I woke up nice and early on Sunday. I enjoyed catching up with my friends at home by checking Facebook, and pondered the view from outside my hotel room window. Pune seemed a little more dingy in the early morning light. When I went downstairs to the lobby there were clown cut-outs and balloons at the entrance to the restaurant. I thought someone rented the restaurant for a child’s birthday party, but it turns out that the hotel has an event every Sunday to attract family’s to their brunch buffet. They have entertainment for the children. Seems like a smart marketing move, however I was sure to have breakfast before the festivities began on the following Sunday.
I left the hotel with my coworker, her mom and sister for a day in the city. They had rented a driver from outside the hotel in hopes to save money, however the car was too small, the driver was too smelly, and he got us lost several times. After an argument with the cab company, we let the driver go, and had a driver from the hotel come pick us up. He took us to the shopping district of Pune, the shopping Mall on MG road. There are lots of places in Pune from the exterior are dirty and decrepit, as we walked into the mall, the inside was shockingly new and modern. I went to a store called West End, and purchased a few outfits. Outside the store was a Pizza Hut. The Pizza was very similar to US pizza except it was served with an extra portion of peppers and ketchup. Outside the mall were very poor looking women and children looking for hand-outs.
I had a very hard time with giving children on the street money because of watching the movie Slum Dog Millionaire. They would tug at my sleeve and put their hands to their mouths to gesture they wanted food. I made sure that later I stopped to buy some candy, as I know that if they had candy they would probably eat it. If I gave them money, they might give it to someone who may be exploiting them.
The view from outside the mall was definitely a stark contrast of modern and poverty. The streets were very dirty and unkept, but the buildings were lined with brightly-colored billboards advertising luxury goods.
After we left the mall, we went to some strip-mall looking buildings. We were lead down 3 flights of stairs to a store called Pix Boutique. We were made to take our shoes off before entering the store. Inside was an array of modern fixtures and shelves filled with brightly colored traditional Indian dresses. A gentleman had us take a seat, and he pulled out dresses that he thought would fit us. My coworker and I tried on several. I ended up buying a dark red/brownish 3 piece traditional indian outfit. It had leggings, a dress, and a sash. We also went to a shop called the Bombay store where I found several gifts for friends and family.
After our shopping we went to search for a beauty salon (pronounced Saloon to the locals). We finally found one that was open at around 7PM. There I got a pedi/mani, and the girls got their brows threaded. I had never seen this process before. As the evening approached traffic picked up. Pune’s lack of public infrastructure has left it a city with poor roads and bad traffic.
Sunday night I had a pretty serious case of Jet Lag. Although I was dead tired from all of the running around we did all day, I could not fall asleep. I felt as though my body was vibrating as I laid in bed. I used breathing techniques and meditation to relax and I eventually fell asleep around 3 am.