visit to Pune

Mantu told me that we were going to Lonovala, which is some kind of retreat town near Mumbai but of higher altitude. We took a train there and at some point in the train ride we were able to look outside the window and see the city below us. In Lonovala we visited cliffsides, some of which seemed to have friendly downward grades but there were no trails and there was no established hiking or camping culture that I could see. It seemed a shame to me because the air was fresh, there were dams around holding water that was clear and which seemed to be clean enough. None of our crew knew how to swim except me and I did not want to swim alone, so there was no swimming this time.

I was seeing signs near highway onramps which said Pune and Mumbai but I had no idea how far Pune was from Mumbai. Pune was in fact close to us and Mantu declared that we must visit Pune. The only thing I knew about Pune was that Osho’s ashram was there. We did visit the entrance to that ashram but were not allowed in because they require new visitors to come at a certain time to take an HIV test before being allowed to mingle with the other people doing meditation. What really impressed me was the infotech park, which was huge and alien. All of the major software companies have office complexes here and the architecture is modern and experimental. I know the Microsoft campus in Seattle and this place dwarfs that one. One of our crew was an application developer and he was telling me that most of the workers here do application only and not software development. I wonder when it will come to pass that one of these megacorporations decides to compete with Western interests and use their talented staff to make software instead of just complimentary programs for Western software. I think that when the work is able to be well-managed America will have insurmountable competition.

After visiting the infopark we went to Onkar’s family’s house. Mantu does film production work with this family. Onkar’s father produced the “gut” of a musk deer, and althought I had never seen one after I smelled it on his direction I immediately guessed what it was that I was holding. I asked him how he got it and he said that he got it 15 years ago and had been keeping it in his wardrobe to scent his clothes. I hope I never forget the smell; I wanted to keep breathing it. It was sweet and pleasant and not describable in any words which I know. He asked me what I thought such an object would cost today and I guessed USD 15,000. He told me that when he bought it he paid USD 1000. He rubbed it on my hand before I left and I smelled my hand throughout the car ride home. He also gave me some oily blood-red saffron and some “perspiration from rocks,” which is supposed to be some kind of ayurvedic aphrodesiac. Everyone present knew about this rock sweat but I had never heard of it.

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This is Lane Rasberry's personal blog. None of the information on this blog is private, but it is personal and I have not written it with the intent to make it of public general interest. Anyone visiting this site has my permission to use anything they find here for friendly, share-alike purposes.