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When the Goswami from Assam interviewed the Gandhi scion of India, all hell broke loose. In one of his rare appearances on TV, the Exclusive interview of Rahul Gandhi (we were told this multiple times by flashing ‘exclusive’ between clips during the interview) must have got higher TRPs than most saas-bahu serials and became a trending topic on social media. While many are still hung over it, our hangover took another dimension. What would happen if Arnab ‘I-literally-shout-out-loud’ Goswami interviews a Punekar? Find out.

There is restless silence. There is darkness and somehow, one can see the outlines of two figures. One is clearly wearing spectacles while the other, definitely a pagadi. The screen is suddenly brightened (like our house is after the MSEB finally decides it’s time we got our electricity back on ‘Loadshedding’ day) and we now can see Arnab Goswami sitting across someone wearing a bright red Puneri pagadi.

Arnab: Welcome to our exclusive interview (the word exclusive flashes on screen and zooms out) with a very different guest. While cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and others are fighting between themselves over the title for the ‘Best City in India’, there is one city that is the self-proclaimed winner. Many who live outside, wonder why the people here are so proud. We find the answer tonight as we interview Mr. Punekar.

(we hear claps, only to find out later it was Punekar clapping for himself. Arnab isn’t amused.)

Arnab: So Mr. Punekar, THE NATION WANTS TO KNOW..

Punekar cuts in, speaking in a very soft voice: Ordo nako re. Unlike you, I am not deaf. Such orda orda doesn’t work here. Dogs in our lane bark loudly too, but that doesn’t mean people take them seriously.

A miffed Arnab: Apologies (although sarcastic, now in a voice as soft as of the Punekar). I wanted to ask you Sir, why are the people of Pune so proud?

Punekar: It is not just pride, it is called jajwalya abhimaan.

Arnab: What is jajwalya abhimaan?

Punekar: You don’t know? Oh, right, I forgot you’re not a Punekar. Nahi samajnar (samjhoge).

Arnab: Is that one of your tomna (a tomna is a remark that intends to pass judgment and berate someone in a subtle kind of way)?

Punekar: Waah! Samajta ki!

Arnab: Yes, in my research I realised I need to come prepared for this. (A Hindi-accented Marathi) Tum-hi to-ma-na kaa marta?

Punekar: Tomne. Amhi Tomne marto. Tomna is singular. We do not stop at one. (laughs at own joke)

Arnab (still with a serious face): Why do you enjoy these tomna.. Wait, tomne, so much? You know people hate you for this.

Punekar: Really? Most people who know us seldom expect a straight answer. They eventually get used to our sarcasm.

Arnab: TALKING ABOUT SARCASM (then realising he has to speak softly to this gentleman), you claim your city was the birthplace of sarcasm. Yet, you believe Sheldon Cooper, someone who finds it difficult to understand it, is a Punekar. Are you delusional?

Punekar: Sarcasm was born in Pune. Read the oldest pati you can find and you’ll sense a hint of sarcasm in it. As for Sheldon Cooper, most of his characteristics match our own. We have written a whole article on it and it is self-explanatory. If you’ve read it, you wouldn’t feel the need to debate on it!

Arnab: Okay. Moving on. Which part of Pune were you born in?

Punekar: In the heart of the city.

Arnab: You mean Sadashiv Peth?

Punekar: No, I mean Pune. We have no parts. Although for administrative purposes, we have various areas but we are one. A Punekar is born in Pune. Period!

Arnab: You say that and yet, many Punekars think they have characteristics different from others living in the same city. Isn’t that why you have articles like ‘This is Sadashiv Peth’, ‘Being a Kothrudite’ and for those living on the other side of the river, ‘Being a Puneite’?

Punekar (now serious): Are you accusing us of dividing Pune? If yes, it is basically because you do not understand jajwalya abhimaan. We are proud of everything, our city, our area, our food, our habits, EVERYTHING (this makes its presence in our logo too!). Sometimes, there are a few things that set us apart but our similarities outshine our differences. Thus, the article on ‘How to be a Punekar’.

Arnab (sensing it is getting too serious): On a personal note, Punekars love chai!

Punekar (interjecting): We call it chaha! That is because while drinking our tasty drink, you normally say ‘aha! Masta ahe.’.

Arnab: Well, I am from Assam. The nation knows that our tea is the best. So…

Punekar: Your tea might be good but our choices are better. We don’t just have chaha you know. There are biscuits (90% of the times Parle G), pakodas, bhajis, vada pav, sometimes bun maska, khari, and more. Chaha is also when we have the best of conversations. There is also a proper time for it, like mornings, afternoons or when it’s raining.

