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Published: July 14th 2009
July 8th - Meet the locals (contd.) Correction: The title for the previous big entry should've been July 8th, not 7th! Golconda Fort
After Birla Mandir, we were absolutely exhausted. This called for a nap, or in my case, 3 cups of Indian chicory-blended filter coffee. So after a 2hr pit stop at my uncle's place, we were sufficiently rested/caffeinated and so we decided to head out to Golconda Fort. As we got close to the Fort, it was like being in a different city in a different era. Once we got in, we got accosted by a tour guide who started guiding us without asking us first. I knew something was up, so before we got too far from the entrance, I decided to ask him if this was a free guide that came with the ticket or if he was expecting something in return. The answer was the typical "no no its ok, i'll show you around. BUT, 600 rupees". They never say no. they say yes, its free, but for money. Its a bizzarre and entirely off-putting answer! And ofcourse when it comes to telling them we do not
Arts & Crafts Display
want to pay for it, no does not mean no. You just have to walk away faster than he can keep up with you. So we began walking/escaping up the fort. The view was incredible. The fort was essentially a small city unto itself, and walking along the centuries old walls was an amazing experience. The view only got better with each step. We were tied for time since we had tickets to a sound and light show that would take place at the bottom of the fort. So we couldn't stay as long as we would've liked, and had to scurry down. On several occasions it felt like a maze, and we had to stop and ask for directions from fellow tourists. We only asked people who were very obviously tourists ... if we had mistakenly asked a guide, he would've latched onto us and asked for money. On our way down we noticed that there was a movie shooting taking place on the other side of the fort! This was Tollywood- the telugu (local language) film industry that makes the largest number of movies per year anywhere in the world! From that view point we could also see
Team India !
Waiting for the Sound and Light Show at Golconda Fort
the entire fort layed out in front of us, and the city sprawl was also visible. It was an incredible sight, and something none of us had ever seen before. It was an amazing mix of the old and the new parts of the city, and should definitely be on anyone's list of things to see in Hyderabad. After enjoying the tollywood star sighting and the amazing view for a few moments, we headed down for an ordinary sound and light show that tried in vain to describe the history of the fort. While the effects were good, the narration lacked any sort of flow, and it left us a little more confused than when we went in. All in all though, an absolutely amazing experience.
July 8th - Its Biryani Day ! Paradise Restaurant
We slept in on the 8th since we were still exhausted from the all the sight seeing from the previous day. We also only had two things to accomplish today: Eat Biryani at Paradise Restaurant, and meet my mom's youngest sister and her family.
To get to Paradise, we took an auto rickshaw. Now I have
The view from half-way up
been on these three-wheeled marvels several hundred times, but I still love it. Being open on both sides, its like an IMAX version of being in traffic. Everything is amplified - the smells, the sights, the sounds,the pollution. The ride to Paradise was made more interesting by a semi-torrential downpour that resulted in Carla and I getting half-soaked. Her on the right side of her body, me on the left side of mine. Ashley sat cosily in between us and laughed everytime someone drove by us and sprayed us with warm and muddy rain water. After a 15 minute auto ride, we were at Paradise.
This was what I was looking forward to from the minute I landed in Hyderabad. The famous Hyderabadi delicacy, biryani. It is a rice and meat dish where the two are cooked separately, and mixed in at the end. It is full of spices, and the meat (chicken or mutton) falls off the bone. We ordered a plate of Chicken Biryani and a plate of the more popular Mutton Biryani. Both were delicious (although the mutton was definitely more tender), and inspite of the spice making our noses run, it was an incredible meal
My Grandparents !
In front of where my Grandparents live
at a very reasonable price. We ended with some Indian dessert - gulab jamun for Ashley and the Hyderabadi specialt, Khubani ka Meetha for Carla and myself. Total cost: $ 10. Yummy Yummy Yummy. Visiting my aunt, Geeta Pinni and her family
After Paradies, we had to take another auto to head to my Aunt's place in Jubilee Hills - an area of town that Lonely Planet describes as being that of the well-heeled. The auto ride there was less exciting, as we got caught in a mini-jam that resulted in us breathing in more toxic fumes than any human should at a given time. Almost instantly, we felt the headaches coming on. After an ill-advised 40 minute auto ride, We finally arrived at my aunt's house. After some coffee and snacks, we gratefully accepted my aunt's offer to have us driven back home by her driver. The long auto ride had taken a lot out of us, and so we just stayed in that night. Over dinner, Carla asked me what I would want to eat if I was offered on last meal while on death row. My answer: the Rava Dosa
Carla using her Indian phrase-book to perfect her Telugu
prepared by the cook at my maternal grandparents' place. And then and there, the breakfast plan was to be set. I called my grandfather at around 10pm, and requested that they get the cook to make us all some Rava Dosas. I went to bed eagerly anticipating breakfast. Love when that happens.
July 10th Introducing my Grandparents and their Rava Dosas to Carla and Ashley
I woke up with a definite spring in my step that morning. My overindulging in Rava dosas at my grandparents' house has been a yearly tradition for nearly a decade, and every year it ends with a stomach ache that was totally worth it. Today, Carla and Ashley would get to meet my grandparents and indulge in what I confidently labelled as my favourite food. My grandfather was very happy that I brought my friends over, he loves talking and he's one of the funniest people that I know. So it was a lot of fun, and my grandmom lived up to her billing as a force-feeder and served everyone more than they could eat...and did so three times over. My Rava dosa craving had finally been satisfied after about 6 of them, and we took off soon after that to finish up some last minute shopping before catching the train that night. Ahh, the Indian Railways
At about 7pm that night we boarded a train bound for Bangalore. The experience was not entirely new to me, as I had travelled on these trains many many times, but it felt new since I was seeing it through Carla and Ashley's eyes. The small things I had gotten used to over the years were startling/interesting them, and it was like my first ever train ride all over again! After some confusion with our seats thanks to my overly polite acceptance of a seat switch, we managed settled in by the time the train started to move. We had picked up some snacks a bakery before we got on train, so we had our dinner and played some card games before heading to bed. As I told Carla and Ashley a million times that day, I sleep very well on a train. Its all about the rocking motion!
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