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The hang-out will not be the same again

A man looks at the site of an explosion outside the German Bakery close to the Osho Ashram in Pune on Sunday.  

Mariam Abuhaideri, 25, an Iranian national from the United States, hangs outside the Intensive Care Unit of the Inlaks Budhrani Hospital. She is on a two-month visit with her family, none of whom, thankfully, was hurt in Saturday’s blast here. Friends, she has few in Pune. Yet, she is awaiting word on the condition of the patients in the ICU.

“I’m very worried about the workers of the Bakery,” she says. “They knew me very well. I used to visit the Bakery every evening, around the same time the blast took place.” That fateful day, however, she was away at a concert by the Indian rock music band Parikrama.

Pointing out that the Bakery was popular with foreign nationals, Ms. Abuhaideri says: “Foreigners, who love to travel through different countries, are socialites. And German Bakery had the perfect ambience for socialites. Here, you could mingle around and sit at tables with strangers without reservations. That was how I made friends there.”

A hit with locals too

The place was no less loved by the locals. Rakesh Singh, 29, who has been living in Koregaon Park for the past 10 years, says he had breakfast at the Bakery every Sunday. He says the food there was a huge hit with its health-conscious customers. “My favourite was cheese omelette and toast.”

Both Mr. Singh and Ms. Abuhaideri fondly talk about the lip-smacking fresh fruit juices served there.

As Mr. Singh walks past the Osho International Meditation Resort, it is difficult for him not to notice the contrast between the serenity of the densely-wooded, lush green lane and the mayhem caused by the blast just round the corner.

Those who were meditating inside the Resort on Saturday between 6.30 and 8.30 p.m. did not hear the blast at all, as though they were in a world far removed from the scene.

“When the blast happened, thousands of us were meditating,” says Amrit Sadhana, public relations officer of the Resort. “Perhaps it was the meditation that created an aura of security.”

She says security at the Resort was stepped up in October last itself when it was learnt that American terror suspect David Coleman Headley had surveyed the place. Any given time, there are over 1,000 foreigners from over 120 countries at the Resort,

Ms. Abuhaideri speculates that as foreigners at the Resort could not be attacked because of the tight security, the terrorists chose the German Bakery, which was frequented by visitors to the Resort most of the day. But the blast took place at a time when most of them were at the Resort as it was meditation time.

On Valentine’s Day eve, the terrorists snapped the relationship between Pune and its beloved hang-out. “German Bakery will bounce back,” Ms. Abuhaideri says, confidently. “But it won’t be the same again. The World Trade Center wasn’t after [9/11], nor is the Taj [after 26/11].”


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 12:05:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/The-hang-out-will-not-be-the-same-again/article16814898.ece

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