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Introspicere – India By An Expatriate Professor: A Rebellious City – Essay

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A rebellious city with a Tulsi Baug market without bargaining

All of us in Europe know about Calcutta, Bombay (and in fact it is Mumbai because Bombay was a colonial name that is no longer in use), Bangelore and New Delhi, of course. But there are cities that quietly spring up from the inspiring hopes of young generations, so to speak, rebellious cities. Pune is one of them.

Open mind – a prerequisite for development

And why do I call it a “rebel” city? Namely, a city with more than 10,000,000 (ten million) inhabitants for which you need at least (due to city traffic jam on the roads) two hours to pass it in width (55 kilometers in radius, although my OLE driver, taxi service, told me that it is up to 60 kilometers) is really something new. 

Allow me to count, please:

  1. “Green” is also a very clean city, if we compare it with Mumbai and New Delhi, which created prejudices among us Europeans that Indians are “dirty”, because if their garbage is scattered on the streets, river banks are neglected and the hygiene of citizens at a low level, what to expect from them. In Pune, there is garbage on the streets as in any other big city in the world, from London all the way to Sao Paulo (I can’t even mention my Sarajevo, because there are as many inhabitants in my Akurdi / Pune district as there are in the whole of Sarajevo). Eo ipso, within the reasonable limits of the dirt of modern cities, because utilities are not the only problem in Sarajevo. They are a problem all over the world.
  2. The city of Pune is young in terms of population, because it is the so-called strongest IT “hub” in India and young people are in the lead, as in the whole world in information literacy. Technology changes everything, even human habits, but also shaped, often conservative attitudes. And in which way? With youth and knowledge.
  3. The city of Pune is a city of universities, because there are more than fifty higher education institutions, both public (read: state owned) and private, although even private, according to Indian law, have certain benefits as well as public. My luck is that I became part of the DY Patil International University team in Akurdi/Pune as the only expatriate professor in September 2021, and 21st century faculty programs are already being created here, leaving behind not only outdated technologies but also prehistoric ways of schooling where the professor is at first and the student in second place of the focus. It is not the hollow story here, as in the Balkan region, when they say “student is in the first place” and “killing us” with an advertising from the billboard, while at the same time it is “in the first place”, but only when fees and studies need to be charged from them-students. That is what our struggle has given to us, in the Balkans. Here, in the other hand, and I am a witness, it is also possible at private universities to delay the payment of tuition and fees due to, imagine, the situation with Covid-19 and the economic problems created by the virus.
  4. “Rebel” city, because it is open-minded where people come to work from all over India. At my Faculty/School of Media and Journalism, there is only one person from Pune, while the rest of us came from other countries (others, of course, from other Indian states) and your reporter from Europe.
  5. “Rebel” city, because the local government respects universities and academic freedom of theirs, even when it comes to Covid-19, and left, due to the improved, up to date, pandemic picture, every university is free to start teaching on campus, until today, January 5, 2022 .g. when they decide that online classes cannot start until February 15, 2022. Mostly due to the increased number of Omicron (new variant of Covid-19 virus) cases, because imagine, 3.1. there were 17 cases. Omicron. This is called responsible government and responsible government. We hope that in mid-February 2022 we will be able to start with such an in vivo form of teaching. Especially since I was recently approached by student representatives, students Mitali and Annanya asking if the professor is staying (since they heard about my problems with the Government of India in regard FRRO registration) and coming on behalf of all students of the 1st year of SMJ to express full support for my stay. I told them that everything is going well and that I am expecting an email with an approved work stay for a foreigner soon. Why? Because just a few days ago, I talked to the competent person in Mumbai, who told me that my case had gone to the “folder” approved and that I would get a decision very soon. Positive one. And this with the students, believe me, is wonderful news. Imagine someone who has only been in another country for three months, meeting a different culture and already has the affection of not only the colleagues I work with but also of the students. I will lie if I say that I have been better off anywhere else so far. I say this openly and transparently. So let the thunder strike me.

What’s up, Baščaršija?

And the free weekend (yes, we work every second and fourth Saturday at the University) is an opportunity to walk around and see a little bit about how  Saturday is in their Baščaršija (old part of Sarajevo, BiH), or Kapali Carsi (old part of Istanbul, Turkey) which has the name Tulsi Baug (Pune) and which is 16 times bigger than our Baščaršija and is 28 kilometers away from my apartment, in the same city. I spent three hours in the crowd, shouting calls to approach the stalls or shops, and when they saw a foreigner, immediately in at least two languages ​​(English, German, even French I heard). But what is really strange is that the prices are fixed. There are no negotiations and that deviates from my previous view and understanding of trade in India. Nicely it is written in English at every stand. Or in every store in Tulsi Baug: Fixed price. And here you have a goldsmith’s street, like in Sarajevo, and a street where you can only buy sandals, slippers, like in Istanbul, and not to mention clothes and other necessities for every house. Prices? Really a trifle. Namely, I managed to find a scarf from Kashmir only somewhere in the 50’s in a store, tucked deep behind the stands and other stores, and I bought three, really big scarves, from Kashmir, for 1,000.00 Indian Rupees (the price was 1,050.00, but the owner gave me a 50 IR discount, although I didn’t ask for it – because the price, as I said, is fixed). That amount is, when “translated” or converted into convertible marks: 22.98 KM on December 4, 2021. or 11.75 Euros or 13.31 Euros. When I added the money for the taxi (56 kilometers in total in two directions), which cost me 16.08 KM or 8.22 Euro or 9.31 Euros, I can freely say that I spent that day, almost 40 KM or 23.17 Euros.

