Monday, January 29, 2007

Footloose in Pune

[ Footloose in Pune ]

What is ‘loafing’?

Idling away one’s time on useless things? Aimless loitering?

Loitering! Sounds a bit derogatory, isn’t it? So does the word loafer. Okay let’s say it’s aimless wandering. Perfectly useless time spent in a perfectly useless manner! Yes. That’s how I would like to define the art of loafing. Spending perfectly useless time in a perfectly useless manner!

That’s what I did yesterday. I loafed. Spent a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner. Loafing. Let me tell you about it.

It’s a beautiful morning. I try to furtively slip out of my house unnoticed, but I am stopped in my tracks by my wife’s piercing voice, “Where are you going?”

“I don’t know?” I answer truthfully, and this adroit answer probably precludes the next question she is about to ask, “What time are you coming back?” for she knows I will again truthfully answer, “I don’t know.”

“Take the mobile with you,” she shouts, but I pretend not to hear and make myself scarce and disappear as fast as possible for I do not want the manacles of technology to ruin my day.

It’s a bright day. I feel good. Flush with a sense of carefree irresponsibility, I walk with a spring in my step. I am going to enjoy my leisure.

Should I turn left? Should I turn right? I was free. Free to go wherever I desired. Free. To enjoy my day as I wanted. True freedom. To travel with no destination to reach. No task to complete. No deadlines to meet. Just Loaf. Aimlessly. Timelessly. Spend a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner.

I see a bus, stop it and hop in.

“Where do you want to go?” the conductor asks.

“Where does this bus go?” I ask.

“Pune Railway Station.”

“Okay. One Pune Railway Station,” I say holding out a tenner.

The conductor gives me an amused look and hands me a ticket and a rupee coin. I sit down, think interesting thoughts and enjoy the view through the window. On these trips of mine I prefer traveling by bus and, of course, I love to walk on foot. Driving my car on the terrible potholed, crowded and chaotic roads of Pune makes me go crazy, and, at my age, I dare not venture out too far on my scooter, lest I land up with broken bones in hospital or, worse, lifeless in Vaikunth or Kailas.

That’s what I sometimes do on these glorious trips of mine. Just jump into the first bus that comes along and let it take you wherever it goes. Go where life leads you. Last time I landed up in the heart of Pune – near Shaniwar Wada. In Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi it’s even more exciting, as there are so many more routes and choices, and you can serendipitously explore so many novel and exotic places you wouldn’t dream of going to otherwise.

The PCMT bus reaches the Railway Station. It’s a smooth ride. (PCMT buses seem to be better than PMT buses!).

I get down and admire the magnificent heritage stone building of Pune Railway Station. I stand in the porch and look inside. Trains, crowds – I love the atmosphere. On impulse, I enter, and stroll on the platform, panning my gaze all over, and stopping once in a while to feast my eyes on any attractive object that arrests my attention.

“Want a seat?” a hamaal asks.

“No,” I say.

“Where are you going?” he pursues.

“Nowhere,” I say.

“Waiting for someone,” he asks, probably in anticipation of porterage.

“No,” I say.

He stares at me for a moment and walks off with a look of perplexed dejection. I look around. Everyone is waiting to go somewhere, or for someone. I am waiting to go nowhere, and for nobody. So I walk out of the station and head for Shiv Kailash Milk Bar bang opposite.

If you arrive at Pune by train on a hot morning, never make the blunder of heading for the rickshaw stand. You’ll get all stressed up waiting in the never-ending queue and haggling with the rickshawallas trying to con you. Just cross the road to Shiv Kailash, sit under the shade on one of the stainless steel stools placed on the pavement, invigorate yourself with a tall glass of cool refreshing lassi (which is guaranteed to banish the depleting effects of the tiresome train journey) and tell the waiter to hail a rickshaw from the many hanging around. This is what I have been doing for so many years, during my numerous homecomings, since the days Pune was called Poona.

Shiv Kailash serves the best lassi in Pune. It’s almost as good as the one at Pehelwan in Varanasi. The lassi freshly made in front of you topped off with a generous dollop of soft fresh cream. It’s thick, lip-smacking, nourishing, and gives me a heavenly feeling. I sip slowly, relishing every mouthful, almost eating the delectable fluid after letting it perambulate on my tongue, as I watch the world go about it’s business outside. People come, gulp their lassis in a hurry, and rush away, while I blissfully savor each and every drop of the delicious lassi.

