There was no irregular ornate reason for a hiatus from regular work. It was plain as useful, the life of a degree-holder, a call for test at IIT Hyderabad.
How a three-letter acronym can cause a flummoxed discernment about persona and attitude was depicted here.
Coming back to more recent visit I see that those were the exact reasons for the trip. There could be no other reason, except the three letters. The mystic magnetism of the letters are inexplicable, beyond materialistic achievement. I had applied to CCRAN project place because of a colleague, for whom the institute is nearby. This was a dream for him, OK a demi-semi dream. As you may expect the journey was not without the thrills of any other Indian travel.
I had read the interview/test call very late, this had come via email. The complete application was through email. Then I had with me two wait listed tickets, forward and return, both of which got confirmed before chart preparation. Waking up in the morning was no big deal. It was only then I realised, that India is united in a culture, a common culture, of procrastination and delay. The train suppossed to reach Secunderabad in the wee hours in the morning was 40 minutes late. Some people crawled back to their berths. Some mused over the consequences of the situation, more complacent listened to music, had coffee, tea and chatted.
At Secunderabad, the train went to Platform 1, a blessing for the regular travellers. Even though, first time in the place, I was assured about the lingua-franca of the place, Hindi. I could with some enquiry get the direction to Patancheru. The bus route no. 219 starts there just left after the HP petrol pump. From there I boarded the shattering bus. What I noticed is most buses had their headline as “RTC” to the right. What was “APSRTC” got reduced to “RTC”. Some new small buses had “TSRTC” as their heading. There were some APSTC also plying. On the way I could see JNTU Kukatpally, MSME tool room and some shops and places. The air was dusty but cool. Road was not great but usable. Patancheru was INR 17 from Secunderabad. I got down there.
From here, I took a bus route No. 502 via Shankarpally. This was a nice trip, it went through some villages and farmlands, Industrial units and Ordnance Defence Factory. The road was wide enough for a single bus. The ride was rattling and very uneven. There were some smallf factories here and there. In between some houses poked their faced from out of nowhere, the road continued. A lot of school students boarded the bus at on village (Pasamailaram) they all got down at ODF. Further, the bus moved to an unassuming junction with a small building. There were a few yellow school buses, only the buses read IIT Hyderabad. The building was the temporary campus on IIT-H.
After getting down, I followed some guys who, apparently, were hungry. They were in search of canteen, found answer from security and boarded one of those yellow buses, just about to reverse and start off towards hostel, later I learned. The next stop at a complex, there was food corner, with Rs 20 for 3 Idlis. We got the bus back to IITH, and then there was the wait. Signing at the gate, waiting in a room, drinking water, visiting restroom, getting sleep, chatting and chatting.
Then there was exam for CS and EC- Communication stream question papers were ready. For EC- microelectronics and VLSI track the question papers came later. Again wait. Exam started at noon ended after noon. Hungry, I visited the IIT H hostel, of course on recommendation from exam conductor, for lunch. There was only a snacks and tea shop in the temporary site. The yellow bus took me to hostel for lunch. It was not a typical IIT hostel mess. My experience at IIT B and IIT M were grossly more satisfying and sumptuous food. Compared to those, this was just the normal dal, chawal ( rice), roti, dry fried oily vegetable, pappad, pickle and curd. This cost INR 45.
I went back to IITH roamed all the corridors, drank a lot of water, got to sit at the ground, steps and in the testing classroom for longtime, then the eventual sleep. By 1700 they announced result for microelectronics and VLSI stream, 5 got shortlisted. In Communication stream also same number but since their exam started early the result came early too. CS was MCQ based test which announced the shortlist of 3 candidates just after 1400 hours. Since I was out of the game and having no way to escape, and as planned, had to stay to get a proper train the next day. I stayed. Thanks to my friend who extended grand hospitality.
The day passed trying to figure out how to see most of hyderabad at least time. Must see places were Charminar and Mecca masjid, Chowmahallah Palace and Salar Jung museum. Chilkur Balaji came as a last-minute plan while Birla Mandir was very hopeful. I started very early morning. Got an auto-rickshaw to cover distance of tens of kilometer from Shankarpally to Langar house. Langar house was the first point were I could get a bus to Chilkuru Balaji temple. The autorickshaw which ran in shared basis had at max 6 people at one point. Through out I saw the land divided by road. On sides of the road men and women cycling and running, jogging and walking. A few waited for the auto and the elusive bus. Though I did see one bus coming opposite.
