Tag Archive for 'Pune'

Philippe Starck designer apartments in Pune

Gayatri R Shah at CNN Go:

Credited with bringing Manhattan-style loft living to London in the early 1990s, Hitchcox set up yoo about 10 years ago, with venerated designer Philippe Starck and the two iconoclasts decided to call it yoo because, well, it’s all about you.

They have done 33 projects across 27 countries including such well known hot spots as the Mondrian South Beach hotel in Miami and the Gramercy in New York.

Located at Koregaon Park Annexe, yoopune is being built by award-winning landscape architect Bill Bensley. Some 228 apartments in six towers are for sale, and buyers have the option to choose from either of two design palettes, classic and nature. Yoopune will include a Six Senses spa, as well as tennis courts, a tea lounge, swimming pools and a cigar room.

It’s easy to assume yoo came looking for India, when the interesting backstory is actually that Sagar Chordia, strategic director at Panchshil Realty, was in a cab in Israel when he passed yoo Tel Aviv. Chordia says, “I saw two unique buildings … fantastic architecture, so I went in and they told me it was a Hitchcox project.” More

Opening up to the world and its evils

Akash Kapur in the New York Times:

Pondicherry: A dark wind blew into this sleepy, coastal town recently — it carried the threat of global terrorism, of bombs and gunmen and unprovoked attacks on soft targets.

On Feb. 13, people thought to be Islamic terrorists bombed a restaurant in the northern city of Pune, killing 17 people. Speculation followed that the location had been chosen for its popularity with Western tourists. The government warned that terrorists appeared to be targeting foreigners in India, and soon a specific advisory was issued for this former French colonial outpost, a popular tourist destination usually associated with yoga, spirituality and the quest for inner peace.

A team of commandos in combat gear was seen driving around town in a jeep, automatic rifles at the ready.

At the French Consulate, on the beach road, where middle-aged pensioners take their evening walks, security forces set up roadblocks and sandbags.

The police and extra security were evident at hotels and tourist attractions. In a depressingly familiar — yet in these parts, utterly new — routine, visitors were frisked, and bags were examined. More:

The many charms of Koregaon Park

Sunanda Mehta in The Indian Express. Image Arul Horizon:

Ma Amrit Sadhna of the Osho Commune remembers the time when two majestic banyan trees on either side of the road, and not the two petrol pumps, were Koregaon’s landmarks. “I miss their presence every time I take this road,” says the sanyasin who is also a member of the Commune’s management committee.

The change at the entrance is perhaps symbolic of the transformation that Koregaon has undergone over the years, turning the tranquil, green and peaceful area into one bustling with shops, tourists and eateries.

“Everyone asks me why Osho came to Pune and why he chose Koregaon Park to establish his commune. The answer to the first question is: nobody knows. It is a mystery. And the answer to the second question is that it was chance. His disciples were looking for a spacious bungalow where he could stay and where people could come to meditate. Way back in 1974, Koregaon Park really looked like a park. With sprawling mansions, big gardens and quiet streets lined with huge banyan trees carrying the wisdom of the centuries within their solid trunks, it appeared to be the right setting for meditation,” says Sadhna. More:

Pune’s German Bakery is like Mumbai’s Leopold Cafe

Nine people were killed and nearly 50 injured in a bomb explosion that ripped apart the popular German Bakery near a Jewish prayer house in Pune on Saturday evening. The bakery is near the Osho Ashram and features in every travel guide.

According to Reuters, the government said on Sunday it had little idea who was behind the blast, an attack that some experts said could be the work of home-grown militants. (See Reuters story here)

Below, from the Indian Express: German Bakery is to Pune what Leopold Café, where terrorists struck in 2008, is to Mumbai.

Wooden benches, cane mats, sloping roof and the premises spilling out onto the pavement nearby re-create an ambiance that is cool, classy and very Goa-like. What really endears you to it though is the eclectic menu that offers about 15 varieties of teas, a large choice of sandwiches, salads, breads, cookies and a host of puddings ranging from lemon tart to apple strudel, served with a panache that would make any foreign visitor feel right at home. More:

‘This is about my dignity but it’s also about Indian democracy’

On the night of December 6, 2009, Neetu Singh, a Nepalese citizen and final-year editing student at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune, was picked up by the city police on charges of anti-national activity, taken to Mumbai and deported to Nepal the following day. The incident came to light only when The Indian Express first reported it on December 30. Neetu, who accuses her influential politician husband Amaresh Singh of engineering her deportation, says once she landed in Kathmandu, she was sent off to a town some 500 km away from the capital, where for days she lived in virtual house arrest, surrounded by policemen. With the policemen now gone, Neetu says she finally has some access to the outside world. In an exclusive interview with Yubaraj Ghimire, she recounts the events leading to her deportation and her subsequent ordeal.

Can you lead us through the events of your deportation?

