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Pune

Pune is just a few hours down a highway that could have been made in Europe and, in fact, probably was, in that most highways in India that aren’t covered in potholes are run, financed and maintained by Western companies.

Pune is seen as a quiet backwater by Indians from Bombay but then anywhere in comparison to that hellhole would be. Being an Indian city, Pune is, of course, as polluted and overcrowded as anywhere but it has an undercurrent of affluence that sets it apart, especially if you’re hanging around Koragon Park, the wealthier district where the infamous Osho Ashram is set.

A good number of travelers end up spending a lot of time in Pune, usually around Koragon Park, whether they don the maroon robes or not. You can find people making business, studying Ayurvedic massage or maybe just getting jobs dancing for hotels or private functions.

Koragon Park has some nice backlanes and the actual park is down by the river where the usual mix of decaying vegetable matter, plastic and excrement rot in the sun. And the bridge that crosses the river is so full of constant traffic that if you stare at it long enough you can almost begin to see the code of the Matrix reveal itself.

Pune has some fun nightlife as well – discos where you can pay 100 rupees for a bottle of water (really) and meet all the rich kids out to play every night. You can dance like a complete nerd and still come off as the coolest mover in the place. You might get even adopted by the spoilt teenagers who drive from joint to joint in their 4 wheel drive Landrovers. Never mind if they hit a few poor people on the way – daddy will pay.