Its time to bid adios to Hyderabad. Two and a half years back when I moved to the city lock stock and barrel, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been to Hyderabad before; my knowledge about the city was limited to Charminar, pearls and Chandrababu Naidu! I had no friends, no social life, I hated the blistering sun, the heat, the laid back attitude of the people, the chaos and confusion that comes as package with life in India; there were so many times I wished I said no to the move! In fact, I choked the mail boxes of friends with voluminous rantings about the city and its people, which I lovingly christened the Hyderabad Blues series!
Over the next year things started to change. I got myself a job (and quit it pretty quickly too…but that’s another story), met a woman who opened the door to a whole new world. I had always considered myself to be worldly wise, the been-there-done-that kind of person; but of course I was in for a rude shock because I had seen nothing before I came to Hyderabad! After two and a half years I can truly say that I’ve seen it all…desperate P3 types straight out of Madhur Bhandarkar’s movie, male strippers, drugs, adultery, attempts of murder, gun-totting bodyguards, mujra party at far-flung farmhouses, a foreigner who over stayed her visa and is now a fugitive, a man with many passports who love the thrills of international human trafficking, open marriages, upper-middle class women pimping their bodies for cash or kind…the underbelly of an apparently staid and boring city!
I also met some amazing people… true blue Hyderabadis, so kind and generous; they welcomed me into their city and their lives with their arms open wide. Memories of their warmth and hospitality will remain in my heart till I die. The last weekend was hectic…two farewell parties in my honor! The first one thrown by my girl gang…women I’ve come to love and respect over last two years…women with whom I’ve laughed and cried, partied and done tequila shots, had endless cups of coffee over hardcore bitching sessions and called up at 3 am when I couldn’t sleep! The other was organized by a very dear friend, the most generous and kind man in the whole wide world! The venue was perfect - open air, lots of trees, a pond and a cascading waterfall - all very carefully lit up. There was an open bar, a DJ spinning foot-tapping tracks all night long and lip smacking food (including haleem and grilled bater). Half the town showed up (there were some gate crashers too) to say good bye! It was such an emotional experience!
I never thought I’d say it, but I can’t help it…I’ll miss Hyderabad! Didn’t realize when the local lingo invaded my vocabulary and no became nakko bhai and go slow became hulloo lelo! I was always a foodie, but my decadence in Hyderabad will (hopefully) remain unsurpassed (because the weighing scale has been sending me signals for a while now!) I’ll miss Fusion 9, Angeethi, Dosa Plaza, Encounters, Gufaa, midnight Biryani at Ohri’s Banjara, Sunday brunch at Touch…heck I’ll even miss Indian Harvest, the Gujju thaali joint that closed down a while back!!! I’ll miss shopping for bangles and laces in Laad Bazar, its myriad colors, the glimpses of fair arms of Burqa-clad maidens, laden with sparkling bangles. I’ll miss my walks through KBR Park, the view of Golconda Fort and Qutb Shahi Tombs from the vantage point where Narne Road dips into Whisper Valley. I’ll miss the Ladies Night at 10D, Touch, Liquids and the after hours party at B&C. I’ll miss making fun of the ineffectual security guards armed with only a whistle who take their jobs too seriously! I’ll even miss the way Hyderabadis lie “raaste mein hoon” when they haven’t even dressed to go for a party! I’ll miss the awesome rock formations that dot the Banjara Hills-Jubilee Hills skyline (specially the one shaped curiously like a male body-part that can be seen from the terrace of Zafraan Exotica) and are fast disappearing thanks to the real estate development. I’ll miss the AP Riding Club, a heritage building gifted by the Nizam to the riding club almost 150 years ago, where generations have learnt to ride; thanks to the greedy bureaucrats it’s closed now, the horses languishing in Chanchalguda jail (of all places)! I’ll miss my man Friday cum chauffer, who would reverse the car in heavy traffic just to save me from walking a few extra steps in the sun; my maid, in spite of her limited intellectual capacity and her inability to follow instructions kept my home in shape and took over the greatest challenge a mother faces – feeding a five year old!! I’ll miss my family (even though none of them stay in Hyderabad, they were never more than two hours away).The list is pretty long…
I’m moving again and I wish I had said an emphatic NO this time. I’ll pretend that I’m taking one more of my frequent trips and avoid the emotional (read teary) good-byes and the heart ache that I invariably feel every time I leave a place. So farewell Hyderabad…hopefully I’ll see you again sometime soon!
I’ll sign off dear readers, with a beautiful poem, Nightfall in the city of Hyderabad by Sarojini Naidu
See how the speckled sky burns like a pigeon's throat,
Jewelled with embers of opal and peridot.
See the white river that flashes and scintillates,
Curved like a tusk from the mouth of the city-gates.
Hark, from the minaret, how the muezzin's call
Floats like a battle-flag over the city wall.
From trellised balconies, languid and luminous
Faces gleam, veiled in a splendour voluminous.
Leisurely elephants wind through the winding lanes,
Swinging their silver bells hung from their silver chains.
Round the high Char Minar sounds of gay cavalcades
Blend with the music of cymbals and serenades.
Over the city bridge Night comes majestical,
Borne like a queen to a sumptuous festival.