India Day 7 – 9 Hyderabad

After a wonderful night celebrating our Anniversary in sumptuous style we headed to
Hyderabad to see what it is like to live more locally, or at least live like an expat full time
in India.
We were lucky enough to visit my Uncle Wally and Aunt Eve, who have now been living
in India for over two years. They live and work in Hyderabad, which is definitely not a
tourist city, but was a fantastic experience for Carrie and I to see how different their
experience is from our lives in Singapore and to also see how a weekend is spent in India.
We spent most of the day Friday in the airport in Mumbai (Bombay) as our flight was
again delayed for over two hours (standard practice when traveling in India).
We arrived in Hyderabad around 11pm and were picked up by Eve and their driver Mr. Hassan and an essential part of the family for navigating India (as we discovered later).
We then picked up Wally from a late night work function and were ready for
dinner … which although later than usual at 1am was superb Hyderabadi Chicken Briyani,
a dish that the city is known for and was lovingly prepared by Natalia – the maid for
Wally and Eve. It was very good, with tender chicken, fragrant rice, and creamy sauce.
The next morning we woke up at Chez Wertsch (enjoyed some breakfast), met Natalia,
and were off to see where Wally works, run errands, indulge in some good southern
Indian Food, and experience Hyderabad.
Following some errands and basic to do items in the morning we really started our day by
touring Wally’s work.
The site was very impressive in Hi-tech City and consisted of four buildings, all with tight
security. However, the size of the operations, the ability of the firm to develop employees
and overall quality of the offices, cafeteria, etc were even better than a lot of the offices
in the US that I have visited. It did feel like it could have been in the US as the buildings
and surrounding companies were mostly US high tech firms and looked similar to office
parks in San Jose or Santa Clara. That is of course until you left Hi-tech city and ventured
out into the real city of Hyderabad.
We then stopped by a local handicraft market where I purchased a Khadi towel (USC
colors) and should have bought a Lungi as well but didn’t. The market was a refreshing
change to a lot of other more touristy places in India as in this Hyderabad market we
were not hassled nearly as much to buy things and were not singled out in quite the same
pushy way. (Maybe it was our ‘local’ family guides that helped 🙂
We then were off to lunch at Chutney’s for some wonderful southern Indian food in large
quantities. The food though was fragrant and spicy without being overly powerful. It also
had diverse textures and variety on our Thali plates. This was one of the better meals we
had in India and based on the number of locals at the place – the entire town seemed to
agree.
Thali Plate Northern Indian Style

Thali Plate – Southern Indian Style

After lunch we headed to an expat clubhouse that is under renovation and will be used by the
expat community in Hyderabad (please note there is no American Club or British Club or
any specific Country club due to lack of expats). The house was very interesting in terms of layout and size, but what was even more interesting was that in our drive there and our time there I came to realize
just how extreme India can be in regards to lack of infrastructure and income inequality.

The house was in an extremely nice neighborhood on a hill that overlooked Hyderabad. It
was interesting though because it was basically adjoined and overlooked an area that was
recently a tent like slum and had recently been converted to permanent housing. The
people all seemed happy and were going about their daily tasks, but I also realized
majority of them did not have water in their homes, definitely did not have electricity,
and likely did not have toilets either. The so-called modern conveniences that we have
become accustomed to did not exist. .. yet just a few meters up the hill in the house we
were at had all of the modern conveniences and more. It was an eye opening experience
to fully realize just how lucky we are and just how close people from all walks of life
truly live.

 

 
Following that experience ran a few more errands including shopping for some last minute
tourist items and then off to dinner at a nice little expat joint called Fusion 9 that had
Oktoberfest menu, but didn’t serve beer. .. yes you read that right. Somehow the restaurant had some
audit on their beer and couldn’t serve any, which in my mind means there shouldn’t have
been Oktoberfest but the restaurant advertised the party anyways including a beer menu
(despite the lack of beer service).
The next morning we got up early to watch the SF Giants win the NLCS and advance to
the World Series, which they of course subsequently won. It was quite fun to wake up,
put on some Giants gear and watch a wonderful game with other Giants fan. It was a big
morning for the four of us, which of course was not shared by the greater Hyderabad
community.
Following this we headed to old town Hyderabad to a sight called Charminar, where we
had our only real sight seeing of the weekend and got whisked ahead in a very long line
because of course we were tourists (because we are Caucasian) and everyone else was just a local. The sight was very
interesting and gave you a unique vantage point to oversee the old town streets, the
markets, and the surrounding hills of Hyderabad. We also managed to get in some bangle
shopping and bargaining and then off to a late lunch for the day.
 
 
 
The late lunch was at a wonderful Chinese Restaurant called Golden Dragon in the Taj
Krishna where we had Indian inspired dim sum that was a nice change of pace from our
Indian inspired Indian food.

The remainder of the day was spent with errands including grocery shopping, which
consisted of hunting for some vegetables and fruits that we recognized (they do exist but
the quality is lower than in the US or Singapore).  We also bought some bread at the new high
end grocery store as a change up from the regular naan, chapatti, and paratha –
which although very good, would probably get tiring after a few months for an expat (note that Carrie and I
love this stuff and ate it everyday in India, but were happy to indulge in muffins at Chez
Wertsch in the mornings).

Finally it was time to pack our bags one last time and we headed to the airport for our last India
flight provided by Silk Air (Singapore Air) where after a minor check in debacle we
managed to board and leave on time.
The weekend in Hyderabad was truly a highlight of our trip and one of the major reasons
we went to India in the first place. It was great to see family and how they live, and quite
an experience to see a non-touristy Indian city.
I definitely want to go back to India. I really enjoyed the spicy and fragrant food (as well
as the sweets).  I was impressed the bright and joyful colors, loved the happy and loud
music at all ours, and was intrigued by the energy that is uplifting, yet tiring. Hopefully
we will hopefully make a journey back there soon to see some of the other sights in the large
country, but after being there for a week I can also say that living there full time for two
years appears to be much more challenging than living in Singapore for the same period of time.
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