27 February, 2021

Poona Expressway Town

Delhi is jaded, Mumbai hyperventilating. So head for Pune, the place that's arrived.

Poona Expressway Town
On a wind-swept weekend night, in an ear-deafening crescendo of guitars and drums, the Beast is back—and Pune's not getting worked up about it. "Are you f***ing doing well? Are you rocking tonight?" howls Paul 'The Beast' Di Anno of heavy-metal act Iron Maiden to a headbanging throng of Pune-ites on the grounds of the Corinthian, the city's new hilltop club. "Yeah, yeah, yeah!!!" the delirious youngsters scream back at the ghoulish rocker. It's a dusty, dirty night—Di Anno's jokes are as profane as they can get, the music's nasty metal, but Pune doesn't mind this monster's ball one bit. There's no moral police hovering around to nix this gig—like they do in more fashionable Mumbai, 170 km away. Same night, some distance away in Koregaon Park, it's a much more genteel setting at the opening of an Iranian cafe where guests gorge on lamb kebabs, smoke hookahs and swing easily to a portly crooner belting out jazz standards. "Tell you what," says Bijoy Guha, a corporate chief executive, sipping his red wine. "Pune is the rare city that lives and lets live. It's a syncretic,...

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