Installment #18 - January 7, 2001
We thought we were going to Hyderabad, and were a little surprised when our train terminated at Secunderabad station. But no problemSecunderabad is just north of Hyderabad, and the two sort of blend together anyway. We took an autorickshaw to the Hotel Viceroy and settled in for a day of reading, TV watching, and resting. [They went all the way to India for that?] We decided that the Viceroy, which was located near the east bank of Hussain Sagar Lake midway between Secunderabad and Hyderabad, was overpriced at about 2600 rupees, and was too far from everything, so we set out in the late afternoon to scout other hotels and find supper.
We happened upon Hotel Saiprakash on Nampally Station Road in the Abids section of Hyderabad, and decided we liked it. Much less luxurious than the Viceroy, it was good value at 730 rupees per night. We made the move at midday the next day (Saturday) and then headed out for a movie.
On arriving at the theater, we discovered that we had two hours before the next show, so Rita decided to do some jewelry shopping, and I did some local walking [no surprises there on either count] and stopped for a haircut. The barber spoke no English but, using sign language, I was able to communicate my request for a haircut, and a beard and mustache trim. We agreed on a price of 30 rupees and, about the time he started cutting, there was a power failure. He continued without lights for a while, but it was near sunset and getting darker. After a while he had to stop, indicating that it would just be five minutes. It was getting close to the time I had agreed to meet Rita and, with the help of another shopkeeper, I explained that I had to leave but would come back.
I returned with Rita, who was able to talk with the barber (in Hindi, I think) and she explained that we were going to a movie soon. "No problem," the barber said, and that we should go enjoy the movie, and then come back and he would finish the job.
We saw "Charlies Angels" in a modern theater with surround-sound for 25 rupees each (about 55 cents), probably the least I have paid for a movie since I was a kid. (The movie in Bangalore had cost 50 rupees, including about 24 rupees Karnataka state tax; here the Andhra Pradesh state tax was about 1 rupee.)
We returned to the barber, who now had lights. He finished the haircut and then trimmed my beard, my mustache, my eyebrows, my ears, and my nose hair. [Thanks for sharing that with us, Allen.] I was thinking that this was about the most complete trim job I had ever had, when he asked, in sign language, if I wanted my underarms trimmed. I thought he was joking, and said "No, thanks" but, the next thing I knew, he started to take my shirt off!
That evening, back at the hotel, Rita received a call from home concerning an ongoing family situation, and after the call we had a long talk. Rita felt that she had seen most of what she wanted to see in India (Ellora and Ajanta caves being at the top of the list), and it was time for her to return home. I opted to remain in India and ride the toy train to Darjeelingone of my main objectivesand then return to Rajkot.
On Sunday morning, we visited the rail reservation center and made reservations to leave for Delhi the next morning. Rita would fly from Delhi to Singapore and on to LA as soon as we could change the date on her existing reservation. We then took an autorickshaw to Golconda Fort for some sightseeing.
Golconda is a 16th century fort encircled by three separate walls and built on a 400-foot-high hill. The second wall, at the base of the hill, has an 11km perimeter, and there is a third wall outside of that. The fort has a good water supply and once held out against Mughal armies for eight months.
Back in Hyderabad, Rita did some last-minute shopping while I bought food for the 26-hour train trip and walked around town. We had a New Years Eve dinner at the hotel restaurant, and then went to bed early to be rested for our 6:40AM departure. The cheering and fireworks at midnight woke us up and we watched the New Year festivities on TV.
At 5AM on January 1st, 2001 we were up and getting ready to leave Hyderabad for the long ride to Delhi via Nagpur, Bhopal, and Jhansi.
We send our wishes for a Happy New Year to all.
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The view from our room at the Hotel Viceroy in Hyderabad. We watched monkeys chasing each other around the minaret. This building under construction was just outside our window at the Saiprakash Hotel on Nampally Station Road in the Abids area of Hyderabad. Cement is being mixed by hand on the floor, head carried in metal basins, and poured into metal forms to create supporting columns for the next floor. [Yes, this view is just as nice as the one from the Viceroy above.] Hussain Sager Lake sits between Hyderabad to the south and Secunderabad to the north. This view is looking across the lake to the northwest. A more-or-less typical downtown street. This is Nampally High Road, near the Hyderabad train station. This sign shows the layout of Golconda Fort, which is located a few kilometers to the west of Hyderabad. The Grand Portico is on the lower right, the harem area on the lower left, and the top of the hill is... well... near the top. Looking down the hill toward the Grand Portico. The acoustics are such that sounds from the Grand Portico area are carried across the fort, making it difficult for an enemy to sneak in undetected. Looking down the hill toward the harem area of the fort. Looking toward Durbar Hall at the high point of the fort. Mahakali Temple as seen from the top of Durbar Hall. I was impressed by this piece of the fort, hanging out over a rock. And it has been there since the 16th century!