A bad Hyde in Hyderabad – local attractions and the ‘blogger’s meet’ :)

Soon Monday dawned, and many of you would be suffering the Monday blues. As for me, I woke up late, to find that the girls had already left for school, and Naresh Mama was ready to go to office. After a fun filled but tiring day in Ramoji, I was not ready to take one of those city tours offered by travel agencies, so me and dad decided to pay a visit to the Salarjung museum and Charminar, travelling by local conveyance.

A view of the city tour itinerary gave a dissatisfactory picture, so I suggested that me and my dad visit the aforementioned places, utilizing the local buses and the metro system. Travelling by local transport gives one a true picture of how the city runs, and it proved to be so for the rest of the day. We took a share auto to Hi tec city station, from where we caught the train to Hyderabad station. The metro system was neat and clean, and the trains looked better than the Chennai local train system, and every compartment had posters of the train route affixed above the windows, so finding out what the next stop was made things very easy for newcomers like us. Also, the train journey reminded me of my train travels to Paranur from Mambalam, to visit the MCity DC. 🙂

After we arrived at Hyderabad junction, we went on foot to the nearby bus stop, and caught yet another share auto to the museum. The museum was pretty neat and big, and the vast array of exhibits were wonderful – textiles, weapons, pottery, ivory statues, jade statues, musical clock.. it had everything one could ask for. One can’t help but admire how these items had been preserved with care, and I was totally impressed with the collection there. The ground floor contained all archaeological gems discovered or belonging to India, while the first floor hosted an array of edifices from the rest of the world. The first floor was divided into two halves, one containing all artifacts from the East and the other being home to Western art. The attraction of the museum, however, was the musical clock and the Double Statue, which was one of the most amazing wooden sculptures I had ever seen. (I am not going to elaborate on it – you have to see it for yourself). The sad part was that photographs were not allowed, but that was perfectly understandable.

We left the museum with sore legs, and headed for Charminar by auto. We reached the landmark in 10 minutes, and I embarked to the top of the building, negotiating the steep winding steps, which made my already sore legs ache further. I took several snaps of the city from the top, including the Jama Masjid and another building opposite it, as well as the long stretch of road leading to the old structure, which was dotted with several vehicles and pedestrians. There were several pigeons nestled in the interior of Charminar, and I attempted to take snaps of them and get Sandy-like photos, but my camera was no good with the slightly dark interiors. However, I did get some snaps of a congregation of pigeons on the platform after getting down with difficulty onto the main road.

We had lunch at a lone vegetarian hotel nearby, and headed off to Karachi bakery for the famed fruit biscuits. I bought one of the boxes to office on Wednesday, and the box was finished by evening. 😀 We arrived at 5 pm in the evening, totally exhausted. We had a function at another friend’s house, so reluctantly I went there, and returned at 9 pm.

Tuesday was the last day for me, and I had to catch the 7.05 pm train to Bangalore. I had only one agenda for the day – meet the Hyderabad bloggers. With Sanju’s(veerabhadra_k) directions, I took a bus to Miyapur and a share auto from there to Gachibowli; my dad accompanied me too, since I knew neither telugu nor hindi :$ :$ Sanju had assured me it would take half an hour at most to reach campus, but it took way longer than that. :@ I arrived at the campus, and arranged to meet Sanju in the old FC. The Hyderabad campus looked wonderful and the beautiful expanse of hills in the distance added an ethereal charm to the DC.

I waited for Sanju, and finally saw the bearded knight in black armour prancing up the steps towards me. 😛 We had known each other for a long time through blogs and communicator, and our personal interaction hit off right away. Sanju called the ‘sisters’ Arch, Sow and Sushie to inform about my arrival, and I felt they did not believe him at first. Anyway, we engaged in chit chat, while waiting for them.

Finally, a tall damsel walked to where we were seated, and I recognized the legend of the fall and the MVP of Infyblogs miss Sow(sowmya_chigarapalle) 😛 She looked just like the out-of-the-blue user picture she had once kept before reverting to the Susie Derkins one. We exchanged deferential greetings, and made chit chat as usual, with Sanju cracking silly jokes.

