We had to make a stop somewhere in between Hampi and Aurengabad, it's two long trains which I wasn't ready for. We picked a random, strategically fit city in between with good train connections, and it happened to be Hyderabad. For some reason, non touristic cities are always so expensive in terms of accommodations and the quality is not good at all. Although restaurants are cheaper and better ... weird! Rickshaw driver took us to some hotel which was "cheap". It was called dreamland. Not sure about a dream, I think it came closer to a nightmare. "Modern amenities" didn't even include running water. When I told them there is no water, they came into the room, grabbed a bucket and filled it up from a big bucket which was outside. Andy said he's not touching it. Locals probably splashed around in it and washed their hands (and you know what that means)!
We went for breakfast. On the way some guy came talking to us. Meanwhile I'm sleepy and grumpy. According to my rule of "not talking to Indian men" I ignored him as much as I could. Andy gave him some answers while I tried to persuade Andy to stop talking to him. Complete ignorance is what I was going for. But nope, he followed us and followed us. Said that it's a hobby to talk to foreigners, he gets to learn from them about culture and all. He asked me what's in my opinion the main difference between cultures. I said that Indians are liars, cheaters and keep following you when you tell them that you don't want to talk to them! He was like a leech stuck to us, and we gave in. Fine, you can have breakfast with us, but after that you go! Ok? - ok, ok. We couldn't find any breakfast places open, it was still too early in the morning. One hotel was open, and it was a nice looking hotel. We went in, and he got scared. - Ok, when we get in, you say that I'm your friend ... ok, ok? They only served a buffet, and I wasn't hungry for a buffet, so we found some local joint. There was only us in the whole restaurant. He kept asking us questions. What we do, what we studied, how much we make. Then he said, you're rich, I'm poor, give me money. We're said that we can buy him a samosa. He said samosa is not enough, why if we have money we can't give it to him? I said that money doesn't grow on trees, and we have to work hard to get it. If he wants money, he should go and earn it. Every time he was saying or asking something he would touch my hand. I told him another difference between cultures. In Canada we don't touch people we don't know. We respect personal space and I don't appreciate him touching me. Friends are ok, strangers are not. Then he switched the topic and started asking about relationships in Canada. I told him that people usually have a few bfs/gfs before they get married. He asked me if I'm married. No I'm not. Am I a virgin? No I'm not. He asked a few more questions then he reached over the table towards my shoulder. I'm thinking, if there a bug on my shoulder. It was like slow motion ... did a filling from a samosa fall on my shoulder? His hand is coming closer and closer, I don't understand what he's doing, and then he grabs my breast! I slap him hard! (first time in life that I slapped someone). Andy (who was sitting next to me) jammed himself between me and him and was yelling at him to get the hell out. I'm in shock, Indian is in shock, Andy's in shock. The guy doesn't move, Andy keeps on yelling, I'm in too much of a shock to understand what's happening. He left, and I was left trembling. Andy said the guy was lucky to leave alive since he's not violent. Some of his friends would just beat the hell out of him.
We went to a Golconda fort. We didn't know how to get there. People don't really speak English. They just look at you when you speak to them, or first look, then turn away. It's not rude, it's just they're too shy to speak, so they pretend you're not there. After waiting for half an hour for the bus that didn't show up one local told us to catch another bus that will bring us closer. At that point we gave up and when the bus stopped, we took a tuk-tuk to the fort. It was beautiful, very big, half broken half intact. Some king in the late 16th century built this fort to be a new capital on India, and marched 300,000 people from Delhi to Hyderabad thousands of kms. The journey took 4 months, a lot of people died, a lot stayed somewhere on the way. The fort was built on a good strategic location, however there were water shortages and a few years later, the 4 months journey was made back to Delhi.
I didn't like the first half of the day, the Indian/buses/heat, not only that, I started to get my heat death panic attacks again. We were going up the stairs, when we run out of water, with no shade and still a lot of steps to climb, my heart was racing and I thought I'll collapse and roll all the way down. I hid somewhere behind a wall away from the sun, but the heat from the rocks was doing just as a great job as the sun. When I finally climbed to the top, a huge tour group on a company function day caught up to us. There were hundreds of them, and they all had cameras and cell phones. There were so many pictures taken of us. When I sat on the stairs to relax, I lifted my head and there are 10 cameras in my face of people sitting beside me and someone taking a picture of me and "him" while I'm not even looking. I hate that!!! I started yelling at them. I pose for Andy to take my picture, and while he does, so do other 20 people! Till the end of the fort I was walking with my head down and covered by either Andy's hat or my hands. When we were at the top, hiding in the corner, we heard another voice from behind the wall "Ok, guys, no more pictures". A British guy stood up "you feel like a celebrity in here too?" I asked him. That was also the time when I stopped being in shock from the morning incident and actually started laughing ... I was thinking how stupid can you be to act that way?