But joke aside; be careful if you go to places like this anywhere, even in India, because pickpockets are everywhere, even here. This time, the smart Bosnian and Herzegovinian kept his small purse with him all the time and not over his shoulder. And it went well.

But when it comes to taxi drivers, from the rickshaw to the Sedan (it’s the luxury transport I used that Saturday, because 56 kilometers of holding a kidneys in your hands is not worth it, no matter how strong and healthy you are), no one has a penny to pay back when you give them circled amount. And you have to be smart and prepare in advance with petty cash (always when you call OLA taxi online, you get information when the taxi is coming and how much it will cost you – if you cancel, the penalty is 15 rupees). You wonder how they charge that fine. Simply, your name and phone number are public in this country, so every time a taxi driver, in addition to asking for an OTP number (this is the number you get as a reservation – “6546”, for example, over your mobile phone) says my name, although I’ve never seen it in my life , and I won’t, again, soon, for sure. And you can’t make the next reservation, or the next ride, until you pay those 15 rupees “penalties” for cancellation. Or, even if you make reservation, they add those 15 rupees to the current drive price. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, war would break out if it is introduced, I’m sure.

Descendant of Sheriff Age visiting Aga Khan

And, on the way home, to the apartment, I “honored” myself by visiting the Aga Khan Palace (I mentioned in the first report of my great-grandfather Sheriff Aga, so that I could visit a relative from the “fifth generation”, or at least his shadow). But that palace is also a Museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi because the Mahatma has lived in this Palace from 1942 until 1944, together with his wife Kasturba Gandhi, just after the launch of the famous “Quit India” (a message addressed to the British at the time), which led to the independence of India in 1947. What impressed me was that foreigners here value 10 times more than domestic tourists. Namely, the Indian pays 30 rupees for the ticket and I paid 300 rupees. If this is not a show of value, I don’t know what is. Or, conversely, it is aimed at the fact that an Indian is 10 times more valuable than a foreigner and pays a lower ticket price. Either way, I paid and walked in. Beautiful palace and surroundings in front of me. Silence, dozens of rooms with the legacy, messages and sculptures of Mahatma Gandhi and his closest associates in the fight for India’s independence. It is worth having memories, because memory is eternity, if you fight for true values. As well as our memories of the partisan struggles in World War II in the area of ​​our former common state (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), which, for the most part, have remained only in our memories, because the fascist chauvinists have been in power since 1990 and 1995, respectively to this day, together with their satellite parties, they have done everything to erase even that memory, in addition to demolishing monuments, changing street names and closing museums. And they boasted that today’s fighters are also against “anti-fascism”. I swear to Skaka, Abdullah. And Busuladzic, Mustafa, then.

The irritation takes me a little too far to the left, but I don’t care.

India is a wonderland, not just a land of contrasts. Because of the people, and about the beasts soon!

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Prof. Dr. Sabahudin Hadzialic

Prof. Dr. Sabahudin Hadzialic was born in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe. He is a member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Association of Writers (Sarajevo, BiH), Croatian writers association Herzeg Bosnia (Mostar, BiH), Association of writers Serbia (Belgrad, Serbia), Association of writers of Montenegro (Podgorica, Montenegro) and Journalists Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Association of independent intellectuals "Circle 99", Sarajevo and Ambassador of POETAS del MUNDO in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is Freelance Editor in Chief of the electronic and print magazine DIOGEN pro culture (2009 -) and Editor in Chief of E–magazine MaxMinus (2010-2014) from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has the status of the Self-sustained artist in the Canton of Sarajevo since Jan. 1, 2009. As of Jan. 1, 2013 he has a status of Distinguish self-sustained artist in Canton of Sarajevo by the Decision of the Minister of Culture and Sport of the Canton. He writes scientific papers, poetry and prose with the editing and reviewing books of other authors. He has published 24 books of poetry and prose (stories, aphorisms, stage plays, novels), essays and textbooks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, France, USA, Italy, and Switzerland. He has a doctoral (Assoc. Prof. Dr.) scientific title in Media and Communications and he has Dr. Honoris Causa title as well. He taught and teach, as the professor, in Poland, Lithuania, and Italy. He is the member of International boards of several scientific and cultural magazines in BiH and internationally. So far he published more than 70 scientific papers in national and international scientific journals. He is an author of scientific papers, articles, and bibliography and review articles published in domestic and foreign magazines. He has participated in numerous international and national scientific conferences. His poems, short stories, stage plays, novel and aphorisms have been published in journals in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, England, Ireland, Spain, Kosovo, Italy, China, Estonia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Turkey, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Iran, Austria, Malta Estonia, Germany, Greece, Albania, Romania, India and USA. His poetry and prose were translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Turkish, Italian, Arabian, Polish, Estonian, Albanian, Maltesian, Bulgarian, Persian, Chinese and Romanian. He was the co-owner of the first private newspaper in Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (as part of former Yugoslavia) titled "POTEZ", Bugojno, Bosnia and Herzegovina back in 1990. WWW: http://sabihadzi.weebly.com

One thought on “Introspicere – India By An Expatriate Professor: A Rebellious City – Essay

  • January 9, 2022 at 9:36 am
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    Another nice one from your pen!

    Reply

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