On the best of days, the rest of Maharashtra thinks of the residents of Pune as thrifty. Stories abound of how a Puneri will buy a litre packet of milk, empty the packet, wash it, and sell it to the neighbourhood junk dealer. Walking around Shaniwar Wada, the seat of power in India until exactly two centuries ago, I came across this Puneri institution. The red sign board proclaimed that this establishment deals in junk of all kinds. The black chalk board set rates for old newspapers, and, yes, empty milk packets!
As I walked by, the owner came out to lean on the door. Puneris are supposed to be notoriously unfriendly, especially to people from Mumbai. So I didn’t ask for permission, but clicked away. He looked up, saw me, and walked back in. I could imagine him muttering to himself, “Tourist!”. So typically Puneri.