Monday, April 6, 2015

Hyderabad--Day 5

It was hard to communicate with our kids back home while we were in India, primarily because of the 12 and 1/2 hour time difference. (At one point, as we were discussing this with some locals someone said that they had gone a half hour ahead of Pakistan, because they didn't want to be in the same time zone as them. And in the next city, one of the local team said that Hindi used to be the default language for people who didn't speak the same native tongue, but that now English was, because they speak Hindi in Pakistan.)
Our phone provider didn't have international service, or at least not affordable service, so we only called them through Casey's computer when it was early morning for us and bedtime for them. When we called Meredith and Rosalie at Jenny's house, they told us we needed to come home now! And Jenny sent us a letter they had written us.
You can tell who is the most upset with us for leaving. We knew it would be that way.

On Friday we told Anthony we wanted to go to the mall. We still wanted to see shops where the local people shop. He said yes, but he wanted to take us to one shop first. It turned out to be the most expensive tourist trap shop yet. Really, Anthony?
In this shop they showed us more carpets, more carvings, more jewelry, and the most intricately embroidered Pashmina shawls ever. Done with magnifying glasses, only 3-4 hours a day because the work is so exhausting. We admitted they were beautiful and didn't even ask how much they cost. If you have to ask . . .
A lovely elderly woman brought us water in glasses. We didn't have the nerve to ask if it was bottled. Gracia sipped hers carefully. I was thirsty and drank almost all of mine. This after Anthony had told us to leave our bottled water behind as we were exiting the car.  Bossy. 

Jeweled compact cases. Tried to capture the Hello Kitty ones. Failed.

When Anthony dropped us off at the mall, he told us to go straight to the Hypermarket. Finally, he got our shopping style--this was the Walmart of India. Super cheap kurtis, leggings, etc. Leggings in India are extra long and bunch up around your ankles. I wish I'd bought some to go with my turquoise tunic so that the mosquitoes couldn't have bitten my legs as easily. I bought a short tunic/shirt for myself.
After that, we looked around the mall a little and decided we were done. Gracia was thinking it would be fun to walk back to the hotel on our own, since we knew we were close, when Casey called us and asked where we were. Turns out they were also at the mall, having lunch with their coworkers at the food court upstairs. (The mall was four stories tall, because land is hard to come by in Hyderabad.) So Gracia and I went upstairs and saw them just long enough for them to help us order lunch from an Indian fast food joint, and give us directions on how to walk back to the hotel. 
I called Anthony to tell him not to come back for us, because we had met up with the guys at the mall and he could just go and pick them up and not worry about us, because we would already be at the hotel. I didn't directly tell him that we would be walking back, because I knew he wouldn't approve. 

On our way out of the mall, we got sidetracked by another store that was a little more expensive than the Hypermarket, but still pretty cheap. I bought Clarissa a couple of cute modern shirts there. I paid extra for a carrybag (10-15 cents.)

Then we walked home. We followed the instructions Manju had given us, and tried not to feel nervous that the "immediate right" was impossible to take for the first half mile. It was hot, it was smelly, and we felt conspicuous. But it also felt like being there for real, instead of insulated in our air conditioned, chauffeured car (which, frankly, was sometimes too chilly.) 
We'd been told to stay on the footpath=sidewalk. It's made out of textured cement tiles. The traffic in this part of the city isn't bad at all. The whole area is nicknamed "Cyberabad" because of all the IT companies that are based here. Our hotel was in a semi-enclosed area called Hitech city.
We took pictures of us walking in India. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the green-sari clad women doing groundswork. The only time you ever saw two saris that looked the same was when it was some kind of uniform.
Anthony called us about now to ask where we were, as he was waiting for us at the hotel. 
"Don't pick us up, go get the men at the office." 
"Where are you?"
"We're on the road to the hotel. We're walking. We're almost there."
"Okay, fine." click
Me to Gracia--"Ooooh, we're in trouble . . . !"

This made us wonder, is Anthony liable for us if he doesn't drive us everywhere we go? Can't we just be in charge of ourselves a little? 

