Alone in Old Hyderabad[Photoblog]  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

Till last month, my only experience of Hyderabad was during the 15 day all India trip from college, few years back. And so, when some strange circumstances required me to go to Hyderabad for a weekend, I decided to explore the sights and sounds of this historical city.

Hyderabad gave me a hot reception the 2nd time around too. I was sweating profusely right from early morning, when I landed at the place. The hot winds didn't make life any better. The plan for the first day was to visit the old hyderadbad area around the charminar, with a friend. The travel in the state transport bus took us halfway when an old lady asked my friend where we are heading to. When she heard the place name, she advised us against going there as the old city is in a tense situation due to some shoot out. We got down from the bus to rechart our plan. Later, we learned that an MLA was shot at by some goondas of a real estate king(read land grabber). Seems like the MLA led a crusade against the land grabbing activities of this businessman and they gave him some bullets in return. And, so the rest of the day was spent at the majestic Golconda fort(about which I'll write later).

Having got my day one plan spoiled, I decided to go back to the old city on the next day. I had enough time in the afternoon, all for myself. I hauled an auto and asked him to take me to the old city. He said its risky to go there as tensions are still running high. But I had decided that I'll go whatever happens. After a minute of convincing and an offer of extra 10 rupees from the metre charge, he agreed to take me there. During the journey, he kept on talking about how big a risk he was taking by taking me there. But, when we reached there I realised that life around charminar was back to normal, although the crowd was lesser than normal. I got down...I had 5 more hours.

Framed inside the huge entry gate was the charminar at a distance. The street teeming with thousands was a great invitation for any photographer. I perched myself at the end of the median right in front of the charminar, for a close shot of the monument. And then, I saw through the view finder, a biker coming at top speed right through the centre, towards me. It was a freeze frame moment, as I instinctively clicked and then froze myself at the prospect of getting hit. At the last moment, he swung away expertly with a non chalant expression. Folks, Welcome to Hyderabad and its legendary drivers.
A biker coming straight at me as I sat down at the end of the divider to click the charminar.

On a ride


The sun was beating down hard. I stood under the shade of the minars. Then, a middle aged man approached me and started enquiring about the camera. It turned out that he's a professional photographer who is still shooting with a film SLR camera. He spoke at length about how the advent of the digital camera spoilt his business. I felt a pang of guilt when he said that. He has plans to buy a digital for himself, but at the same time says he is not used to 'technology'. After bidding him goodbye, I walked all the way up the spiral steps inside the minar to the top of charminar. It provided a great view of the nearby mecca masjid and the hundreds of pigeons flying around it. I met a group of 3 guys who wanted their group pic taken, ofcourse with requests to mail the pics.
A view of mecca masjid from the top of the charminar

“Remember how the english teacher sat down on the bubble gum stuck on the chair?”
“yea, and then Mukul was thrown out of class…poor guy!”

I was slowly getting used to the friendly people around old Hyderabad. Nowhere else have I been approached by so many people wanting their pics to be taken. A drunk tender coconut seller wanted his portrait taken with the coconuts. A young boy selling biscuits wanted his portrait taken with his biscuits. When I offered to click another portrait of him alone, he shied away. Then, there was a group standing on top of a masjid calling out at me from the other side of the street. After the click, they wanted to know where I will put the pic. I said 'the internet' and saw their beaming faces. At another place, a scooter suddenly stopped beside me and the men on top of that smiled at me and gestured to click them. I clicked and showed it to them, when they happily rode off. Wherever I looked, I saw a hundred interesting faces. And each of them had a unique expression or unique mannerism. Human beings can amaze you no end, if only you look at the right places and at the right faces.
happy faces

clicking me?ehh?

iStand iPose

a view of the charminar from the other side


know why they keep the rear view mirror this way? To save space when riding fast through the crowded roads...

the biscuit boy

He stopped the scooter...and asked me to click...and then they left with a smile

Its been about 4 hours since I started walking in this old city. The weather was changing. Its almost nearing sunset, but dark rain clouds have obscured the sun. Gusty winds picked up the dust and whirled it around. It was one mean task to shield the eyes and the lens from the dust. Before long, the rain gods blessed old Hyderabad. A welcome rain after a long dry spell. People ran for cover, while some ran out to enjoy the rain. Burqa clad women took shelter under a temple. A man stopped in his tracks while he was running for cover and said 'Assalamu alaykum' to his friend. I took shelter in an old shop. A young boy came running outside and happily held his hands outside. Rainwater collected in his cupped hands, which he drank with zest. The simple pleasures of childhood...
and the rain arrives...after many weeks...and people take cover..

A man greeting his friend in the rain..”As-Salamu Alaykum”

A young boy came running outside and happily held his hands outside. Rainwater collected in his cupped hands, which he drank with zest. The simple pleasures of childhood..

The wait

And so, after 5 hours of walking and clicking, it was time for me to bid goodbye to the sights and sounds around Charminar. I felt bored not for a single minute of those 5 hours. Sometimes, travelling alone can help you to be yourself and soak in the spirit of the place and its people. You will end up taking in everything around you and get enriched in many ways. The encounters with strangers and being a listener to their stories can be a surreal experience. That high you get when those strangers leave you with a smile is untold, because smiles, especially from strangers are a rarity these days...

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 02, 2011 at Thursday, June 02, 2011 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


great clicks!!

11:44 PM

Awessum photos! Its a beautiful city indeed :P

3:09 AM

wow amazing pics :):)

7:44 AM

U have some stunning fotos there dude! I am floored :-)

Cant believe people are so camera friendly...or rather, camera enthusiastic!! :D

What I love reading about your escapades is that u add all the little things that happened in between...the sprinkling of masala that makes the blog post more interesting read :-) Just enough, not overdone either!
Keep it coming!

11:40 AM

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