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July 13th 2005
Published: July 13th 2005
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Hello again

We'd just like to say we hope everyone who lives in London is safe and sound. News of the bombing reached India in dribs and drabs, but we managed to piece together the events by the following morning. Hopefully things are returning to normal now. It seems strange seeing London on the news everyday now, and being so far away from everything. We dearly hope none of you were affected.

After nearly a week's stay with Tanuja's very over-excited grandmother teaching David hindi intensively for at least two hours everyday, we decided to visit Hyderabad. It's probably not in the top ten places to visit in India but we both wanted to go because it's a remarkable mix of the very very old and very very new .It's nickname is Cyberabad because so many IT firms have moved there. Yet it's a hugely sifgnificant, predominantly muslim town, with moghul traditions dating back many centuries. The buildings, food and culture were very different to what we'd seen of India so far.

Finally forsaking India's cheap but often delayed trains we made the journey from Nagpur to Hyderabad on an even cheaper overnight bus. We chose luxury which means air conditioning and a sober driver. As ever, the trip was an interesting experience. At about 11pm they played a hindi movie for a few hours at full blast. After that every person on the bus almost simulatneously put their seats into sleeper position - back to an unfeasable angle - so heads were practically on the lap of the person behind. Anybody not joining in (i.e. us, the clueless tourists) had knees crushed and a great views down the length of the indian body infront.

But we rattled along swiftly enough, sleeping occasionaly, and got dropped off safe and sound, only 90 minutes late.

Our hotel was built to look like a Bavarian castle so that was spotted easily enough. With fake stonework, turrets and doormen that looked vaguely like beefeaters it was like Vegas had come to India - brilliant!

Unusually for us we did some serious sightseeing for the next couple of days. The oldest part of town is a maze of narrow streets full of shops selling everything from famous hyderabadi pearl jewellery to chickens, parakeets and pigeons. We weren't sure which were for eating and which were for flying. Inadvertantly following a map route upside down, we got spectacularly lost and ended up in the dusty residential backstreets. The further we walked the more out of place we looked. So we retraced our steps and returned to the city centre mayhem. Later, and in complete contrast to the old town, we stumbled upon a laser show in a park close to our hotel. The laser show "with the latest technology from Germany" was one of our wierdest experiences yet. It started with a sedate history about the city told by laser images and accompanied by dancing fountains and a couple of hindi songs. All fine so far. However in the final ten minutes it seemed the operators ran out of ideas. The history lesson was replaced by loud techno music and a crazy disco light show.

Nearby was a huge lake called "Hussain Sagar", which has one of Indias biggest statues of Buddha bang slap in the middle of it. Interestingly, and, after seeing other chaotic construction sites, perhaps typically for India, the Buddha was dropped to the bottom of the lake when it was first delivered and took two years to be raised from the depths.

David had hoped to enjoy the full quota of Indian sports while in India - cricket, hockey, even perhaps football. But its totally the wrong season for almost everything. Hyderabad was where we finally got our first taste of India sport - the first Asian Womens Kabbadi Championships. We arrived during the opening ceremony and stayed to watch India beat Thailand. Not quite India vs Pakistan cricket at Eden Gardens but it's a start.


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