I finally got out and around Hyderabad but not in the way I'd intended over the weekend. On Tuesday I came in late to the office because I was due to stay late to meet with our team staffing the second shift. I left the office at 9:00 PM Tuesday night and figured that the traffic would have died down enough to make a trip to the Old City something we could manage. Well -- the traffic was down from rush hour but the city was by no means asleep!
We headed over to Charminar. I'd seen photos of the 519 year old signature Hyderabad monument lit brightly at night but didn't know what I'd find -- well it wasn't well lit as you'll see, but first, the trip.
We were treated to the full panoply of hectic, anarchic Hyderabad traffic in all it's glory. A co-worker who stayed late with us hitched a ride home, and when we let her off at the side of a multi-lane heavily congested road my traveling companion Jessica couldn't believe our friend was about to cross all those lanes of traffic -- but pedestrians do it here commonly -- she probably had close to 20 years experience.
Although it was obviously dark at that hour, store fronts were well lit and open for business, and all the streets and sidewalks were crowded. I don't know when this city sleeps but it only starts to slowly shutter after 10 from what I could tell.
On the way I got my first ride on some of the new "flyovers" -- elevated roads built down the middle of wide boulevards to create a sort of upper level express lane. Here we are driving on the ground, but you can see a flyover to the right. It's a like an automotive El.
We passed countless shops, storefronts, and restaurants, like this one --everyone wants Biryani!
And there were many small shops selling furniture, electronics, clothing, etc., like this one.
Finally we reached the Charminar -- we passed through a large arch to reach the square where the landmark dominates the scene.
But the Charminar was not lit last night. Undaunted, I asked the the driver to let me out (joined by my companion and soon to be protector Sunil, from the office) and told him to drive the traffic circle around Charminar as I tried to find an angle to shoot. We walked over to a corner of the square and I got this shot, with the half moon in the upper right corner.
We continued to walk around the square until I reached the side opposite from where we entered. I finally realized that the real shot had to include the traffic, and so we walked into the traffic to the median, a row of concrete blocks 6 or fewer inches high off the road bed, where I squatted, dropped the shutter down low, and came away with my favorite picture of the trip so far.
India traffic drives on the left, as in the UK. So the traffic to the left in this shot was driving away from me, and on the right it was driving towards me -- except -- note the two wheeler coming towards me to the left of the median in the picture. It's driving on the wrong side of the street against traffic! As we went to leave I looked to my left to check if it was safe and began to step out as Sunil, in his usually understated way, said "Wait". I did, and avoided being struck by another two wheeler driving on the wrong side of the street, just as depicted in the photo from a few minutes earlier! Yikes!!
We walked back to where we left the car and in short order the driver wound his way around the traffic circling the Charminar and picked us up. All told, a bit of an adventure and a fun way to see a busy Indian city go about its business. I'd love to see the Taj Mahal, I'd love to see the game preserves and all that, but I'm happy too if I can see every day life as it's lived on the streets.
Moving along, the office campus has scheduled athletic contests of a sort, and late this morning some folks from our office squared off against the local office of EA Sports in a game of volleyball. Alas, we were outmatched -- but it was fun to watch and shoot. Our team is in the near court, and my friend Utkarsh helped to man the net (he's in the gray and white striped shirt).
Well there you have it. I've got two more days -- we pack up Friday night and leave early Saturday morning. With a bit of luck I'll have a post or two more to come.