My last few days in Hyderabad went by too quickly. I packed a lot into 2 days: visits to Golconda Fort, Qutb Shahi Tombs, and Salar Jung Museum; dinner with a colleague; lunch with another colleague’s wife; last minute shopping; and a party. No wonder I was so exhausted that I fell asleep immediately after getting on the plane in Hyderabad. I don’t even remember taking off!
I took many, many photos at Golconda Fort and a few at the Tombs.
Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed in the Salar Jung Museum. Frankly, I didn’t want to take photos of the Museum exhibits at all, but would have loved to take photos of the infrastructure. The toilets, for example, were the most foreign I have ever seen. I had heard about the “squatter” toilets — where the bowl is built into the floor and the user just squats over it — but I had never seen one until then. I had to use one (not just for the experience, but I really HAD to use one); it was an interesting experience, especially since there was no toilet paper.
This may be a major digression, but…I don’t understand Indian toilet habits, although I’d really like to. Even with Western toilets I ran across situations where there was no toilet paper offered. (Making me very glad that I always carry facial tissues.) Universally present was some way to direct water onto your body parts, though. In modern facilities, there was a hose with a sprayer on the end attached to a spigot, while in the squatter toilets there was a small urn under the water spigot. Just how is one to use these things? Was I supposed to wash myself off after peeing by spraying myself? If so, how was I supposed to dry myself before pulling up my panties? (Recall that there was no paper available.) Even more confounding to me were the urns of water. They had a spigot on them, but I would have had to splash the water on myself manually to wash off. I was really glad I didn’t have to try to do anything else besides pee in these toilets, ’cause trying to figure out how to clean up after THAT just really blew my mind!
I got caught in the rain while finishing up at the Tombs. It was actually quite refreshing, until I entered the air conditioned car. Brrr!
Speaking of rain, I realize that I didn’t write about my most scary and exciting experience in Hyderabad. Last Wednesday night, the monsoon rains really hit hard, dumping about 4 inches of rain on the city within 4 hours. The streets flooded, and in some cases the water was quite deep. Driving through this mess was sort of like the old Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyworld. There were stalled auto-rickshaws, motorbikes, and cars all over the place and we nearly stalled ourselves driving through a section of the road where the water was at the top of the tires. We told our driver several times that he was doing a great job, and gave him a handsome tip when he got us to the hotel. It was a totally bizarre experience that I will never forget.
Some of our colleagues who were on the roads that night weren’t so lucky. A woman and man from the US who were sharing a car found themselves stranded when their car stalled in deep water. The driver opened the door and dashed out, and water started pouring into the car. The windows didn’t work (power windows won’t work with no power), and they were afraid the doors would be hard to open with the pressure of the water. The woman said she was crouching on the back seat, holding their laptops up to make sure they didn’t get wet, while the guy got out of the car and found help to push it out of the water.
Ah, India. You’re full of surprises and delights, thrills both good and bad, and incredible visual moments. I miss you already.