Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day Seven in Hyderabad

We all had such a wonderful time at the Menhndi party -- getting back and into bed after midnight. We were all dragging this morning -- jet lag, running around too much -- whatever the cause, we were dragging. We all met downstairs for breakfast at 9 am and enjoyed the warm and attentive hospitality of the Taj Banjara. In some ways this hotel is a bit run down and could you a little freshening up - but in terms of attentiveness of the staff, it's superb! At breakfast from the 2nd day we were here we were greeted by name, and the staff knew just what kind of coffees we drink (they serve expresso/cappuccino, etc. here) --and would ask us if we wanted that drink that day. I had my usual sambar with idli, but I may be switching to a masala dosa for breakfast tomorrow. We'll have to see!

Max called Devika this morning to find out she was a bit under the weather. Rest for her today, for sure!

We had planned on going to Char Minar today and shopping -- but it is raining steadily and pretty so hard. So, we rested after breakfast to see what the rain would do. At about 1:00 we hired a car to be with us for 4 hours to take us to driving to see the local sights -- if it stopped raining, we would get out and walk around at different places. If it didn't stop raining, we'd just stay in the car. We also knew we had to be at Neha's Boutique to pick up my sari blouse and sari for the wedding as well as Boo's kurta she purchased there that needed some alteration. Okay, we had a plan!

As we left the Taj Banjara, we had to make a U turn to go towards Char Minar. As we did so, Max reminded us that we would be passing by the one business that Steve has been talking about going to ever since we came to Hyderabad -- the Karachi Bakery! Every time we passed it on foot, it was closed. But as we approached, we could see that it was open. Thank goodness for that U turn! I stayed outside and enjoyed watching people and the movement of the cars -- I'm not a big sweet fan -- but the rest of the group headed in to the bakery. Everyone came out with boxes of nuts, cookies and/or sweets! We knew we'd have snacks handy if we needed them in the afternoon. Not that we really needed them -- Max has made sure every step of this journey that no matter where we were there was sufficient water and snacks for us -- he has been the most amazing host. Here is a picture of the entrance to the bakery.

We got into the car and took the long way to Char Minar. As it was very crowded on the streets as we got close to Char Minar, our clever driver drove us around side streets to avoid traffic -- and this caused us to see sections of Char Minar we hadn't seen before -- we saw rows of butcher shops, repair shops, etc. Boo and Larry, this being their first experience of Char Minar, were fascinated. We were all happy to be seeing the sights from the comfort of the car! Boo's one request was that she wanted to see cows on the road and monkeys. We told her not to get her hopes up, but sure enough -- in Char Minar Jardine spotted and pointed out a monkey mother (we assume) with her baby clinging to her walking near a roof line. After that -- yes, as we were backing down an alley we saw the back end of two cows! Boo wishes it, and it happens! She will be going back to the United States happy.

We headed to Chowmahalla Palace, where the last Nizam's of Hyderabad lived. Larry stayed in the car, but the rest of us jumped out -- it had stopped raining. While the ground was a bit muddy, the lure of touring the palace was too great to miss! It is a large complex of four palaces -- in the main drawing room, the throne was made of marble, and there must have been at least 30 HUGE crystal chandeliers. Max told us that at the turn of the last century the Nazim of Hyderabad was the richest man in the world. Here we are getting ready to head into the main drawing room.

We walked around some more and saw more of the sights of the palace -- everything from the sari's worn by the women, the clothes for the children and their dolls, and the clothing for the Nazim were on display, along with amazing sword collection, carriages used to carry the family, and a antique car collection. Wow. It was great to see all this, and talk with Max about the history of the place. The decedents of the Nazim lived there until the 1960's I believe, and still live in Hyderabad. It is possible to rent the palace for private parties -- this just amazes me!

We headed back toward's the Taj Banjara as we had to pick up some things from Neha's Boutique. On the way, the sights in Char Minar were mind blowing -- the number of people, the number and diversity of vendors and what was being sold, the carts of goods vs. permanent buildings with shops -- it was overwhelming. Jardine and Boo wanted to look at shoes so we were back at the same shop where Max bought his wedding shoes -- even though he had argued with the man, the man was grateful Max came back, and gave us a good deal on the shoes we bought. Here's a picture of Allan trying on sandals -- which he bought, and Boo checking out the shoes.

We headed back to Neha's and picked up my blouse and sari and Boo's kurta. Neha's Boutique -- DONE!

We headed back to the Taj Banjara and waited to be picked up for dinner at Serene Domain, hosted by Aditiya's Father. The ladies sang songs -- they sang songs for the bride's side, and we were to respond. Unfortunately, as we didn't understand, it was a very one-sided song fest. Then Kalpana and her friends broke out in a song game which looked quite fun. We ate dinner at around 10:00 -- a dish that is cooked in a big pot buried in coals and clay -- one of Kalpana's relatives who is a caterer made it. That with rice made a lovely dinner. Kalpana also showed Boo and Jardine the saris that would be gifts to them, and each chose one.

Steve, Allan, Boo and I walked back to the Taj from Serene Domain just before midnight -- it was a lovely evening and there wasn't too much traffic.
I leave you with more pictures of the palace, Char Minar, and the gathering last night.

Location:Road No 1, Hyderabad, India

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