Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hyderabad--Day 4

Our driver, Joseph Anthony: His unusual name, for an Indian, is probably because his family has been Roman Catholic for generations. (There is a tradition of changing your name in India. Gracia and I were told by Heenu, one of the team from Chennai, that women often changed both their last and first names when they got married, to show their willingness to start a new life with a new family. But now that documentation, especially for passports and visas, has become more of an issue, they rarely change their first names anymore.)
Anthony spoke excellent English, but still probably understood less than he seemed to, as we did have a misunderstanding or two. Of course he spoke the native language of Telangana (the state Hyderabad is in)--Telugu--and 3 or 4 other state languages well enough to get by.
Anthony could be a little bossy, and a little moody. At one point during Thursday, he stopped talking to us and would only nod or point. Gracia and I still don't know what we did to deserve that. (Maybe it's because we had expressed an interest in seeing his church, which he said was beautiful, but then didn't follow up on it.)
Anthony told us his favorite breakfast was dosa. So I looked around for it in the Westin Hotel buffet, and found a station where you could order one made fresh.
The condiments are ginger chutney, tomato chutney, can't remember chutney, spicy cabbage chutney, cabbage chutney, and curd (plain yogurt.) You can get it plain, or with variations like spiced potatoes inside. (Masala dosa) I love this stuff. Oh, Westin Hotel breakfast buffet . . .

Anthony has two sons, one in university, one in high school. He works 12-15 hour days every day to support his family. He drives a two-wheeler for about an hour to the office where he keeps the car. Sometimes he sleeps at the office.
He calls his wife, "my pumpkin" because she is round like a pumpkin. She is also Roman Catholic, as are his sons. Anthony says his boys spend 5 hours in church every Sunday. His wife's parents are both deceased, as are his.
Every two days, Anthony has to refill the water cistern at their house from the public supply. We saw a lot of huge water trucks driving around the city. Some were leaking pretty fast.

So, on Thursday, we asked Anthony to take us to the Salar Jung Museum. When Anthony dropped us off it was nearly noon and he told us we should get inside as fast as we could to see the clock chime. We didn't make it, as we had to go back to the ticket office to get a pass for taking photographs.

Cool things about the Salar Jung Museum: It's the third largest national museum in India. It is filled almost entirely from the personal collections of the Salar Jungs, essentially the Prime Ministers of the area--but the post was hereditary. It has collections of art and crafts from around the world, including jade carvings from Japan, Italian marble sculptures, and the aforementioned clock from Great Britain.
But one of the most popular exhibits of the day may have been Gracia and myself. As far as we could tell, we were the only non-Indians in the museum, and at least 5 different people asked if they could have their picture taken with us.
After looking at this photo, I realized I really need to move to the back of group pictures. Also, people had a hard time using my camera to take photos for me, because everyone in India has a smart phone. Service is super cheap, so why not?

This could be the boring part, but here are some things I took pictures of at the museum:
 Ganesh, son of Shiva and his wife, Parvati. From what I heard, he's everybody's favorite Hindu god.

 Some kind of hippelegryph? I love it.

We saw a lot of figurines like this. Who wouldn't want an extra pair of arms?

 The most intricate folding chairs I ever saw.

A somewhat ironic use of an elephant's tusk. 

When our eyes and feet were tired enough, we went to the gift shop. Gracia was hoping for a postcard to send to her grandmother, who collects them. They were out. It was the end of the fiscal year and they were trying to clear stock, so they hadn't ordered replacements for anything for a while. We still had fun shopping through their stuff, because there were lots of cute cheap things like leather coin purses in the shape of elephants, etc. In fact, elephants were represented in art and crafts more than any other animal. And yet, we never got to see a real elephant. 

Anthony called us again, to see if we were done yet. 

We were hungry, so he took us to a restaurant where they didn't speak much English, but we managed to order some good food anyway. And got too full, as usual. (I ordered Butter Chicken, and Gracia did, too. The waiter said something to the effect of, "no, you should order this and then you can both share." We nodded. The other thing was really good, too and the receipt said it was Murgh Zafrani.) The restaurant was called The Waterfront, and it looked out on the lake that divides Hyderabad from its sister city, Secunderabad. On the lake is a statue of Buddha. The lake is man-made and was built in 1562.

Next we went to Charminar--which means "four towers." It's kind of the iconic symbol for Hyderabad. it stands in the middle of an intersection of streets, a little like the Arc de Triomph. And all around it is a huge, bewildering street market, with more stores in the buildings behind. It was too intimidating for me to want to get out, and besides Anthony said no. But he did stop a few streets away for me to buy Anika a pair of slippers from a tiny box of a shop, and he even helped translate for us.

On the way home we passed a government building with a huge statue of Gandhi in front. He is also on all of their paper money. 

Anthony then drove us to pick up the men from their office. For all the traffic is so crazy in Hyderabad, it never seems to get over about 40 mph. Inside the parking garage for their building, he was finally able to get up to speed.  

Karunesh took us all out to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. Yep. The poster on the wall was of a tall, dyed-blonde Indian woman wearing a sarape patterned mini-dress. Trippy.
Almost every restaurant we went to was attached to a hotel, including this one. Unfortunately, there was a birthday party going on outside around the pool and the music was so loud, every time someone opened the restaurant door we couldn't hear each other talk. Casey had chipped a tooth, or lost part of a filling, and I was still full from our late lunch so we just shared a chicken burrito. It tasted pretty close to the Mexican food we get in the States, except that the sour cream was just plain yogurt. 

One thing that kind of threw me while we were in India was the different body language for nodding yes. They nod side to side and it confused me. I'm sure my up and down nodding was equally disconcerting to them.

1 comment:

Phillip Hale said...

Edith, this is a wonderful sharing of your trip! I love every word and picture.