Thursday, April 5, 2007

It’s my last day in the office this week because of the Good Friday Holiday, and I’ll be spending the holiday in Hyderabad being shown around by my office-mates while the rest of the expats live it up in exotic foreign locales.

On Tuesday I went out to dinner with Shannon to a jungle-themed restaurant called Serengeti where my entire meal cost 155 rupees (about $3.50). Keep in mind that this was a nice restaurant that caters to westerners. Tasty beverages (booze) were, however, twice as much as the meal, at a whopping 250 rupees ($6). The décor was strikingly similar to the American Rainforest café chain, except that the fake monkey would occasionally break out into a Hindi song. We were at the top of a 7 story building and watched the moon rise, a big brown moon due to the pollution.

A few nights ago a new girl moved into my villa, a German ambassador from the Dublin office named Anja. Its good to have another roommate since I haven’t seen Anup, my other roommate, more than 5 minutes since I moved in. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep each other company.

On Tuesday I walked to work (Sayeed, my driver, laughed when I told him my plan and walked me to the road). It is a nice walk, not more than a quarter mile, but people take cars because there is a perilous intersection that you have to cross to get to the office. Along the road there is a ‘convenience store’ (a tent with fruit and random stuff like half empty packs of batteries), a Hindu temple, lots of luxury apartment complexes, new constructions for the developing tech industry, and lots of people sitting around and women carrying baskets on their heads. In the five minutes it took me to walk to the office I was solicited to take a ride by 5 auto-rickshaw (3 wheeled mini-taxi) drivers, but my purposeful walk and lack of acknowledgement meant that no one tried more than once to offer me a ride. When I got to the perilous crossing I used Anup’s expert advice and used the ‘human shield’ technique in which I wait for someone who knows how to cross the street to walk out into traffic so the cars have to stop and then I, with a group of people, cross together in relative safety. Definitely not something I hope to do every day, which is a shame because the walk is about the only exercise I get all day due to the heat.

Last night I went to an ex-pat dinner at another restaurant where we ate family-style ordered by one of the people who has been here a long time. I’m feeling fine, but I think the 5 days of eating curry for every meal is getting to me, and I didn’t eat that much. There was a mutton biriyani (Hyderabad is famous for its biriyanis) that was really good. I’m still waiting to find korma, which is apparently not a local dish.

This weekend I’m going tomorrow with Rupa and her daughter to something called ‘Snow World’ and indoor park where they have fake snow to play in – Rupa’s daughter is 9 and has never seen snow so she’s really excited. Then on Saturday and Sunday I’m planning on going to Charminar, the old part of the city with the famous mosque and souk, with some of my office mates who have promised to help me bargain, and on Sunday I’m going to the Golconda fort and some famous tombs near by with the same peeps. I might also see ‘the Namesake’ at the Imax on Saturday night. I’m slightly sad that I didn’t get on the ball soon enough to use the weekend to go somewhere that requires three days to enjoy, but I’ve traveled half way around the world to India, and I feel like I should enjoy India and not struggle to go somewhere else just because I can. I’m hoping to take a few long weekends while I’m here, especially now that I’ve figures out that Hyderabad is closer to the Maldives than it is to New Delhi. I’m also excited about spending time with my office mates and meeting their families, instead of spending all of my free time with other foreigners. We’ll see how the best laid plans turn out ;)

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