There is a better faster way to reach . The path being Shankarpally – > Yenikapally -> Chilkuru , all by auto. But there was no auto running in this route. A bus was sleeping at Chevella route from Shankarpally.
Way to Chilkuru Balaji Temple
From Langar house I crossed the road and immediately got 288D to Chilkuru Balaji Temple
It took 45 minutes from Langar house to Chilkuru Balaji Temple at INR 19 in JNNURM bus. The road was very good. At the last stop at Temple there was a small moving crowd. There were vendors and shops all trying to make business. Starting with coconut, flowers, shoe stand, curios and transgenders who begged.
Shoe stand at the corner had water taps to clean feet after depositing footwear at INR 3. Inside the temple there is a cloak room, to keep luggage and mobile at INR 5. Fill up the bill receipt and then pay deposit the belongings and then I entered. There was check by the police department. Inside the temple there is restroom facility at INR 3. There was a circumambulation by crowd, praying and chanting. Some were sitting. The crowd was smooth without hitting each other. The priest was extremely good telling people what to chant and the meaning of it. He spoke English too. The chants were in Telugu. After darshan there is thirtham and kalkandam(sweetmeat) given plus some telugu devotional literature, which I did not take. The temple is known for the Visa balaji who helps with visa troubles of the devotees. There was no facility to donate money there, no hundi (bhandaram). I had know such problems but a visit to the Visa god was good. I had breakfast after darshan. I waited for Mehdipatnam bus and got seat in it as soon as one started.
288D took me to Mehdipatnam. From the same stop I could get 65/66 series to charminar. There was 65M small bus direct to Charminar Bus stand. In the bus I saw charminar at a distance and completed a 180 degree around, all the while seeing the Charminar, and ended very near to it. I had to ask the conductor where to get down to move to Charminar. She replied that I had to go for the last stop. There is a functional urinal at bus stand.
I walked to Charminar. Some guys were selling sunglasses at cheap price. There was a moving queue at the entrance. The entry fee by ASI was INR 5. The security cleared the ticket and all entered at one pillar. The steps were not too easy nor too steep. Only climb upto half the height was allowed. The later half was blocked for visiting. I had a good look around. The old calling bell and carvings and the central area’s view from the half-top view. Small closed rooms where all closed, some served as storage for the present Charminar cleaner’s paraphernalia. I could ask the security about Mecca masjid, the view of which from Charminar is good. Only inside the mosque non-muslims had not entry.
Everybody exited from the diagonal pillar down. There was a small fountain at central area with potted plants. Around there were places to sit at the steps and there were benches. Some huge potted plants that reminded of Roman-movie like setting were also seen. The area of Charminar was fenced away from the road on for sides.
Then I walked to Mecca masjid. Here, there was facility to keep the luggage, in cloak room, after checking, at INR 10. There was a pool were people brushed and cleaned. Many pigeons flocked at the entrance. The footwear removed, I entered the tomb area. An uninvited guide tried to guide me around, telling me all the muslim names and hierarchy of the buried. One thing I remember is, the tomb with green cloth on was of a King who became a Sufi saint. All tombs with projected are that of men, the flat ones are of women. Then outside there was lot of pigeon shit. Through this we walked to the Masjid front. He told about the chandeliers which used to have candles burned for light, now covered with cloth. He gave a number on how many could sit and pray there. I had not seen a mosque open and so near. There was a boy sitting inside and reading. The guide said in a few hours it will be prayer time. On the Charminar side there were to big benches. One was granite from Persia , the black one, the other of white marble was from Rajasthan. The guide said if you sit on Black one there is chance to visit Hyderabad again. He told that the middle arch above which red bricks with lines were used was build with stoned from Mecca. On either side there is a copy which is of local origin. I paid the guide away. Or rather he was busy to finish and catch another poor fellow.
I continued to Chowmahallah palace. From Mecca masjid, cam out, walked opposite to Charminar, took first right, walked straight till dead end, and turned left and walked on to meet Chowmahallah Palace entrance. The entrance looks very small and expectations about the palace was proven wrong later. Entry fee was INR 40. There was space to deposit luggage, metal detector checking, restroom and snacks and tea area. Inside there was a pool with fountain. Some birds enjoyed the water. There was a small building whose entrance faced the pool. There were 2 entrances to this place. The building housed many articles. On the walls there was neatly arranged history of the Nizams, hyderabad rulers. Photographs. Swords. Palanquins. Various weapons, collectibles, crockery, more photos and it went on. There was a lady-sweeper who held the brromstick like sword , resting after a long-sweep, near the King’s seat. V. Unfortunate I ‘d only my eyes as capturing device. Visitors were not allowed near the seat. There were many rooms filled and neatly arranged with royal dresses, books, Quran copies, textiles, Kalamkari art, and very many things. I thought that was all. But that only the beginning. There was a second courtyard, with more buildings more things, furniture et al. I thought that was all, but then there was one more area where Vintage cars were displayed. The total palace premise were kept neat, with enough restrooms, drinking water facility and other amenities. On the way back there was a photographer near to the office, who provided photos with royal costumes and backgrounds.