I walk leisurely towards Camp. Past Mira College, GPO, Zero Milestone, Police Headquarters, Nehru Memorial Hall, where I cross the Moledina Road admiring the imposing Lal Deval Synagogue, and turn left, past the place imperial Dorabjee Store Building used to be once. Now there is a huge shopping complex and a glitzy mall opposite. I reminisce. West End, New Empire, all the adorable landmarks gone – “Landmark” – what’s that? A swanky new music-cum-book store. I walk in. The place is swarming with chic salesgirls and salesboys. No one pays any attention to me. Maybe I blend well with the surroundings. I realize the tremendous advantages of obscurity and the benefits of anonymity. Had I been a “successful” person, rich and famous, or someone with a striking personality, people would notice me and I doubt I would have been able to enjoy myself with such carefree abandon. Only non-achievers like me can truly enjoy a life of carefree irresponsibility.

I roam around the ground floor music section. There are no music stations where you can listen to music – like they have in Rhythm House and Planet-M in Mumbai. So I go the first floor bookstore. It’s spacious, neatly laid out and looks impressive. The books are arranged subject-wise, clearly visible from anywhere. There are cushioned stools to sit and browse and also two long sofas below the huge tinted windows towards the far side. I start from the left. Food, Philosophy, Self-Help, Travel, Coffee Table, Erotica, Classics, Fiction, Computers, Children, Indian Writing – there are books on every topic you can think of. The tranquil ambiance is so soothing and conducive that I browse to my heart’s content, loosing myself into that wonderful state of timelessness I experience sometimes when I’m totally immersed into doing something I love.

By the time I leave Landmark, cerebrally satiated, it’s almost three in the afternoon, I’m hungry, and in desperate need of gastronomic satiation. So I walk past Manney’s, West End, turn right on Main Street, cross Aurora Towers, turn right, walk past ABN Amro Bank, and turn left on Dastur Meher Road, a walk leisurely towards Sarbatwala Chowk till I reach Dorabjee and Sons. I dive in through the low entrance and look around. The eatery is crowded, with noisy families bashing away regardless greedily devouring the heaps food before them. The mouth-watering aroma, and the sight of the appetizing food, creates in me such ravenous pangs of hunger that I quickly sit on the only vacant table and order a Mutton Biryani – the signature dish of Dorabjee.

As is the hallmark of specialty cuisine restaurants – the menu is select – just a few choice dishes a single page. There’s Sali, Curry, Masala and Biryani in Mutton and Chicken; Kheema, Brain, Eggs, and combinations thereof, cutlets in gravy, and a few Veg dishes, for appearance sake. On Sundays, you can have Dhansak, maybe on your way to the races in the season.

I spoon some Biryani onto my tongue, seal my lips, close my eyes, turn my senses inwards with full consciousness to imbibe and savor the unique medley of juices released by the succulent piece of mutton, the bitterish-sweet taste of the slightly burnt crisp fried onions, and the spicy flavorsome rice. It is superlative delicious authentic cuisine at its best. Dorabjee serves the best mutton biryani in Pune – no doubt about it.

The fervent atmosphere of the place and exquisite quality of the food is such that one eats enthusiastically, with wholehearted zest and gusto; not apologetically and self-consciously, as one tends to do, trying to be prim and proper, in highfalutin restaurants. At Dorabjee, you can enjoy every morsel of your food with passionate ardor. And as I reach blissful satiety I realize that a well-filled stomach radiates a kind of spiritual happiness.

The ideal way to end this rich spicy repast is to cool it off with a Falooda. So I walk down Sachapir Street, cross Main Street, and head for Badshah on East Street to down a deliciously sweet and chilled Rose flavored Royal Falooda. And then to Kayani, down East Street to pick up some Shrewsbury Biscuits and Chocolate Walnut Cake.

I stand outside Kayani, wondering what to do. Maybe I can go to Manney’s and browse some more. If Landmark has got the ambiance, Manney’s got the books! And then just walk down Main Street admiring pretty looking things, till I’m tired and hungry. Maybe I’ll have some sandwiches, a roll and cold coffee at Marzorin. Or pastries and a softy at Pasteurs. Or a Burger at Burger King, or a Chopsuey at East End, down East Street. Or should I see the movie at Victory opposite, or at West End nearby. Maybe I’ll jump into the first bus I see and go wherever it goes. How about going for a long walk on Lami road into the heart of town? Or an idyll beside the river in Bund Garden, or Saras Baug, or Sambhaji Park? Or maybe I’ll just head home. The possibilities are endless! I feel on top of the world. I am proud to be a loafer - free to do whatever I choose to do! Loaf to my heart’s content! To continue to spend a perfectly useless day in a perfectly useless manner!