Arnab: Okay, yours is better (sensing there is no point arguing. A Punekar will seldom accept it). Ramu, zara yaha aana. Bring some chai and wada pav.

Punekar: Yes. Ramu, chaha mast cutting karo (banao). Aur Wada pav kuthun aan (kahan se laa) raha hai? Changle (acche) dukan (shop) se hi lana. Aise kuch bhi mat laa. Theeekay (okay)?

Ramu: Theek hai sahaab. Aapko paani (with a ण instead of न) deu (lau)?

Punekar: Areey, Marathi are you?

Ramu: HO! Punyachach ahe.

Punekar: Areee, ek number! Mahitich ahe na mag tula sagala! Aan masta chaha ani wada pav.

Arnab (not understanding a thing that was said in Marathi): You Punekars are a different lot. Other than being known for sarcasm, you are known for being Grammar Nazis. Your Marathi, as you claim, is suddha (pure) Marathi and you are also particular about speaking English properly. Why then, is your Hindi so terrible?

Punekar: Aye, firstly our Marathi is like our sajuk tup, aati suddha (purest). If anyone wants to learn the language, they should learn it from a Punekar. NO ONE ELSE. Secondly, kahi kay (kuch bhi) areey. Mazi (meri) Hindi is not terrible (mixing English for no reason). We are a little weak in Hindi as it is not our mother tongue, but we speak properly. Everyone understands it.

Arnab: It is terrible. Admit it!

Punekar: See, just like people start speaking a little Marathi after being friends with us, our Hindi gets better with time. We make mistakes, add Marathi words while speaking in Hindi but we make an effort to get better at it. It is, thus, why we feel happy when someone tries speaking in Marathi (even broken) and correct them, not to seem rude, but to help them get better at it.

Arnab: Okay. Another thing about Punekars, you cannot give gaalis. Why so?

Punekars: Who said that? We do.

Arnab: Really? When the world uses gaalis on mother-sister, you say murkha-bawalat, lahanpani dokyavar padlay (must have fell on his head in childhood, signifying dumb), nanachi taang (maternal father’s leg) or insert some sarcastic phrase. Even while giving gaalis, you sound sweet, not angry.

Punekar: Well, kay (kya) karein. When in traffic, we honk at each other instead of shouting gaalis. Even while having an argument, we are particular about our pitch (we try not to shout), tone, language and the points we are arguing upon. Our arguments are like court hearings, without any dhakka bukki (haathapayi). That’s how we’ve always been and when confronted with situations where we have to use such words, we seem uncomfortable. That’s just how we are.

Arnab (finally letting out a smile): Okay, let’s end it now. Why, in your opinion, is Pune the best city in India?

Punekar: Because it is!

Arnab: Arey (already beginning to use some Marathi now) pan, there has to be a reason na! You are proud to be from the city, right?

Punekar: And that is what you call jajwalya abhimaan. You do not find reasons to be proud of something, you just are. We Punekars even proudly proclaim our shortcomings and swell with pride. We cannot stand in line, we never follow traffic rules, we hate the traffic, our public transport needs to be better, our roads are full of potholes, our city is fast changing into an urban jungle and we are losing our lovely wadas, greenery, baugs, bungalows, etc. But, we are still proud, and also of the things that matter. We are overly proud of our tekadis, our monuments, Shaniwarwada in particular, our rich history, our culture, our traditions, our food… the list is endless. This jajwalya abhimaan makes us unique and awesome. Best-vist kahi nahi. We are proud, we do not need comparisons, right?

Arnab (showing slight emotions on his face): Very well! Let’s wrap it up! We hope to see you again, and hear more from you. Our chaha and wada pav is here. Let’s enjoy it.

Punekar: Areey, Arnab being a gentleman. Kissa zala ki!

Arnab: Very Kothrudkar, right? Kissa and all!

Punekar: DAMN YOU Arnab! My identity had to be undercover. Now people know I’m a Kothrudkar!

Arnab: And they’ll easily deduce who you are now. Did you really feel you were undercover when you were publishing this article with your name? Kissa kartos Shikarpur!

The lights fade. We sip tea and eat our wada pav, while ‘Exclusive’ still flashes on screen. Below in the comments section, will be the debate on your thoughts on the interview. Stay tuned!

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