Pune reaches out to a different kind of tourist. Many of them are here for study courses and their holidays are activity based. New age therapy travellers, yoga enthusiasts, academics doing Phd's in temple architecture, dancers learning the intracacies of Bharat Natyam, and many other kinds of tourists as well , back packers and guru seekers, looking for an exotic and inexpensive holiday, stop by from Varanasi or Dharamshala via Bombay on their way to Goa.
After a month of dal, rice, sabzi and hot curries, it is not surprising that many look out for food more recognisable to their intrepid but weary tastebuds. Besides pizza and burger outlets , of which there are many, a little caffe und kuchen is what the tourist yearns for. And a busy, on-the-road sort of cafe, good for people watching and being watched, is even better.
So you have Cafe Coffee Day and Barista, which are very much teen crowd hangouts. The first is for young people who earn their own pocket money, and the next for those whose allowance is generous (and from a parental pocket). Most of them seem to be talking into their mobiles and not to their companions at the table, so there is very little to distinguish the two.
And then there is the German Bakery, of which several versions exist, in Nepal, Kashmir, and Goa. They offer whole wheat breads, cakes, pies, desserts, soft drinks, herbal teas, lassi, fruit juices, Nutella sandwiches, Darjeeling tea and coffee.
Their Pune customers are often from the Osho Ashram close by, dressed in maroon or white depending on the time of day and their status within the organisation.
Others sport rasta hair and multicoloured clothing, all a bit ethnic and brocadey, with flowing clothes, shimmering gowns at breakfast, and other garb more exotic than even their surroundings, conducive to living out an oriental fantasy. Fantasy being a non violent activity, they are accepted and treated well by most residents.
Sound in the German bakery is a babel of languages mixed with the squawking horns of the rickshaws, cars, and trucks passing inches away. In earlier and presumably better days, German bakery had usurped part of the main road and kept growing with little shacks extending in all directions.
Then the PMC (Pune Municipal Corporation) decided to undertake road widening on North Main Road, cutting a swathe through 400 year old trees and the popular Bakery, as well as several establishments of doubtful nature.
Ancestral homes were reduced in size as well, so the pain was felt all across the social board. A road, as anyone knows, is only as wide as its narrowest part. Therefore traffic on North Main road is just as mad as it always was , as 'lanes' of three or four abreast merge to form one, and spread out to reform into four to six lanes as the need arises.
As a result, GB is at the heart of the hustle and bustle. Trade does not seem to have been affected, and the cafe is just as full as it always was.Their notice says it succintly " Please do not sit for a long time" which is why I listed this blog under Fast and Furious. However I did not feel any pressure to vacate my table in a hurry.
I ordered a carrot nut cake and ginger lemon tea . Both were good and I enjoyed the atmosphere of the place.It was very holiday like and made me want to get on the bus and head for the laid back beaches of Goa as well.
North Main Road