The Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Pune

While folks are still napping I thought I’d give a more in depth description of some of the sights, sounds and smells of Pune (and now Bombay), that I experience on a daily basis.

1) People stare. I definitely am not from here, and although there seem to be plenty of non Indian folk around, I guess it’s still strange to see a white face.
2) People smell. Many folks, irrelevant of class or sex, smell not so great. It’s not a smell I think I will ever get used to, but I have come to expect it now. It’s just the way things are here.
3) 95% of toilets don’t have toilet paper, but two buckets and a spicket. You fill the big bucket and then use the smaller hand held bucket (almost like a measuring cup). This is another thing I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to. I’ve heard from two folks though that this is supposed to be much, much better for you, as is not having a toilet seat.
4) One often runs into piles of garbage on the street, most of the time garbage that doesn’t smell very good either.
5) Dogs run around here like in Guatemala. You can tell which ones are “owned” and which ones are complete strays by the amount of ribs they have or their attitudes.
6) All roads are like walking on a highway. Most of the time there is no sidewalk. Cars, rickshaws, and motorbikes communicate to each other and pedestrians by honking.
7) It is almost never quiet.
8) Fans help deter mosquitoes.
9) It’s November and I’m in a city where it’s in the mid 80s. It’s hot!
10) While in a vehicle, very dirty women and children often approach stopped cars at a light. They tap you and say kana (food), while mimicking eating. Usually if they see me they make a b-line in my direction. They are very, very persistent. I haven’t succumbed. If you wonder why, watch Slum Dog Millionaire. They usually don’t keep the money anyway, they give it to the boss in exchange for food and maybe shelter.
11) You take off your shoes when entering a house. All inside areas I’ve been in are tiled and most people have maids that wash it on a daily basis.
12) Food usually has a bit of a kick to it, but it has all been so delicious. I’m in a vegetarian paradise.
13) I feel safe. I have never once felt like I was in danger of anything (except maybe a car). With all the staring, being in a place as poor if not poorer than places I’ve been in Brazil, I don’t feel like anyone would ever lay a hand on me, steal anything, or try to cause me physical harm.

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