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City Life with a Hint of Familiarity by Jasmin Valladares

August 30, 2015

Jasmin 6

In The Untold Charminar, there is a story titled, “All Our Day After Tomorrow” written by Meenakshi Mukherjee.   The story gives some insight to Hyderabad that once was, but also mentions how the city has changed.  She captures what I saw Hyderabad as a city that is growing, but still has managed to maintain parts of the Hyderabad that once was.  She states

“…We show them not only Charminar, Golconda, and the Salar Jung Museum, but also the futuristic architecture of the cyber city and the world –class residential complexes being built for the IT professionals in and around….We show off how the city is in step with the globalized world.  Yet once in a while I am relieved to find that beneath the glittering surface some of the earlier grace of an unglobalized ordinary life persists in the city.” (p.193)

If you walk down Road 12 you will see the two different cities that Mukherjee mentions.  You can find a small shack that is cramped with stationary supplies, you will find a neighborhood restaurant, a neighborhood liquor store, and yet down the street you will find the beginning of big chain restaurants and stores.  You will find auto rickshaw drivers stopping at the curb side to see if you need a ride.  They will try to overprice the ride because you are a foreigner, but also will negotiate.  Many of the rickshaw drivers you do come across are similar to the rickshaw drivers that Mukherjee described.  They are friendly and willing to start a conversation with you.  I recall a day we went to a Pearl store and our big group broke off into groups of 3/4 to ride the rickshaw to said Pearl store.  Our rickshaw driver negotiated on a set price and once we got in asked what country we came from, followed by a few questions of life in the country.  He stopped at a Pearl store that we found 3 of our group members.  The rickshaw driver stalled once he dropped us off.  I think he saw the look of confusion our group members had.  The other 3 members had stated they were not sure if that was the correct location.  Our rickshaw driver asked the name of the store we sought and asked another person that was standing in front of the next store.  The man had told our driver the store was up ahead about a block or two.  The drive told us to get in. And yes all 7 of us loaded up on his rickshaw to be taken to the store.  When we asked how much he said nothing.  Some of us were flattered with his kindness that we still decided to give him a “tip” for his generosity to give the 7 of us a ride.

The streets in Hyderabad are busy and congested with traffic.  Many people seem on a mission to get from one place to another, but the one thing that is noticeable is the friendliness of the people in the city.  The majority of people are willing to give you directions or at least help direct you in a certain direction.  In other big cities it is hard to find a friendly face that will give you directions when asked.  I then also thought about the main character in the White Tiger who was a rickshaw driver, but he had his own story to tell that you may’ve not known if you had not heard his account of the story.  On our ride to the school we had a rickshaw that showed up every morning to drop us off and pick us up.  Granted the price we negotiated was more that what it would have been if the meter on the rickshaw had been turned on, but if you think about it were else would you get picked up and dropped off at location sites for a minimal price.  The driver was friendly and informative.  He told us that he had a wife, 3 adult children, one whom was married, and two grandchildren.  He also told me that he had been driving for 17years.  His English was limited, but he attempted to still hold conversations with us.  I had asked his permission to ask a few questions so I can write about it in my blog and he agreed.  However the limited English and my limited Telegu language kept me from actually conducting a full interview.

I don’t know much about his life, but I do know that he was friendly and knew his way around the city.  He gave us information about the garbage strike, bits of information of Ramadan rituals, and a little insight to his life.  I know that the price of the ride was slightly inflated, but if you think about it through the rickshaw drivers’ eyes, it was a few days to make a little extra. At the end of our last week, I made sure to give him a tip and thank him for being punctual to take us to our school site.

Most rickshaw drivers were friendly, granted you may come across some who tell you yes when you agree to a price, but then aren’t familiar with the area you are going to, and try to increase the amount, but overall most will be friendly.   If you walked down the streets of Hyderabad you will find small mom and pop stores where locals are clustered talking to each other or sharing food.  However, you will also find the mall or larger food chains that display times of an emerging city.

Hyderabad can be said to have the best of both worlds.  You will find some big stores and signs of a city that is growing and expanding, but at the same time still hold some of the treasured sites and local traditions.  I would suggest that if you want to get some insight into the city and see both types of living to hop into an auto rickshaw or simply walk around.  The rickshaws are scary at first, but I must say that after a few rides you get accustomed to the honking, lack of lane usage, and the fitting into tight spaces.  Experiencing the view from the rickshaw gives you a chance to take in the scenery, but at the same time experience the ride in the traffic.  The other option is to walk.  You do have to be alert when you walk the streets because it is very busy.  Crossing the street can be scary, but possible if you get prepared to move with urgency at the first chance you get.  It was on a walk home that I was enjoying the view of the store fronts, trying not to get hit by a car or rickshaw that I looked down and noticed that at the curbside I had almost stepped on a squatter that was sleeping on the edge of the curb.  I think about that walk to the hotel that allowed me to get a sense of what Mukherjee talked about in her story.

