Smart Auto

The Telangana government has definitely been proactive,

At the Hyderabad Litfest there was the electric auto’s on display. With two owners giving passengers a tour round the literary festival zone.

The auto’s felt good, amazing colours that it came in and some how it did not look like the harassed communters rescue operation, but it felt like a luxury ride, smooth and clean.

Aslam Haidiri one of the drivers who is one auto driver who opted to volunteer to use this for 6mnths and give a feed back to the government. Impressive exercise in itself.

The noise level was extremely low.

Passenger leg space in the current scenario is extremely good.

At the drivers space it is good, too, it does have the option of self start but the drivers are advised against it.  the engine needs intial 24hrs after which the charge has to be maintained, at least that is what Mr.Haidiri explained to me, according to him it works to about 70paise for a km, which seems a very good deal.

auto rani (3)

There are also built in billing system, which gives a printed bill to the customer.  This comes with zero pollution.

As a driver Mr.Haidiri was commenting that it takes, few minutes for the bill to be generated and customers tend to be impatient.  After the trail ride I was however left with a few questions, where will the charging points be? I mean will we have public charging points like the mobile chargers have… again Mr. Haidiri says there is a move to have solar charges that will allow the auto to get charged as it is parked.

I only hope it won’t go the same way that the electric run two wheeler or the Rewa went.



The Magical Painters

Story telling has taken on many platforms and the scrolls are a great place.

From the middle east with the Arabs, came the “Kari” or the art of the “qalam” that is the pen, so qalamkari or “Kalamkari” found a new home in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.

Silk or cotton fabric is treated with Buffalo milk, then natural dyes are used to create and fill the images. The Srikalahasta school of Kalamkari is more of religious scrolls and every image is hand printed, while the Masulipattanam school uses block printing.

kalamkari 2
various dyes used in Kalamkari

The qalam or the pen used is made of bamboo or date palm sticks.

Art form came to India in 10 century CE, and was patronized by the Moghal and the kings of Golconda.

The fabric, the dyes are all natural.

The current Telangana government in a bid to preserve it, support the Kalamkari artists, it was wonderful to see youngsters, totally immersed in the learning this art at the Hyderabad literary festival. For them it was a connect with their roots it gave them a sense of belonging and pride.

The Shrikalahasta school was used create scrolls that visually narrated the various rendering from the folklore, while the Masulipattanam school caters more to the Islamic taste of its patron kings. The Karrapur style developed when the Marathas took it Thanjavur

kalamkari 1
various dyes used in kalamkari

These artists were Jadupatuas, or Duari Patuatas, the magical painters, the British carried it with them and it morphed to chintz and for the Dutch it was sitz and for the Portuguese it is “Pintado”

The Lords of the Road

picture courtsey internet
picture courtsey internet

The bus slowly stops, the door opens allowing the hot air inside, suddenly one becomes aware of how cool it was within the bus. it also allows a swarm of people who barricade the entrance these the  “auto drivers,”

These people are a tourists first exposure to the city. You can be assured that they will fleece.  One particular trip from Mehendipattanam to Himmayatnagar I had been fleeced off 150/Rs. so this time round I got off the bus and told the swamp of auto drivers that I had someone coming to pick me, after picking my luggage I walked a distance  where a lone auto driver was waiting. I asked him will you turn on the meter, he said yes,and guess what the fare was 97/-

At Bangalore from Malleshwaram to Infantry road the first day I was charged 115/- mind you this by the meter, next day I happened to mention to the auto guy that I would need a lift for the entire month and guess what he shuts  meter down and tells me 90/Rs is what you pay no matter who you pick up on the stand. Interestingly one day in between there was a new guy and he turns the meter on, and guess what the fare was 80/Rs.

Bangalore auto guys go where they want to go, and not where you would like to go, so until you find an auto that goes your direction you just keep walking. Oh! Yes if you ask to turn the meter he will drive away without answering you, if there is a cop around you might get a polite answer ”meter kettide amma” that is the meter is dysfunctional.

