PERWAKILAN MUMBAI’S MEMBERS & SPOUSES CITY ADVENTURE (15 MAY 2010)

This program was organised by the PERWAKILAN MUMBAI and was carried out on 15 May 2010.

We visited Dharavi slum, one of the largest slums in Asia which features prominently in Danny Boyle’s 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, where several of the child actors in the film are from the Dharavi slum. Here, we got the chance to… see how the people of Dharavi slum made jeans and scented candles. We also visited the Slumdog Millionaire filming location.

Later, we checked out some leather goods at Sion Leather Street and had a late lunch at Basilico, Bandra, Mumbai, India.

     

PERWAKILAN MUMBAI’S VISIT TO COLOMBO, SRI LANKA

Perwakilan Mumbai had organised  a trip to Colombo for 2 nights 3 days from 23rd April till 26th April, 2010. Perwakilan  Colombo and Malaysian Association Sri Lanka had assisted us in organising the tour. They had also accompanied us on the trip ensuring us a wonderful time.

Departure : Friday @  2.00 am in Chatrapati Sivaji Airport , Mumbai.

Arrival : Friday @ Bandaranaike International Airport ,Katunayake, Colombo.

   

We arrived safely in Colombo and was greeted ” Ayubowan” by our tour guide Mr Charles. The drive from airport to the Hotel took us about 40 minutes. We enjoyed the green scenic along the way. Cinnamon Grand Hotel was booked for an early check in.  At the hotel we were greeted by Mrs Fareda Baunach, Mrs Aby and Mrs Liza.

After freshening up , we left  for Colombo city tour and shopping. We shopped at Barefoot, Odel, Sena Gems and Lakemadura. Lunch was at Raja Bojun Restaurant and it was buffet. The food was very much to our liking as it was very similar to Malaysian style cooking.  

In the evening we had a rare opportunity to meet  Melayu Lankans at Malay Cricket Club. We were informed of their heritage and population in Lanka.

         

     

We were invited to dinner hosted by YBhg Datuk Rosli Bin Ismail and Datin Mariana Binti Alias at their residence “Rumah Malaysia”.

       

Day two : Leave to Matale to visit Noritake Factory.

It took us  4 hours from Colombo to Matale. It was a tiring journey but worth it. We were very lucky to get the opportunity to visit the factory. The factory is not open to public and we have to thank Perwakilan Colombo who had worked very hard in obtaining the visit. It was a mind opening visit , has now we realise why Noritake is so expensive ! Every step is carefully done under going a quality check. The process is so tedious and takes a long time to be a finish product. We spent  an hour and half in the factory going along from scratch to end product line to understand the process. It was definitely a worthwhile visit , has it enlighten every one of  its quality and beauty.  We left to their showroom to do our purchases.

   

 

We were so excited at the discounts and purchased till our heart content. Imagine we miss our lunch and culture show but were very happy with all our purchases.

At about 5.00 pm we left to our hotel in Kandy. We stayed at Mahweli Reach Hotel Kandy.All of us were exhausted and hungry. After shower we met at the hotel’s restaurant for a buffet dinner which was delicious.

Day three: Art and Craft Showroom, Spices Herbal Garden and Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.

After breakfast we visited a cultural art and craft showroom. Some of them purchased souvenirs and some silver jewellery.  On the way we stopped at a Susantha Spices Herbal garden, which is run by the Sri Lankan Government. We were though of the benefits of spices, herbs and its natural healing properties. We headed to Pinnawela to see feeding of the elephants and also river bathing. It was an incredible sight to see these huge elephants and it’s baby.Lunch was at Pinnalanda Restaurant which oversees the river where the elephants are bathing and mingling among them.

   

   

   

We headed back to Colombo and YBhg Datin Mariana was very kind to allow us to use her residence for showering . She also had prepared tea and cakes for us. After freshening up we all headed to Mr Farook’s residence for a sea food dinner. Mr Farook and his family were  great hosts,  we thank him for the delicious dinner. After a scrumptious dinner we left to the airport .

