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

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