Call them Tuk-tuk or auto rickshaw, or just an auto, they rule road. the Hyderabad traffic police ran a media opinion on how to tackle this huge power that controls the road.. here were some suggestions that came up. Which the Hyderabad traffic cell is considering quite seriously

  • Auto bay’s at every bus-stop and railway station. It should be at distance that allows passengers to disembark.
  • Auto bay’s at theatre ‘s, malls etc. that are authorized to park at that particular bay. Unauthorized autos should not be permitted.
  • The RTO should apps that allow standardized charges; this can be coordinated with the passengers mobile.
  • One stop helpline for auto-users both the drivers and the passengers.
  • GPS based security systems.
  • Educate the rickshaw driver.
  • Authorized price hike, at periodic intervals, to be announced to the public.
image courtsey internet
image courtsey internet

The Bangalore RTO has appeals made to the auto drivers, and Sudeep the current popular star models for them. Bangalore has also made it compulsory for the details of the autodriver to me displayed on the back of the drivers seat so that it is visible to the passenger. One auto driver told me, “Whenever you get into an auto just photograph this on your mobile in case the auto driver overcharges or misbehaves you have his details to complain to the cops.”

Unless we stand for ourselves nothing we will be run over.

The Thirst Quenchers of Hyderabad

image courtesy Internet
image courtesy Internet

The thirst quenchers.. It is wonderful to see how rituals associated with an event alters with the need of the terrain, then there is further modification with call of time.  One of the simplest joys of life, “water” it does not resist, it flows, when we plunge our hand into it, all that we feel is its caress, not like a solid wall, it never stops you yet it goes exactly where it wants nothing can really stand against it. water is patient, dripping water wears away a stone. If you can’t go through an obstacle, we go round it just like the water does. everyday hyderabad (3)Some summer the raging heat kind of  dehydrates specially in Hyderabad, where the land is arid, and Ugadi is like that marker that we set, the tradition among the Hyderabad’s immaterial of where they have come from originally is to buy the earthen pots, that we call “hooji” in kannada. It is washed dried and the respite of summer is there. since Ugadi  any house that I visit gives me water that has the flavour of earth in it. Yesterday I discovered another aspect, travelling from narayanaguda towards secundrabad, I requested the auto driver to stop for water, he said, very politely, “amma why do you want to buy water, seva water is available.” He then went to explain to me that all over Hyderabad after ugadi stalls are put up as service to humanity where cold water is dispensed for free. This service is available through The sathyasaibaba seva samithi does this particular service and they have shade out the summer booths, with Purit water filter and water in the earthen pot, the drinkers have a choice, some points have water coolers.

The free drinking water service to the community.
The free drinking water service to the community.

The auto driver told me, that sometimes people take on, vows to put up these booths, there were people who have out curd or buttermilk these stalls would be seen on Fridays. Coming to think of it quenching some one’s thirst is to nourish the soul. All we have to do is pour it out, and the person receiving it, is relieved of the hurt in the throat, the dryness of the mouth.  Know something, may be treating a thirsty person, and a wronged person is the same. Don’t tell them they aren’t, just sit with them and have a drink.

Hussain Sagar Lake,

DSCN8116When we landed at Hyderabad, the central water body, with a central Buddha statue seemed so intriguing. I did want to explore it.
But work constrain did not. Finally on the day I was to leave Hyderabad, did I visit one bank of the lake.
The Lake Hussain Sagar is a manmade lake, built by Hazrat Hussain Shah Wali in 1562, when the then ruler Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah who ruled from Golconda figured that the capital needed to be expanded. As the official naming of the lake got delayed the lake designed and built by Hussain Shah Wali inherited his name by default.DSCN8111
The lake is fed by the Musi River, and falls under the common capital area shared between Telangana and Andhrapradesh. It is about 5.7 sq.kms in area and has a maximum depth of 32 feet.
In 1992 the statue of Gautama Buddha was erected in an island in the middle of the lake.
It is as if, the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad open around the lake. The circumference of the lake, houses the lumbini park, NTR gardens, Sanjeeviah gardens, Birla Mandir, the Patton tank, Prasad’s IMAX, the tomb of Saidani Maa saheba, the Secunderabad sailing club, Hyderabad Marriott’s,
The Hyderabad MMTS services the lake.
Yes, Hussain sagar, I still have the rain cheque on the date with you.

