Sunday, October 12, 2008

Back on my wheels again (sort of)

Yesterday (Saturday) was a long day.

I slept very poorly Friday night, unable to get to sleep until after 3AM. It may have been jet lag, anxiety, the chaat I had for supper (Srinivas' theory...) or all of the above, but I just tossed and turned and read and tossed some more. In any case, this left me only a few hours of sleep before Srinivas arrived, as requested, at 9AM to take me out to run errands.

This was a crazy time to start; I forget that most shops in Hyderabad don't even open before 11. After driving around to a number of stores, and finding them all closed, I gave up and had breakfast at Chutneys, killing time until 11. Then we stopped at Himalaya Book World, where I picked up my preferred office supplies, and headed off to Pedaler's Point to look at bikes.

The selection there was disappointing. The manager remembered me from the previous year and offered discounts, but I just couldn't find a bike at any price that really "fit." I told him I'd have to think about it, and we went to look at bike shops near Park Lane in Secunderbad.

I wound up at Jai Ganesh Cycle Stores, and bought an 18-speed mountain bike, with decent brakes (the most serious flaw in my old bike...) and a good size for Rs. 5500. Call it $125. At the end of the trip I can either return it to the store and get maybe 25% back, or the shop will pack it to bring home (a possibility I never considered). More than likely I'll just give it away; Srinivas might like it.

See the Picasa album Bike, Anil and guest houses for the photos in this blog entry, and more.

I forget a few things, notably a bell and a lock. I got a bell on the way home at a shop at the intersection of Street #7 and Road #1 in Banjara Hills; I got a lock (just the lock, no cable) at another nearby store. I'm not sure what I'll do about a cable.

As I passed through the bustee below Mithla Nagar (Syed Nagar?), things started to go wrong. The screws holding the front fenders on loosed up; I stopped and tightened them. Then I felt the left pedal crank start to wobble. It eventually came off as I neared the top of the bustee. I smacked it back on as best I could and walked the bike to to a repair shop nearby. This was not a success; the shop was really a motorcycle shop, and the guy who helped me didn't have the right tool to tighten the recessed nut in the crank. He did the best he could (5 minutes work, maybe), which wasn't great. As I left I gave him Rs. 10; he tried to ask for 20, but I told him I could get a flat fixed for 10, so no way. Grumble.

I limped back to the guest house (the crank seemed OK as long as I didn't push too hard), got out my tools and went over things. The crank I think is going to require a bike shop; I just don't have the tool I need to tighten that nut, and it's going to just keep coming loose. I tightened up a lot of other loose fittings, and I'll have to see if I can get to a shop this week.

Here's my path home (about 9.6 miles):

View Larger Map

It was about 5PM by this time; I took a much needed shower and then dressed for dinner with Anil and Anu. Srinivas arrived at 6; we spent some time looking at pictures on my computer. Srinivas wants to get an email account; I'll help him get set up with gmail at some point. At 6:30 we left for Anil's house. We arrived around 6:50; I went up to Anil's flat and waited while Anu did whatever it is women do. She appeared, fully dressed and looking ready to go, around 7:15, then disappeared and did something with the baby (Tricia) until maybe 8:20. FINALLY we headed downstairs and off to dinner.

Based on a thread on IndiaMike we had decided to try a new chain called 6pack. There is one near Anil's house; when we got there, we discovered it's a take-out place. Oh, well. I think Anu then suggested Angeethi, across the street from Fusion 9. The ambience was nice, the food was good, and the prices moderate (although Rs. 60 for a bottle of water kinds smokes my shorts...).

Anil, Anu and Tricia

I finally got home, and to bed, by about 11:30PM, completely exhausted. As a result, I slept until 10AM this morning; maybe this will let me kick my jet lag once and for all.

I putzed around on the computer for a while, then went out for a walk. I got a good picture of the front of the guest house, as well as other pictures.

The Hillview Guest House, my home for the next 6 weeks

Golconda Fort and the Qutb Shahi tombs from the roof, off in the haze to the south

The amazing castle-like house on the next hill over, to the north

The guest house has a little shrine. The gods pictured are (left to right) Ganesh, Durga, Sai Baba (not technically a god) and Krishna.

And, of course, the ubiquitous housing for the poor, not 50 yards from my door.

About a block away from Hillview is the Lotus Inn guest house. It looks pretty nice, too; I stopped and got a tour. Similar nice views, even nicer game/exercise room, and about the same rates. I was quoted Rs. 1500/day for 30 days, Rs. 1800/day for 5 days. No web site; call 040-2354 1105 or George, at 98499-26610.

Lotus Inn guest house

Continuing my walk, I came across a typical Indian construction site.

I also passed this shining example of the prototypical Indian government service car: the Ambassador Classic.

My brother-in-law John may find this interesting.

Rooftop solar - both electricity and domestic hot water.

These flowers are for Katy.

Finally, this made me think of Jonathan Coulton.

Watch and listen here.

After my walk I at an early supper at Jalsa, a restaurant at the end of the street, came back and blogged. And now I'm at least slightly caught up.

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