   

 

 We reached Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake for departure by Sri Lankan Airlines UL 141 to  Chatrapati Sivaji Airport , Mumbai , India.

 

Perwakilan Mumbai express their heartiest thanks to YBhg Datuk Rosli , Datin Mariana , Mrs Fareda ,Mrs Aby, Mrs Liza, Perwakilan Colombo and Malaysian Association Sri Lanka.

A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER

After two long years in Mumbai, we finally decided to go for a tour around North India and the vacation took place from 24 January until 31 January 2009. I had been listening so much about how beautiful that northern part of India was but as usual before we set for the trip we didn’t expect too much.. hehehe… (only my gang in Mumbai know how it feels like touring in India).

Both of my heroes couldn’t even sleep the night before because this was the first time they’re going to snow area (not only for them but ehem… ehem… for me toooooooo!). At 4.00 am, everybody was up and had gotten ready. However, as we were about to leave the house for the airport, guess what, our driver was still asleep! Just imagine how tensed we were at that time. What more depressing was, there was no autorickshaw willing to drive us to the airport in that wee hour. So, having no choice, we decided to just drive our car to the airport, leave it there and pay the parking fee for one week. What else could be done, right?? At 5.00 am sharp, our driver came – only after our 200 missed calls made to his mobile!! We reached Mumbai International Airport just on time for departure. Luckily, we didn’t miss the flight. First lesson learned – never trust your driver especially for an early drive.

We boarded the flight which took off right on schedule and by 7.30 am we reached New Delhi Airport. It was so chilly that morning. Our tour agent was already there waited for us at the airport and he was very helpful. Well, our journey to Shimla began. Lesson No. 2 – always bring food with you when you are in India because all the shops and cafés open at 10.00 am. Good for us, we brought some cookies and bananas to eat.

Along the way our driver kept on suggesting us to try the Dhaba shop for breakfast but as usual I didn’t expect too much and yes… as I had expected, there was nothing special about the Dhaba and I definitely wouldn’t go inside!! So, we stopped at a rest area somewhere on the way to have a short break, but still, the condition of the place was not so okay! We ate quickly and headed off to Shimla. After a very long 8 hour journey with the views that weren’t so fantastic, we finally reached Shimla. It was only 7.00 pm but it seemed like midnight because of winter season. We checked-in at Oberoi Cecil and much to our relief, the foods were good!! After all, its Oberoi so you deserve what you pay.

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Next day, very early in the morning, around 7.00 am, after we had our breakfast and checked out from the hotel. We continued our journey to Manali but today we pre-packed some food from the Oberoi Hotel. Oh, by the way, we had a very good breakfast . The Danish pastries were superb!

The views for the first 3 hours were just similar to the views in Shimla but when we reached the place called Sundar Nagar we were amazed by what we saw. The rest of 5 hour drive seemed nothing compared to this breathtaking view. Just like picture speaking for itself, the view was so fantastic and this was the most beautiful place in India we had seen so far. The surrounding was so fabulous we just couldn’t get enough of it.

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We reached Manali town at around 4.00 pm and checked-in at Holiday Inn Hotel. Since all of us were so starving, we quickly went to the hotel restaurant to try out some Manali specialties. However, it was so disappointing to know that they didn’t serve any ‘halal’ food eventhough they didn’t serve pork. If anyone wishes to have ‘halal’ chicken, he or she must order beforehand so that they can order for us. To add up to the disappointment, it was Friday night and all Muslim shops were closed until Monday. The rest of the days, we just ate Manali special fish but then it was not bad at all.

Second day in Manali was full of fun. We played in the snow and enjoyed the scenery very much! Until now, the memory is still fresh in my mind and I kind of miss Manali. If there was a direct flight to Manali from Mumbai, my family and I would have definitely flown there at this very moment.

