First impressions; Hyderabad, India

We left England to experience India, whilst running our business on the road. Here’s a summary of the first 2 weeks…

The climate

The searing temperatures reached 46 degrees during our stay in Hyderabad. This is incredibly hot–even by India’s standards. As we rode around in auto rickshaws, we could feel our skin burning as the heat reflected off the road.

Without air conditioning or shelter, many of the poorer Indians are left to perish. We heard news reports of 11,000 Indian’s dying from the heat that week (late May), and retreated, gratefully, to our air conditioned hotel.

The city

Staying in the neighbourhoods of Hitec city and Jubilee Hills was a shock. We had read that these are considered nice neighbourhoods, yet the condition of the roads, piles of rubbish, and people sleeping on the streets made us feel otherwise.

Billboard reads 'Let's stop spitting on the roads to ensure a Swachh Hyderabad'
A campaign to stop people spitting on the streets. From what we saw, it’s not working

The people

We were welcomed into a co-working space—Collab House—like long lost friends. We joined the team for meals and stories in Film Nagar (where some Bollywood stars live) and bunked off for an office outing to historical Golkonda Fort. We were touched by the hospitality of this great bunch of entrepreneurs.

Lyden and our new friends at Golkonda Fort
An outing to Golkonda fort with some of the Collab House crew

The food

We’ve eaten spicy food at every meal—even breakfast—and have yet to get bored of it.

Despite our concern about eating only vegetarian food before we arrived in India, we were amazed at how delicious the food was. Also, contrary to what we’d imagined, ‘non veg’ dishes were available in most places, with options for chicken or mutton. We had ‘Meals’ many times; lots of small pots of different dishes and unlimited rice. It’s also known as ‘Thali’ in north India.

SaiKiran eats Meals, and Pushpinder eats biryani at Swagath restaurant
New friends SaiKiran and Pushpinder at Swagath restaurant, Film Nagar

We ate authentic Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani on day 7 (we braved meat for the first time since landing) from well known restaurant; Paradise. Maybe we caught them on an off-day, but Paradise isn’t all it’s made out to be – flies, bad service, and average flavour. As with anything, you can have mixed experiences, even when you take advice or read reviews.

Masala omelette, spices and chutney
Spicy masala omelette & chutney breakfast

The culture

On my birthday, we went to see a film of my choosing. We saw Tanu Weds Manu Returns; an excellent light hearted Bollywood film in the native language of Telugu. Neither of us realised it didn’t have subtitles until we got to the cinema. We went for it anyway, and enjoyed it so much we want to watch it again—with English subtitles!

Janine next to scaffolding and a load of rubbish
Me on my 36th birthday, by Hussain Sagar, the Buddha Statue, and piles of rubbish by the water

We wandered around Shilparamam market to barter for the Indian Kurta I’m pictured wearing. As with lots of cultures, bartering is normal, so we got right into the swing of things and got it for 270 rupees – 2.70 GBP.

Then we negotiated a 2km journey in a shared auto to Inorbit mall. We had forgotten our cash, so it was literally all we had. We should have paid 8 rupees each but they took 10 rupees for us both. We felt bad, but were grateful, even if the auto driver begrudged it.

Msrket stalls with an array of pottery
Shilparamam market

The summary

We enjoyed our stay in Hyderabad. I’d love to have a video diary of our facial expressions from our first few weeks in India; we were shocked and disgusted in parts, and delighted in others. But hey, this is India… there is more of this to come! We often repeated to each other during this time; ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet’.

P.S. For all you Hyderabadi’s – yes we did go to see Charminar, but I’ll save that story for another day… (it involves swearing).

Comments

  1. Rocco says

    Fantastic read and I am glad to hear you are all well.

    I have to admit I was not the only one to be concerned about how quiet you have been but now you’re back I am sure we can look forward to more posts 🙂

    Tell me, how are your sandals holding up? or have they disintegrated after the first week?

    The food sounds brilliant (except for the restaurant) and I speak from experience when I go to visit asian friends I am greeted with a vast array of tiny/small dishes filled with amazing things I have never seen before and all tasting out of this world and this type of meal promotes bonding between everyone involved.

    When I go to Italy it is more or less the same, lots of small dishes I.E. salad, meat, pasta, fruit all served up in a similar manner and this also helps create the strong family/friends bond.

    However in England we get fish and chips or chicken tika masala or pie usually eaten in front of the telly or very quickly around the kitchen table but each with their own plate or meal and I don’t wish to sound overly harsh but this is completely the opposite and does nothing to build up any form of bond.

    Anyway, off my soapbox glad you are fine and enjoying your experience

    • Janine says

      Hi Rocco,

      The Indian style of Meals/Thali is great, but it does take time to prepare so many dishes. I made 2 different vegetarian curries here one day, and it took me around 4 hours! Maybe something for the weekend 🙂

      Lyden’s Xero shoes (sandals) are doing well, as are my Teva’s… we live in them! The only time I’ve worn closed in shoes is on a gym visit, it’s too hot otherwise.

      Monsoon season is nearly upon us, which we’ve never seen before. It’s going to SMASH it down, for days on end!

        • Lyden says

          Hey Sally, Ramadan is a Muslim thing. Not an India thing. We’re not Muslims, so we’re able to access food no problem.

          As a side note, if we were Muslims, or had to abide by their fasting rules, we’d (mostly) have no problem. We generally fast every day until 13:00 anyway, as part of a healthy lifestyle. Fasting till it gets dark would be fine. But not drinking any water… that’s plain silly, particularly in a country this hot!

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