i've been in hyderabad, the largest city in india's state of andhra pradesh, for about two weeks now. the lady and i came out for one of my good desi friend's wedding. well, one good friend and one pretty good friend.
i almost didn't come. it's substantially in to the beginning of the semester. and whilst i'm done taking classes, it's still in the middle of everything. plus the lady still takes classes. i usually (heh) come to india over the xmas/new years break so it's no big deal for work. but i've been here for two desi friends' weddings so far, and i really couldn't skip this one. she's a labmate and confidant. a fellow in the trenches.
this time, we've stayed in hyderabad every night. as opposed to my other two trips to india, which were a little over 3 weeks long and i hopped around. between the two of those, i've been to various cities in rajasthan (jaipur, jodhpur, jaisalmer, ajmer, pushkar, rohit, udaipur), a few places in gujarat (ahmadabad, dasada and the little rann of kutch/wild ass sanctuary), bombay, goa (palolem beach), pune, varanasi, fatehpur sikri, agra, delhi, and now hyderabad. and... welllllll... i'm sorry to say that i think hyderabad is my least favorite city.
i dunno, maybe it's because i've spent SOO much time here. but the traffic is actually worse than bombay! i believe it has a lot to do with the new hi-tech corridor that's emerging just outside of town. more and more "MNCs" go up every month. and with them, come people that can afford cars. and drivers to drive them. i really think tata's nano is going to be, in a way, seriously bad news for hyderabad.
and subsequent to, or because of, the traffic being so bad, the drivers are more vindictive. in bombay, traffic was the definition of organized chaos. triffic laws were mere suggestions, vehicles fit in where they could and went where they could... and it was what it was. if a guy nosed in front of you, well, that's that. such is bombay traffic. here? it seems the auto rickshaw drivers and personal drivers get more offended by the cutoffs and the "not letting you go"s. you can even hear it in their "beeps". the car horn, in india, is more of a submarine's "ping". it says "i'm over here. take note." most of the time. but here you get the elongated beep that says "get the fuck out of the way you asshole!" or "you're a prick for doing that!"
and, i think consequently, there are more near misses. and i just want to point out to all those people that like to whine about that phrase, near is an adjective that describes the noun of "miss". as in, we didn't miss by a mile... we missed and we were near them. i'd be interested to see the official data on this, because experientially it seems there are more accidents per capita in hyderabad than in bombay. car to car or car to pedestrian or car to motorcycle.
also, i'm sick.
but it's funny, because it's not the "delhi belly". that wiki link goes directly to only one symptom of that illness, and it really shouldn't. but that's wikipedia for you. as useful as it is for a lot of things, those officious little bastards think they know a lot more than they do...
but i digress.
no, i have a freaking cold. and i took some over-the-counter zyrtec (yeah, that's right) which is supposed to be "non drowsy" but it should really say "is like a pot of coffee". i ain't getting to sleep any time soon.
the pharmacies are great here. you go in to a "medical hall" or what have you, and they've got a whole mess of stuff you can only get by perscription in the states, that they'll sell you. for cheap. and by the dose. i got the ten zyrtecs, excuse me, cetzines, and ten pacimols, for 52 INR... or a buck thirty.
this may explain why i'm just rambling. but then again, i usually write like this.
another thing i noticed whilst here, but is most certianly not limited to here, is the magnification of the gap between classes. and by this i mean the little things. like, say i need a "matchbox" as they call it here. i ask the guy at the desk, he just gives me one. mean while, some guy on the street needs one, he's gotta buy it from the cigarette vendor. i need a bottle of water ("mineral water", as you are not advised to drink the tap) i call down to the front desk and a guy brings up a few bottles. but anyone else has to shell out between 10 and 25 rupees.
makes me think of barbara ehrenreich's book. although of course i haven't read it yet. it's on the shelf with all those others, waiting in line for me to finish my damn thesis...
then there's the bartering. i've taken a different aproach this trip. i used to get all "into it". like those pasty white brits that where the kurta and pyjamas with a freaking fanny pack on the outside of the kurta. insert eyeroll. like it's a game. but it's not a game. quibbling over 100 rupees may be a game to me... but it can be a whole day's meals to someone else. so why was i beaing such an asshole about it? i came to this conclusion after a discussion with the bride's brother. he said "i'm no good at bargaining. my mom used to always do it. but now? a few rupees is nothign to me. but it's a lot to them. so whatever." amen to that, brother.
although, there's that one rickshaw driver that literally took us for "a ride" today. no that pissed me off. we needed to go from the IICT in tarnaka to liberty. and the guy takes us way up north through patny and then down necklace road for a nice long trip. trust me. it was a ride. at first i didn't wanna pay the guy the full amount. my sense of immediate justice was overriding my global sense of justice. instead i paid the fare with no tip. somethin i hadn't done at all this trip. still not so sure how i feel about that...
but i've been to two restaurants with trains in them. for serious. "sahib sindh sultan" and the "metro diner" or some such. the first was a few old diner cars of yore, whilst the latter was a few subway cars of now. ah, i see now it was the "silver metro". we also visited the "aromas of china" an inconspicuously frighteningly named restaurant just two doors down from "SSS" and by the same company. here we discovered the sula vineyard wines. well, one in particular, their "satori merlot". i have to say, it was rather impressive. i mean, not in a "this bottle should cost a million dollars!" way, but in a "i didn't know a merlot could taste like that!" way. i thought it was quite good. and later we went out and bought four bottles. :)
anyway. seems my best bud from bombay is back in town (college park) until sunday. he's a bigshot engineer at apple now, out in cupertino. i think i'm going to make him buy me drinks when we get home.