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Day 5 of The Candid Odyssey

Today, the circadian rhythm or the mobile alarm didn't wake us up, instead, the bus conductor did. In case you forgot, we were traveling on a bus. When we are traveling at night, our means of transport are our means of accommodation too. So, when the destination arrives, the conductors will make sure to get me out. We are now at a place called Shivaji Nagar close to the center of Pune city. It was early morning and as nothing opens at that time, we will be spending time somewhere we are allowed to enter. The Pataleshwar cave temple was a perfect place. A peaceful 8th-century temple carved in rocks. I was the only person inside that temple compound at that time. With me, there were some pigeons too. We enjoyed the solitude. It's a special feeling when we get such peaceful places entirely for ourselves; the soul enjoys the most! Later many devotees started coming and doing the rituals. Only then I realized it's an active temple. As the temple gets more crowded, it's time to escape. Oh, the fellow pigeons escaped before us :)

Pune is an interesting city, there's a lot of energy, a lot to see, and a lot to explore. So, unlike the past days, today we will go through many places. After a short walk around, we are now at Shaniwar Wada. It's an ancient palace fort of the Peshwas. Almost everything inside the fort is accessible, with no "hidden gems". From the top floor, we get a stunning view of the garden. Great work, good old landscape designer! The fort is at the city center. So, inside the walls, it's completely peaceful. And outside the walls, the city is bustling. We can notice that the majority of the visitors are lonely, probably seeking solace. When we don't have a person to comfort us, it's better to find a place that can comfort us. Shaniwar Wada was such a place.

As we walk around the town, one place caught my attention, a museum named "Darshan". That's one of the most technologically advanced spiritual museums. In the museum, we are being taken through the life of Sadhu Vaswani, an educationalist and sage. With the help of magnificent artistic sets, spatial experiences, holographic representations, and more technical applications, the museum combines spirituality with biopic. Here also, we are the sole visitors at that time. Without any hesitations, the guide take us across the 10K sq. ft. interactive museum for the 1-2 hour long tour. She was very respectful even though she knew that I had nothing to give back. But I bought a couple of books written by that sage himself. I believe the tour and the sage's teachings have added some value to my spiritual and life principles, especially on vegetarianism and frugal living. To seek answers for a better life, we need to start questioning, right? Such experiences help us reflect and question our everyday choices, and possibly alter the course of our life.

After taking a nap at Ashirwad Guest House near Swargate, we are now going to Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden. An elegant Japanese garden. We could just peacefully walk around, enjoy the flowers, and spend hours gazing at the colorful fishes in the ponds. It's so captivating that we will never want to leave that place. Sorry, garden, we need to go. Since it's been evening, and everything is starting to close, there is no place to go and visit. So, we are just going to simply transit across the city, maybe a bit far. So, on the rapid transport bus, we are going to Pimpri Chinchwad. It's a large industrial and highly populated suburban area. The big brands, stylish buildings, busy roads, and faster transport systems proved it.

As we move around Pune, we can notice two uncommon things. The first one is the bus stop. Normally, across the world, bus stops are at the side of the road. In Pune, it's in the middle! In the middle of the road, there are small heightened spaces where we can board and drop off. We also get only a few seconds to jump in or jump out of the bus. It's so quick! While we read the destination sign board and figure out where the bus is going, the bus will have already left the station. We also need to let go of the bus sometimes so that the people in the rush can onboard without casualties. This experience can be considered a unique method to develop patience. :) Okay, the second uncommon thing is the use of a scarf. We can see that most of the girls and women cover their faces with the scarf, especially the women who drive. It's not because of any religious or cultural practices, it's more like fashion. I found it interesting. It protects from pollution, and heat, and also increases privacy and confidence. It took me a lot of time to figure that out. Some things take time. We just need to wait, like the way we waited for the right bus :)

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