Hyderabad and Back to Pune

The rest of my vacation was lovely. I took a bus to Hyderabad to meet Ritesh, Indro and RG. Ritesh was transferred there for his job, RG works there, and Indro is going to one of the top business schools. It’s a two-year program stuffed into a year. I have great friends. RG took a few days off work, Ritesh took a day off work to escort me around. It was great. Hyderabad is a big city, huge in fact. I don’t know how most tourists would get around. On day one we went to the Ramoji Film City. It’s really a city for film. If I had ever been to LA Universal Studios I imagine it would look like something similar. The cool thing was that on my way back to Pune, the Tamil movie I saw was all shot there and I recognized so many different scenes. I’m not usually that kind of person who shouts, “I’ve been there,” or “I know where that is,” but somehow seeing those things in India in a Tamil movie, I got a little excited. Speaking of Tamil movies, they’re awesome, in a Bollywood (Tollywood) way. There is always a hero with super strength (as in many Bollywood movies) but the dance numbers are so much more intricate. I thoroughly enjoyed both movies I watched on the busses.
On day two, RG took me to the Qutb Shahi Tombs and the Golkonda Fort. There is so much history in Hyderabad. I really enjoyed the Fort. It was inhabited from the 1500s to 1700s. They even engineered the entrance with an echo system so you could hear a clap at the top of the whole fort. There was art and culture, a Muslim prince who married a Hindu commoner. It was finally taken over by the ruler of Delhi. I’m missing many important pieces, but I’ll look it up in the free time I don’t have and try to piece some more together. In the evening we saw a sound and light show at the fort. Basically they lit up different parts of the fort while the audience listened to the story of the fort. It was nice.
For dinner we went to a famous Hyderabad restaurant where we all started sucking in air because the food was so spicy. Apparently Hyderabad food is really spicy. It was a bit intense. It was Ritesh’s birthday so we went for some yummy ice cream afterwards too. It reminded me a bit of Cold Stone. We don’t have such places in Pune.
The next day I got to go around with Ritesh. RG planned our trip so we went to the Salar Jung museum. It is comprised of a collection of the family that traveled and picked up trinkets and cultural items from all over the world. This museum, more so than others, was a little hard to digest because there were so many people, and they were all so loud. It’s funny that Americans are so quiet in museums, but this was the other extreme. There was even a man who shooed people along if they were taking too long in one of the rooms. It was a little much for my last day, and I find the arrangement of Indian museums a bit confusing. Not to say it’s wrong, but the way it’s laid out seems haphazard and there aren’t really labels that really explain the pieces. I really enjoyed one room that had Indian contemporary art. It was beautiful.
From there, I did the unthinkable. We met RG for lunch; more specifically we went to the “second best” biriyani place in Hyderabad, Shadab. I ate mutton. When in Rome…
After that Ritesh and I headed to Charminar and Jama Masjid. Both were beautiful structures. The Charminar is set up in an intersection, and when you go to the first landing (the second is closed because a family committed suicide a few years ago) you can see the four intersecting lanes. It’s pretty incredible. We even got a mini tour by an uncle who worked for the heritage site. At the masjid we also got a mini tour, but when it came time to enter, one uncle said, “go pray to God,” while pointing at the mat outside for women, and another uncle took Ritesh in for a tour.
We spent some time and I bought payal. Payal are silver anklets that many Indian women wear. They’re super pretty. Most of them make sounds because of the little balls on them, but that somehow didn’t work with me. So, in the middle of Hyderabad, Ritesh found the perfect ones for me. Apparently I’m having a girl moment. I didn’t go shopping, didn’t intend to, that would be too girly.
We had to rush back home so I could catch my bus. Indro challenged me to see if Vipassana really worked. Last time when we all took a bus I made sure that we were there 10 minutes beforehand. I stressed myself and everyone else out (at least in my head). They kept telling me to calm down, not to worry, the bus wouln’t leave without us, it would be late, etc. I didn’t believe them. Ritesh’s roommates left the key with the watchman. The watchman wasn’t there. Then when we found him, he gave the wrong keys, then he couldn’t find the right keys, then we took another few minutes to finish packing up my stuff. When we were ready to leave Indro came with his car to get us there. Then we got stuck in traffic in several places. Ritesh called the company to let them know we were on our way. Not only did I not panic at all, but we were late, and I still didn’t panic. I felt very accomplished. I wasn’t even the last person to arrive. It was a great vacation.
I spoke to my father while I was there. I told him how it was so nice to see friends who I hadn’t seen in such a long time. It seemed weird to be telling him that, when he’s so far away and I haven’t seen him in months, and some of my friends in almost a year (a month from now will mark a year since I’ve been home again). I’ve been here long enough now where I can say I haven’t seen good friends in a long time. Strange, and makes me smile and also give a mini sad face. Anyway, it was a great vacation. Much needed. At work people say I look rested. I needed rest. I also covered two new states and big vacation spots. Two years in I’m almost a sixth of the way done with all the places I want to go.

Yesterday was Erin’s birthday. Happy Birthday Erin! Sorry for missing another one.

The cold has come. It gets to the low 50s at night. For here, it’s freezing. Again I’m facing the ridicule of my friends – “How are you cold?” I don’t know, but it’s freezing at night. Freezing at night means that you don’t turn on the fan (or keep it really low), the windows stay closed and you put on a real blanket as opposed to a cotton sheet. During the day it stays hot though, reaching the 80s, sometimes the upper 80s. It must do something to your body to face such extremes ever day. It’s also dengue season. While traveling, I took my fancy bug spray with DDT in it. At a certain point I weighed the benefits of putting a harmful chemical on my body with getting dengue. The harmful chemical won. In Pondi I even got a mini rash on my legs for the day. The chemical still won. An acquaintance of mine in Bombay got dengue and was in the hospital and then bed rest for five weeks. I’ll still take a small leg rash over that.

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