Stranger in a strange land..
We were in Hyderabad for a little under 48 hours. In that time we managed to spend one whole afternoon at Ramoji Film City, which according to the Guinness book of World records is the largest film city in the world. It was a very good shooting location. It was also obvious that Ramoji had visited Universal Studios and Disney in LA and pretty much lifted sections 1:1 from things like the bus tour, the sign boards, the restaurant areas or the shows.
At some places it felt like we were in Universal and it is really a place to see. The only thing different between Universal and Ramoji is the crowd. Not the numbers, but the behavior of the folks in the crowd.
It clearly says "Wait from this point is 15 minutes" in most of the lines for various shows. Once you are in the line, you cannot get out. That said, pushing the guy in front of you is not going to get you in any faster! They send 80-100 folks inside at any one time. Unfortunately the majority of the folks in that crowd were not grasping that concept. They did not even have any sympathy for the kids in the line. It was one mad dash to compact everyone in the line. Finally figured out why the phase "patti kaatan in mittai kadai" existed. Except for the unruly crowd, the rest of the experience was nice.
However, Jr. and the little one now have a phobia for Desi theme parks. They are really scared of standing in lines where we cannot get out. Time will fix that. That need we checked out Bikanervala restaurant. Have never tasted a butter naan that good in a long long time. Simply melted in my mouth. Divine food! We need a branch in the bay area. Hopefully they will hear this plea! They have one in New Zealand for crying out loud.
The next evening we went to Charminar area to shop for Bangles, Mehendi etc. That was followed by a late evening adventure at Hussain Sagar lake including a boat ride to see the Buddha statue, a car ride for the kids and a few security friskings in all these places.
The hour we spent in Charminar was very interesting. Have been the only non white guy in a see of white faces, have been the only brown dude in a group of black folks, have been the only south Indian with a bunch of desis from the north and west, but being the only "mottai" with a couple of women in brightly coloured Chudidhars among a sea of women in veils and guys in tight jeans with skull caps made me feel like a stranger in a strange land.
There was a reason for not feeling odd but odd and scared. There are a couple of rowdy elements in plain sight in this area. One dude came and hit the bangle seller who was trying to bargain with us. Did not understand what he said but it was pretty clear that the seller was being discouraged from dealing with us.
It was me, San, SIL and three little kids. Me watching the curious kids and fending off as much as 5 to 6 dudes per minute trying to sell me the same pair of Rayban sunglasses while San and SIL checked out bangles. After that guy's hitting the bangle seller, just wanted to leave that area and get out in one piece. The kids were asking me why everyone was dressed differently in this area and why we could not see any of the girls faces. We had good explanations for them at the lake.
By the time we were at the airport trying to head to Delhi the little one asked "We are in Hong Kong already?". The Hyderabad airport is truly amazing. Excellent ambiance, customer service at the airline counter, stores, etc. Way better then any Indian airport we have visited.
Hyderabad is a fun city. We were not well oriented for it and by the time we got to know the city a little better, had to leave. . .
Next time, we will be ready for a better experience.