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Early Sunday, we departed to Chandigarh. Tak kosa dah nak singgah Shimla because it would only take us 4 hours to drive downhill from Chandigarh to Delhi as compared to 8 hour drive from Shimla to Delhi. Kesian kat my heroes, yang nombor 2 je kebal, alhamdullillah, but my elder son teruk muntah. Sian sangat. The best among them was my baby Akmal. He managed to go through the tormenting journeys to Manali and to Delhi but of course-ler, start je keta terus dia tido. Fening lalat kot.

Our driver kept on telling us that Chandigarh was just like mini Italy in India. Kami semua pun terasa la gak excited sebab dah experienced good times kat Manali kannn. Tetapi rupa-rupanya sebiji cam Shah Alam, semua ikut seksyen and nothing to be amazed of. Chandigarh is a well planned city which is 300% different from Mumbai, and that’s for sure… hehehhehehe

In Chandigarh, we stayed at Taj Chandigarh, a small hotel that was quite similar to Taj Lands End in Bandra, Mumbai and it was superb! Dinner at the hotel was fantastic. Masa pusing-pusing di Chandigardh sempat la gak gi taman batu. It was an interesting place but kind of eerie gak sebab asyik pusing-pusing dan takda jalan kluar. Apa-apa pun kena pusing sampai abis.

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Around 8.00 am the next day, we continued our journey to New Delhi. On the way, we snapped some photos of Red Fort, Khutub Minar, India Gate dan kawasan-kawasan Gomen India (government offices). It was a surprise to see that kawasan-kawasan Gomen dia sebiji cam Putrajaya punya setting.. setting je la, bukan building okay.. hehhehe.. but really, the area was so different from Mumbai and worth seeing. It’s rare to find clean and kempt places such as this one. Merujuk kepada perjalanan kami ke Shimla, Manali, Chandigarh and Delhi, I personally think that all these places are worth going to especially Manali.

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The following day, we checked-in at Crowne Plaza, New Delhi. We took a tour around Janpar Market but didn’t want to shop so much as we planned to do most of our shopping in Jaipur later, not knowing I was about to regret it.

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Another day went by and we continued our trip to Agra with hope to see the great Taj Mahal. Upon reaching Agra, we checked into Trident Agra Hotel before headed off for sightseeing around the city. Besides Taj Mahal, we also checked out Agra Fort and some shopping places, of course. Taj Mahal was superb. The architecture was so amazing even though it was built almost 400 years ago.

We continued our journey to Jaipur the next morning and spent the night at Trident Jaipur. Sempat la singgah kat Fatehpursikri. We also went sightseeing at Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. Di Jantar Mantar, kami melihat teknologi orang zaman dulu-dulu bagaimana mereka menentukan waktu dalam sehari. Ada jam besar yang menggunakan bayang-bayang matahari. Menarik sungguh! When night came, we couldn’t wait to go shopping, alih-alih dapat agen haru biru ada ka patut dia bawa kami sume pergi ke mall yang high class. Memang mahallah barang-barangnya. Ada setengah barang tu lagi mahal dari Mumbai tapi memandangkan memang I nak shopping, maka hajat diteruskan.

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We had our dinner at Raj Palace, which once upon a time, was a palace and now has been converted into a hotel. Believe it or not, for a one night stay it will cost you nearly 1 lakh. Yes, you heard me right! I tried Maharaja Thali. Not bad! Maharaja Thali is a dish that is consisted of some side dishes and serving dia pun glamer… kakkakaka. My hubby jeles tengok I, mana taknya, siap ada lapik warna emas lagi. Gold colour, you! First time, I boleh puji masakan dia sedap sangat. Semuanya sedap, termasuklah ‘paneer’ yang sememangnya I tak suka langsung. Waiter kat situ kata semua tu home made. Sampai sekarang I masih teringat lagi kesedapannya… tapi kalau you all nak tahu bill for our dinner je Rs6000… harga makanan Rs 4000. Taxnya sahaja sudah Rs2000. Hah, nak sangat try yang glamour, padan muka kitorang… hehehe….