The guy’s name is Carl, he loves India and comes here all the time for long vacations, he stays at nice hotels, always eats at good restaurants and always has a driver or a guide. He's like a guide himself. While we were walking in the fort, he was telling us all the history and important architectural nuances. For a long time he didn't meet any tourists, and spend these 2 days with us. We didn't mind at all. I like it when Andy finds a friend. They have fun, and I get to go where I want on my own, but with them as my security :) Carl is just as stubborn as me. First he tried to argue what's right, what's wrong, where are things located, how to get there. We ate at the restaurant and he told me where the train station is, pointing in a wrong direction. I said that it's not there, it's the other way. He told me that he's in Hyderabad not the first time. I told him I'm good at reading maps. We argued more and more, by the end he gave up and didn't argue with me anymore. I was thinking about it. Why is it so important for me to prove that I'm right. Who cares where that train station is? But how can I give in when I know it's not in the direction where he's pointing at?
Sometimes I let them lead. But after I asked them where we are or where we're going, and didn't receive an answer, no more leading for them. I do not want to get lost in a 45 degree heat. The walk has to be planned. We only have 1.5 days, we have to crumble all the sights that could be seen in a week in such a short time, and it has to be balanced between heat/shade/AC and be made in the shortest and most efficient way possible.
We later went to a health museum which was cool. It had a lot of info, how to stay clean, how to fight diseases, how viruses/bacteria work, different properties of fruits/veggies/vitamins and minerals, but the most interesting things were fetuses in different development stages and canned babies who were born with deformities. They looked like they belonged in the horror movie. I haven't seen anything like that in my life, and it was quite unbelievable. We then went to a beautiful modern art gallery. One of the things I'm waiting for when I'll return to some stable form of life is to start painting again. I discovered that I like to create things ... I think I'll be making my own cloths too :) Maybe jewelry as well, but it might require too many tools.
Then we went to a beautiful temple made out of white marble, and inside it had buddism, judism and christianity quotes all talking about the same things. How to be good and how to lead a happy life without sin. Very clever.
Next was a beer at best western hotel which was built like a castle. I remember in Canada, Best Western was one of the worst hotels, in here it's one of the best. It was built out of stone with knight statues inside and a medieval feel. I didn't drink beer, but I enjoyed the AC feel at the underground bar which was barely lit with nice cushiony sofas. The beers were expensive, and Carl sensing our secret budget calculations offered to pay the bill.
We then went to an amusement park (after taking 10 mins to cross the road!) to take the boat to the buddah statue in the middle of the lake. But it was overcrowded, the lineup was huge, and the statue wasn't impressive. We didn't go on any rides, but it was worth to pay 10 rps to see local kids have fun. I didn't understand why there are so many people at that park, or why 100s of kids splash in shallow brown water, but then I remembered that I didn't see any amusement places in India at all. No nice green parks, no attractions for kids. So I guess anything is better than nothing at all.
Later we went to a very nice "Waterfront" restaurant which is the best restaurant in Hyderabad. "The best" doesn't mean expensive at all. We didn't know how to take a tuk-tuk there without being ripped off. Just like we couldn't take a tuk-tuk from Carl's hotel, we had to come up with some other attraction that's nearby. "You stay at this hotel? You go to this restaurant? I'll charge you triple the price!"
The atmosphere in the restaurant was amazing. It was dome shaped, with pot lights, a server per table, and right on waterfront overlooking the buddah statue. But still they managed to mix the orders and gave us 1 menu less. They always do it. Why can't they have enough menus in restaurants? Every single time when we eat out (and that's breakfast, lunch, dinner every day), no matter how many people we are, we usually get 1 menu.
It was quite intimidating to eat when you know you're being watched by your waiter who'll appear in a split second when he'll see that your glass needs to be refilled or not enough rice/curry is left on the plate.
We arrived to the hotel early in the morning, and this was a 24 hr check out hotel. We barely convinced the manager for the permission to check out at 7am. Too bad for Carl ... that means very early breakfast for him as well :)
At night I couldn't sleep at all. It was just too too waaaayy tooo hot! It's not only that the air was hot, and it felt like the fan spinning the boiling air in circles, it's also that the bed absorbed all the heat and sleeping on it was like sleeping in an oven. I got tired of getting up and taking showers, it didn't help, and only when I took the whole bucket of water and poured it on the bed could I fall asleep. Our hotel was right on the main road, and at 6:30 there was so much noise that I couldn't hear what Andy's saying who was only 1 meter away from me. We get outside, and there is no traffic on the streets! Those Indians, the horn is the best feature in their car!
I think Andy has a heat stroke. He looks barely alive, he doesn't talk, has hard time moving or keeping his eyes open. When Carl saw him, he kindly offered his AC room where Andy could come back from the dead.
Carl and me had breakfast in a rather broken down dining room. He said that every time he comes to this hotel, year after year the quality just goes worse and worse. Most of the chairs have oil stains on them, the paint is peeling off the walls, and half of the lights don't work. For a 4 star hotel, I would give this dining room a motel rating. And that's not even including the lack of English of hotel staff. Carl ordered black coffee and was served tea. We called the waiter, and told him that we ordered black coffee. The waiter took it away and we were waiting while Carl's eggs were getting cold. After a while I told him, I hope you know that your coffee is not coming because he has no idea what you want. He called the waiter back and asked him if coffee is coming. Yes yes ... the waiter came back in half a minute with the same pot of tea that was served to Carl the first time. Not tea, B L A C K COOOOOOFFFFEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Finally another waiter heard who understood English.
