Yes that is how long I am in Hyderabad and I can remember my first trip to this city of 6 million inhabitants, the airport was empty and I flew in by Silk Air with my Architect and Quantity Surveyor. In Hyderabad, our local Quantity Surveyor met us and we all stayed in the same hotel.
Since it was a transit flight from Singapore, by the time I got into Hyderabad, I was hungry and could eat a horse. So I went down to the only restaurant that was opened in the hotel, and there they served midnight Briyani and it was also the fasting month for the muslims and hence they had this muslim speciality called “Haleem” and I didn’t know what the hell it was. So for the Briyani buffet, after filling my plate with “Gosh (mutton)Briyani”, I went to help myself with the haleem and to my my surprise there wasn’t any mutton pieces inside the gooey stuff, I thought to myself, hey these people are short changing me since it is mid-night and it could be left overs from lunch or dinner. It was like dal, and I took the haleem and had my supper without complaining as I am in a foreign country.
The following day I casually asked our partner who was a Hyderabadi, what happened to the mutton pieces in the haleem and the hotel is not giving what it promised and to my surprise, he told me that haleem is cooked with flour(maida), spices and mutton over 6 to 7 hours and everything becomes gooey and I had a good laugh.
The most glaring difference that I noticed was the head shaking, they move it sideways for a yes and I had a little bit of a problem with the Indian accent too. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying and I guess they couldn’t understand my accent either. I got over it now and when I go back home, now they can’t understand me.
Visiting the Government offices was a drag, it was just like what the British had left when they left India. And the dressing was casual, the officials wear chappels and shirts not tucked in. I was weary of the water they serve at the Government offices, just didn’t want to fall sick.
I stayed in a Hotel for 7 months and I got used to life in a Hotel, I was upgraded by the Hotel management to a Junior Suite with free fruit baskets and a bottle of complimentary beer everyday along with Lays potato chips and other stuff. I also had complimentary cocoktails from 7 pm. to 8 p.m, which I normally extend by double parking on my drinks and the tidbits would serve as my dinner.
When I think back of those days, the streets in Hyderabad was relatively free from traffic and I guess over the past 6 years, things have changed much. Hyderabad has got it’s new airport and traffic is chaotic now. The beautiful trees are chopped down now in the name of road widening. And I can feel the heat when I am in the city. More pubs and restaurants have opened up and I see many new shopping malls have opened up too as the middle class has increased in proportion.
The only positive thing that I have gained from Hyderabad is learning to be patient(I can sit in a place for hours like a buddha meditating) and also my tolerance to spicy food has increased ten fold.