Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Got to Wear my Kurta

Big thanks to Shashi, Vijay and Satya for taking me out shopping while I was in Hyderabad!  They were nice enough to gift me the red/orange kurta that you see below:

Subhadeep, Roopali, me, Prajakta, Ria

As a team, we decided to dress up for Diwali, wearing our Indian dress.  So, I got the chance to wear my kurta.  I love all the colours in this photo.

Ramoji Film City

Michael (my boss) and I were lucky enough to be able to stay through the day Saturday for some team time/exploring.  With Hyderabad being under so much water, especially in the old part of the city we decided to head out of town and away from the water.  Originally, the idea would have been to visit attractions like the Charminar, something I never got to see the last time I was in Hyderabad either.

The decision was to head out of town to the Ramoji Film City.  Interesting place.  Ramoji is the largest (geographically) integrated film studio/location in the world.  From a tourist perspective, one could look at it as a scaled down version of Universal Studios.  There's lots to see at Ramoji, from tours of the various sets and studio buildings, to amusement attractions, to live shows, to food.

We had a great bus tour of the grounds:

(Vikas, Michael, Surekha and Sashi)

That was followed up by some tours of various studios (for example an airplane set):

What follows here is a spontaneous encounter we had with a family from the Tamil area of India.  Note that the girl here doesn't speak any language that Surekha speaks.  She basically looked up at Surekha and wanted to be picked up.  So, Surekha picked her up and spoke with her a bit.  It was a really cute moment:


Here are some shots from the aviary and butterfly area:



Friday, September 23, 2016

Random Things

Here are a few random sort of things you will see in and around Hyderabad.

1.Cows and Buffalo on the streets.  Cows get free reign wrt road usage here, as shown in the photos below, where buffalo are on a self-guided trip to a different part of town:

2. Line-ups for jobs.  Probably not since the 1950s has this sort of thing been normal in North America.  In this case (sorry my photo doesn't capture it well, the line goes back 100 feet), this group of people are lined up to interview for customer service jobs with Amazon.  These are your future help center operators for when your Amazon order doesn't arrive correctly.

3. Stray dogs.  It's hard to witness at times, as some of these dogs limp around with injured legs and the like, but the bottom line is that these dogs live on the streets.  For those of us who are used to seeing all different breeds of dogs, you don't see that here.  All of these dogs look alike - one variety of street dog here.  When it's time for a nap, this guy obviously likes to enjoy the warmth of the sidewalk on a sunny day.

Street Paan

I've had a few chances to enjoy paan this week.  It's something I'll definitely be on the lookout for once I return to San Diego.

Friday we went out to an awesome team lunch at a place that's styled as a north Indian truck stop.  Lot's of little street food-like carts where you can get things like pani puri, fried potato patties, things like that.  It was a great wrap up to our week, where we could all have some fun as a larger team.  I'll get the photo of the entire team and post it later.

Outside the restaurant, they've got a guy making street paan.  It was fun to watch this guy in action.  Lots of fun with our team enjoying an after lunch finisher:

(Vijay, Rajesh, Ram, Lakshmi, Shashi, Sulemon, me, Vijay, Sanjay, Anu, Sowjanya)

 Here's paan making in action:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wednesday Dinner - Simply South

Wednesday night dinner was a great choice by our hosts, Simply South.

The restaurant serves dishes from the distinct cultures of southern India.  We had a great meal and great conversation over some fantastic mutton, chicken, and fish curry as well as some great appetizers.  Things were spicy, but just below the level of being uncomfortable.

Makes you feel very blessed when you get to enjoy a great meal with great people!

(Sulemon, Vijay, Michael, me, Shashi, and Satya)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jagannath Temple

Wednesday evening Shashi, Vijay and Satya again hit the town, this time with my boss Michael in tow.

First stop was the Jagannath Temple, quite obviously dedicated to Jagannath, who is a form of Vishnu.  You can read a lot more here on wikipedia.

This a very beautiful temple.  When you get close and see that every part of the exterior is hand carved, it's very impressive.  Stepping in to the grounds of the temple, you're very much struck with how peaceful and contemplative it is.  People praying at the different shrines to gods like Lakshmi or Ganesh.  That peace was soon broken however by followers who were in the main altar banging symbols and such.  The symbol playing happened in a very rhythmic, organized manner and very loudly.  To the point that as you walked up the stairs to the altar (inside the shorter of the structures connected by the kites above), it was too loud, at least for me, to get too close.  The intent of the playing, being to wake the gods for prayer.

Once the prayers had completed at the altar, we were able to enter and take a blessing.  Certainly a very enlightening stop on our journey, one that I wish I had some better historical and theological perspective on.


I was lucky enough to try some paan at lunch today.  My understanding of this is that it's basically a Betel leaf wrapped around some sugar soaked rose petals.  This one at least was very flavorful, to the point that I'm glad that I didn't put the whole thing in my mouth like is the accepted style.  I got a flavor explosion of floral rose when I chomped down on it.  Took 3 bites for me.

The wikipedia definition of south Indian style paan seems to be pretty accurate to what we had.