Hyderabad Blues

The only way I realize that I have already spent four months in Hyderabad is when I look at my bank statements. My fourth salary is due in the next three days. I still remember how apprehensive I was when I came here for the first time – new job, new place, and new people. But more than the fear of discovering something new I was afraid that probably I could never let go of my past – those days at the college, the atmosphere there, and friends! But somehow, as days passed, things have got pretty settled, and now I wonder if I was at any place other than Hyderabad ever!

Four months and counting and I still have curious relatives asking, “So is everything settled in the new city and all?” Usually I shrug off that question with a cold “Yeah” that translates as ‘find-yourself-a-better-conversation-starter’ not knowing what else to say.

The next question that usually follows is “What do you like the most about the city?” “Food, you bet” is usually what I say and then add “Well I do not know but it feels nice in here.” depending on whom I am talking to and how much honest I need to be. So there I was – as in all perfect love affairs – in love with the city and without an iota of reason to do so.

But yesterday as I was driving back from work at 12 in the night, looking forward to a great dinner and lots and lots of sleep after a long day’s work, I all of a sudden, found my reason. Now roads in Hyderabad are usually deserted at night and with no traffic police on the junctions anymore (Night is sleep time in Hyderabad, even for the people who have a night-duty! The automated traffic lights go to sleep intermittently, waking up in between for a couple of minutes and then dozing off again) you would easily find vehicles zooming past at break-neck speeds. And the situation only gets worse in Kothaguda junction. It is usually so crowded during the day, that at night when people find it empty they just cannot do away with the temptation to test the highest speed which their vehicle can withstand and that probably explains the speed at which vehicles change lanes or take U turns.

However, yesterday when I reached the junction, I noticed something strange, something different. The traffic police were not there (of course!), neither was the traffic-light working but still there was no ‘I-go-first’ rush. Vehicles stay put in their place as if controlled by a superior power that had forbidden them from moving. I slowed down my bike, shocked as what possibly could bring this junction to a stop at night. And then I heard it. Somewhere behind me, I could hear the blaring of the siren of an ambulance that was making a dash for the hospital. All the vehicles stood in their place till the ambulance took a left turn and left. Things got restored to normalcy immediately afterwards. Needless to say, mayhem followed.

But for that one uncharacteristic moment – when the junction should still, when vehicles lined one after another silently without the usual fight to race ahead, when the ambulance screeched ahead with someone who needed immediate help in it and not had to find its way through – I saw the spirit of Hyderabad. And guess what? I found my reason. Damn! I love this city!

I believe every city has something that strikes you the most about it. You kind of subconsciously make your own interpretation of the city that you have stayed in. For me, it is the ‘sophistication-is-natural’ attitude of Delhi, the ‘romance-in-the-air’ attitude of Kolkata, the ‘busy-but-will-still-listen-to-you’ attitude of Mumbai, the ‘firmly-believe-in-my-traditions’ attitude of Chennai and the ‘I-set-my-own-rules’ attitude of Bangalore. If I were to say something on the similar lines for Hyderabad it would probably be the: ‘am-neither-sweet-nor-sour, I-am-tangy’ attitude. Ordinary people, ordinary situations, extraordinary response! You see them every day and you see nothing new in them till one fine day they do something so beautiful that you are left looking for words to express yourself!

A lot of things have happened since I have been In Hyderabad. Some of them had happened before, some happened for the first time. But this incident, this particular incident will remain long in my memory – as probably the most beautiful memory that I will cherish from the city!

Shreetam Subhrankar

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sukanto_debnath/747757981/]