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.

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