After taking a tuk-tuk to the center, we were already ready for coffee day. I convinced the guys not to have it just yet. It's still early in the morning, and it's good to sight see for a bit while it's still "cool". We weren't let in into the mosque because my hair wasn't covered. I pointed him to the women who were inside without anything, but the guys pulled me away. You know it's pointless to argue with them, they'll just come up with other reason not to let us in. Fine! We then went to a palace. This palace was actually nice inside. It consisted of 4 buildings, had a nice collection of neatly arranged weapons, very old family photographs, china and antique cars. After that we walked for a while just to get hot and dehydrated enough to crawl into the coffee day ... just in time! :) We order the coldest most frozen drinks while hanging our tongues out underneath the AC. Coffee day didn't have any change at all and we were a bit stuck until Andy pulled out a huge stack of 10s! Me and Carl were yelling at him ... what a traitor!!!! (jokingly). It's IMPOSSIBLE to get any change in India. And apparently when Andy gets a few 10s, he would put some away to be used in emergency case. It should be illegal for bank machines to dispose 1000 rupee notes. Nobody would accept them. Change is so rare in India that 10s and 50s are worshipped. If you get into a tuk-tuk without exact change, 95% you'll have to run around begging store people to change your money. Something that I think a tuk-tuk driver should do. The problem is that they don't make enough money to save, and everything they make, they spend right away.... although mostly on the useful things like alcohol and tobacco.
We later took a walk around the bazaar which was filled with all sorts of bling and skin whitening powders/creams. A lot of cosmetics in India in filled with whitening products. Usually the whiter people are from higher casts and westerners are considered to be gods. All the commercials of expensive real estate, diamonds or electronics are filled with smiling white people. It's very very rarely that Indian faces appear on the huge billboards. And so all India tries to be white. They really don't understand when we tell them that in the west people are sunbathing to be dark. Oh the horror!! They're shaking their heads in disbelief. I think all the people try to be someone they're not. White people want to be darker. Brown eyed people wear blue lenses, curly haired people straighten them, and straight haired people curl them. Why can't people just accept and love the way they were born?
We entered some college. We just entered, and Carl is waving for us to keep on moving? What's going on? We get out, and he said that guys surrounded them and started asking questions about me. What's our relationship? We're all friends. Then they proposed to share me. Creepy!
We then went to one of the best lamb restaurants in the city, and man it was good. First we had to wait about an hour to be seated. We didn't mind, since the restaurant was AC'd. In the waiting area it a chaos full of people and running waiters, but at the table it was like a little oasis of nice furniture, good and friendly service accompanied by the best lamb ever, nyam nyam :) Which btw reminds me of a fruit seller lady in Varkala, who went around the beach singing a nyam nyam song.
Pinapple cut cut cut
Watermelon cut cut cut
Banana cut cut cut
Nyam nyam nyam nyam nyam
We told Carl about the breast grabbing incident and he told me that next time any harassment would happen, I should take my shoe off and wave it near his face. It's considered to be the sign of utmost disrespect and shame, and if other women would see that, they will all come to the rescue. It would take me a while to take my sneakers off, but maybe I should carry a spare flip flop in my bag, and if waving won't help, then I could smack him with it :)
We wanted to go to a snow park, but if turned out to be way too expensive. It would've been so so cool :(( They give you warm and waterproof clothes in there. There is actual snow, and you could snow fight and slide down the hills on tubes ... it cost $8/hr... sounds funny how little it is say in Canada, but travelling in India it means breaking the budget. well, it's that and taking a tuk-tuk there and back. Oh well, we're going to the real mountains soon anyway.
Goodbye Hyderabad. For an unknown/random intermediate location it surprised us quite a bit, so we were happy with our choice.. and we got to meet Carl!
In the station I was ready to put my suitcase in the wagon when with a half a meter space, 3 girls jumped in front of me while they clearly saw that my suitcase is already up and ready to be put on the train. I got fed up with that, put the suitcase down on the platform and quickly put my arm on the train as the other girl was ready to push in front of me again. She bounced back from my arm. That's the only way they get it. I already understood, when you need something you either have to use force or yell at them, common sense and manners just don't work in here. Why if they have reserved seats which are booked and waiting for them can't they wait 5 seconds in line??
Random memory: just remembered how one girl in Delhi said that the locals probably think how boring westerners are with all of their plain clothes, when the Indian women all dressed in a rainbow of colors with as much jewelry as can fit on their hands/fingers/feet/face ... I'll have to disagree. While it could be beautiful and exotic in the center of Toronto, I've been to India 4 months already and absolutely ALL women are dressed exactly alike. The only thing that's different is the color of the sari ... what's so interesting about that?
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