Next day, also our last day before going back to Mumbai, before the wonderful vacation was over, we managed to go for an elephant ride at Amber Fort dan sempat la gak buat last minit shopping. Another lesson learned – beli saja apa yg berkenan jangan tunggu. Sangat ralatlah jugak sebab banyak barang yang I berkenan di Delhi tapi tak beli konon-kononnya nak beli di Jaipur. Last-last, tak sempat langsung nak round flea marketnya. Well, anak sapa la tu yang bagitau I yang shopping in Jaipur was much better than Delhi, but it turned out the other way around. Sampai sekarang I menyesal tak shopping in Delhi.

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Flight to Mumbai from Jaipur was at 12.30 pm so, tak de la letih sangat. But in general, my overall opinion from our experience, I can say it’s worth travelling to North India. As for me, the only place that I want to go again is Manali. Hmm… The rest of the places? Nahhh… I think once is enough. Will continue to discover India in our next plan.

* Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

Note: PERWAKILAN MUMBAI would like to thank Mrs. Waheedabi from The Consulate General of Malaysia in Mumbai for sending in this article and sharing her traveling experience to North India with us.

ELEPHANTA ISLAND

Since the day we settled in Mumbai (which was about few weeks ago), my hubby and I haven’t yet discovered many interesting places in Mumbai, India but some of our Hindustani friends suggested that a visit to Elephanta Island could be worth it. Elephanta Island is one of a number of islands in Mumbai Harbour, famous for its caves and temples. It’s only an hour boat ride away from Mumbai Harbour thus making it suitable for a day trip. The original name for the island was Gharapuri Island but was renamed as Elephanta Island by 17th century Portugese explorers after seeing a monolithic basalt sculpture of what seemed to be resembling an elephant near the entrance of the island.

I was told by those Hindustani friends of mine that boats to the island depart from the Gateway of India every half-hour on Wednesday – Monday at 10am – 4:30pm or 9am – 2:30pm depending on season. Tickets are available at the Gateway of India and the boat ride will cost you Rs250 or less for a round-trip, depending on the seat you choose. You can also get boats to the island at CBD Harbour in Navi Mumbai (better known as New Bombay).

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In the wee hours of 24 February 2008 morning, my hubby and I (with our driver Aziz tagging along) catched a speedboat at CBD Harbour, Navi Mumbai to Elephanta Island. The speedboat charged each passenger Rs150 (to and fro) and the trip on the heavily polluted water was quite exhilarating (but a little bumpy though).  So, all we did was to hold on tight and tried our very best not to get thrown off!

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Upon arriving at the jetty of the Elephanta Island, we were greeted with a simple welcome message ‘WELCOME TO ELEPHANTA’ written on a stone. And sitting next to it, was one hard working male hawker selling tidbits by the shore, earning less than you can ever think of. He’s one of the many sidewalk hawkers who struggled to put food on the table to feed their families.

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Elephanta Island is quiet and picturesque, with green foliage and monkeys scampering about. It could be the most serene sight you witness in India. At the end of the long concrete walking path, there was a ticket booth where all visitors were requested to pay Rs5 for adults and Rs3 for children here. Further ahead, we reached a smaller walkway that led to steps which went up to the famous caves. Along these steps, we could see hawkers selling souvenirs at quite reasonable prices. I lost count of the number of steps, but I managed to reach the top of the hill. It reminded me of the steps at Kek Lok Si in Penang, the largest Buddhist Temple in Malaysia, I had climbed when I was a kiddo.  