When we got back to the hotel, we had to change out of our sweaty clothes and wash our stinky sandals and feet. There was some kind of fertilized water on the footpath at one point. 

Then Karunesh and some of the other co-workers took us to Golconda Fort. If you've ever been to Europe and gone to see a ruined castle, it was a lot like that. Except that all around the fort, there was an absolute warren of tiny shops, winding streets, and crowds of Muslims--Men in white, women in black (over their bright clothing, which is for private viewing only.) We barely squeaked in before they closed the gates of Golconda at 5:00 p.m. 
Once we were in, a guide took us all over the extensive enclosure and told us about the engineering and history of the fort. 
Outer wall

Main gate

Detail of decoration on main gate. Very little of this decorative detail remained in the fort as a whole. It must have been amazing in it's heyday. 

The engineering of this open chamber is such that if you stand right below the center rosette and clap, it will echo all the way up the hill to a guard station at the highest point of the fort. This let them signal when visitors or invaders arrived. After we made it to the top, they demonstrated this for us. It wasn't super loud, but then, they wouldn't have been surrounded by a city of 3.6 million at the time. 
Soldiers' barracks and clerical offices

 A view towards the tombs of the Shahs that built and lived in Golconda fort.
Another view of the same, showing some of the city that has grown up between.
Behind me is a small private mosque built by the Shah. There is also a small private Hindu temple. I'm wearing the shirt I bought at Hypermarket.

This was the building at the very top of the hill the fort was built on. This chamber was the place for the most secret meetings.
The fort was built around these enormous rocks. Rocks like these were visible anywhere there was open ground inside the city of Hyderabad. I wondered how they got so rounded--round rocks mean they've been tumbled down a river in my experience. But that couldn't be true here. Then I remembered Victoria telling me that her Geology professor in college told them the cause of any kind of erosion is always water. So here on this ancient hilltop, that can only mean rain. A lot of rain.
Golconda was the original name of the fort, and the settlement around it. Later the city was named after the current Shah's favorite dancing girl. Then she converted to Islam, changed her name to Hyder, and the city was renamed Hyderabad. 
Note the princess dress on the little girl. This was standard for the female children we saw. But we didn't find out where they sold this particular style of finery. Only silk and embroidered children's clothes that were too expensive for souvenirs. Or the cotton kurtis, which we did buy.

We went back down the hill a different way than we had come up. This is "the king's way." It was steep, uneven, and slippery. Hardly the kind of stairs you'd expect a king to have to walk up.  And then I realized, he probably got carried. Our guide later told us this was indeed the case. Short slave in front, tall one in back on the way up--to keep the chair level--and reverse on the way down. Do it right or heads will roll. . .  

One wall of the harem

Another example of the acoustical diamond arches

Just as the sun set a noise of raised voices could be heard from outside the walls of the fort. It was prayer time.

A five hundred pound weight for the purpose of measuring grain. Our guide told us they had slaves capable of lifting this. How many popped disks have resulted from this little tourist exercise?

And then our guide told us it was time for us to give him a tip. Gracia and I had no idea how much was a good amount, but what we gave him apparently wasn't enough and he told Gracia it was too small. So we gave him some more. It was very uncomfortable. The whole tipping thing is pretty weird for me at the best of times.

Then we sat down in the lower courtyard on folding chairs with a crowd of other tourists to wait for the light show. But first a man went around the area with what looked and sounded like a leaf blower, but which spewed a thick, stinky smoke all over. Probably for mosquitoes? It completely engulfed us and took a few minutes to dissipate. We pulled our shirts up over our faces and wondered which would do us more harm, the mosquitoes or the smoke. I wished I  had a dupata (the coodinating scarf they wear with a kurta and leggings) or sari like almost every other woman there.
When it was fully dark they started the show. Basically they lit spotlights of various colors on different walls of the fort as a narration related some key points from the history of Golconda, including some music and poetry composed by one of the princes. At one point, Casey looked around to discover that Dan, Gracia, and I were asleep. I tried to stay awake, but it was warm, dark . . . 

It was pretty late when we got back to the hotel that night. Casey and I split a sandwich that we ordered through room service and then went to bed.

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