Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving, and leaving Hyderabad

I've been back in the U.S. since November 16th and insanely busy. Today, though, is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I'm sitting at the desk in the Kurtz house at the Cape, looking out at Waquoit Bay and finally able to catch my breath a bit.

the view from the desk

First, a few pictures from my next-to-last week-end in Hyderabad. (There are more than just these few in the Picasa album.) Srinivas took us to a temple in Jubilee Hills on Friday night after work. I would have liked to have gotten back to get daylight pictures, but these will have to do. The entrance is flanked by these imposing gentlemen, who look to me like carnival strongmen.

The temple itself was lit like a Christmas tree.

The interior was lovely.

On Saturday I took my final bike ride. The bike continued to give me trouble, with the left pedal crank and splash guards loosening, requiring frequent stops. As I climbed the last hill near the guest house my right pedal broke (it turns out it's plastic, not metal...), and I was able to limp the last half mile home only thanks to a heavy application of duct tape from my water bottle. I've certainly learned a lot about what to look for in a bicycle on this trip.

Anyway, I rode through Jubilee Hills towards Durgam Cheruvu, and up to the "Grand View" water tower I visited last year. This let me get a second take on a view I photographed last year in July.

last year
this year

I used a dirt path to cut across the scrub and into the back of BNR Hills, a gated community I was never able to explore on my previous trips. This brought me to a hill overlooking this:

Is Cinderella home?

They have a nice view out the back, though.

Here's the back of the entrance to BNR Hills.

The southern end of Durgam Cheruvu

My sister Jeannie asked me to bring her a rock from Hyderabad. I did (although she doen't know it yet...), and here's where I collected it.

My last week in India was complicated by a somewhat unexpected wrinkle: my colleague Andy and I were asked to make a two-day trip to Delhi to visit some customers. This meant we had to check out of our guest house and drive to the airport at 5AM Tuesday morning to fly to Delhi.

We had no time whatsoever to do any siteseeing in Dehli, so I took essentially no pictures. The one shot I have is of the entrance signage for the IBM office we worked out of.

From The Final Days

We returned to Hyderabad late Wednesday night. Thursday night the folks at work took Andy and me out to dinner.

Andy and I spent the last few nights at the IBM guest house in Kondapur. It's a pretty decent place: close to the office, nice staff, clean rooms. The view out the dining room window nicely captures modern India:

Note the satellite TV antenna on the roof. This is right next door:

Yes, it's a rice paddy.

Andy left on Friday night. My flight out was Saturday night, so I had Saturday to tie up loose ends. I took Srinivas to an Internet cafe and helped him set up a gmail account. Receiving mail from him is part of what triggered this blog entry. I'm so pleased that I could help him with that. We also went shopping for, of all things, those little plastic buckets that every Indian bathroom has; Katy has expressed a desire to have a particular style for our home. I'd been looking for them since my arrival, without success; we finally found them in a shop in Ameerpet. (I'll post a picture later.) The shop was near this Gurudwara.

After shopping we stopped at a nearby restaurant for tea. I sipped that lovely Indian masala tea and wrote in my journal, and on the way out took these pictures.

From Ameerpet Srinivas and I drove to Nagarjuna Circle to meet with Feroz for dinner. Here are some pictures I took out the car window on the way. I've spent so much time in Hyderabad that I almost don't notice this stuff anymore.

I spent my final dinner in Hyderabad at Feroz's flat in Khairatabad. Srinivas and I picked up food at Chutney's and followed Feroz (who was on scooter) to his place. I finally got to meet Feroz's wife (whose name, sadly, I did NOT retain...). She's very cheerful, but for some reason she looks so somber in all these pictures.

After dinner Srinivas drove me out to the airport, on a newly-opened segment of the Outer Ring Road. (It literally opened the day I left.) I said my goodbye and then entered the in-between space that is modern air travel. I managed to get a business class upgrade for the Hyderabad to Frankfurt leg, making sleep possible. Waiting in the usiness class lounge I had the usual mixture of anticipation and depression that I feel when I leave India. Life in the U.S. just doesn't seem real any more.

Anyway. Here I am in Falmouth, spending Thanksgiving weekend, as ever, with Katy's family. The sailboat was still in the water, and this morning's activity was to sail the boat to Falmouth inner harbour to be pulled for the winter. Here's the boat leaving, and Katy returning to the dock after dropping off the sailing crew.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hyderabad south of the Musi

Yesterday a bunch of us from IBM's India Software Lab visited some of Hyderabad's lesser-known landmarks, all south of the Musi River: Chowmahalla Palace, Raymond's Tomb, and the Paigah Tombs. A fine time was had by all. I'll try to expand this later, but for now, you can see the pictures from the day in this album.