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The first cave we entered boasted a few gigantic pillars and hand-crafted figurines of their many lords. One of the figurines we could see in the main cave was the figurine of one of their male lords, Natraj Shiva, also known as the Lord of Dancers. Standing a few metres away were two figurines depicting the marriage of two lords, Lord Shiva (male lord) and Lord Paravati (female lord). If you happen to come here, don’t miss these statues as they’re quite attractive to look at! As we walked to the next cave, we stopped by at a small museum that displayed all sorts of old artifacts and precious stones found at the island.

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At the other part of Elephanta Island, we saw another cave with different structural elements. The interior part of the caves were packed with amazing giant pillars and each pillar was decorated with statues of their lords. Behind the making of each pillar, lies a story. How interesting!

There were many more temple-caves scattered everywhere on this island but we were too tired to even move a leg. So, we decided to check out the rest of the caves next time. Slowly we headed back to the entrance where came in from and waited for the toy train to take us to the jetty. 

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

Note: PERWAKILAN MUMBAI would like to say thank you to Mrs. Julia Idaly from Navi Mumbai for sharing with us her experience touring around Elephanta Island, Mumbai, India.

I ASKED FOR A FEW LEAVES, I GOT TREES INSTEAD!

You know what, I had been having this stupid craving for asam rebus ikan bawal putih and seafood tom yum since I came back to Mumbai from my last break in Malaysia. I had all the ingredients brought all the way from Malaysia, except serai (lemongrass) and daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves). Gosh, where shall I find these in Mumbai? I absolutely had no idea!

Serai (Lemongrass) – One of the basic aromatic ingredients of curries and Thai food. Only the white bulbous part, just above the root is used in cooked dishes, while the dried lemongrass leaves can be used to make a zesty, refreshing drink.

Daun Limau Purut (Kaffir Lime Leaves) – Its sharp, lemony aroma enhances the flavor of a dish, mainly used as an ingredient in Malay and Thai soury dishes like asam tumis, asam rebus and tom yum.

I told my hubby (more like pestering him actually) that I needed just a few leaves of these plants. Elly, Yazurin’s wife, once had told me she had found serai somewhere within our apartment’s compound. Hubby and I went down and took a tour around and yes, we found some serai plants. And now, where could we possibly find the daun limau purut, eh?

After a few hours of searching for daun limau purut, we finally gave up and decided to look for a pot to plant our serai instead. So, off we went to find a pot and some fertilised soil. Senang gitu, lepas nih cabut serai kat balcony je.

We found a nursery somewhere in town near our home that sold all kinds of flowers, plants and trees. Instead of asking for the pot and soil, we tried our luck by asking the nursery guy (who could not at all speak English), if he had serai and daun limau purut anywhere in his nursery. Here’s how the conversation went, macam ayam dengan itik…

Hubby: Do you have lemongrass here?

Nursery guy: Lemon? Nahi, hey! (Means, no lemon)

Hubby: No, not lemon. It’s lemongrass. For cooking tom yum and curry, you know?

Nursery guy: Curry? Curry nahi, hey! (Means, no selling curry here. At this point, he might be thinking that we’re out of our minds to find curry dish at a nursery!)

Hubby: You know, grass that smells nice.

Nursery guy: Aaaahhh… come! (That was the only English word we heard thus far from him. He showed us to a tree that didn’t at all look like a lemongrass)

Hubby: Nahi, nahi. It’s a grass. Small.

Nursery guy: Come! (Walking a few yards away and urging us to follow him. Showed us to another tree. This time, it’s a flower plant)

Hubby: Nahi, nahi. Wait! (Went to the car, took out the serai that we plucked from our apartment compound and showed it to him)

Nursery guy: Aaahhhhhhhhh! (Ushering us to a corner and showed us where he kept the lemongrass plants)

Hubby: OK, we take one pot. Egd pot! (‘Egd’ here means ‘one’. Hubby could now speak a few Hindi words, not bad!)

Nursery guy took one pot of serai and stored it inside our car. Then, came a more challenging part – to ask for daun limau purut as we did not have any sample to show him.