From behind me, Arch(archana_pochiraju) walked to our place, her face betraying signs of overwork. She smiled faintly at me, as we exchanged greetings again (uh!). The first thing I asked her was “Are you very busy today?” (she always keeps her communicator status as busy, but you never know!), and Sanju interjected, saying it was all a farce. 😀 Arch and Sanju had a mild verbal battle, with the former telling the latter to shut up repeatedly.Later, i found out why she looked so dreamy that day. Seems she and hari(narahari_allamraju) are getting married!

Then the three of them threw a glance besides me, and I knew the basilisk had arrived! Sushie(sushma_tumukunta) came to our table finally, and I was startled to see her looking so quiet and demure, unlike the fiery specs toting girl in her user pic. 😀 Soon we all were talking about different stuff, and Sow asked about my work and having RB as a manager. Sushie appeared to be totally quiet, and the reasons were not known until she told me the next day. 😀 However, I was excited to finally meet the people whom I had always kept in touch for approximately 8-9 months. I also used this opportunity to make fun of Sanju, even mimicking his baby ‘rapper’ photo 😛 .Though the meet lasted only twenty minutes, as I had to rush back soon, these folks made it a memorable day for me. I left the campus after taking some snaps of us together. However, I missed meeting Jaya, who later said she had not received my message about my arrival at all. 😦

My train was due at 7.05, so my dad suggested to take the 5.40 Limited Stop train to my station, Kacheguda, as mentioned in the time table. However, to our consternation, we realized the train stopped at Secunderabad, and it was NOT a limited stop train. 😐 So we arrived at Secunderabad at 6.30, and discovered the local train would come only later. In panic mode, we dashed to the auto stand, and after a minute of squabbling with the auto driver, who was charging us 100 bucks to take us to Kacheguda, we were on our way, as I kept looking at my watch, watching the minutes pass by. Thankfully, our driver was very resourceful, and he navigated through several shortcuts, dropping us at the station at 6.55! I walked hurriedly to my platform, and reached my compartment finally, wiping the sweat from my face as the station clock displayed ‘7:01’ in bright red letters. The Bangalore-Chennai trip on Friday was eclipsed by this near miss, totally! I sent a message to Sow, with the lines

“I have had enough excitement for four days!”

Thus ends my Hyderabad sojourn. I have had several fond memories from the short stay in the pearl city, and was reluctant to leave it actually! I will miss playing with Aditi and Shruti, and the local train. 😦

P.S. Check my internal blog for photos on the trip. I am not gonna post in such a public domain. 🙂

A bad Hyde in Hyderabad – part 2

The plan for Sunday included only one destination – the Ramoji film city, which my mom said was a must visit tourist spot in Hyderabad. It was quite a distance from Secunderabad, so Uma aunty packed up a boxful of bread butter jam for us to eat enroute to our destination. We began our journey in the same chevrolet car, and the traffic was not a problem at 8.30 in the morning. The two girls began singing songs and playing the ‘word building’ game in the back of the car, and I paid attention to them; being with kids gives you the pleasure of revelling in their innocence and carefree abandon. The ride stretched over 1 hour and 10 minutes roughly, and we had our bread butter jam, along with some popcorn and fryums which the two girls demanded to be taken.

At around 9.45 am, we arrived at the film city. The entrance fee was 300 bucks for adults and 250 bucks for children below 13 years of age. The actual location was quite a distance from the entrance, and we alighted a bus to the film city. The trip upwards gave us a view of the sprawling acres of land enclosed within the bounds of the film city, with low hills dotting the background, against a clear blue backdrop.

Soon, we arrived at the centre stage of the film city, where a huge statue of a man riding a chariot drawn by five horses greeted us. The bus dropped us in front of a row of rides commonly found in amusement parks, though smaller in scale – the disco(where you keep rotating haphazardly in alternate directions), the ranger(where you sit in a carriage with goes up and down in the air, and leaves you suspended upside down for a minute at the highest point!), the commonly seen bumper cars and other rides. The two toddlers dragged me with them to the disco ride and the bumper cars, and their enthusiasm rubbed off on me.

