10 years ago was my first visit to the city. I was in Hyderabad to conduct a training session being held at the Basheer Bagh branch of my then employer. In the evening, the office arranged a shopping-cum-sightseeing trip for all the participants to the old city – Charminar and Laad Bazaar. Charminar was closed for the day; we walked past it and I didn’t give it much thought except that it looked exactly like it’s photos in the history text books in school. Not much interest in history back then, on the other hand I was looking forward to some shopping🛍.
It was the first time I saw the shimmering, colourful lac bangles; I didn’t buy any; didn’t think I will have an occasion to wear them. The shopkeepers were urging that we try the bangles, no compulsion to buy, few ladies did and some bought them. Then we entered a pearl store; I don’t remember the name; but I remember buying a lot of stuff from there – white button pearl stud earrings, pink double pearl strand, black pearl necklace with matching earrings, a beautiful necklace of rice pearls – all cultured peals. Yep, I went crazy !! Everyone bought something, the shopkeeper was super delighted😀.
I now have an opportunity to visit the City Of Pearls again !! The city is constantly in the news for political reasons. It now serves as the dual capital for the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. And before I venture out again, I want to learn a little more about this historic city and that’s why I picked this book – “Hyderabad Hazir Hai” – a compilation of articles about the City of Nizams.
I read a similar collective about Bangalore in the book titled “Bangalore Blue”; die hard Bangaloreans have written fondly about the old Bangalore in the 60’s and 70’s. I didn’t find the stories that interesting mainly because I didn’t find anything new in them. Bangalore described in the book is everything we imagined the city would be like from across the border in Kerala back then. In our childhood, before the IT boom, we were frequent visitors to Bangalore because of abundance of relatives there with whom we could camp. It was merely an overnight journey by train (called Island Express) and the delightful cold weather made the city a paradise (coming from the hot and humid Kerala).
On the other hand Hyderabad was a place we only read about in the history text books; home to world famous biryani (though we didn’t know what made it special) and a very rich Nizam. Also we didn’t have any close relative working in Hyderabad, else an invitation to visit the city was sure shot; back then visit to a new city was possible only if we had an accommodative relative stationed there; hotels were not a financially viable option. And so, with this minuscule knowledge, the book Hyderabad Hazir Hai is a discovery. With each story you learn little more about this magical city and you want to know more. The stories don’t disappoint; while Bangalore was all about the Anglo-Indian lifestyle, Hyderabad is home to royalty. And as the Bangaloreans lament the loss of the greenery, the famous circles on the roads, the peace and quiet; the Hyderabadis seems to have taken the march to modernity in their stride and are happy to move along accommodating the changes to the ever evolving cityscape.
Differences apart, both the books had one thing common about the two cities – the laid back lifestyle; maybe it’s inbuilt in the Indian DNA and not in just these two cities. The articles are an eclectic mix ranging from the Hyderabadi cuisine, history, language – the unique Dakhni Urdu , culture, sports, making of the modern city and so much more.
While Vanaja Banagiri describes the best of Hyderabad in a nutshell in the article titled “All Things Hyderabadi”, my three favourites are “Three Salar Jungs and a Museum” by Bakhtiar K Dadabhoy – the author details the fascinating story behind the famous Salar Jung museum – “Sir Salar Jung I was the greatest Diwan Hyderabad ever had. And the collection for which Salar Jung III, the “Great Collector” gets almost all the credit was started by Salar Jung I, the “Great Diwan”. Sandwiched between the “Great Diwan” and the “Great Collector” is Salar Jung II, a fleeting character on the political stage.”
“Once Upon a Time” by Vijay Marur – where he narrates three delightful stories from his childhood in the city – ” A true Hyderabadi never lies. He merely embellishes the truth.”
The short but sweet “Hyderabadi Adventure” by Vinita Pittie as she says “As a new entrant into the quaint Hyderabad culture, I would never have imagined that all of whatever is uttered is not meant literally”🙃. She writes about the concept of parson (meaning the day after tomorrow). You ask anybody for anything, they say “shall be done parson.” But as the popular saying goes – tomorrow never comes, in Hyderadabad – parson or day after tomorrow never comes !!
It’s a good read on Hyderabad. This is the second book from my reading list for the holidays; two down, three more to go.