April 29, 2010

Weekend outing- Hyderabad

This post is coming a couple of weeks late due to paucity of time. And yes, you can go ahead and call me crazy to visit such a hot place in this summer. I badly needed to get away somewhere during the weekend. Considering the blistering heat everywhere, visiting some place for its natural beauty was completely ruled out. So, out of all places on the map, we circled Hyderabad and prepared to go there.
As with all trips, this one also involved extensive planning- where to go, where to eat and shop. Print outs of maps and directions were taken, places to visit were made note of, lists were drawn out for shopping- bangles, clothes, sweets for everyone back here.
Three of us set out from Bangalore by the Yeswanthpur-Kacheguda express on a friday and reached Hyderabad the next day early morning. The first thing that hit me when i stepped out was the hot wind. Despite being early morning, i could feel the heat! People would laugh and say that its because i have gotten very accustomed to the AC, but you should go to Hyderabad and you will know why i am complaining.
Since i had two close friends from PU college staying in Hyderabad, accommodation was not a problem. By about 9.30, all five of us were ready to hit the road for sight seeing.
Breakfast was at this place called Shanbag's in Panjagutta. We stuck to south indian food. I did want to try the famous pesarettu but checked myself cause i was not sure if i could stomach it.
First on our itinerary was the Salar jung museum. Took about two hours to have a quick look at the place. All of us made it in time for the famed clock to chime. But the kind of excitement it generated when i was a kid was not there this time around. It was just about any other clock ringing for me! But i could appreciate the textile designs, artifacts and paintings a lot better. Once we were done marveling at the items on display, we promptly set out for lunch. Lunch was at Kamat. A very simple yet fulfilling thali affair. The ambiance was pleasant, minimalistic and clean, nothing OTT.

Since we rented an air conditioned cab for our tour on both days, we did not feel the heat too much while travelling. At 800 bucks for 8 hours, it is the best option in a hot city like Hyderabad. But we have gulped down endless bottles of water and minute maid lemon during our journey. You can feel the body getting dehydrated when you roam, just like that glucon D ad.
Next up was the Chowmahalla palace. As the name suggests, it comprises 4 palaces. It is privately maintained and has relics and mementos from the times of the Nizam. There is the display of their clothes, furniture, crockery and wine collection. Basically, it gives you a glimpse of their royal lifestyle. The memories from there lives and times are captured in paintings and photographs. One particular queen had a striking resemblance to Madhubala and bore the brunt of the collective envy of all of us girls. Photography was prohibited inside. The entrance, the exteriors and their vintage car collection were the only places that could be photographed.

Charminar is about a kilometer from Chowmahalla. We made it to the top of Charminar just before the closing time. A stroll through the first floor and view from different points of the famous monument was all we could get. Golconda was hazily visible in a distance. The actual hustle-bustle of the old city of Hyderabad can be experienced at this place. You'll be blown away by the number of people flocking the bazaars and the autos that are present in the place. I thrive in crowded areas when on a trip. So i had a blast. The sheer energy that people display when they shop is amazing!

It is really sad that people have spoiled the monument by making those omnipresent X loves Y (inside a heart). There are also the marks from spitting pan. When asked whether the govt will undertake any restoration effort, the guide told us that they would want to preserve the place as a heritage site and would not take it up as of now. I seriously hope they do something about it!
A visit to Charminar is always incomplete without shopping at the chudi bazaar. Bangles of all sizes, colors and materials are available here. Whether you want simple, decent bangles or the really JHAANG, col-color ones, you can find them all here. You need at least half a day to go through all the stalls here and pick up stuff of your choice. Shortage of time ensured that we wrapped it up in 2 hours. But we made sure to get back with a load of bangles for us and friends.

Dinner was at khao galli or eat street on the banks of hussain sagar lake, along necklace road. Food is just about average and overpriced at the various stalls. But you can pay that price for the view and the atmosphere. It is crowded, there is music blasting from the speakers and on the spot contests being conducted.

As if we had not had enough to eat, we paid a visit to Karachi Bakery and bought biscuits for 900 bucks! Just as you approach the bakery, the smell of freshly baked stuff wafts around. Eat the biscuits from there and you know why there are people thronging the place everyday and why nobody buys just one box of those biscuits.

We put a end to a long eventful day with a late night ice cream at Cream Stone Ice cream parlor at Jubilee Hills. It was around 12 in the night when we got back and the moment i hit the bed, i was fast asleep!

Next day morning was busy with calculations of the money spent and who owed how much money to whom. Once we were ready, we had breakfast at Methi's. A buffet spread there had Idlis, vadas, oothappam, sandwich, fruit salad and really cool watermelon juice. At 79 a plate, it was a steal!