There was a throng of visitors waiting in queues at a stop, where a red bus halted to pick up the tourists for a guided tour of the film city, and we joined them.The red bus took us around the various sets in the city, with the guide explaining the buildings which had been erected – Mughal gardens, an airport, a railway station, a row of villas, a hospital, the huge bungalow where Chandramukhi(the tamil version of Bhool Bhoolaiya) was shot, and many other buildings.To the credit of the designers, every false building looked lifelike, and the mannequins placed in some of the houses were natural too. Our guide also had a sense of humour, and made the passengers chuckle with one liners. When showing a village set, he saw some mannequins and also three girls sitting on one of the village porches. He commented on his mic – “You can see the beautiful village set here. It also has three beautiful girls” 😀 This evoked a hearty laugh from all the passengers.

The bus dropped us in front of a garden, and I took some snaps of the other folks. There was a beautiful statue of a lady mounted at the end of the garden; I took photos of the girls stationed on either side of the figurine, then asked the elder one Shruti to take a snap of me. As the other tourists waiting their turn watched, Shruti held the cam, while I waited straight to the statue, and hugged it! Shruti and the other people began laughing, and my mother was red in the face. As I came to her after checking my snap, my mother chided me for doing such a thing, and I cheekily replied I was like that, and she could do nothing about it. 😀

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the remaining parts of the film city, which included some cave, the Ramoji film magic area which constitued life size statues of famous movie characters like Charlie Chaplin, Batman, Superman, the mask, the terminator and Lara croft 😀 I posed with each and every one of these, and my mother was not so amused by this. Sigh. And did I mention the Wild West Stunt show they staged at 1 pm? The plot was pretty simple, but the stunts were realistic and the gunshots and bombs effects were very natural. It was 15 minutes of faltoo entertainment, and I could see the commendable efforts these stunt artists had put in even for such a short span of time.

We were too hungry after the show was over, and had buffet lunch at the vegetarian hotel, Dil Se. The food was really tasty and the variety suited my taste, This made me more impressed with the Ramoji Film City, and also seemed to justify the high entrance fee charged to us. 🙂 We adults were tired after walking for too long, but the kids were adamant we visit a attraction called Filmi something. We went there on their persuasion. Inside the building, a small train took us around, and we came across puppets and scenes from different parts of the worlds, with the life like puppets seemingly waving to the passerbys in the train. The attraction was really attractive despite the apparent childishness of the design and the stage pieces used.

Our sojourn at the film city finally ended, and we trundled back to our car like battle weary troops. Naresh mama asked us if we would like to visit the Hussain Sagar lake and go by speed boat, but our legs would not carry us further. We decided to take a drive through to the lake and have a glimpse of it. After another hour of driving, we arrived on Necklace road, and the sheer expanse of the lake awed us; we could see speed boats gliding across the sparkling surface of the water body, and we continued to marvel at the lake which separates the twin cities, till it was out of sight.

We arrived at home, and I was totally exhausted from the adventures of the day. I however, made use of Naresh mama’s PC and uploaded the photos and videos onto it, and brought the girls along to see the snaps. For half an hour, they scrolled through the snaps, laughing at the snap of me hugging the figurine, and the photos of my face and Naresh mama’s face filling up the hole in the Mona Lisa painting at the film city. It was a very good day, and the memories of the history class at Golconda fort was erased. 😛

To be continued.

A bad hyde in Hyderabad – Part 1

On 16th august, a day after the harrowing trip from Bangalore to Chennai, our train arrived at the Secunderabad station at around 7.15, where our family friend Naresh mama was waiting to pick us up. After 15 minutes, we were on our way to Kukatpalli in his car; the drive was rather long, but it gave me ample apportunity to observe the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a lot more like Chennai, I thought, seeing the roads and the line of shops along most of the roads; and the traffic was also good, far better than the Bangalore traffic, but it was not even 8, and my assumptions were proven wrong later.

At 8.15 am, we arrived at his bungalow in Kukatpally, where we were greeted with the two young girls, Shruti and Aditi, running towards the front door, with their mother in tow. We were immensely pleased to see our former neighbours – a strong bond had developed between my folks and them during their tenure in my flat; in fact, it was their mother, Uma aunty, who insisted that we stay with them in Hyderabad for a few days, and also allayed my parent’s fears of heavy downpours in the city, in view of the incessant rains last Saturday(Nimish and Pawanraj were in Hyderabad that day).

