I want to warn you, because I’m exaggerating a bit with the following bold statement: ‘I knew India quite well before we arrived here a little more than a year ago’. When I share specific details about previous trips to this country, people are surprised and often jealous: ‘you have seen more of India than me’ is a common phrase that I’m being told. Especially I have summed up the long list of areas and places that were once on my bucket list. Prior to our arrival in 2016, I had been travelling through this magnificent country during five previous visits, mainly in the south. Some people will be surprised to hear that I truly fell in love with this country and its wonderful people.
However, an apology is necessary before I continue. It is not fair to state that I actually ‘know’ India. In fact, it’s too bold and wrong of me. Even today, after being in India for more than one year, India continues to surprise me with heartwarming rituals, unknown facts and endless beauty. During the past year, the ‘loving making’ with the Indian subcontinent slowly transformed into a solid marriage. Knowing and understanding your newlywed spouse also comes with some less attractive elements. Traveling through the country, walking down the streets, doing just normal daily activity in the city means that I have also seen some unpleasant elements of the country. I slowly start to understand the rough edges of daily life. The dirt, the dowry and the millions of poor people often make me sad. After living here for a while you tend to get used to some of these elements. However, a crying woman with a small child that tries to beg for at the traffic lights is, and always has been a painful sight. This makes me sad and I have to admit, sitting in the back of a luxurious SUV feels a bit uncomfortable during these moments. Yes, I’m the lucky one, but the image of a crying woman, dark tanned by the hot sun, often reminds me of the huge inequality in the country.
Having travelled here only during the winter months, did not allow me to experience any of the great big festivals and celebrations that the country had to offer. Now being in India for a longer period, allows me to do a lot more. Being here during Diwali was great, running around in the streets during Holi was fun! Every celebration, even the local ones, is a different experience and it has always been fun to be a part of it. Another great thing about being here for a longer period is the observation different seasons from a climate perspective, and how it influences the vegetation and different species. One of the trees in my garden blooms almost year round, except during winter months. The harvest season of my two big mango trees is usually in March and April. Oh, and one other thing: snakes only come out in my garden during the monsoons…
Observing all the seasons has been a great experience for me. Being in Pune during April and May was definitely a challenging time. With the mercury around or above 40 degrees, I usually spent my days at the Starbucks round the corner, in the house or in the back of the car. Having a solid air-conditioner around is a must for me to survive. The monsoon was a welcoming experience after the hot months. It was amazing to see how the brown and yellow mountains quickly transformed into a lush green haven. I have never witnessed so many tinges of green in my life! The monsoon didn’t leave early this year and produced an occasional but rare shower around Diwali as a result.
The winter is officially over now, and I can now share my thoughts here. What is the ‘best season’ in Pune? During winter, the night temperatures drop to a very comfortable 10-21 degrees and during the daytime it is been mostly sunny, with temperatures varying between 26-30 degrees. Experiencing this for a second time now, I know this: winter is definitely Pune’s best season!