Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Today we arrived back in Hyderabad after a two day visit to Hampi, about 500km southwest of Hyderabad in Karnataka. We took overnight trains (AC/2 class) in both directions; this is a great way to travel! I'll try to do a more thorough write-up eventually, but for now, a selection of the photos can be found in this album:

Hampi - October 2007

We made a list of phrases/places/events to help us remember the trip; here they are, in no particular order.

  • seeing an Enfield Bullet 350 up close
  • the Mango Tree restaurant: Raju, lassi (banana and lemon/ginger), the swing, birds (parrots, kingfishers, egrets), "omelets" for breakfast
  • the banana woman
  • walking back from Vittala Temple along the river and seeing the "child stones" in the trees, a huge herd of goats, and a gorgeous sunset
  • meandering in the back streets after dark
  • being blessed by the priest at Virapaksha Temple: holy water, banana goo, and the pinhole camera image
  • the puppy at the Hospet train station
  • the scary first breakfast in Hampi - idli, dosa, chai and flies
  • the nice rickshaw driver who gave us the ride into Hampi and then hunted us down as we waited for the train back to Hyderabad to return our camera battery - a tout, but decent.
  • the crazy rickshaw driver who took us from Hampi back to Hospet - a scary ride if ever there was one
  • monkeys humping in the enclosure of Virapaksha Temple
  • seeing the same trainman on the return train as on the train down - and him smiling as he recognized us on the platform
  • "come this way" - being led behind Virapaksha temple to look at the small tank, the cave temple, and more monkeys
  • Rama Guest House - overpriced (Rs. 350/night), noisy (bad fan and much street noise), but clean, with a decent owner. (Try Shanthi instead...)
  • a bath for the temple elephant, and her blessing
  • cycles being ferried on a coracle
  • Ganesha everywhere, but especially the monolithic Ganesha and the one carved into the rock
  • "Indian clothing - very good!"
    We got a lot of approving comments on Katy's salwar Kemeez and my kurta.
  • scootering about - an interlude of sanctioned cuddling
  • Bhima's gate
  • a call from Srinivas while waiting for the train in Hospet
  • having my beard trimmed
  • flutes
  • the snake
  • the wicked-yet-kind bell merchant, and his birthyear coin gifts. (His birthyear is 1952.)
  • fish-covered walls and the afternoon around them: monkeys playing, other monkeys bounding over the rocks, views of rice paddy and banana plantation, and the blessing from the crippled priest
  • "You want smoke?"
  • Seeing the temple ruins behind the monolithic Nandi statue and beginning to realize just how big this place is
  • children playing by the water with a scarf
  • "chai tea!"
  • the "Disney characters" in orange
  • "Are we in India?" no dosa for lunch, strange "tourist" clothes

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dasara (Durga Puja)

Today was Dasara (spelled many ways...), the last day of Durga Puja. Small (and not so small) shrines have been popping up around Hyderabad, and today was the last day (and climax) of the 10 day festival. Srinivas, my current Hertz driver, took us to a temple west of Hyderabad and then to his house for lunch.

BUT - I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Katy arrived on Tuesday, and we've been sightseeing, shopping and just puttering around Hyderabad. I'm still working, which limits our schedule, and so this weekend was very full. Saturday morning Srinivas picked up Preethi on the way to our house and then we all went shopping for saris, salwar kemeez and other goodies.

We had a long day of shopping, and in the late afternoon we drove to Preethi's home (in northeast Secunderbad) to drop her off and wound up staying for dinner (our plans with Anil and Anu fell through when Anu fell prey to another round of morning sickness). After dinner Katy was given mehndi for today's outing. Here are some pictures of the process:

That final shot shows the entire design as it looked when we drive home Saturday night. The mehndi is drawn with a squeeze tube of a henna preparation that's a little like cake icing. Katy slept with it on until this morning, when she washed it off and revealed this:

It continued to darken thoughout the day; I'll post a another picture of it later.

Anyway - this morning Srinivas came by around 8 to take us back to Preethi's to continue the process of dressing Katy for the day. I asked him to wear whatever he wanted (not his usual uniform), and he showed up in this lovely outfit:

We drove to Preethi's, and a bit later Katy emerged from the bedroom:


Here we are with Preethi's parents:

Suitably dressed, we piled back into the car and drove to the temple. On the way, we passed a clutch of bathing trucks (getting ready for puja):

At the temple, we found out how trucks do puja:

We were entertained for a while by a group of monkeys:

One of the deities at the temple is a much bigger monkey.

The temple was beautiful and interesting.

Scooters do puja, too.

