Today we went on our first sightseeing trip as the schedule of all four of us made it possible. Since the store the others wanted to check out was a bit further away and as we have already experienced what it feels like to be walking along a busy road on a weekday in Pune, we decided to go by auto rickshaw or tuctuc, as the locals call it. (I heard that when it toots, it really makes a "tuc tuc" sound.)
It was a real pleasure (except for the smell of the air, of course). You are in a small, open car that fills up every imaginable and unimaginable space between cars and buses and even pedestrians. They take very unexpected turns tuctucing loudly all along the way. You could touch the pedestrians and vendors alongside the road and yet you are part of the real traffic of cars, motorbikes and buses.
When finally we reached our destination, Shaniwar wada, and entered its gardens, it was a little green oasis in all the dust, hustle and bustle of this big city. Except for the sound, which continued, though a bit muffled.
Shaniwar wada is now an archeological site but it used to be the seven-storied seat of the Peshawar of the Maratha Empire. It is easy to image the wonderful fountain in the shape of a lotus, still working and the women, covering their heads shyly with their scarves when they have to leave their quarters. Or the important men meeting in the hall over the Delhi gate, discussing politics while reclining on big cushions and smoking their hookahs.
We didn't do either of this, but climbed the enormous steps leading up to the walls of the fortification, walked around, looking down at the gardens, where families and lovers passed their time.