It was around 10.30 at night on December 5. I had just finished saying my prayers before going to bed when I heard a knock on the door. I opened it to find two women, accompanied by the matron of my hostel. One of the policewomen, Anjali Khare from the Prabhat police station in Pune, said I would have to accompany them to the police station for some “verification” related to a case involving a certain Srinivas Rao.

Who is Srinivas Rao?

Some months ago, Fazilat Khan, who is in charge of security at FTII, had told me that some Srinivas Rao, who called himself a CBI personnel, was enquiring about my activities. When I heard that, I felt insecure and informed Kiran Moghe, the Maharashtra president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). She lodged a complaint with the Prabhat Police station on my behalf. I have never seen this Rao. More:

Oldest evidence of leprosy found In India

leprosyScientists have uncovered what they say is the oldest case of leprosy yet found. They have discovered traces of the disease in a 4,000-year-old skeleton they found near Udaipur in Rajasthan, India. The skeleton was buried about 2000 BC.

A report in Science Daily says a team of biological anthropologists from Appalachian State University and archaeologists from Deccan College in Pune, India, recently reported analysis of a 4000-year-old skeleton from India bearing evidence of leprosy. “This skeleton represents both the earliest archaeological evidence for human infection with Mycobacterium leprae in the world and the first evidence for the disease in prehistoric India.”

From the New York Times:

The authors say their find confirms that a passage in the Atharva Veda, a set of Sanskrit hymns written around 1550 B.C., indeed refers to leprosy, a reading that had been doubted because until now the oldest accepted written accounts of the disease were from the sixth century B.C.

The bacterium that causes leprosy seemed to have spread worldwide from a single clone, biologists reported three years ago. But for lack of sufficient samples, they could not tell whether the bacterium was disseminated when modern humans first left Africa about 50,000 years ago, or spread from India in more recent times.

Godse’s war

What is the Abhinav Bharat? What is its agenda? Who are its members? The hardcore Hindu outfit with its ideological links to Veer Savarkar and Gopal Godse now has links, allegedly, with the army and this sets a dangerous precedent in its fight against terror writes Saikat Datta in Outlook.

The Malegaon blast site, September 29

The Malegaon blast site, September 29

Pune, once a shy retreat for pensioners, is now a booming business city-a second Mumbai just four hours by road from India’s commercial capital. Traditionally, it also has the reputation of being Maharashtra’s cultural and educational hub. But Pune has yet another side, being home to militant and ‘nationalistic’ Hindu ideologies for decades. Marathi Brahmin families scattered across the towns of western India suffered a backlash of sorts at the hands of pro-Congress Marathas and others after the Mahatma’s assassination. They mostly came and settled in Pune, an old Brahmin centre, carrying a deep resentment that runs through generations.


Also in Outlook, an interview with Himani Savarkar, president of the Abhinav Bharat

Till 2000, Himani Savarkar was an architect. That’s when she discontinued her practice to become the president of the Hindu Mahasabha. The 61-year-old Himani lives in Pune and her hardline Hindutva roots are well-entrenched. She is the daughter of Gopal Godse, the brother of Nathuram Godse, and is married to Veer Savarkar’s nephew. Himani is also the president of the Abhinav Bharat. Some members of the organisation have been linked to the Malegaon bomb attack of September 29. Himani spoke to Outlook. Excerpts:
How did you become the president of Abhinav Bharat? I had known Sameer Kulkarni (the Maharashtra ATS has alleged that he was part of the team that provided logistic support for the Malegaon blasts) for quite some time. Like me, he was also part of the rss. When he decided to start Abhinav Bharat, he approached me to become its president and I accepted.


Soul spa

The gurus of permissiveness are missing, so are the scandals. The Osho meditation resort in Pune is a sign of a cult that has grown up. Sunanda Mehta in The Indian Express: 


The labels “commune” and “ashram” have been unceremoniously dropped, Ma and Swami shrugged off as prefixes. Life-size photographs of the man with the flowing beard and piercing eyes, Rajneesh Chandra Mohan Jain aka Acharya Rajneesh aka Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh aka Osho, have disappeared from the walls and corners. The swirl of maroon robes remains-you still have to wear one to enter-as does the initiatory ritual of an HIV test. But the Pune ashram of the man who preached a path from sex to superconsciousness is a sanitised space-the Osho International Meditation Resort.

The easy thing, of course, would be to succumb to the notion, as well as the opinion of many an old-timer, that in its compulsion to keep up with the times, the centre has somewhat misplaced its soul. The trappings of modern-day luxury that dot the 40-acre complex, from the huge swimming pool to the Jacuzzis, from the tennis courts to the restaurants, will bear you out. The drug orgies that shocked Pune in the ’90s don’t make headlines anymore and there is more than a whiff of conformism in the description of the place as “the only place in the world that combines meditation with resort facilities”.