This is an article I wrote a long long time ago, it was also published in the newspaper (thanks to a friend of mine).
Let's see how many people it brings to Hyderabad
When you find yourself in a large metropolis like Mumbai - the only thing to do is come back
Cities like Hyderabad on the other hand have countless delights. What follows is a list of things to do when you're in Hyderabad..
Without further ado...
1. Slow down - if you try to do things at a faster pace the only person who is affected (and not in a nice way) by your resulting frustration is YOU. The Hyderabadi will brush you off with a "lite leo yaaro" said very lovingly.
2. Learn the Deccani Urdu - After you move to the city, what you will realize is that the language spoken here is something that grows on you. Slowly, subtly and without conscious realization it will make you fall in love with it. If languages have colour then Deccani Urdu is a warm, vibrant yellow that warms up your heart
Which is not to say I love the real Urdu any less, its just that Deccani Urdu is so much more fun! It demonstrates the laziness that defines the true Hyderabadi like nothing else does. For eg. "khade rehne" becomes "khadne". The logic being why waste energy on an extra word - you never know when the next life giving nourishment (aka Hyderabadi biryani) will come to you, meanwhile wisdom lies in conserving strength.
3. Have Hyderabadi Biryani for lunch and dinner - if you're as a big a foodie as I am, I would suggest have it every day!! They don't make it quite the same in any other part of India - though there are pretenders galore throughout the length and breadth of the land who will feature it on their menu (on reading which the true blooded Hyderabadi will let loose a stream of curses - a Hyderabadi cursing when he/she really means it, is an experince - don't miss it!) In my experience there are only three places in the new city you should order biryani from (if you are wondering "what about the old city?" then you can order from anywhere coz this part of the city is teeming with biryani places) - either Paradise (a restaurant famous to a degree that an entire area is named after it) or Four Seasons (not the Canadian version) or Bawarchi (at RTC X Roads). While in paradise (pun intended) and savouring your biryani, take time out to admire the pictures of Hyderabad from the 1800s and early 1900s that they have.
4. Haleem!! - If you're here in the Ramazan season - don't miss the haleem. Different people have different takes on where it is served best. My advice would be to experiment! Oh.. and before you ask, there is no veg Haleem. If you want respect from the waiter coming around to take your order, do not dare ask for it coz you will get scoffed at... Oh ..and be ready with change coz the waiters won't let you take too much pain shelling out the tip,they will help themselves with whatever they feel is "appropriate"
5. Go for a drive around Hi Tech City - do this after midnight. The lights, the buildings, the rocks against a never-fully-dark night sky are a beautiful sight!! For the photographers out there - Hyderabad has hundreds of beautiful heritage rocks - go explore!
6. Visit the chuddiyon ki galli aka Laad Bazaar next to Charminar - whatever perception you have of the word "color", I guarantee it will change after one visit to this place. It is an entire street devoted to the sale of bangles - every kind and every color imaginable. Take a good camera.
7. Walk through Gun Rock - It is a an old fort in Secunderabad. It dominates the skyline and you can see it most clearly from Trimulgherry. Originally it housed huge cannons. Sadly the ever unimaginative Indian government has converted it to a water tank (yes .. water tank.. of all the things!!). It is largely free of human population and has a great view. The best time to visit is sunset.
8. After a wild night out, stop by Road No 10 Banjara Hills to have Shawarma - For God knows how many years, Gaffoor Bhai and his shawarmas have nourished the young Hyderabadi after a tiring night,and giving him a chance to say "nahin hota baap.. aabse raatou mei phirna choddetu..parsuich bawa gaaliyan diye daer hogayi to". Ask for a shawarma with extra mayo and no vegetables. Have a chai before leaving. Addressing Gaffoor bhai by name will ensure faster service.
9. Visit haunted places in the town - do this after psyching yourself up by watching one of those subtle horror movies (which never show you a ghost and don't have a beginning or ending - leaving you to imagine everything king size). The ideal time to start is after midnight. Some places are - Osmania University campus, a road in Bahadurpura which has evidently housed ghosts for God knows how long, Madannapet Mandi (I have first hand intelligence of this place being the local headquarters of ghosts
). Hyderabad has 500 years of history - some of it bloody - if there is such a thing as the supernatural - I'm sure it is in existence here.
