Strings of My Heart

1229 Deccan Gymkhana

Long long ago in the restful city of Pune, in its heart was a majestic plot which changed the life of its dwellers. In those days it was away from the main city. It was situated on the other side of the rivers  Mula, considered as the suburb of Pune. After crossing the Lakdi Pul or the Wooden Bridge going towards the University, we see today a bustling, shiny, chaotic Fergusson College road . The road takes its name from the Fergusson College which is situated on the road, though founded by Lokmanya Tilak, it was named after the Govenor of Bombay Presidency, Sir James Fergusson in the British Raj days, but today I am not talking about Fergusson College which is also a beloved place for me, but about a piece of land half a kilometer before the college. In those days the road looked picturesque thanks to beautiful, shady trees ornamenting the road on both the sides. Like the rest of the road this piece of land was also covered with lots and lots of trees mostly fruit bearing like Mango, Banyan, Coconut etc, all virtuous, taking care of the people, providing sweet fruits and ample shade. This piece of land was bought by a fine Kokanastha Brahmin family called Paranjpe, the same family which had the erstwhile actor Raja Bhau Paranjpe as one of their brothers, who had come to Pune from Miraj. It had a big family with three brothers, hence a spacious stone Bungalow was built. The Bungalow had huge halls, with atleast five to six rooms on the ground floor, with back yards and front yards with beautiful gardens, wooden staircases at least three which I remember leading towards upper floor from various directions and lots of play area to even ride a horse inside the premises. Even the upper floor had numerous rooms, which could be converted into Independent flats. The flats had a nice gallery, which was a favorite place for people living upstairs as it was fun to sit in the gallery with a cup of tea and enjoy the view of the Fergusson College road which was not at all a nuisance in those days.

At the front end was a huge gate to enter the Bungalow whose address was 1229 Deccan Gymkhana, Pune: 411004 and of course at that time it was also called Paranjpe Bungla. After entering the gate was a porch with a gracious arch, in between the porch and the gate was a beautiful fountain with flowering plants smiling at onlookers. To say in few words it was a regale looking Bungalow with shady Manglore tiles looking over the mango leaves waiting for its owners arrival. As time passed the master of the house realized that the Bungalow is very huge and there are not many people residing in it. As, by the time one of the brothers had left the house and joined the Indian Army and another had remained a bachelor. The elder Paranjpe himself had beautiful daughters whom he knew would get married in no time.

It was a time of general well being, quiet and balance between nature animals and humans, so it was the time when people believed in each other and helped each other. Same thing happened with Paranjpe Bungalow, the master of the house decided to rent out portion of the house to good families.  Eventually three families entered the Paranjpe Bungalow and later on one of the biggest halls was given on rent for commercial purposes, but that was much later. All the three families were known to the Paranjpe’s hence there was a nice camaraderie among the families. The families were new to the city and wanted a good house to settle in and they found this spacious Bungalow inside a great plot.. Soon the families made home of this place;  they fell in love with 1229. There families flourished, children grew up, got married, brought their young brides. 1229 saw everything from festivities, changing seasons to ups and downs in the lives of all these people. But the families never felt at loss or orphaned due to 1229 standing behind them so firmly.

With time many old people left for the heavenly abode saying adieu to 1229. 1229 also started bending under the pressure of the new age. It became harder and harder for the old soul to keep up with the glitz and glamour of the new settlements. The picket fence started giving way, the fountain dried out, the shady trees with their overhanging branches started getting axed, snatched by rag pickers ET Al, the incessant noise and smoke of the fast moving, screeching vehicles impaled 1229.

Families eventually realized that, it was difficult to live on this road which was once quite, calm and serene but now had put on the garb of a high speed shiny, glitzy generation x. One by one, leaving aside two residents of which one was staying there for commercial purposes and is still there and another an old lady who couldn’t bear the idea of living any where else had to be tricked out of her home by her son. Rest left for new residential area, which were smaller but quieter; with much effort they learned to get on with life. By this time even 1229 had realized that to survive in this new world, just like F.C. road on whose arms was 1229 situated, it should also take up the new generation look and gratefully it found this sculptor who changed its facade from a peace loving , protective household on whose arms and legs children giggled and played, it took up a new face of a humming hangout full of eating joints, spilling with families and collegians.

1229 is happy with its new look, but I wonder, on an occasional quiet moment, does it remember me, does it miss the families, the children, the birds,  the trees which embellished it so delicately. I, for sure am not so brave and have not once stepped inside those bustling restaurants, for me 1229 is a sacred place, a place which molded my personality, a place which gave me hope and happiness , a place which cultivated my taste for good aesthetics. In a nutshell it is a Pandora box full of child hood memories, which I want to keep intact.

Anuradha Singh


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