Posts Tagged ‘Hyderabad’

South Tour: Hyderabad – A place for capturing the moment

December 19, 2010

16 Nov

A view of Hyderabad from the Golkunda Fort

HYDERABAD: Hyderabad is a nice, modern city that presents a nice mixture of the old and new. The roads were well-paved, the traffic moved well, a new mall we visited was exquisitely grandiose, and a few of the sidewalks were actually used for walking.

After checking in and having breakfast at our hotel, we bussed to the Salar Jung Museum – comparable to Chicago’s Art Institute in scope and variety. Museums and tourism attractions in India often charge different rates for foreigners than for Indian citizens. Employees usually distinguish the two groups with a simple test: looking at them. Thus a few of us only had to pay Rs. 10 to enter, whereas the rest of us paid the full price, despite our Indian student IDs.

(When future locations charged two separate entry fees, we decided to remedy the imbalance by totaling the cost for our group and dividing the cost evenly among us. Nonetheless, the practice of charging foreigners extra irked us all.)

For some reason, I was under the impression that Hyderabadis would be used to foreigners. But at every location we visited today, people gawked. Some tried discreetly taking pictures of us. Others put themselves in our own photo shoots. Throughout the day, it was impossible not to stand out.

What we saw, however, more than made up for the attention we received.

The view from the Golkunda Fort was among the most spectacular I’d ever seen. Although the light show we saw after dark was underwhelming, the pictures from this afternoon stand for themselves. Only Sinhagad – a fort I visited in Pune in August – comes close to the view from the top of Golkunda.

Besides the museum, we also visited a temple in the morning which gave us a spectacular view of the city. Sadly, cameras were not allowed inside.

Our sightseeing was capped this evening with a short boat ride in Husain Sagar Lake to a statue of Buddha. Even more impressive than its sheer size was the fact it was carved out of one piece of stone.

My 256 KB memory card will soon be full, on account of the many pictures I took today. There was a lot to see.

17 Nov

The capital of Tollywood cinema seemed to take a lot of cues from another “-ollywood.”

HYDERABAD-CHENNAI: I’ve spent the last 20 minutes or so just looking out the window.

As the train rolls along at about 50 miles an hour, the cool November breeze whips across my face, and one field after another presents itself beyond the paneless window. It’s a nice contrast to the hectic day we had today.

The Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad left me feeling half movie star, half paparazzi. South India’s Hollywood was reminiscent of Southern California in more ways than the Hollywood sign placed amidst bushes high above the city (for which Nikolas’ [Germany] plan to climb up and take a picture failed). The palm trees, balmy weather and American pop music made me forget several times which -ollywood I was visiting.

And there were more pictures today. Many of them. We saw beautifully maintained gardens and two or three shows, watched Jakob [Germany] and Dascha [Oregon, USA] star in a “movie” they weren’t told they were in, went on three carnival rides for the first time in India and drove to the train station having spent a nice day together, our memory cards much fuller than our stomachs.

As for our train ride, I haven’t missed having AC or closed windows. In fact, I’d argue the wind makes it more comfortable than the first Indian train ride I took from Pune to Nagpur earlier this year. 13 of us crammed into a compartment for six people and had a “dance” “party” much to the chagrin of the nearby passengers. We also shared a lot of food. The Rotary kids are awesome – all 18 of us.

I’m going to sleep now –

– Actually no, I didn’t. This train is not a very good place to sleep.


Click to enlarge


South Tour: Nagpur to Hyderabad – The beginning

December 18, 2010

From 15 November to 9 December, I toured South India with 17 students, most of them on Rotary exchanges like myself. At the end of about every other day, I’d take out my 19 x 15.2 cm Need For Speed notebook and write. These entries were written in variable shades of light, in variable states of mind, on buses, on trains, in hotels, and (the last one) from the comfort of my home in Nagpur.

The product of my 25 days of memories is 54 pages and over 7,000 words, the quality of which varies widely from entry to entry. Between now and Christmas I’ll be publishing them, because I would probably destroy WordPress if I put them up all at once. I’ve edited for accuracy and clarity – heavily in some cases – but what I’ve tried not to do however, is distill the emotion of the moment.

I also took 672 pictures, many of which I’ll be posting as well.

Here’s my first entry, which I wrote on the bus from Nagpur to Hyderabad. Enjoy!



15 Nov

I took no pictures this day, but here's a good one from the next day, in Hyderabad.

I took no pictures this day, but here's a good one from the next day, in Hyderabad.

NAGPUR-HYDERABAD: Today was the first day of our tour. As a group, we’ve yet to do anything together. And yet today was an incredibly busy day.

I awoke at 9 this morning with almost everything unfinished. I didn’t have a student ID from my college. Some letters I needed to send home were unsent. Eight t-shirts and a pair of jeans were still being pressed down the street. My allowance remained uncollected. And my suitcase lay on my bedroom floor, half empty.

It took 30 minutes at the post office to mail one letter, 90 minutes at my college to collect one iCard, and two minutes at the shop down the street to collect my clothes. After an afternoon spent half packing and half panicking – three power outages did little good for my mood – almost everything was done. (I would receive my allowance just before departure.)

Just after 7 p.m., I bid my host family namaskar, waved goodbye, and joined the 17 other students at the Green Lounge Hotel for dinner and departure.

The other Rotary students are awesome – there’s really no better way to put it. Some I’ve seen almost every day over the last four months, some I’d talked to just once or twice in the same time frame, and some I met for the first time today. From the moment I entered the hotel, the group dynamic has been impressive.

Mostly, we’ve just talked. About anything, really. Eight to twelve of us sat together in one compartment of the bus until 1 a.m., sharing stories of our escapades in our respective host cities, what superhero powers we’d like to have, and our opinions and thoughts on life in India overall. It’s a tremendous community. As our AC bus takes us to Hyderabad, I can tell there will be a lot to look forward to – sightseeing and seeing each other alike.