We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon settling in the house, with the two girls engaging us throughout the hours with their childish antics; the younger one, Aditi, even dragged me along and demanded that I help her do those stuff which olympic gymnasts would find child’s play(of course, it was on the bed, and I took care to restrain her from getting over excited and getting hurt in some way). My mom and grandma helped Uma aunty prepare lunch, while Naresh mama arranged for a tourist car to take us to Golconda fort in the evening.

In the evening, the 8 of us travelled in a Chevrolet Tavera, towards the fort. On the way, I realised that my earlier assessment of the Hyderabad traffic were wrong. Vehicles dashed along the road in frantic abandon, and our driver was no exception, speeding up and braking abruptly, giving us some jitters and moments of discomforting rides. Passerbys found it quite difficult to cross the road. Even worse was the number of people riding triples on two wheelers! College fellows, spouses with 2 babies/toddlers, a father with 2 guys… I lost count of the number of people riding in threes. Once a two wheeler carrying three guys stopped in the middle of the road, and the two guys sitting on the pillion had to alight for the driver to start the motorcycle. My father was annoyed with the unnecessary delay, but our driver warned him not to say anything to them; these guys were fickle and would do some harm if provoked(That’s what the driver said). In Chennai, if a two wheeler got stranded in the midst of the traffic, the driver would usually push the vehicle to the side of the road and then start it. This was where I noted a difference between the two cities.

We arrived at the old fort after an hour of driving, and I was captivated by the ancient red stone structures that was once a fortified stronghold. Most of the structures in the fort were still intact, and the whole place had an ethereal charm about it. I took several snaps of the fort, but the presence of two impatient girls denied me my own time to take proper shots. They were eager to see the Light and Sound show at the fort, which was supposed to be the speciality of this tourist spot. The show was due to begin at 7 pm, so we took our seats 10 minutes earlier; my dad stayed back with my grandma, because there were too many steps for her to negotiate.

The show began and i expectantly waited for something dazzling, something on the lines of musical fountain in the Brindavan Gardens. Instead, what transpired was just random switching of lights mount on different parts of the entire fort, each light show accompanied by a monontonous voice explaining the history of the fort with respect to the lighted part. History was not my favourite subject in school, and again it came back to haunt me. I struggled to keep my eyes open, and to keep awake I clicked random photographs of the fort from my seat, but none of them came out well in the blackness of the night. The history class continued for an hour, and every minute left me inwardly cursing myself for landing in this dumb money making scheme. In fact, the fort looked majestic, and it would have been far better to explore the entire structure rather than sit and endure a lecture on the history of the fort. I would also have been better off staying at ‘home’ and watching Arsenal football match on TV. 😀

After exactly one hour, the torture ended, and relief was writ on the face of every person who had been fooled. 😀 We returned to where my grandma and dad were waiting for us, and the first thing I said to dad was “Appa.. You are very lucky not to come!” He laughed in response on hearing my drivel. 😀

It was raining gently when we returned home after an hour, and I was too tired to do anything after the sequence of events starting Thursday night. I had my dinner and straightaway went to bed, waiting for another exciting day in the city I had come to love in a short space of time. 🙂

To be continued.

P.S. My remarks about the traffic and the show in Golconda fort are purely my personal opinions, and are not an attempt to dissuade anyone from visiting Hyderabad/Secunderabad.In fact, I love the twin cities despite these drawbacks; heck, even Chennai has its own disadvantages! 😀 Later, after some comments in my internal blog, I have realized that traffic jams and disruptions are a common problem in any city, so no point in cribbing about the treffic now.

A bad hyde in hyderabad – part 0

I am starting a mini blog series about the 4 days i have spent in the twin cities of hyderabad and secunderabad so far. I am not gonna write a story on my hyderabad trip, so you can expect short to moderate posts covering each day in the city of Nawabs.

In case you are wondering why this is part-0, this implies the day of the trip to hyderabad on independence day from chennai, which deserves a mention for the travel from Bangalore to Chennai by the phamous KSRTC rajahamsa bus, thanks to which i nearly failed to make it to the Central station!

