Finding a Tree is becoming more and more difficult in Hyderabad. It is slowly transforming into a huge concrete jungle. There is construction going on everywhere. It’s either the metro rail, a flyover or the hundreds of multi-storeyed apartments. As a result, there is always a traffic jam.
Many of the main roads are abruptly closed and the traffic is diverted via unpaved roads, through narrow lanes inside some ubiquitous colonies. Worse still, there is two-way traffic. Just when the cab is negotiating a blind turn, a big water tanker is blocking the way in the front coming from the opposite direction. But a mere tanker is not something which would faze a Hyderabadi. With the usual nonchalance, Sai, the driver, gets out of the car and requests the cars behind him to go a little back. There is a BMW behind us. The driver is wary of ramming his precious vehicle into the car behind him. So he drives straight instead into a small space. I feel sorry for the owner but he doesn’t need my sympathy. He too is a blue blooded Hyderabadi. He only once looked up enquiringly and then went back to reading his newspaper. Either he trusts his driver’s instincts or he believes in karma. But his Karma so far is good. There is no dent yet.
The traffic is soon cleared without much fuss. I ask Sai if he was not annoyed to see the water tanker blocking him suddenly. Sai explains that these water tankers are important. There is a shortage of water because of the summer. He himself lives in an area where there is no proper road and sees everyday how bravely the tankers drive to deliver water. “ They deserve respect.” My thought went to the BMW owner. Perhaps he too is indebted to a water tanker for making his life easier.
But soon we find ourselves on the main road. When I ask the driver if these frequent hold ups don’t bother him, he sagely explains that if they want to beat Bengaluru as the software capital, they must have good infrastructure. The software virus has not left anyone untouched.
It’s boom has catalyzed the dreams of the middle class. They consider it as their passport to affluence. So much that if you ask a school boy his mother tongue, he may blurt Java( Now that may be an exaggeration, but you get the point).
Passion for software may have it’s genesis in their necessity. But movies rule their heart. I have not seen such movie crazy people anywhere. From a millionaire to the road side vendor, everyone loves to watch movies. The television screen is too small for them. They love to see the drama on CinemaScope in theatres.
Everyone harbours a dream of either making a movie, choreographing it or acting in it. I even met one youngster who wants to pen lyrics. I never thought that writing could trigger a youngster’s interest.
The Irani cafes are as much part of the milieu as the Mirchi Bhajji Kiosks which suddenly spring to life in the evenings. Sai offers to stop at one of them for a tea. However it isn’t my cuppa. I prefer a strong filter coffee.
Not everything is bad in this horrible weather. Suddenly it is raining Mangoes. I have never been a big fan of this so called King of fruits. But the dozens of juicy varieties are tempting. We stop at the highway. My friend is an expert negotiator. Besides he is a self-confessed lover. He doesn’t believe in buying small. We select a large basket. It is a highway and the mangoes are straight from the garden behind, we are told. The negotiations are short and swift. The large basket is carried to the boot of the car.
My friend picks up two large ones and offers me one. I hesitate, afraid that it would spoil my shirt. But rejecting would be rude. As I suck the mango, I realise that the skin is paper thin unlike the thick one in North. The juice is sweet and heavenly like ambrosia. I close my eyes and enjoy, the shirt be damned.
In two days flat, I have become a convert. Now I swear by mangoes.
Hyderabad, each time I come a part of me changes. This time is no different. It is part of your mystique. It is never through any pressure.
Perhaps it is this charm that keeps me wanting to come again and again.