Jen and I have come to Hyderabad in Andra Pradesh for a little bit of R-n-R before she heads home and I head to Navdanya's farm in Uttaranchal. Hyderabad is an interesting, cosmopolitan city, and home to the Telagu language Bollywood studios and high-tech central. It is littered with colorful temples, has an eclectic and bustling street life and sports luxury homes in the "hills". Hyderabad was once part of an independent Muslim state, established in 1347, and was held in various forms by Muslim rulers until India was created with independence from the British in 1948. The Muslim influence in the city is strong, although only about 8% of the population is now counted as Muslim. There are gigantic mosques, lots of women in abayas on the street and mughal architecture. The state legislative assembly is housed in a building constructed in 1905 to celebrate the 40th birthday of Mahbub Ali Khan, the 6th Nizam of Hyderabad, who, incidentally, was also famous for the size of his wardrobe.
Our first hotel here was in a gated, upper middle-class Hindu neighborhood. Staying there gave me an unusual peek into an everyday India that I don't know much about. Every block had a park and every home had a fleet of servants, including dark-skinned nannies of Dravidian ancestry, walking light-skinned babies in strollers (not unlike certain parts of Manhatten says Jen). Every home had a spacious walled garden and a water tank on the roof with a solar panel for hot water heating. The homeowners association was decorated with swastikas, a Hindu symbol for luck.
We left this hotel in a few short days, largely because of the relative inaccessibility of the city from this location (basically a suburb), and because internet access (to which we are both hopelessly addicted, and to which access might not be unreasonable in one of the hi-tech capitols of the world) was promised but not delivered.
Also not delivered was our (clean) laundry. We sent it out and waited two days for it to return, only to be told repeatedly that it was on it's way, etc, etc. On the day we checked out we were prepared to sit in the lobby and wait for it. Two minutes before checkout the clerk at the front desk called our room and said "Actually...your laundry is here. But...it's not washed." Great! We'll take it! I don't think I've ever been quite this happy to see my unwashed laundry, and likely never will again.
Almost not delivered was a bouquet of orchids from a certain admirer of mine in Belgium. There was some confusion, which required an immediate conference of all hotel staff, about to whom these flowers belonged, because my name wasn't actually on the room. My flowers were rescued from a terrible fate by Jen's heroic dash to the lobby, and they still sit in serene and silent beauty on the table in our new hotel in Secunderabad, giving me a little jolt of joy every time I see them.
Arrival at the Minerva Grand in Secunderabad with dirty laundry and orchids. Classy.