A short plane ride took us from Delhi to our next stop in Hyderabad. It also took us straight through our comfort zone in terms of temperature -from uncomfortably cold to uncomfortably hot. (Keep in mind that comfort zone falls somewhere between 67.999 and 68.001 degrees F, so its easy to miss.) Coming to Hyderabad was the central focus -even prehaps the whole reason for our trip to India. For those of you who don't know, Rob Rao has been my closest friend since somewhere around the first grade. We've had loads of fun and gotten into heaps of trouble as growing lads will, and I'm sure it will all continue. Last October at a wedding, Mr. and Mrs. Rao (Rob's parents) met Ann for the first time, and invited us to come and visit them in Hyderabad. We simply couldn't resist, so here we are!
Mr. Rao met us at the airport and we went back to the house to have a few drinks, catch up on old times, eat a little dinner, get to know each other a little better (after all -Ann had met the Raos only one time previously), and just to RELAX! Given the pace of the trip up north, we haven't really had much time just to sit back and relax for a while. (Of course we planned it this way because we want to see as much as possible in the limited time we have.) It was also quite a relief not to have to worry about which restaruants were still open for dinner, how the hygeine was at the places that were open, if the hotel would have clean sheets and hot water, or if the tuk-tuk man was grossly overcharging us. For the first time in a while, we could rest easy knowing that we were in good hands -great hands to be sure!
The Raos live in an octoganal house designed by Mr. Rao himself. It is by far the most comfortable lodging we've encountered on our trip, and I daresay it may retain the title. We slept very well that night!
The next day, we took your basic tourists' look at Hyderabad. Its a high-tech center of India, and much more cosmopolitan than any other place we've seen thusfar. Many help centers and on-line services are coming to Hyderabad -and in fact Ann's recent laptop switch over was handled by a help desk stationed in Hyderabad. (No wonder she was able to get help up to midnight on the eve of Thanksgiving.) It did strike me, however, that high-tech is colliding with the low-tech of India like a freight train. We saw high speed fiber optic internet lines being put into trenches dug completely by man power -pick ax and shovel with the dirt being hauled away on the heads of saree adorned women. (It still amazes me that they will wear the most colorful of sarees to do manual labor.) I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is striking none-the-less. The basic tour was otherwise complete with a statue of Buddha, the Charminar, a statue of Gandhi, and a number of other buildings I can't remember but have great architechural designs. The Charminar was particularly unique. Its a muslim building in the center of the old city with four turrets raising way into the air. We climbed up one of the turrets for some great overhead views of the city.
I'm sure the coming days with the Raos will hold much excitement for us as its a real opportunity to get off the well beaten tourist circuit and spend time with an Indian family. I'm much looking forward to it.