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12 Cool Things Pune Should Have

This article was published on The Punekar and can be viewed here

I have been lucky enough to live in several cities over the past few years. Pune has been a particular favourite for me; I always feel home here. So I am always thinking about ways this city can be made more livable and more exciting! 

1. Pop-up Restaurants
Chef Gaggan
If you’re a follower of the global food scene, you’ve probably heard of pop-up restaurants. Pop-ups are like wandering, nomadic restaurants and our neighbor, Mumbai, has seen quite a few of them over the past year. Case in point, Gaggan Anand of Gaggan fame (his eponymous Bangkok restaurant ranked 3rd on the World’s 50 Best Asian Restaurants list) set up a public tasting of his progressive Indian menu at Bandra-Kurla Complex. Needless to say, the city’s foodies were raving about it. Pune has a proud and flourishing food history too and we are sure there will be lots of takers of such pop-ups.

2. Dedicated Public Open Spaces
Federation Square, Melbourne
The city’s urban dwellers are spending way too much time indoors; be it within offices or malls. Walking on the roads isn’t much fun with the bludgeoning traffic scene and incessant honking. Parks are too few and largely unkempt. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a multi-purpose area dedicated for free use by the public. In such a space, meet-ups, intimate music gigs, food festivals and open-air movie screenings can be curated at this public space. Take a hint from Melbourne’s Federation Square and London’s Trafalgar Square.
3. More Fashion Brands
We all have that one friend or cousin from the likes of Dubai, US or UK visiting Pune and sporting an amazing bag or tee of a brand we are not familiar with (and would never hazard admitting). Hey, we want access to these cool brands too. It’s not fun when you run the risk of running into someone at a restaurant wearing the ditto dress you bought from Vero Moda. Move over Mango and Zara – someone bring us Top Shop and Michael Kors! Shopping online just isn’t the same thing.
4. Sustainable Parking Solutions
This parking spot in Hong Kong was sold for $547,000
With a miles-to-achieve public transportation system, many in the city have opted for the convenience of a personal four- or two-wheeler. But Pune’s roads are choked and parking is every driver’s nightmare. We have all found ourselves in that tacit competition to find that empty spot on the road before the other drivers. Crowded cities like Hong Kong and London house two of the five most expensive parking spaces in the world costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why can’t we have smart, green multi-level parking facilities in several of Pune’s busy spots?
5. More Direct Flights
Every time Punekars have to travel abroad, the almost-four-hour-long drive to the Mumbai airport is not tempting; this road journey is an unwanted part of the travel itinerary, and we want some respite now. Think about this; with a direct flight, you can now reach the exotic Seychelles from Mumbai in just three hours! That’s a tad quicker than the time it takes to travel from Pune to Mumbai using the Expressway. It would be a dream if Pune had direct flights at economical fares to more cities in India and short haul flights to South-East Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
6. Fun Workshops
Lots of people, expats and Indians, are shifting base to Pune, be it for education or for work. But does Pune have something for everybody? Not really. We have lots of breweries in the city but is there a place where hops-heads can learn more about beer and brewing? Lots of youngsters love a tipple, but do they have anywhere to go to learn about mixology? Does anyone teach the minimalist art of Japanese home cooking? We want more than multiplexes and malls to busy ourselves over on weekends; we want some fun workshops to nurse a forgotten hobby!
7. Co-working Spaces
An emerging tech hub, Pune is also coming into its own as a start-up hub. It is important the city supports new businesses and its up and coming entrepreneurs. Homes, restaurants and cafés doubling up as makeshift office spaces for start-ups are restrictive and temporary solutions. Co-working spaces like The Mesh, the first of its kind in Pune founded by Deepti Kasbekar, is dedicated to solve the office-space problem for start-ups. How about more of these spaces in the city?
8. Themed Days
Two years ago, Hindustan Times organized the ‘HT No TV Day’ campaign in Mumbai and Delhi. On November 30, 2014, Janwani organised the ‘Tring Tring Day’ in association with PCMC in Pune to promote cycling. Some corporate offices also observe one day in the week as the ‘No Dustbin Day’ in the staff cafeteria to limit food wastage. We would like to see more of such conscious and at the same time fun initiatives soar in the city in 2015. And, speaking of themed days, we want more themed places as well; Victorian themed restaurants, Bollywood/Hollywood themed cafés. These are fun and will bring in varied cultures into the city.
9. Gaming Spots
The next time you visit Bangalore, head to Monkey Bar to soak in the vibe. It’s a really cool place with good music and indulgent food and drinks. And foosball and a pool table that are forever occupied. The popular Rodeo Drive in Dubai has a mechanical bull ride at the centre of the restaurant, which attracts both the timid and adventurous alike. The now shut Mocha Mojo in Mumbai used to organise Board Game Nights once a month. Apart from food, it is such recreational activities that form the makings of a really fun night out with the buddies. We want more of such cool places with gaming options in Pune.
10. WiFi City
What are we without bandwidth? Bangalore became India’s first city to have several free WiFi hotspots. Hyderabad is in the running for being India’s first fully WiFi enabled metro. If Pune has to attract more tech entrepreneurs, be home to start-ups and appeal to foreign tourists, having free WiFi spots would be a step in the right direction. How cool would it be to have the whole city ‘WiFied’?!
11. Cool Rentals
There are secret societies, and then there are secret bag societies. Capisce? No? Let me explain. In these recession-hit times, few have the spare cash to spend on an expensive Tony Burch or Alexander McQueen. So what do you carry for that haughty, Page-3 night out? Rent a bag! With an annual membership fee, websites in the West like Bag, Borrow or Steal have come to the rescue of many label-crazy ladies. Pune’s young fashionistas too want such rental options. And, not just for bags; we want to rent it all- faux fur, shoes, bags, jewellery, more, more, and more.
12. Smart Cars
Mahindra Reva
 Whether you walk or drive on traffic-engulfed roads, doesn’t the idea of breathing in clean fresh air sound appealing? Enter Electric Vehicles (EVs). However, it’s been a rough ride for India’s first automatic electric car, the Mahindra Reva; their sales figures in Indian cities, including Pune, do not look electrifying. As we move into 2015, let us embrace lifestyle changes that are more environmentally conscious for a cleaner, pollution-free Pune.

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