10. Eat Famous Ice cream - It is in abids, don't let the shabbiness of the place put you off. They serve one of the most authentic tasting ice creams I've ever eaten. The ice cream even has bits of fruit.
11. Visit Karachi bakery - I say visit, because that in itself is a sensory treat. The smell and the sight. What you eat there is upto you. I would recommend Karachi biscuits.
12. Visit the old books shop in Abids - I've been there once and fell for it hook, line and sinker. It smells like old wood and paper. If there's a book you've always wanted to read - chances are you will find it there. The shopkeeper is better than the impersonal cashiers you will find at bigger bookshops. He offered to help me find all the books he had by one of the authors I mentioned I liked. The books are not organized. They are haphazardly placed in 4 rooms, a corridor and uncountable bookshelves. I believe a book you're meant to read will find its way to you. It is destiny. Visit this shop to see that destiny in action.
13. Visit a wedding mall -You won't find this concept anywhere except in Hyderabad. A wedding mall is a place you walk into with a lot of money and walk out of with no money but a lot of clothes and jewelry designed around the theme "wedding". Whether you are the bride, the groom, the groom's mother's second cousin's neighbour's best friend's brother - there is something for everyone. To add to the experience, buy something. The innovative ways in which the sales guys will persuade you to make a purchase are a treat (and a learning experience if you're in marketing).
14. Get yourself invited to a dawat - experience what nawabi hospitality truly is about.
15. Visit Taramati Baradari - better still visit it when a music concert is on. Feel yourself swept away by architecture, history, music and an undefinable something (in my opinion its the soul of the city - and your experience of it)
16. Travel by MMTS - it is an experience you will enjoy
17. Watch a Salman Khan movie on the first day of its release at any theater frequented by true Hyderabadis i.e the old city people (best place would be Ramakrishna at abids) - it will give you an insight into why his movies break box office records.
18. Take a boat ride to the Buddha Statue - buy some street food to munch.
19.Visit Necklace road - At all times of the day.Here you will find human specimens of all sorts
.Some which you could've never imagined of.And sometimes, the events and exhibitions at People's Plaza are worth going to.
20.Go to the Nizam's Museum at Purani Haveli (and call me if you want to take your camera in for free
) - As my personal opinion, this place is the most under rated place in the city. If you are really interested in finding more about the original Hyderabad (during the Nizam era), then this is the place to be. From thrones made of gold to poison detecting china to the wardrobe..every single thing had me in awe of the great man who once ruled Hyderabad.For a moment,in fact for many moments..lol.. I found it much much better than Salarjung Museum. As a fringe benefit,you will most probably get a personal guided tour by the museum's curator (only if you ask for it.. Hyderabadi people will try every trick in the book to conserve energy;)) because sadly enough, this place is virtually empty most of the time.
21. Last but definitely not the least - make friends with Hyderabadis - we are the warmest, friendliest, most random, loyal, lovable, un-complicated and humble people you will ever have the honor of meeting! Once you have the status of a friend - there is little we will not do for you
As an added bonus.. what NOT to do in Hyderabad
1. Don't fight with the cops. It is not worth the trouble. Chances are you are right and he is wrong but who said anything about this being a fair world?! Let the local handle it. A packet of biryani costs Rs 50, chances are the cop is just hungry.
2. Don't arrive at 5 pm for a meeting scheduled at 5 pm. What you ought to do is call the person you're meeting at 5 pm. This is when they will start to ponder upon the necessity of the meeting. If you really want to meet - convince them and ask them to call you when they reach the pre-ordained place of meeting (oh yes.. lie that you're already there.. do you want the meeting or not?!). When you receive the aforementioned call, it means the Hyderabadi has truly decided the meeting is worth his time and effort, will begin to dress shortly and then leave. Approximately an hour and a half after you receive this call is when you should arrive. If it sounds complicated, practice. Eventually it will become second nature to you.
3. Don't ask for directions - if you do, pretty soon you will observe that 1. they are wrong, and 2. a pattern is beginning to emerge. All directions you receive are quite simply - "idar ich hai - seeda chale jao".
This has all my love for Hyderabad and the Hyderabadis...when are you coming?