The joy of unstructured living

Ambika Shaligram
Wednesday, 29 May 2019

In 2018, Madhuvanti Karyekar returned to Pune after 18 years. Originally from Kankavali, she came to the city, as a student. In 2000, she moved out to study at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. After her marriage, she relocated to the USA, where her husband was employed.

In 2018, Madhuvanti Karyekar returned to Pune after 18 years. Originally from Kankavali, she came to the city, as a student. In 2000, she moved out to study at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. After her marriage, she relocated to the USA, where her husband was employed.
“We would visit Pune and Kankavali during our vacations. But when we decided to move here permanently, our well-wishers were a little stunned. We were often asked ‘This must be a cultural shock to you, isn’t it?’ To be frank, it wasn’t. My husband and I are from India, so, yes, it took a little time getting used to the poor infrastructure, but it’s fine,” says Karyekar, who is a visiting faculty at Savitribai Phule Pune University for a post-graduate course. 

Her 11-year-old son, Chinmay, however, has some interesting observations to make. “In his schooling in the US, he was taught to be inclusive, considerate, to share and so on. After moving to Pune, one fine day, he casually remarked, ‘People here are always in a rush. They are not kind to stray animals’. By and by, I am sure he will realise that India is a land of diversities and extremities. We have scarce resources and there is a need and urgency to achieve something for oneself before others do,” she adds. 

However, Karyekar and her husband are happy about the changes they have seen in the city and its people. “We live in Warje, near the Bhamburda forest land, where there is a tekadi (hillock) and I have seen people committed to the cause of keeping it green. They regularly water the plants, take up cleaning drives, they are trying to reduce plastic usage. I didn’t see this kind of commitment and dedication earlier,” says she.

“On the flip side, there is rising consumerism,” observes Karyekar, adding, “I have nothing to complain. I am not judging either. But when I see kids spending Rs 100 or more at CCD regularly, I am amazed. I didn’t have that kind of money when I was growing up, although my parents were well-to-do. Even in the US, my husband and I were conservative spenders. While I was studying, my husband had a new job, so we didn’t spend a lot there. In Pune and elsewhere, I see an abundance of malls, glitzy outlets, fancy dining-out options and all.”

Her son is making the most of his time here, with colony and school friends, classes, relatives, guests and what not. “Life in the US was structured. You had play dates, here, you can just land up unannounced at someone’s house and have fun. Chinmay has opened up a lot with people around him. I guess this is what India is, unstructured and easy going,” she says and smiles. 

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