Saturday, November 28, 2009

A sneak peek into Hyderabad

Since all of you are going to spend the next one year at the City of Pearls, I thought an insider's view into the city might be helpful. Although I no longer live there, you can still count on my insights because cities that revel in chaos never change.

Hyderabadis are very straight forward people. For example, if you asked someone on the road for directions, 9 out of 10 times, the reply would be "Hau, seedha jao". Straight and forward. The 10th guy would probably be a tourist. Don't get me wrong, the people are not deceiving. It is just that the city is circular and all roads lead to everywhere - and they bend at spaced intervals to take you 'around'. If you have the time and patience, keep going straight and you will reach your destination, eventually.

In fact, the city is built in such a way, that despite the expansions, anywhere to anywhere (including back to the origin!) should not cost you more than 200 bucks in an auto. If it costs more, then you are going around the city twice or the meter is going around at twice its speed.

The primary means of public transport is the bus. It is also considered the safest transport option, largely because bus drivers are among the most reckless drivers on road; you'd rather be inside the bus than outside. But since buses are usually crowded, an auto is the most convenient means of transport.

Unless you have your own vehicle, autowallahs will be a major part of your transport plans and sneak peek into their psyche can be very valuable. Their all-time favorite album is Tere Naam, and they usually prefer long drives. At crowded places like railway stations, one can encounter a swarm of autowallahs as one exits the place. The best way to dispose of them is to tell them you'd like to go some place nearby - ideally within 2 kms. The manner in which they disappear is the stuff mosquito repellent ads are made of. The best way to actually talk them into going some place nearby, is to tell them you have to go far, but have a stopover at this place nearby. Sample conversations follow:

Situation 1 (Secunderabad Railway station):

A : Auto madam/sir?
You: Hau, Padmarao Nagar aate? (Yes, Padmarao Nagar?)
Poof! He's gone!

Situation 2(Same location):

A: Auto madam/sir?
You: Hau, Charminar jana. Padmarao Nagar mein ek baar rukinge. (Yes, Charminar. We'll make a quick stop at Padmarao Nagar)
A: Acchi baat hai madam. (OK)
Pretend that you got a phone call while travelling and it turns out, you dont need to go to Charminar anymore!

London is famous for the Big Ben, Paris for the Eiffel Tower and Hyderabad for Charminar. There are quite a few other places to visit too - find more information on wikipedia. The places to really visit are Paradise, Shadab's, Bawarchi, Cafe Bahar among others. Biryani is so intertwined with the city culture that it is a cardinal sin for most restaurants to not serve it. It is equally sinful to ask for a menu at some of these joints - you usually choose between veg, egg, chicken and mutton biryani. A bowl of Kubani ka meetha and a glass of lassi would round up a hearty,delicious meal. Haleem is another popular delicacy, especially during the Ramzan period. Jubilee Hills and Banjara Hills are great hangouts for food and beyond.

Until recently, night life was a word combination used mostly by biologists researching nocturnal animals. But the phrase is catching on these days, with strangely dressed people flooding dimly lit places, "getting jiggy with it" and coming out with a look of confused happiness, unable to control their excessive love for their friends. Their happiness is occasionally robbed by the ever alert policemen who are always parked outside pubs at night. If you ever encounter one of them, DON'T BREATHE. The breath analysers they carry are faulty by design and will beep at any whiff of air, not just intoxicated air. Of course all this adventure is possible only if you travel in your own vehicle. An auto ride after a binge session is an ideal way to detoxify.

That covers food, water and transport - 3 of the 4 basic needs of any young and dynamic city dweller. As for the 4th one, all you guys are my competition, collaboration be damned! :)

While some facts above may have been 'slightly' exaggerated, Hyderabadis are generally warm and laidback people who live life, love biryani and can laugh at themselves. I'll leave you with some choice phrases useful for acting local in Hyderabad.

Khali peeli dimaak kharab nakko karo chicha - Don't generally bug me, dude!
Kya hai ki kya ki - I don't know
Haula dikhroon kya main - Do I look like an Idiot?
Kya to bhi hai re bhai - Unbelievable!
Kadak potti pataya baap uno - He has a "good friend"
Shana pilla hai ji uno - He's a sly one
Mazak mazak mein Razak margaya - Get serious now
Meri izzat baigan mein milaye re tum logaan - You have stuffed my pride in an unholy place
Yeich sikhaye kya tumhare amma bava? - Where are your manners?
Hyderabad mein aisich hota - C'est la vie



    I just love this post.
    Good Job!

  2. LOL!

    Been here for 4 years! was LMAO!

  3. Totally summed it up dude..I Concur with all you that you wrote.