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We arrived in Hyderabad early Saturday morning BUT...then our good fortune ended. First, we arrived at the old airport, the next to last flight to use that airport. My bag was one of the first ones out. We waited 1.5 hours until there was no baggage left and Kim's bag never arrived. By this time, it was two in the morning. Kim filled out paper work,etc. and we went to find our driver.
Tarryn had called the hotel to tell them about the flight change. But there was only a driver for Tarryn and Max, not for us. And our cell phones were useless, no signal, despite having been assured by AT&T(mine) and Sprint (Kim) that they'd work in India. After much hassle, the driver called the hotel & was to take us there. To bed at last, 3 am.
Map of India
Kim and I headed to the department store to look for clothes for her.
Outside the mall
Kim and I sat out by the pool until it started to rain. We heard the Muslim call to prayer. It's interesting here. The population is about 50% Hindu with a very small percentage Sikh Hindu (the men with the turbans who never shave). There is about 40% Muslim and the remaining 10% is other. We've seen them all in the store today and also at the hotel.
It's now 5:45 pm and it is pouring down rain. We're off to some Indian grill for dinner.
ITC Kakatiya Hyderabad Hotel – where we stayed
View from my room
It is Easter Sunday. It is also raining hard. There is a Catholic Mass that meets on the grounds of a mosque (unusual, isn't it?). Originally we were going to walk there but not in this deluge of rain. Oh well. I was not able to find another non-Hindu or Islamic place of worship near our hotel.
We had hassles with the front desk regarding the missing luggage. The bellhop said he was bringing Kim's bag yet there was no bag! Each time we asked about status, we got a different answer. So I called 1-800-Deloitte and got the travel people involved. Finally found that Kim's bag had been transferred from Continental to Lufthansa in Houston but Lufthansa left it in Houston. It finally left there Sunday. It should arrive Monday at 12:30am. Meanwhile, Tarryn called the airport and finally got someone in the baggage area who found her bag. The hotel had said it was not there. She's quite upset - it has been there since 12:30 this morning! Max's bag has still not been located.
Once we sorted out luggage as best we could, we headed out for sightseeing. It poured rain all day so not the best day to be out and about. The upside is that it was cool.
Hyderabad and Secunderabad are called the Twin Cities. There is a man-made lake that sits between the 2 cities. It is extremely polluted! Together the 2 cities have a population of 7 million people.
We wanted to tour Fort Golconda but due to the heavy rain, we passed that up. We headed out instead to the North Gate.
The old city of H is surrounded by 4 gates, North, South, east and West. There is a large market area at the gate, including a quite extensive produce market. There is also a very large mosque, the 2nd largest one in India.
As we continued our drive, we went past the legislative buildings, the public garden, many mosques and Hindu places of worship. All day, we heard the call to prayer from the mosque at the North Gate and we heard the magnified chants of the men praying. The question came up as to why no other religion broadcasts their prayers or services so that everyone in the city can hear them. There is no answer to that question.
As we drove along, we saw ox pulling carts, motorcycles, three wheelers, bicyclists, small cars and lots of pedestrians all in the road. It is very haphazard. No one stays in any sort of lane, traffic signals are routinely ignored (unless there happens to be a traffic cop near) and people swerve everywhere. Frightening! Add to that there are just tons of people and it is pure chaos.
Interesting looking building
Unination Not Allowed
Our tour guide told us the H is known as the Pearl City and has been well known for years for the craftsmanship of the pearl stringers. They also boast about the beauty of the city. We thought it was a tad grimy looking. There was a lot of shacks nestled between buildings and we saw men urinating against walls. In fact, we passed one wall where painted on the wall was a sign that said "Urination Not Allowed"! Isn't that bizarre? We noticed that there are shacks EVERYWHERE. Even across from the Deloitte complex there are tarps with people living under them. It doesn't seem to bother anyone. We saw water tanker trucks delivering water. Men sit outside, reading the newspaper. They are apparently very well-read people, even in the tarp homes, there was a newspaper being read.
