Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My morning cuppas in Hyderabad: Idle walks & Ideal mornings

I haven't taken a long leave for quite sometime and in such moments I fondly recall my days in Hyderabad: the leisurely walks, the morning cuppa and the hours spent poring over newspapers.

For me there can't be a better start to the day than having lots of newspapers and ensconcing oneself on a chair in the back of a cafe/chai-khana and simply whiling away time. Especially when one doesn't have to go to the office, have no compulsion to pick up cell phone calls or send emails and just no engagements.

The mornings were really ideal during my stay in Hyderabad last time. Getting up early in the morning I would saunter towards the local chai-khana run by a Isamili Muslim. A huge photo of Agha Khan smilingly welcomed me to the place. I prefer the humble chai-khana because you get to see all kind of people around you including the milkman boy, the working class, students and the weirdos. Of course, not to forget the traditional 'fakirs' of Hyderabad in all sorts of green garbs.

The teenager who sells papers flashes a wide smile. He knows I buy many papers and quickly gives me half-a-dozen. There are so many I can get in Hyderabad: Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle, Times of India and the Hindu. It is a City that has a very vibrant Urdu press and papers like Siasat, Munsif, Etemaad apart from Roznama Sahara and Rahnuma-e-Deccan.

Most interesting aspect about Urdu papers was to read the diametrically opposite views of a report published in two Urdu papers. Siasat and Etemaad are into a bitter rivarly and it's an experience (more for a journo) to read their reports on functions organised by the other group as also the political views.

...the cup is full of tea. It's huge by any standards. It's not the 'cut chai' that you get above the Vindhyas. I enjoy the aroma and first take a glance at papers, just the headlines. Next, I read the news that interests me while sipping the tea.

Now it's tough to dislodge me for at least an hour. Half of the tables are empty and nobody bothers if I keep occupying the place. The boy asks me, whether I need 'Maska Biscuit'. 'What's that"...I ask him to get round ones, he puts them in a saucer and leaves them. They are not great, but okay. I dip one in the tea, and try to eat, an old habit which I can't give up.

...I look at the clock on the wall. Feel it's time to leave. Pay Rs 5 for the tea and another Rs 4 for the biscuits and walk on, with my papers. There is not much traffic and I keep walking, passing by a park and enter Owaisipura, a densely populated locality.Trying to see the real Hyderabad.

I spot a temple. The architecture is different from the North Indian temples. I wish I had a camera. Though I can take a snap from my cell phone camera but I am feeling too lazy and that's why I wanna feel that...a camera would have been better...pictures from cell phone aren't that good...

I see a guy selling dosa on a cycle. 'Dosa kitne ka hai'. 'Paanch Rupaye'. I'm flabbergasted. I take two dosas. As he packs it, I ask for sambhar. He says that they give only chutneys with dosa. Oh...I felt a bit disappointed. I am used to dosa with sambar, which we get in North India.

Now my next stop is a small hotel. It is also a chai-khana. Unlike North Indian tea-shops, eateries and chai-khanas, here there is much more neatness. I hardly smoke but its holiday and I think...ek aadh kash ho hi jaye...

I get the cigarette. I give him Rs 10 note and ask for two Wills, as I am not sure of the cost any more. I don't want him to know that I am unaware of the price. A Telugu song is playing on the radio.
The words, I don't understand, but the tune I like. Chik Buk...Chik Buk....that's what I only remember now about the song. I finish a dosa. The tea has arrived. I am smoking after a long time but I like it. Now I go through editorial pages....

...the tea tastes great. I wonder what tea leaves they use. It's almost the same standard tea. Neither it's too sugary not too light or hard, just perfect combination of everything. A guy who had just entered the 'cafe' and takes one of my paper without asking me.

I don't mind. I am in a state of bliss. Too generous. I don't even look at him angrily. I go back to the papers. Read the Deccan Chronicle's pullout. It's interesting. Much more than the Times of India and Hindu.

I try my hand at the cross word. It's tough or I am losing my vocabulary. I don't care. I write a few couplets on the paper. Now I have nothing left to do. I finish the tea here also and get up. Stand by the guy's side but he doesn't understand. 'These are my papers', I say politely. He appears shocked though he shouldn't be.

He is a local and must be regular to this place and knowing that the hotel doesn't subscribe to these papers. He reluctantly gives me back the newspaper. I walk on, reading the posters on the walls, stop at the gate of a mosque to read the interesting Urdu posters about 'Solidarity with the Palestine', the launch of a 'Insaf Party' and also announcements about religious functions.

It's almost two hours since I walked out of home. I must get back, everybody would be worried. I wanted to go ahead but I am also tired now. I pass through a narrow lane...the women are busy in domestic chores in their houses and ....pan shops are open but unlike North India, the teenagers don't crowd them...

...reading signboards and name plates outside houses, I go back home. Now I will finish the other dosa with the few news items which I saved for reading later and then enjoy a nap till noon. I have no work yaar....May be I will read the novels which I brought with me in the afternoon....abhi to pura din baaqi hai...shaam ko Paradise ki biryani and a visit to shops near Char Minar....

...that was eight-ten months back. But again I am longing for a similar holiday. It may sound boring to many but for someone like me, it's the ideal holiday. I am too lazy, aren't I?