DELHI- TWO Sundays ago, a good number of Fijians were in Pune, one of the seven largest metropolis in India and the second largest in the State of Maharasthra after Mumbai. It is the largest in the Western Ghat and is situated on the Deccan Plateau.
Those Fijians who reside in Pune, mostly students had converged at the Balewadi Stadium to support the Fiji Women's Rugby Sevens team who won the title and a spot to the Rugby World Cup in Moscow, Russia in 2013.
It was a great get together for all of us. Our meet was sweetened with the win of the Fijianas, who were crowned the Asian Women's Rugby Seven's Championship winner. They also won a ticket to play in the Rugby World Cup in Moscow, Russia next year.
We made new friends with our fellow countrywomen, that weekend.
Living overseas we always looked forward to any opportunity to meet fellow Fijians from home.
For me, this was the longest trip I had taken in India.
I left New Delhi on a Thursday morning and arrived in Pune on Friday morning.
I travelled 21 hours and crossed four states - Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to get to Maharastha.
When the Duronto Express train departed from Hazrat Nizamudin Station in New Delhi, all the passengers on board that train had one destination - Pune.
My buddy Peni Totoka and I were excited to go on this trip. It was a break from the busy life in Delhi.
Travelling out of state is always amazing. Seeing new places, new faces and culture is something that we always look forward to. And our grog supply was going to be topped up.
Fijiana coach Elenoa Kunatuba was bringing some supplies from home given by some good friends we met here in India - Ratu Savenaca Ravoka from Verata Ucunivanua, his wife Kelera and Doctor Losana Natuva who were in Delhi just a couple of weeks ago.
So they sent us some grog, something we always made sure, we never run out of. This was the only home-away-from-home socialising we would indulge in when we get together as Fijians.We may be miles, skies and seas away from home, but our Fijian culture is still intact, I'm proud to say.
The journey was very very long. Flying from Nadi to Mumbai via Seoul was a few hours less than this ride.
But it reminded us of home. Whenever we passed a place similar to Fiji, we named it after some places here.
The countryside was picturesque and reminded us even more of beautiful as Fiji. We passed familiar scenaries of coconut and mango trees, rice paddocks, sugar cane plantations, and mountains, as our journey progressed.
Those were things we never see in Delhi.
Watching the sun set over Madhya Pradesh reminded me of the romantic sunsets over Malolo. That orangish red sky was a sight I had missed for quite sometime now.
Arriving to Maharastha very early Friday morning and we were greeted by the monsoon rain. No wonder they call it the monsoon capital.
But it only rained in the morning. The sun was smiling the whole day.
In the evening the heavens opened again.
The streets of Pune were flooded within minutes.
It was either I was not used to this kind of rain or the lack of proper drainage, something that's not new in India.
The story is the same in Delhi when it rained.
Drains are clogged and water flowed back on the road, making travelling especially in those little tuk tuks or auto rickshaws very miserable.
But the rain didn't dampen our spirits.
One thing I realised about Pune is that the people there don't jay walk like us Delhiites.
In Delhi, you just have to put your hand out to stop vehicles.
And the drivers who are very courtesious do slow down or stop for you to cross.
But that was not the case in Pune.
They just sped by without noticing you.
We had a hard time trying to cross, because the drivers there are not like their Delhi counterparts, you just have to jump out of the way.
Travelling within Pune is very expensive.
The rickshaw drivers overcharge you when they realise you are a foreigner.
They probably think that all foreigners have very big pockets.
And the shop owners at MG Road and Deccan markets took advantage of us being foreigners.
When we went shopping with the Fijiana team, the day after the championship, the shop owners had a feast day.
They tried to cheat us with the prices.
Little did they know that we were from Delhi and were so used to bargaining.
Nothing beats shopping in Delhi where you always name your price and go home happy.
But the rugby girls from Fiji thought that the prices were so cheap, when they compared it to the prices back home.
Street food is something that we always see in any Indian city or town.
The wada pao on the street surely fills your stomach.
Wada pao is to Pune what samosa is to Delhi.
It's a snack famous in Pune or maybe Maharasthra, but I can't confirm that.
The Fijians students in Pune always talked about how wada pao was always to the rescue during rainy days.
Pune reminded me of Suva.
The layout of the city and the city centre was not as big as Delhi.
Most places there were ended with the word 'Wadi' - Balewadi, Janewadi and other Wadis. I found out that Pune was originally known as Punawadi.
And for all those whose children are studying in Pune, they can be rest assured that their children were doing well.
They have settled in and adjusted to the place that would be their home for the next few years.
I met up with fellow journalist colleagues studying in Pune.
My tauvu, Arieta Vakasukawaqa, daughter of my good friend from the Fiji Times newsroom, chief photographer Atu Rasea, said she found it hard to adjust at first. But then she was now adjusting slowly.
I told her to imagine it to be Lomaiviti and she would do just fine just like her kai, Peni Totoka, who sees Delhi as his second home.
Her other flatmates, Farzana Nisha and Shratika Naidu were so happy to host us for dinner.