You can take my word for it, dear reader. There is nothing you’ll enjoy more than loafing. It is when you cease to do the things you have to do, and do the things you like to do, and you want to do, that you achieve the highest value of your time. The freedom to enjoy life is the ultimate reward. Why should you defer happiness waiting for some elusive abstract rewards? What reward could be greater than a life enjoyed as it is lived?

If you do not find happiness as you are, where you are, here and now, you will never find it. There is always plenty in life right now to enjoy for one who is determined to enjoy it. The feast of life is before you. Do you have the appetite to enjoy the feast of life? So my dear friend, discover the art of loafing, and you’ll redeem the art of living from the business of living.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

House Hunt

House Hunt
Vikram Karve

I’m hunting for a house
I’m hunting for a house
House Hunting, House Hunting
For a retirement home
To spend the rest of my life
In peace and tranquility
In Pune

I love to read
And there must be a library nearby
Like the one across the Oval
Below the Rajabai clock-tower
Or a bookstore to browse
Like Oxford next door
To Empress Court
Near Churchgate
Where I lived the six best years of my life
In Mumbai

I love good food
So my house must be surrounded
By plenty of foodie joints
Like those in Fort
Near Empress Court
Or even in Colaba, Chowpatty and the interiors
Towards which every evening
I set out
On food walks
Enjoying the setting sun
Relishing the sea breeze
On Marine drive
And then I walked
Right into the heart of Mumbai
To discover and savor
Sumptuous gastronomic delights
Till I had my satiating fill

Or better still
Remember my abode
On Curzon Road
Just a stone’s throw away
From such delightful places
Like Bengali, Pandara, Gol and Khan Markets
In delicious Delhi
Not to forget Nirula’s and Embassy at CP
And if I wanted to see a play
Kamani, Shriram and NSD were just a hail away
Like NCPA and Kalaghoda
Near Empress Court
In Mumbai
Is there such a place in Pune?

I love my pet dog
Who loves to romp around
The verdant garden
In the large compound
Of my house near Aundh
Surrounded by wide expanse
Of fauna and flora
And lots of earth
To sniff, dig and scrape
And plenty of space
To walk my dog apace
Like I did on the lawns on India Gate
And on the greens of the Oval
No I don’t want a swanky flat
Sterile and glitzy
The earth far away
Or a place near a “park”
Like Kamala Nehru Park
Where they don’t allow dogs.
Is there a place
Where I can live with my dog
In Pune

I’m hunting and hunting
House Hunting, House Hunting
And have not found a suitable place
Where I can live my retirement years
As a bibliophile, foodie and dog-lover
In contentment and glorious solitude
In Pune

Is there such a house?
Can you help me out?


Wednesday, January 24, 2007



I believe in the dictum – ‘When hungry, eat; and when tired, sleep’. I spent entire the Sunday browsing books at the library and bookstores loosing all sense of time, and at five thirty in the evening I found myself ravenously hungry, standing on Fergusson College Road in Pune. At this odd hour, it was too early for “dinner”, and the only “snack” I could think of in the vicinity which would satiate my rapacious pangs of hunger was “Mutton Cutlet Curry” at Good Luck Café nearby at the crossing with Bhandarkar Road.

During my younger days, when Pune was Poona, I used to frequent three eateries in the Deccan area – Good Luck, Lucky and the Poona Coffee House. Now Lucky and the Coffee House have disappeared and only the good old Good Luck is going strong. You can savor a variety of delectable stuff at Good Luck – ranging from Bun Maska-Chai to Biryani – but today I ordered what I consider the signature dish of Good Luck, my favorite “Mutton Cutlet Curry”.

Soon, there was placed in front of me a huge crisp-hot heart shaped mouthwatering mutton cutlet floating in a bowl of rich scrumptious gravy. In the side dish, I seasoned the onion wedges with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime, ordered slices of freshly baked soft fluffy bread, and got ready for the eat.