Out of the palace I headed to Afzal jung by SETWIN bus. They do not give ticket. The conductor takes the money and crowds the bus. I got down at afzal jung, walked over the bridge, took a left turn, walked straight, on the right after the museum exit gate came the entry gate. Here, again, there was luggage room, to deposit luggage for free, ticket was INR 10. I knew the museum visit would take minimum 2 and half hours. I headed to the food court, which required asking the way around. The lunch (meal) was 111 INR. By the look of the setup I understood that it is typical money-squeeze format of food court. There was place to sit outside in the garden. I could notice that the bill had INR 14 as tax. I took enough time to roam around. There was place to sit,rest to eat and to roam about.
As a security told me that Birla Mandir opens at 1600 and takes minimum 45 minutes from Afzal Jung stop, and my train departure being at 1650 at Hyderabad station, I dropped that idea. I dedicated the time for the museum.
Attractions at Salar Jung Musuem
Veiled Rebecca – intricate intriguing work with marble that makes the veil look very real, like cloth
The Clock – There is a clock in display in ground floor, make sure to check at each hour where the drummer comes. In chowmahllah palace there is more elaborate clock with King looking left and right with his court members and chiming 4 times. The French gallery in Western block had a large collection of clocks.
Elephants Everywhere – There is elephant in clock collection, ivory works, walking sticks and wooden carvings. No other animal had these many variety of base medium for representation
It was nice to know that even king’s used pencil-case.
In the western block, western countries’ collection is displayed.
Chinese colours, belgium bluem red and green coloured utensils are very interesting.
Bohemian art was also interesting.
Jaded Art gallery had diamond studded swords and weapons, the beauty of which drowns at the thought of their maleficent usage. Except possible one item the Noorjahan’s fruit knife. This was purely for the most peaceful act of eating.
Chinese fruit tray with fish picture was confusing, why any fruit lover would eat from a plate with fish picture on it. If the person wanted fish he could use it as fish plate. I don’t know about Chinese but definitely am curious ask one about this idea of fruit plate.
Some Chandeliers on display had lights which looked like upside down glasses. There were many variety of glass works, with different hues and colours. A chemistry enthusiast may enjoy it more to guess and find out only a few colours were prominent, what metals and compounds made up the colour and so on.
LED lights fixed under some glass work which gave it a surreal look.
Venetian gold and enamel works were nice.
Porcelain toys of the west, Chinese toys, Japanese dolls in the eastern section, Indian toys from Kondapally village, German porcelain soldiers all were a treat to the eyes.
Textile works of Kalamkari style, The embroidery of polar bear on silk and Dogs in the forest were excellent.
In addition to all this collection the exhibition area hosted Asit Kumar Haldar Exhibition of painting in Bengali school of art.This reminded me of my trip to Cholamandalam Arts Village, Injambakkam. That is another story in itself.
To Nampally (a.k.a Hyderabad station)
Finally, I started to Hyderabad station from Afzal Jung stop. But no one would agree on a single name for the station. Everyone whom I asked said “There are many stations in Hyderabad- Secundarabad, Nampally and so on, which one you want to go ?”. I was dumbfounded when I ultimately reached the station. The Nampally – Hyderabad station, which was 15 minutes from museum by bus , was hidden and there was no direction indicators. At Chowmahallah palace there is a photo of King inaugurating the Secunderabad railway station. That King opened the main station (having 11 + platforms) and people do not identify the smaller namesake Hyderabad station! It is Nampally station. Then why not name it so?
To my luck my train was at 4th platform which is the platform to which one enters from the road. There is bag check, scanning and security. All made safe. From Hyderabad station to Secunderabad I saw many beautifully built local train stations. At Necklace road station I could have a nice long view of the hussain sagar lake. By the time it reached the James street the sewage entering the lake is more clear with smell. As the darkness crept in my sight seeing of Hyderabad ended. The time was good for rest with a berth for sleep and mind replayed the journey in a relaxed state.