like a book is not normal in Kolhapur, adding about 50 grams of red-hot chilly to 200 g of chicken curry is completely normal. However not being able to eat that (and breaking into cold sweat when attempting to do it) is completely abnormal. The assal Kolhapuri equivalents of all the internationally accepted swear words are thrown in into any conversation. Even when it is the galli-gossip going on between two women. So while a Puneri might turn into a red tomato with such bad language, it is extremely essential in the Kolhapuri conversations. During one of his most composed and contemplative moods, people would hear my grandfather reciting the Bhagwad Geeta. However, in moments of extreme anger or extreme pride he would join his fellow Kolhapuris in dispensing the usual bad language.
The most endearing aspect about Kolhapur is her laid-back attitude. Kolhapur is not Mumbai. Everyone has time for you. When I go and stay with my grandfather in his house in Kolhapur I just have to stand in the balcony to get dinner invites. While I am enjoying an easy cup of tea with ajoba, almost every person passing on the road below stops and talks to me for a few minutes and ends the conversation with a dinner invite. :)
Needless to say that it takes a lot of courage to accept a Kolhapuri's invitation, for most of the times the food is too hot to handle.
Some of my favorite places in Kolhapur are the Khasbag misal, the bhel-carts in Rajarampuri, a crazy little restaurant called "Vahini" somewhere in the city, the Mahalaxmi temple and everything around it and Rankala!!
I came across this video which best describes the spunk, innocence and happiness that this city radiates. :)
Just 7 more days to go! Yey!