The rest of the day was spent on shopping- pearls, clothes, clothes and more clothes. Lunch was at Malgudi in Banjara Hills. By the time i got back in the evening, i was set back by almost 4K!! As if that was not enough, one more pit stop at the famous Pulla Reddy sweets was also on the list. Got the agra petha, soan halwa and the famed paper sweet from there. Then it was a daunting challenge to fit all the newly acquired stuff into the bags that we had. We were already late for the 7.20 train and had to literally run to make it to the station with time to spare.

Overall, it was a fun trip. Weeks of planning went into making sure that we covered all the places that we wanted to in those two days. One grouse is that most of the shopping places did not open until 12 on sunday. Left us with very little time to shop. But still, shop we did ;). As i sat there in the station, surrounded by friends, i was sure i would have had this kind of fun anywhere else also. It is the company that matters the most!
It was back to work on Monday. Again the same drill. So until the next trip, I'll slog it out at work ;).

April 12, 2010

Rain is falling

Only today morning did i read a report in the paper that the temperatures in Bangalore are going above the roof. Sunday apparently recorded a high of 37 degrees. And i was wondering how the hell would i manage at home without the cool temperatures of the workplace that i have so gotten used to!
So when I saw signs of rainfall while getting out of office, i was happy. The rain has literally been playing hide and seek for the past week or so. One is so hopeful that it will rain and the entire day gets spent without so much as cool breeze outside. Everyday, i call my mom and ask her about the weather in Mysore. And she cribs a good deal about it. Once she is done, it is my turn and i do so too. Today she excitedly called around the evening and said it was raining there. I was so hopeful and looked outside to see an overcast sky.
Looks like the rain gods have seen enough sweat on all our brows and have taken the matter into their hands. Its started raining! Ah! The smell of mud when it rains.
Complete with thunder and lightening, it looks like we are in for a rainy night. How wonderful will it be if it rains really heavily and the offices declare that the employees can all work from home that day. Or else there is a flood-like situation at the workplace! I know it is too much for a person with the office in the 10th floor to ask for ;)
Anyway, i hope it continues to rain and the temperatures come down so that we can all venture out without the fear of being burnt down in the scorching heat.
And alongside, i shall also pray that this causes no harm to the mango crop. I would not want to trade eating yummy mangoes all through the summer for anything else!

April 3, 2010

Of Fridays and travel

I travel home from Bangalore almost every weekend. Work gets over around 4.30 and my train to Mysore is at 6.15. Plenty of time, one would think. But not when i work in Whitefield and need to travel as far as Majestic to board the train. And i can't just say leaving early for the day and escape from the office early every friday.
So every friday evening turns out to be a running race of sorts. Run from the office to catch the 335E to Majestic. Then run from the bus stand to the station and then all the way till the first or second compartment in the front to get to my seat.
In case i am taking the 335E, i need to leave early, since it takes a roundabout route and goes through all the office areas in Whitefield and then through the choked Old airport road. So i decided to take an alternate route one weekend. Took a bus from tin factory bound to Majestic. And what road would he end up taking? The old madras road- Ulsoor route. Metro work+ Offices along the route= big traffic jams. Result- I could not catch the train that weekend.
So for the past couple of weeks, i have been coming back by office cab to my place and taking an auto from there to Majestic. Worked out fine till now. The auto guy is pre-warned that the train is at 6.15 and that he needs to rush. Costs me around 90 bucks but they make sure i am there on time.
Last weekend, the auto driver, a frail looking ajja assured me that he could make it to the station with plenty of time to spare. I looked no further and jumped into the auto. As my luck(good or bad?) would have it, there was a big jam near the cantonment road and at the same time the auto's gear wire got cut! Without any other option, i paid the guy, got out and navigated through the jam to find another auto. I just said railway station, like i normally do and sat down. It did not occur to me that i should have said main station, coz the auto fellow started going towards cantonment station. When i said Bangalore station, he refused to go there and asked me to get down. I gave him a bad look but that was all i could do! Another search for an auto ensued and luckily i found one. The guy went zzuii-zzuii and cut across traffic and went through all kinds of short cuts. I kept my eyes shut and kept praying because he was actually driving horribly rashly and i did not want to stop him. He made sure that i reached the station right on time. From there, i ran like i was running for my life. And caught the train successfully.
Every weekend is the same story. I get lectured by the auto people to leave half an hour earlier to escape the weekend traffic. (If only my manager understood that!) And pray on the way every time that i should be able to catch the train. And when i find the train , still on platform 6 when i climb out of the subway, i say a silent thank you to god and rush towards my compartment. All of this effort is worth the smile on my Dad's face when he is in his spot at the Mysore station to pick me up and the joy in my mom's voice when i call her and tell her that i have reached and would be home for dinner in a few minutes. Any outsider seeing this should think i have been gone for ages! ;)