The original plan – start from Infy Blore by 8.15 bus, reach Majestic by 9.30-9.45, have dinner and catch the 10.45 KSRTC bus. Zimble.

Soon its August 14th evening, and I get ready to leave office at 6.45, to pack my bags. The moment I step out of the building, I find it raining hard. God! Looks like it’s going to be a tough ride to Majestic. I reach home at 7 and slink off my wet rainjacket, and begin packing. My other roomies also come around the same time and we all are ready by 7.40. It’s raining really heavy now.

Roomie 1 suggests we have dinner at 7.45 itself, as there was a really bad traffic jam in Hosur road, thanks to the never-ending downpour. We consent with him and have dinner at the next door Andhra mess. Even after 20 minutes, the rain shows no signs of reducing in intensity, so we 3 guys ran like hell towards the Infy bus terminal, sheltering our heads from the stinging rain, only to realize the 8.15 bound bus to Majestic had already left. 😦 So we waited for half an hour and got some bus to the station at 8.45.

Our bus starts at 10.45, so I calculated we would reach there by 10.15-10.30 at most. However, I was horribly proved wrong. 😦 I have no words to say about the traffic nightmare that night. My watch read 9.45, and we had not yet reached Madivala! 😡 I believed we would have been better walking off all the way to Majestic. *Rest of the paragraph censored*

It was 10.45pmand the bus was simply idling somewhere near Majestic, caught in a quagmire of automobiles, the rain gently hitting the windshield. We had enough of the farce, and walked off from there hurriedly to Majestic, concerned we might miss our bus. We were not alone; several young people like us thronged the water clogged pavements, also anxious not to miss their buses. After 20 minutes of frantic walking and enquiries, we landed at the chennai bound bus platform at 11.10 pm roughly. We made another round of enquiries and confirmed that our bus had not yet arrived, which gave us ample time to gather our breath and restore our pent up energy.

A lot of buses came way late beyond their schedule, and the platform was crowded with sleepy eyed and frustrated passengers. You never know which bus was coming, and had to ask the driver. To my chargin, I realized there were several chennai buses at odd timings like 10.01, 10.39, 10.42 etc, and our bus had not yet arrived even after 1 hour of waiting.

Buses continued to alight the platform, but none of them was ours. We waited desperately for the 10.45 bus, our legs aching, struggling to keep our eyes open or watching the rain falling against the backdrop of the floodlights. Finally, our bus arrived, and a glance at my watch read 2.15 am. 😐 I was expecting to reach Chennai at 7, but still reaching at 11 was ok, as it gave me a few hours to relax before 4.30. The bus left at 2.45, and we were finally relieved to be home bound.

At approximately 4.15 am, we were shaken out of our sleep by a sharp scraping sound and some sudden jerking of the wheels, before the bus screeched to a halt. It seemed that our bus nearly collided with the rear of a lorry and the driver had veered to the left to avoid it, but a metal part protruding from the side of the lorry made contact with the right headlight of the bus, breaking it apart and damaging the engine. Even after one hour of pushing the bus either way collectively, the engine refused to start and all; other drivers came to help ignite the motor, but it obstinately remained mute.

Our driver said that we could not move on, and he had called for a replacement bus. At this point, I was fuming inwardly. Damn! Would I ever reach home on time?  My roomies and I decided never to board a KSRTC bus forever, and would rather go from Hosur. The spare bus would come at 9 am only, and for 4 hours my mind was tormented with worry and anxiety. At 7 am, I informed my folks about the long delay, and as expected they became totally worried. They kept calling me back asking whether the other bus had come. And even after the second bus had arrived at 9.15,  my dad continued calling me, to know how longer it would take to reach Chennai and whether I would come before 4. Phew! What a torture it was for me.

At 3 pm, we reached Koyambedu terminus, and immediately i caught a bus to my home. I reached at 3.40 pm to land in the arms of my finally relieved folks. 😀 My plans for the day, which included meeting my cousin from Canada and a friend, were totally ruined, but atleast I had arrived in time for the trip to Hyderabad. Whew! 

Looking back on the horrendous trip, I realised shit happens in life, and was not so concerned about it. If you step in cowdung, you can do nothing but wash it off and move on as though it never happened. 😛 Stay tuned for the next part.