Hubby: Do you sell lime trees?

Nursery guy: Lime? Errr… lime… (Looking down, frowning. Probably thinking “Damn, I should have learned my English!”)

Hubby: Lime. Like orange. You know orange?

Nursery guy: Orange? (Looking rather frustrated this time and still frowning. Probably thinking “I must take English class after this! I must take English class after this!”)

Hubby: Hmm…like this… Slurrppp, slurrrpp, nyam nyam (Performing an act of drinking and making lime juice, something like ‘perah-perah limau’ act)

Nursery guy: Aaaaahhhhhhhh! (Leading us the way toward the backyard and pointing his finger frantically at a lime tree)

Hubby: Achaa. Egd pot!

Pheww… at last, it’s over. No more the ‘chicken and duck’ talk. There, one pot of lime tree went into our car! And sitting next to it, was the pot of serai plants. And what do you know, we had finally found our much needed ingredients and my asam rebus and tom yum will be ‘complete’. I said my thanks to dear hubby for being so supportive as I asked him for just a few leaves but he gave me trees instead!

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Note: Mrs. Julia Idaly from Navi Mumbai, India shared her experience conversing with an Indian who owned a nursery in Nerul and could not speak English. At the time this incident happened, Mrs Julia Idaly and her hubby were new to the area and tried to settle down in their new home in Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Now, they have been living in Mumbai for more than a year and know where to find their ‘very much needed leaves’.

VAT AM I TALKING ABOUT?

I completely understand if you, Indian people, can’t utter the ‘W’ words properly. But I just find it beyond logic and hard to comprehend, why do you even have to write them the way your tongues pronounce them? Such as this text message I received from the owner of a furniture shop…

“Dear Madam, ve are sorry that ve vill not be able to deliver the cabinet you have ordered today as our delivery truck has broken down. Ve vill deliver it to you tomorrow ven the truck has been repaired.”

I just CAN’T COMPREHEND, why, just whyyyyy….?

 

Note: The article was sent by Mrs. Julia Idaly from Navi Mumbai, India.

MUMBAI SIGHT SEEING TOUR 2009

On the 21 February 2009, some of the members of the PERWAKILAN MUMBAI went to a “Mumbai Sight Seeing Tour 2009″ organised by the PERWAKILAN MUMBAI with coorperation from Consulate General Of Malaysia in Mumbai.9 members of PERWAKILAN and their children were on this trip. We started our journey from the Consulate General of Malaysia at about 9.45am to the Dobi Ghat in Mahalaxmi. It is the biggest open laundry area in Mumbai. A strange but interesting place really!!!

From there we continued to the Times Of India Building, CST Station, BMC Building, Azad Maidan, Churchgate, High Court, Raj Bhai Tower, Mumbai University, Oval Maiden, Mantralaya, Express Tower, Air India Building and Nariman Point. We also passed through Ministers’ Residences near Mantralaya area. We could not believe our eyes how they look like but, sorry….no photos are allowed. Our next destinations were the Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Hotel…the one that was attacked by terrorists on 26 November 2008. There we were “posing sakan le“.

We had our lunch at 5 Spice Restaurant… Chinese food, babe!!!. Sponsored by Happy Holidays Travel Agent. As we got full, it was the time for shopping at Mangladas Market and Musafir Khana. These are among the famous shopping places in Mumbai, where you can get everything there at lower prices but it is always crowded and yuckk….smelly!!!

Then we moved to the Chor Bazaar, this is also a famous place in Mumbai… where you can get all the antique items or rather used items but none appeared to be cheap. On our way back, we visited Haji Ali Mosque but we did not manage to get close as we ran out of time, enough only to take some pictures. The trip was enjoyable and each one of us was very happy. So,we look foward to having perhaps a second trip!!!!

