October Hyderabad Digest

October 18th, 2007

I know you’ve all been awaiting an update from Hyderabad, so here’s the latest on what’s going on in the Land of the Nizam.

Things are great here.  I’m 3 months in to our 6 month experiment to live in Hyderabad, India.  The rains have ended and we’re back to super heat by 9:30 AM.  They say things will get pretty cold around November-December, but I don’t see anyone buying wool coat or a scarf…

We just returned from a 4-day trip to Ponnur, where most of Akbar’s family live.  The last

nanni-nanna.jpg

 time I was there was during our wedding, when I was hot, dehydrated, and wearing a 70 pound bridal sari - I kind of hated it.  This time was much different.  It was amazing.  I loved hanging out with Akbar’s cousins and aunts and uncles.  By far my favorite person was Akbar’s grandmother, whom we all call Nanni.  She came into the house telling a story of how she had just received news that a woman who had cheated her out of 9000 rupees was now blind in both eyes- another testament to the glory of Allah.  Gotta love the pious in India.

 We were there for the ceremony of my sister-in-law’s sons’ first hair cut.  He’s 9 months me-and-bannu.jpgold, and has a head of nice long hair.  We love to try out different hairstyles using my mini-claw clips.  The first hair cut is a 100%

  balding of the baby, done in a way guaranteed to freak out any kid.

 

 

 

Our two families descended on Bapatla beach, only to find thousands of drunk young

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guys running around in their underwear.  Not swimming shorts, but straight up underwear - the tight skimpy kind that leave nothing to the imagination.  People here don’t waste money on extra clothes for special once-in-a-while things.   While the guys were in-sand.jpgrunning about just shy of naked, the women were all fully clothed from head to foot in multiple layers and plenty of fancy gold jewelry.  So first we (meaning everyone but me) made a stove by lighting a fire, surrounding it with bricks, and placing a pot on top.  In this we (again, using this inclusive word loosely) made kheer - a sweet made only on stove.jpgsuper-special occasions.  Then someone made two boats using a wireboat.jpg frame, in which they suspended a coconut, a lit wax candle and some other fruit.  They let these go in the water, for prosperity I suppose.  Of course they both sank to the bottom immediately.  Then the hair cutting - during which the poor kid was so freaked out he screamed his lungs out.  Finally the hair was let go in the water as well.  So if you’re ever swimming in Bapatla beach (which connects to the Bay of Bengal- fyi), and get a mouth-full of hair, please think of me.

 

 

Ponnur is a small town and a village.  As you move away from the center it is filled with

 

shrimp.jpg

 

fields, farms, and rice paddies.  Many people farm shrimp and fish

 

here.  We traveled to a

 

remote shrimp farm to buy 6 KGs of huge, fresh shrimp (which is a LOT) for 300 rupees ($7.50). The drive there was just beautiful.  Full of open fields in this

 

bright green color.  Oxen carts and bicycles replaced tractors and cars.  The sound of birds instead of traffic and pollution.  It was a great break from the big city.  The pace of life is much slower here, but people who work these fields work long and hard.  You won’t find a single fat person.  They’re all strong, thin and wiry.  Interesting contrast to the US.

Okay I have to share one story.  The people who live downstairs from us are Lambaddis.  It’s a family and the mother-in-law, who looks like a witch to me.  These are the tribal people of this region (kind of like the Native Americans).  Due to lack of income and opportunities, most Lambaddis are uneducated and receive many subsidies and grants from the government – a half-hearted effort to bring up this group.  That part is just an interesting aside – it has nothing to do with my story.  Here’s the story.  Lambaddis are known for maize rotis, as opposed to the wheat chapattis that we usually eat.  My sister-in-law, who is the social butterfly of our apartment complex, told the mother in law she wanted to eat a Maize roti once.  So one day the older lady approached her and said “Where have you been?  I’ve been looking for you!  I snuck you a roti, but I couldn’t find you.  I’ve been hiding it here in my armpit and roaming the apartment looking for you!”  Then she proceeded to remove a folded up maize roti from her armpit and hand it to my sister-in-law.  True story.  You can’t make this stuff up.  I don’t think she ate it.

Special Note: This post is dedicated to my father, who appreciates a funny story that he is not the subject of a funny story.

    About This Blog
    This Blog is a collection of my thoughts about culture - my background and culture, growing up between multiple worlds, organizational culture - how we can shift the "feel" of organizations by the choices we make, and cultural competency- understanding eachother better to make better decisions and form meaningful community.

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