First a small piece of the substantial cutlet – it was heavenly – delicious wholesome fare made up of yummy mutton kheema cooked in plenty of spices dunked in egg and deep fried till crisp and crunchy. I did not bite; that would destroy everything. I let the piping hot piece of cutlet tingle my tongue a bit, and spooned in a generous dollop of the thick opulent curry. My mouth was on fire – literally and figuratively, with heat and spice – and instinctively I popped in a piece of the soft soothing bread and pressed my tongue against my palate and let everything disintegrate and melt in my mouth, followed by a zesty piece of well seasoned onion to liven up things further with its sharp biting flavor and enhance the intense eating experience. It was sumptuous.

Now it was time to use my fingers, copiously drench a piece of bread in the gravy, clutch in a piece of the cutlet and let the delicious stuff melt in my mouth; with a piece of the peppery onion from time to time to keep the sizzle lively. And once I was fully satiated, what better way to give a befitting end to the fiery repast than a delicious cup of nourishing Irani Tea! Sheer bliss; non-alcoholic intoxication at its best!

Café Good Luck is a decent Value For Money eatery you must visit whenever go to Pune next and are around Deccan. Relish the Biryani, the mutton and chicken dishes, (if you’re adventurous try the new jungli tawa stuff), the puddings, the bun-maska, or maybe just a cup of tea. But don’t forget to enjoy the Mutton Cutlet Curry!


Career Choice


One of the greatest misfortunes in life is to be good at something you don’t like. You may be proficient in mathematics, but you may hate it. You may be competent public relations communicator, busy interacting with people every minute of the day, but may love a life of solitude and contemplation. In order to be able to select the right career, one has to reflect, analyse, know one’s inner self, and be able to clearly distinguish between what one is good at (proficiency, competence) and what you like and want to do in life (interests, values).

When I was in school, there was no concept of career counseling or vocational guidance. All the boys were herded into the Science stream (unless one was very poor at mathematics) and all the girls were considered suitable for Humanities (unless she put her foot down and insisted on science). Then, if you were in science and did well, the options were Engineering or Medicine, and most of us continued being good at something we didn’t like! And later in life we discovered what we truly liked and pursued what we really wanted to do (our true métier) as hobbies!

Now it’s different. Young persons have plenty of choice and opportunity to choose what they want to do. If you are on the verge of choosing your career, the first thing to do is to develop a concept of the person you would like to be. Let your inner conscience be your guide and resist temptation and pressures from elders and peers. Choosing a job you like which is not in conflict with your values and lets you realize your full individuality and creative potential will enable you to achieve a sense of fulfillment.

Do interact with career counselors, talk to your parents, elders, peers and take their advice, but remember to distinguish between the “hard” and the “soft” facets of career attributes. At this juncture, why don’t you read my article on “Choosing the Right Career” at:

Read some good books on career guidance. My favorite is a book called What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles. It’s updated and published every year. It’s a fascinating read and will help you discover your true métier.

And why not take a few career tests? You can either visit a career counselor or psychologist who will administer relevant tests to you. Or try the online tests. My favorite one is The Princeton Review Career Quiz available online at:

It is a simple, fast, interesting forced choice test which presents you with interesting career options. I just gave the test a few moments ago, and the results say that my interest color is Blue, which means I’m a creative, humanistic, thoughtful, quiet type, and my usual style is Yellow, which means I tend to be orderly, cautious, loyal, systematic, methodical, solitary, and organized and will thrive in a research-oriented, predictable, established, orderly environment. My career choices include Writer, Librarian, Philosopher, Teacher, Professor, Researcher, College / School Administrator, Human Resources Manager, Guidance Counselor, and , yes, Career Counselor! Am I one of these? Well, I’m not going to tell you!

All the best! Have fun, learn about yourself. Take your time, think, discuss, read, experiment, reflect, discover your true métier in harmony with your interests and values and inner self.

Choose your career wisely – remember it’s better to be good at what you like than be good at what you don’t like! And if you have something to ask, why don’t you write to me?


Friday, January 05, 2007



My name is Vikram Karve. I’m 50 and live in Pune, India. I love reading, writing and blogging and have a philosophical attitude towards life. Here are a few links to my musings on various aspects of the art of living. I trust you will enjoy and derive benefit by reading them. Do send me your comments and feedback to:


[A book that shaped my life and taught me the art of living]












80/20 LIVING















I hope you enjoyed these articles and look forward to your feedback. I’ll keep on posting.

Pune India