We left the temple and drove to Srinivas' home, not far from Preethi's. On the way we passed this small roadside temple (where a snake is alleged to live):

At Srinivas' house we met his brother (with wife and daughter).

Here's Srinivas, with his wife and children.

And here's the whole extended family that lives here, including Srinivas' mother.

Srinivas' sister-in-law is expecting her second child in about ten days.

Here we are in front of the house.

For more pictures, visit the album:

Dasara (Durga Puja)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Waiting for Katy

Katy arrives on Tuesday night, and I'm getting antsy to have her here. Today I went out and bought additional pillows for the bed, and proper sheets; I also picked up an extra cell phone (for about $40) that I HOPE I can get activated before Tuesday. I'm generally trying to make my place a little less batchelor-esque. :-)

Maenwhile - ever since the 2000 election debacle in Florida, I've been telling anyone who will listen that touch-screen voting is a crock, and optical mark scan machines (like we use in Cambridge) should be universally adopted. Well, it seems that Florida has reached the same conclusion and is replacing all of its shiny new touch-screen machines. Hopefully this trend will continue; I hope Ohio is paying attention.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Golconda yet again

Yesterday IBM sponsored a day for ISL at Lahari Resorts, about 30km west of Hyderabad. I had Srinivas, my driver, take a somewhat convoluted route there that took us past some of my favorite Hyderabad places: Golconda Fort, the Qutub Shahi tombs, the "mystery tomb", Osman Saga (aka Gandipet) and everything in between. The "ISL Day Out" was not especially memorable (though I did get a chance to go swimming for the first time in a year); my pictures are in this album:

ISL Day Out 2007

However, seeing the sights inspired me to hop on the bike again today and go back out to Golconda.

As usual, I tried a (slightly) new route; I dropped off Banjara Hills via the bustee to the west, but headed south toward the military area before cutting west. This took me past this idyllic scene:

The new route cut out some unpleasant, high-traffic roads, which I was happy about. Eventually I found myself again at Sikkalam Cheruvu and one of the most northerly parts of the Golconda outer wall.

This picture was taken after riding a short distance east; I turned around and rode back to the southwest and through what I've learned is Jamali Darwaja (darwaja means "gate"). Once inside Golconda's outer wall I continued southwest to the main entrance to the inner fort, out Banjara Darwala and then west toward the "mystery tomb". This took me past one of my favorite sections of the wall, where I took these pictures.

Then on to the mystery tomb. I love this place:

I don't love what Hyderabad's new wealth is doing to it:

There will be houses right next to it.

From here I went south, looking for access to a pair of structures I've noticed before. I soon came to a little spit of land that juts into Ibrahim Cheruvu, where people were fishing.

These folks are playing Pachisi, better known to us westerners as Parcheesi.

Moments after taking that last picture my front tire began to lose air, and within 2 minutes it was completely flat. This put a bit of a crimp in my further explorations, as I just started looking for a way to get home without walking the whole way. Luckily, I came upon an open bicycle shop within about a kilometer. Rs.10 got me patches for the two holes in my front inner tube. I wonder what I hit?

Back on my wheels, I just tooled around for a while, discovering two more of Golconda's gates, and these very old doors:

There are more pictures from today's ride at this album:

Oct7 - Golconda, again

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Paigah Tombs

Yesterday was Gandhi Jayanti, and I took advantage of the day off to visit the Paigah Tombs in southern Hyderabad. I've tried before to get to the Tombs; this time I went by car, in the company of my new driver, Srinivas.

I didn't initially set out to visit the Tombs; rather, I was determined to get a decent dhoti, after failing to do so last weekend. But we arrived at Bazar Ghat before any shops were open, and so I decided on the spot to seek for the Tombs. Srinivas, a lifelong Hyderabadi, had never even heard of the Tombs, and was surprised (perhaps "doubtful" is more accurate) at my ability to navigate the chaos of Hyderabad. We made a quick stop at Raymond's Tomb (also new to Srinivas...) and then succeeded in locating the Paigah Tombs with little difficulty.

The Tombs are located in a residential area close to Owaisi Hospital; they are literally surrounded by people's houses, with children playing among the Tombs. They are shockingly neglected; the same lack of care that plagues the Qutub Shahi Tombs seems to be pervasive. It's criminal that Hyderabad is allowing its cultural heritage to crumble.

Perhaps the most striking feature of these tombs is the rooftop ornamentation.

But the tombs themselves are lovely, too - in spite of having been vandalized.

For more pictures, visit my Paigah Tombs photo page.

Paigah Tombs