Note: The story of the trip was contributed by the wife of the Consul General of Malaysia in Mumbai herself, Mrs. Zuhaila Abd Latif. An announcement with regard to this event was made on 11 February 2009. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Zuhaila Abd Latif, Mrs. Sharifah Faten Ali Albar and Mrs. Rosmayati Roslin. Click here for more.

A JAUNT TO HYDERABAD, INDIA

It was hot season during that time of the year in India and it was burning out there! The temperature reached 43 degree Celcius and it’s definitely not a good time for sight-seeing or jalan-jalan tengok orang. I could still feel the scorching heat eventhough I was in the car with the air-conditioning system running at full blast! That’s how hot it was!

I wasn’t really excited about the impromptu trip to Hyderabad (one of the major cities in Andhra Pradesh state of India), mainly because of the extreme heat and exccessive dry condition India was experiencing at that moment. But hubby had a couple of meetings to attend and needed to meet several congressmen in Hyderabad, to see if there’s any way or chance for our company to venture into any highway projects in Adhra Pradesh state. So, 43 degree Celcius or not, I was definitely going with him because I didn’t wish to stay in Mumbai alone! Therefore, we had to leave Felix at home, under the tender care of two PLUS BKSP staff, Subhir and Sachin. They were to come over to our house, every day after office hours, fill up Felix’s bowls with his food and water and make sure that Felix was alright!

On 4th May 2008, at 6.30 a.m. hubby and I were already dressed up and the company’s driver, Chavan, were already waiting for us to come down. He then sent us to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (domestic airline terminal) in Mumbai city. At 7.30 a.m. the airport was already crowded and… noisy! And some people just didn’t know how to queue!! Macam pegi pasar, aarrrgghhh… tensyennye la haiii! Nak lalu security check point pun nak berebut! Dah la pintu gerbang kat security check point tu kecik, dah macam nak roboh! At 8.00 a.m. all passengers to Hyderabad via Jet Airways were paged for boarding. Quite a journey we made there on the shuttle bus that transferred us from the airport terminal to the aeroplane. It took us 10 minutes just to get to the aeroplane and we were standing throughout the bus ride, okay!

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Upon boarding the flight, we were given a warm welcome by the attendants and some hot towels, to ‘wipe’ the sour look off our faces, hee… hee…! But then, this was not a lousy domestic flight after all. The English breakfast was quite tasty and to my relief, they had touch-screen LCDs in the flight to play any selected movies or songs. Not bad at all!

About an hour later, we reached Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport and the Taj Deccan Hotel’s driver was already waiting there to receive us and take us to the hotel. On the way, we passed by a lake where I saw men and beasts swim and bathe together! Dahsat! Kerbau dan manusia boleh geng berkubang sesama! And they’re still using sawdust (the old method) to keep the ice cubes from melting fast.

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The road trip from Hyderabad International Airport to our hotel took us approximately 45 minutes. But ok la, at least I had the chance to see the panorama! I was told by the hotel’s driver that 80% of Hyderabad was populated by the Muslims. But even so, it still made no difference to the culture, customs and lifestyle in Hyderabad. Sama je… Mumbai pun macam nih, Hyderabad pun macam nih. What ever I saw in Hyderabad was also the same as what I see in Mumbai everyday. Sama aje… But the hotel was nice! Taj Deccan Hotel was indeed the right choice. I loved it!

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That afternoon, we took a ride on an autorickshaw to Golkonda Fort, a ruined city located west of Hyderabad which used to be a stronghold belonged to the great Muslim mughal, Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali, the fourth Qutb king.

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What amused me the most about this fort were its fantastic acoustic effects around the fort and its marvelous sound engineering works. For example, a hand clap at the entrance of the fort could be heard clearly at the other corner of the fort. And how did they do that? I guess, that, we need to dig the mughal’s grave ourselves and pray his good soul would give us the answer! Even our guide, Mohammad, didn’t have a clue!