Charm of the Charminar


A bustling Friday,

My husband and i decided to visit charminar.

The approach to charminar had quaint old Hyderabad buildings with street vendors displaying their ware.DSC_0598

The products like the charminar very Hyderabadi. What stands out in the craftsmanship of the Deccan is the presence of intricate work that is where tidy, and sharp. Nothing is left to blend or just merge, the craft is clean, be it their embroidery, their brocade or their buildings.

Gazing through the structure which nestles right at the middle of the road, seems so opposed to the  vast gardens, and elaborate care taken by the archaeological department over the Mogul monuments.

outer arches at the minaret.
outer arches at the minaret.

Charminar was built the Mohamed Quli Qutub Shah the 5th ruler of the Qutub Shahi dynasty in the Hijri year 1000 (1591-92 AD)DSC_0620

The structure has a square base of 31.95 meters on each arm, and vazi or cistern in the centre. There are 4 minaret’s that are 11 mts high and each of 3 stories. These minars are bonded by arches on the outer facade and balconies on the inner aspect. There are 149 steps leading to the top on each minarets and 12 landing in all.

The western wing houses the mosque in the 2nd storey there are 45 open prayer spaces in all.

The arches form the main theme of the structure, a double arch facade for the roof, the decorative minor arches on the outer face the arched corridor the structure is a aesthetic feast.

cistern or vaze at the center of charminar
cistern or vaze at the center of charminar
the clocks.

Four clocks were added in 1889 on the four cardinal directions.

It is rather sad to see our callousness ravage an important piece of architecture.

Somehow the ambience was as though one was being transported in time to an late Raj India, more precisely to an independent Pakistan Karachi.

Athiti devo bhava?
Athiti devo bhava?


 In the Hyderabad local
In the Hyderabad local

“Toofan Mail, Ek Duniya hai Toofan Mail”

Is an earworm that resides in me since I can remember, and it conjures an image of a train huffing and puffing into a station.  People waving people off and people hugging them who get off.

view from the train
view from the train

Then is the local train, like it is the rhythm of the city and gives the freedom of being suspended between two places, all anxieties of purpose taken care of: for this moment everyone knows where they are going.

Though the bustling jostling Mumbai locals are bit scary with the sheer volume of human energy that it hosts. What thrills me about the trains is not their size or equipment but the fact that they are moving and they embody a connection between unseen places.


view from the train
view from the train

So travelling from Khachiguda to Linganapalli, was a great experience in itself.

On the railway platform is a restlessness and longing, like the longing that is in the whistle of that faraway train that I am awaiting, but the longing is not really in the whistle but in me.“

It began with wonderfully clean station. And people did NOT spit!! Amazing right?  A broad, working escalator, the exotic city of Hyderabad-Secunderabad, and landscape foyers of the railway station. The Andhra railway has really maintained it. It is called MMT I am ashamed to say I have not found what MMT is an abbreviation for.

view from the train
view from the train

In the train, people quite so considerate. Like this elderly lady next to me had blocked a seat for son, who did not turn up till two stations went by but other passengers indulged her. Then came a young woman with child and someone actually got up to give her a seat.

As clicked pictures, the lady next to me, the elderly Muslim lady asked me why I was clicking the pictures when I told her, she pointed some interesting points and then told me, “this time you note the things so on your way back you click the pictures.”

To be frank I could care less where I went, it was the journey in itself that was inspiring, meeting people, sharing a bit of their lives, like peeking into another world, another life. At every station a bit Hyderabad got in and said hello.

I think next time round I shall just take this train journey with a camera in tow.