I ended up leaving this place a little early after all to head into the city. Mostly because I had to take care of a backpack full of dirty laundry, but also because I needed to come up for air. The final verdict: Pune is the first place on this trip that I didn’t love. I didn’t love the ashram and I didn’t love the city. The constant rain wasn’t helpful.
I think I was naive when assuming that monsoon in India is like the rainy season in most other places I’ve traveled: lots of rain, but decent amounts of sunshine here and there. This was only rain. Dark and gloomy. When I ditched meditating to try to drop back into city life again, the gloom still felt heavy, even being surrounded by people and traffic. Such a difference from the warmth I experienced in Rajasthan.
Despite this, there were a few bright spots in my visit to rainy Maharashtra:
My room at the ashram was so run down that every place I’ve stayed in since (rooms that I would have balked at a few weeks ago) feels almost luxurious. Nice to get a little perspective here as to how bad it can really get. Makes the rest of the budget lodging feel like a piece of cake, and I hope it stays that way!
I finally learned how to sit up properly for meditation, and I’m amazed that it took that long to learn a few simple techniques. This has helped tremendously in my practices since.
In Pune proper, I got out by myself a ton for the first time. My hosts in Jaipur were amazing for taking me anywhere I wanted to go, but the downside of that was that I didn’t jump off the deep end in doing it alone. Now, I can hail a rickshaw, navigate the streets, and spot a few scams like a pro. 😊
Here are a few snapshots of some sightseeing I did in the city:
Where I stayed: Backpacker Panda Pune, Koregan Park
Room: bed in women’s dorm
Recommend? No. The room itself was decent, but this was a generic, cookie-cutter hostel that I picked because it was the only thing available in my budget in short notice. There’s also only one place on the property to eat your meals, and it’s the deck where everyone sits outside and smokes all day–a little gross if you’re a non-smoker.
Bonus fun fact: I’m still not sure how to pronounce Pune. Mostly everyone I’ve met here says “Poo-nay” but the people that actually live there say “Poo-nah.” I’m thinking both ways are correct.