Settling into Pune

Hello friends! I’ve made it to Pune and am FINALLY in my flat. I have a few new sounds to get used to: the toilet water running almost constantly, pigeon’s cooing outside my window, the sound of traffic all around me. The latter sound has become so familiar that I can pick out the sounds of the rickshaw engines through the chorus of smog-breathing vehicles. Every morning I wake up earlier than desired. The sunlight and the sound of honking horns rudely shove me from my sleep.

I warned in my last post that I was going to be taking a bit of a hiatus while I shifted to Pune and got settled into my new place. I thought I’d be blogging a little bit sooner than now!

I’m living with another Fulbright-Nehru Student Researcher named Robin. She arrived in Pune a few days earlier than I did and started the apartment hunting. Thank goodness! I had heard stories about the difficult process of finding a broker who wouldn’t charge an unreasonable fee (like 9 months rent!), finding a landlord who would rent to foreigners, and finding a place that was fully furnished. So while I finished up business in Bombay, Robin found a great team of brokers: Simone and Sunil, German ex-pat and Indian boyfriend, respectively. They took her to see some apartments. She saw several that all fit the bill, but only one that fit the budget. After she described it to me over the phone I took a leap of faith and told her to go ahead and say we’d take it. The next morning I left for Pune.

That was 8 days ago. Yesterday we finally moved into our place. We “signed the lease” last Friday (we handed over a huge wad of cash and filled out a C-Form, a piece of paper proving that we live here in Pune) and brought in all of our bags. Finally. A home. Well kind of. We moved in a little early, before the previous tenants had cleared out. Our brokers were very great and tried to accommodate our needs (a place to live ASAP). We worked out a deal with the landlord and thought everything had been sorted out. Long story short, a lot can get lost in translation when you are communicating between a landlord, two brokers (one who speaks very limited English), two new tenants, and two old tenants. Sunday night came and we found ourselves packing up the essentials and heading to our friend Rachel’s place for a few nights. There just weren’t enough beds in our future flat.

Rachel, a PhD student from Boston College, has been coming to India since 2000. She calls Pune her second home. It was a treat to crash at her place. A little older and a little wiser, Rachel made us coffee every morning, fed us delicious food, and let us use her internet connection. She had clean sheets and western pillows. We slept well and ate well. We were happy little ducks in the monsoon rains with a cozy nook and a mama duck who taught us both Marathi phrases and Texas-isms. Not a bad way to live after being displaced from our new flat.

But feeling a bit like refugees living in the lap of luxury has passed. We are now settling into our apartment slowly but surely. There’s still one German girl here, but we’ve taken over one of the bedrooms and bought a few groceries. By Monday (hopefully!) the place will be clean and fresh and ready for us to make it our home for the next few months.

I’m off to AIIS to keep learning Marathi. I feel a bit like a six year old—learning how to read a new script and awkwardly sounding out each letter. But I’ll get into the nitty-gritties of school in my next post. Look for it sometime this weekend. :)

Until next time, Aaron

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