Nov 8 Group Trip

This is where I work

My IBM colleague on this trip likes to have a picture of the sign marking each IBM facility he visits. Andy, here are the pictures for Hyderabad. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How could I NOT say something?

President Obama. Wow.

It's strange watching this unfold from Hyderabad. I watched a bit of TV this morning before going downstairs for breakfast. Seeing U.S. election results interleaved with Indian TV ads was a bit surreal.

One of my colleagues from California arrived Monday. She's originally from Minnesota (which went for Obama) and now lives in California (which is going for Obama). It's great to have at least one other American to share this with.

President Obama. I like it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Just a very short post to say that Diwali was unbelievable.

The little shrine in the guest house was set with oil lamps and offerings.

From Diwali

Anil picked up Andy and me around 7PM; we went off and got chaat at Ohri's, picked up a few bottles of Fosters and then sat on the guest house roof until 10:30 watching the show. I shot some video to try to provide some sense of it, but it's really impossible to capture. Continuous fireworks in all directions, for 3 hours. Wow.

From Diwali

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Soon, Diwali

This morning I took my bike back to the bike shop to get the problems fixed (loose pedal, flat tires, loosened brake cables). The guest house arranged an autorickshaw for me (the bike doesn't fit in the trunk of Srinivas's car...) and off I went to Secunderbad.

The ride over took about a half hour. By the map, the way I took the driver is about the same as going through Punjagutta and Begumpet, but it has a lot less traffic. I dropped my bike off and was told it would take 2-3 hours, so I went exploring.

The bike shop is in an area labeled "General Bazaar" on my Guide Map of Greater Hyderabad. I got pretty lost in here once on my last trip; it's a complete maze of winding alleys. This time I did better, as I was starting from a known location and could easily backtrack, and I had a huge amount of fun exploring.

My trusty guide map

These alleys are where life happens in Indian cities. I was early enough (10:30AM) that quite a few shops were still closed or just opening, but you can still get an idea what these places are like.

From Soon, Diwali

Here are some interior shots of shops catering to Indian women. Wow!

Bindis. Lots and lots of bindis

Bangles. Lots and lots of bangles.

I also came across some great signs.

The Infant Jesus Education Consultants?!?

Eventually I wound up at "Paradise", a collection of related restaurants, from take-out to high-end, cloth napkin. I had my brunch at "Paradise Rooftop", which looks out over, uh, well, a busy street. But it was high enough up to be pleasant. The food was fabulous. I had navaratan korma, which was completely different from other versions of the same dish I've had before. The sauce was mild yet very flavorful, and chock full of things like pineapple, pomegranate seeds, peas, grapes; it was really wonderful. The side dishes were just as good. The cucumber raita was cold, and the cucumber crisp; the rice was fluffy and had a great flavor. Even the fresh lime soda was special; I think there was a tiny bit of cayenne pepper added.

After my meal I wandered slowly back to the bike shop, stopping to pick up a new Nokia 1200 cell phone. Phones have been a continuing problem on the trip; I can't get a charger that works consistently with my old 1100. I'm giving it, and the flawed chargers, to Srinivas.

The bike was ready when I got there, and I headed back to Banjara Hills. My route went around the top of Hussein Sagar, Hyderabad's central lake; it really stank in the midday sun, and I was happy to get away from it in Khairatabad.

As I hit Street #7 I got a call from Srinivas. He and Andy spent the morning exploring Golconda, and were calling to see about lunch. We met at Ohri's for chaat. After eating we split up again, with Srinivas taking Andy back to the guest house while I peddled home. As I passed Hampi, near Lotus Pond, I came upon these designs on the sidewalk in from of a business ("Zeta" - I have no idea what they do...).

These have a name, but I can't recall what it is. (Maybe one of my readers knows and will comment...). I wound up talking to a fellow who works in the building; there was a competition among 4 groups in the office. Sounds like fun.

Back at the guest house I washed off the road dirt and settled in to do a little reading. At some point I realized it was getting difficult to see the page; when I looked up, I discovered that Hyderabad was giving me another lovely sunset.

Monday and Tuesday are Diwali, which is celebrated with fireworks. Many people are getting a jump on things; I caught this just before I started to write this entry. Happy Diwali!

From Soon, Diwali