Anyway, we came to Chowmahalla Palace. This is a prime example of the influence of Persia on the architecture of the city. This is a huge palace and has pretty grounds and gorgeous detailing in the architecture and great crystal chandeliers. The building is actually composed of 4 buildings that form a rectangle with the garden in the middle. They have detail pictures of life during the reign of the king, the weapons of the dynasty, vignettes of weddings, births, funerals during the dynasty. Chowmahalla Palace is the palace of the Nizams, the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. It remains the property of the heirs of the Nizams today.
Chowmahalla Palace Gate
Another view of Chowmahalla Palace
Interior of Chowmahalla Palace
Chowmahalla Palace Throne Room
Chowmahalla Palace Coach House
As we drove around, we passed all kinds of interesting old buildings. Many of them are now schools, colleges or hospitals.
The Salar Jung Museum
We stopped at The Salar Jung Museum, the largest single man's collection in the world. This museum is owned by a family who descends from the Nizam dynasty. There are 2 grandsons. One lives in London and one lives in Turkey. This museum houses the collection of this family. There is quite an extensive amount of silver items crafted to celebrate the dynasty's silver anniversary. It was absolutely overwhelming. There were miniatures replicas of most of the palaces in the city, done in silver, as well as silver toys, etc. This guy also never wore the same outfit twice and the museum houses his wardrobe. And people think women have a lot of clothes!
We stopped at a pearl store and watched them string pearls and beads. The we went to the Kashmir Emporium where we all bought items. The owner has a collection of Deloitte business cards and we enjoyed adding ours to the stack. It's amazing how many Deloitte people have shopped at this same store! I ended up buying rugs here later in the week.
The Caste System still exists
One of the things I have noticed is the extremes here - you have luxury and then there is a family sleeping under a tarp in the field next door. We saw severely malnourished kids running next to the car, begging. There were makeshift tents with people who obviously lived in them. Some of the storefronts of the buildings were open and you could see that there were many people living in the back of the store.
Tarryn made the comment that if some of the silver from the Salar was sold, they could probably take care of most of the social ills. Just an example of the dichotomy you find in India. And the caste system seems to still be in existence to some degree. The government is trying to outlaw the caste system but it appears in life. You can see by the way the people address each other that it is still inbred here.
Interesting looking building
At 10:00 pm, suddenly the power went out in my room! I went out to the hall and the hall lights were on. Several men came out from other rooms, wearing their bathrobes. Note, I was still in my jeans and the shirt. I had worn all day! We sat in the lobby chatting. One was from Scotland, one from England. The hotel manager came up and said only our wing was affected and the engineer was working on the problem.
Around 10:30, power came back and we returned to our rooms. Then at 11:30, I was awakened by a knock on the door. The hotel manager and a security guard were there and they said they were checking to see that the guest was in the room. I said yeah, I was here. They said something that I didn't understand then left. Completely baffled, I went back to bed. But first I shoved a chair in front of the door as an extra security precaution!!
Mon. 3/24/2008 Off to the Deloitte office we go. Passed on the way to the office
Note the blue tarp? That is someone’s home.
Need some eggs?
See the shantys and tarps?
It's so funny, when you turn into the complex, the road is lined with little Deloitte signs.
High Tee City
We occupy 4 buildings and have approximately 6,000 employees here. This is the AERS India office, formerly R10, which is part of the US Firm. That is why their email addresses are US - Hyderabad. The India member firm has their offices in Mumbai. The H office is very tiny. In fact, Kent Francois, the audit PIC here told me that in India, there are the Big Three. The Deloitte firm is DH&S and they are very insignificant.
There are security guards everywhere. I have noticed this all over Hyderabad. Every building has guards. We even had a police roadblock on the road coming to the office. Apparently that is because the office is in an area of town referred to as High Tee City. This is where lots of foreign firms have set-up shop. We share space with Google! Dell is in this complex also.
Many of the folks here in the office have colors on the arms and hands from the Holi festival Saturday. I got a picture of one of them with red hands.
Most of the women are wearing sarees. And a lot of them, about a third that I have seen, have the dots on their foreheads. We can't figure out what the dots mean and I am hesitant to ask. I don't want to appear to be rude. Kent said he hasn't figured it out yet and that even some women @ his Catholic church here wear the dots!
Full day of training.