In The Untold Charminar, there is a story titled, “All Our Day After Tomorrow” written by Meenakshi Mukherjee.   The story gives some insight to Hyderabad that once was, but also mentions how the city has changed.  She captures what I saw Hyderabad as a city that is growing, but still has managed to maintain parts of the Hyderabad that once was.  She states

“…We show them not only Charminar, Golconda, and the Salar Jung Museum, but also the futuristic architecture of the cyber city and the world –class residential complexes being built for the IT professionals in and around….We show off how the city is in step with the globalized world.  Yet once in a while I am relieved to find that beneath the glittering surface some of the earlier grace of an unglobalized ordinary life persists in the city.” (p.193)

If you walk down Road 12 you will see the two different cities that Mukherjee mentions.  You can find a small shack that is cramped with stationary supplies, you will find a neighborhood restaurant, a neighborhood liquor store, and yet down the street you will find the beginning of big chain restaurants and stores.  You will find auto rickshaw drivers stopping at the curb side to see if you need a ride.  They will try to overprice the ride because you are a foreigner, but also will negotiate.  Many of the rickshaw drivers you do come across are similar to the rickshaw drivers that Mukherjee described.  They are friendly and willing to start a conversation with you.  I recall a day we went to a Pearl store and our big group broke off into groups of 3/4 to ride the rickshaw to said Pearl store.  Our rickshaw driver negotiated on a set price and once we got in asked what country we came from, followed by a few questions of life in the country.  He stopped at a Pearl store that we found 3 of our group members.  The rickshaw driver stalled once he dropped us off.  I think he saw the look of confusion our group members had.  The other 3 members had stated they were not sure if that was the correct location.  Our rickshaw driver asked the name of the store we sought and asked another person that was standing in front of the next store.  The man had told our driver the store was up ahead about a block or two.  The drive told us to get in. And yes all 7 of us loaded up on his rickshaw to be taken to the store.  When we asked how much he said nothing.  Some of us were flattered with his kindness that we still decided to give him a “tip” for his generosity to give the 7 of us a ride.

The streets in Hyderabad are busy and congested with traffic.  Many people seem on a mission to get from one place to another, but the one thing that is noticeable is the friendliness of the people in the city.  The majority of people are willing to give you directions or at least help direct you in a certain direction.  In other big cities it is hard to find a friendly face that will give you directions when asked.  I then also thought about the main character in the White Tiger who was a rickshaw driver, but he had his own story to tell that you may’ve not known if you had not heard his account of the story.  On our ride to the school we had a rickshaw that showed up every morning to drop us off and pick us up.  Granted the price we negotiated was more that what it would have been if the meter on the rickshaw had been turned on, but if you think about it were else would you get picked up and dropped off at location sites for a minimal price.  The driver was friendly and informative.  He told us that he had a wife, 3 adult children, one whom was married, and two grandchildren.  He also told me that he had been driving for 17years.  His English was limited, but he attempted to still hold conversations with us.  I had asked his permission to ask a few questions so I can write about it in my blog and he agreed.  However the limited English and my limited Telegu language kept me from actually conducting a full interview.

I don’t know much about his life, but I do know that he was friendly and knew his way around the city.  He gave us information about the garbage strike, bits of information of Ramadan rituals, and a little insight to his life.  I know that the price of the ride was slightly inflated, but if you think about it through the rickshaw drivers’ eyes, it was a few days to make a little extra. At the end of our last week, I made sure to give him a tip and thank him for being punctual to take us to our school site.

Most rickshaw drivers were friendly, granted you may come across some who tell you yes when you agree to a price, but then aren’t familiar with the area you are going to, and try to increase the amount, but overall most will be friendly.   If you walked down the streets of Hyderabad you will find small mom and pop stores where locals are clustered talking to each other or sharing food.  However, you will also find the mall or larger food chains that display times of an emerging city.

Hyderabad can be said to have the best of both worlds.  You will find some big stores and signs of a city that is growing and expanding, but at the same time still hold some of the treasured sites and local traditions.  I would suggest that if you want to get some insight into the city and see both types of living to hop into an auto rickshaw or simply walk around.  The rickshaws are scary at first, but I must say that after a few rides you get accustomed to the honking, lack of lane usage, and the fitting into tight spaces.  Experiencing the view from the rickshaw gives you a chance to take in the scenery, but at the same time experience the ride in the traffic.  The other option is to walk.  You do have to be alert when you walk the streets because it is very busy.  Crossing the street can be scary, but possible if you get prepared to move with urgency at the first chance you get.  It was on a walk home that I was enjoying the view of the store fronts, trying not to get hit by a car or rickshaw that I looked down and noticed that at the curbside I had almost stepped on a squatter that was sleeping on the edge of the curb.  I think about that walk to the hotel that allowed me to get a sense of what Mukherjee talked about in her story.

Jasmin 5

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