The progressive city of Pune was once the cultural center of Maharashtra and India’s center of modern architecture. These days it is better known as India’s "Motor City," given the recent growth of its automotive sector. The city is growing at a terrific pace, evident in the rapid increase of universities, engineering colleges and research centers. Pune’s emergent talent pool has attracted auto giants Daimler Benz and Volkswagen, along with some 225 German companies and literally hundreds of IT companies. Where expats once clustered in the Koregaon Park and Kalayaninagar areas, housing developments on the outskirts are now being designed around business and IT parks, complete with convenience stores and recreational facilities. Some of the newer developments have even been designed as small sustainable cities. While housing prices in Pune are spiraling, the overall cost of living is still very reasonable. International schools and local (ISCE) schools with IB programs are flourishing and the shopping and dining options increase daily. This upwardly mobile city has attracted a growing number of international professionals and boasts an increasingly embedded expat network, making the move to Pune a comfortable leap of faith. What is special or unique about your city? Pune is one of the fastest-growing cities in India. It has many sobriquets, such as "Queen of the Deccan," "Pensioners’ Paradise," "Detroit of India" and "IT Capital of Maharashtra." The city has emerged as the most vibrant new metropolitan center in Western India. It is known for having several esteemed colleges and educational institutions, which is why it is also called "Oxford of the East." What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city? Even though Pune is the seventh-largest city in India, it has the sixth-largest metropolitan economy and the highest per capita income in India, with the least income disparity between the rich and poor. It is a vibrant cultural city and people from multiple religions and speaking different regional languages reside here. It also hosts various national festivals and cultural events throughout the year. The people of Pune have wide interests in arts, spiritualism and food. Are these impressions likely to change? Pune is a major industrial center, growing quickly every year. The city has witnessed a sizeable investment in the software and automobile sectors, resulting in an influx of skilled labor from all over India. What is the local language? Although Marathi is the main language of Pune, its cosmopolitan population speaks several other languages such as English, Hindi and Gujarati. How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language? English is widely spoken and understood. What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city? The predominant religion followed is Hinduism. As such, following the customs and culture followed by Hindus and not offending their sentiments will be appreciated. For example, you should remember to wash hands after touching footwear. No footwear is allowed at places of worship. Most locals would like you to keep your shoes out of the house entirely, especially in the kitchen. The following are some other tips to avoid offending the residents of Pune: Status is often determined by a person's age, university education and profession. Be aware that government employment is considered to be more prestigious than private business. It is acceptable for men and woman to wear pants. However, on more formal occasions the pants should be dressy. Shorts are acceptable for men only when jogging. It is preferable that women who jog wear track pants but that is not mandatory. If you host a meal, keep in mind that Indians have a variety of dietary restrictions. Generally, Hindus do not eat beef, Muslims do not eat pork and many Indians are strict vegetarians. These are general guidelines, but not strictly followed by all. Alcohol should be avoided until you are certain that your host approves of it. Even if it is okay, do not get drunk. If you're invited to dine at somebody's house, a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates is the common gift to bring. It is typical for guests to arrive late regardless of what the invitation says. It is impolite to help yourself to second servings. Wait to be asked and for someone else to serve you. Be respectful when visiting holy sites, no matter what condition they are in. Smoking and drinking are prohibited in holy sites. Always speak in soft tones. Some sites do not allow non-believers to enter. Indians of all ethnic groups disapprove of public displays of affection between men and women and most Hindus avoid public contact between men and women. Standing tall with your hands on your hips is perceived as aggressive. Pointing with your finger is considered rude. Whistling in public is unacceptable. Never point your feet at another person as feet are considered unclean. To tip a taxi driver, simply round off the fare. How might the local weather affect my daily life? Pune experiences three distinct seasons: Summer: March to May; temperatures 25°C to 39°C (77°F to 10°2F) Monsoon: June to September; temperatures 20°C to 28°C (68°F to 82°F) Winter: October to February; temperatures 10°C to 29°C (50°F to 84°F) Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people? The people of Pune are warm and hospitable. They are embracing the changes as their beloved city grows and the population expands.