Dinner tonight was with the ex-pats again at lshta. That is the hotel they are staying at and we decided if we come back, we're staying there also. Then we realized there are more mosquitos here. Hum...decisions.
But it is a beautiful place! Closer to the office and more out in the country. Great pool and landscaping.
At breakfast, Max, Tarryn, Kim and I were talking about how we are getting tired of no fresh vegetables. Tarryn and Kim are vegetarians and they are even tired of the food. We're craving FRESH veggies, salads. Yesterday we all got adventurous and took milk in our morning coffee. No ill effects so far so we're getting milk again today but only in HOT coffee. We've all had fish but no meat at all. The ex-pats warned us to not trust the menu when it says beef, no telling what animal it really is! Chicken they said is fairly safe but we've not tried any.
Tons of construction going on in the city as they frantically are trying to keep up with demand for modern buildings.
But the striking differences between the haves and have nots still astounds me. Kim and I both commented that we feel guilty.
Where's the beef?
For dinner, we went to the Indian Grille. Nitaha went with us and ordered the meal. The paneer was spicy but good. This is a heavily seasoned cubed cheese. We had a chicken dish (for us non-vegetarians), a spicy lentil soup (my favorite!), and wonderful naan, both buttery & garlic. Naan is a flat bread that reminds me of a large flour tortilla, yet thicker. This was followed by prawns in a green sauce. I have no idea what the sauce was. It looked like it had spinach in it but it didn't taste like spinach. The food is generally very spicy. It's good but I have no idea what I'm eating most of the time!
Another busy day at the office. I'm still amazed at the city, so much in new buildings and glitzy stores right next to abject poverty.
We had dinner at Little Italy again. This is a Deloitte hangout. The HEBP management team met us as well as the ex pats. As this is a veg restaurant, I was curious to see what the Italian food would be like. I had spaghetti Bolognese. Its tomato based in India and has a soy protein crumbles instead of bacon. It was ok, not great.
Wrapped up training this morning. Then off for shopping we went! See what we looked at!
But it felt very uncomfortable going back to the car and having people beg. There was a mother with a baby who beat in our car window. Fayaz told us to ignore them. While Kim was deciding if she was going to buy a necklace (she did), I stepped outside. Fayaz immediately appeared and wouldn't let me walk alone. And I'm glad! It is scary. I went back into the store and I made some jewelry purchases. We then returned to Kashmir Emporium for me to get some rugs.
Here is what Kim bought.
Back at the hotel, I had a challenge shoving the rugs I bought into my baggage but I managed to get them packed! We were warned to not have them shipped by the store as packages are frequently stolen in route.
Our flight home is early, early Saturday morning. We had to check out of our hotel room Friday afternoon and just hang around, waiting to be taken to the airport. Lucky for us, there was a wedding in the hotel so there was good people watching!
The women had on fabulous jewelry and gorgeous sarees. We learned from the jeweler earlier that it is not uncommon for the wedding party to buy extremely expensive jewelry to wear to the wedding and then to sell it back afterwards at a reduced price. In effect, they rent the jewelry! Check out an ad for wedding jewelry.
Ad for wedding jewery
As I was sitting on a couch, sort of dozing off, a woman asked if she could sit next to me. Of course, I said yes. She and I started chatting and she was explaining some of the wedding traditions. She had on a beautiful saree and it turns out she was an aunt of the groom. And she had on a ton of jewelry. She pointed out the bride to me who had on even more jewels! Here is a picture of a typical bride and very similar to the one I saw.
The ceremony itself is called kalyanam in South India and they last for several days. The hotel we stayed at (ITC Kakatiya) is a high-end luxury hotel so folks holding events there are not poor. The party tonight was the actual ceremony and reception.
We headed to the airport at 11:15pm Friday for the 2:15am flight. It is a long drive (about 90 minutes) and traffic is nuts even at that hour. Upon arrival, I discovered that my reservation had been cancelled. No idea by whom or why. After much discussion, the airline said they could put me in coach. I refused. After a call to 1-800-Deloiite (again), I was back in business class! There were lots of us (Kim, Tarryn, Max, me, 3 of the ex-pats and 8 of the Indian staff) headed back to the US.