It was almost dark when we finally got back to our awaiting autorickshaw. We were taken to Hussain Sagar Lake to see the large monolithic statue of the Gautama Buddha, erected right in the middle of the lake. Aisehmen, jauh kat tengah tasik la pulak… I could not get any closer to the statue so I could not get a clearer shot of it. Too bad. In order to get to the statue, we needed to ride a boat. But we’re too exhausted for that. Maybe next time la!

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The next day, while hubby was busy with several meetings with the congressmen, I went to Koti, the Hyderabad’s version of Petaling Street (Kuala Lumpur), with Asha Monica (a girl they assigned to accompany me during our stay in Hyderabad) escorting me everywhere I went. She even brought me to a shop that offered an exquisite selection of Indian bangles. Need me tell you, these bangles are either made of glass or metal that come in many sizes and must be worn in groups so that the arm movements will cause them to produce a pleasant tinkling sound. I bought 4 sets of them – maroon, blue, white and pink – and all were in different designs and patterns.

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The 18 year old Asha Monica took me pusing-pusing around the Buddha Statue at Hussain Sagar Lake after I was done shopping at Koti. I got out of the car to take a photoshot of the statue and got back in as fast as I could. It’s 43 degree Celcius out there, remember?

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Asha sent me back to the hotel and then she left right away. Hubby’s already back from his meeting and waited for me in our rented hotel room. I took my shower and jumped onto the bed. Penatnya rasa. Syoknya baring atas katil. Ahhh.. nothing beats the comfort of a plush hotel bed, kan!

A few minutes later, hubby’s Hyderabad friend called up and I saw hubby smile as if he had heard something really amusing over the phone. I let hubby finish his talking and waited for him to tell me about it later. So I carried on my syok syok baring atas katil. Guling-guling here, guling-guling there. Here I guling, there I guling, everywhere I guling-guling.

When he’s done talking, he turned to me as he was saying “Dear, Kalyan and Baha would like to take us out for the best dinner ever served in Hyderabad!” I jumped out off bed in anticipation and asked “Oh yeah? Really? And what would that be? Japanese sushis, Chinese seafood, dim sum, sambal belacan, kangkung goreng, laksa, mee kari?”

“None of those, darling. Listen, you have to be brave and strong, and mentally prepared, for tonight.. eerrmmm… [hubby hesitated a little bit]… errrmmm… we have no choice but to eat…errmmm… beriyani”, hubby knew too well that Indian cuisine was always the last in my food list! Arghhhh…. tensyen. I had been hearing things like this for many times now. In India, it’s a never ending beriyani, curry, dhal, massala and I AM GETTING TIRED OF THESE FOOD!

Eventually, that ‘best-dinner-ever-served-in-Hyderabad’ was had at Paradise – Hyderabad’s Best Beriyani House, located about 20 minutes drive from the hotel. The place was cosy, the company was great, but still, it didn’t do any good to my appetite. I didn’t eat much that night. Muak! Makan 4 sudu aje. Sungguh la tak lalunya!

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We got back to the hotel at about 10 p.m and called it a day! Esok, jalan-jalan lagi dibawah sinaran matahari yang 43 degree Celcius tu.

Next day, 6th May 2008, our last day in Hyderabad, hubby received a call and his meeting with another congressmen was cancelled, so he had no choice but to come with me to see some other interesting places. After all, we still had a few more hours to kill before we took off to Mumbai. So, we went to pay a visit at Charminar and Mecca Masjid. These ancient duo are among the most important landmarks in Hyderabad and were built by the same legendary mughal who built Golkonda Fort, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shahi.

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We had lunch in the room before we checked out. We boarded the Jet Airways plane at 8.oo p.m. but to my disappointment, the flight that took us back to Mumbai did not have touch-screen LCDs so all we did was sleep all the way! Tak makan pun… tak lalu. Because the meal they served on the flight was… yet again the best-dinner-ever-served, the beriyani!

 NOTE: The above travelling experience is willingly shared by Julia Idaly Mohd Yusof of Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.