Well the ball was set rolling right before 3 months when we all received an ultimatum over mail from Avi(the super Haider-abadi). Initial plan had 8 young minds, but later on due to family responsibilities and work commitments 2 uncle's dropped out from the plan (with their better-half's). The tiny little white light of my cellphone key was continuously flickering, yeah because of the whatsapp notifications.
13th Dec-9pm: My trained parked itself at the VT station. Yeah VT! i still love to call it with the original name. Aai followed then from a 90's local, sometimes i wonder are all the new trains been allotted only to western and central? Why this partiality with harbour? Why this Kolaveri?? Chetuk, the always late-latif had boarded the train from Malad at 8.30 so was expected to reach late! Quickly parked Aai and my bag with her and went to VT-Camera gally to grab my lenses. By the time i came back it was 9.20pm. Aai and i decided to move to the outstation train platform. Hussainsagar express was aligning itself on the track, and people rushing to catch their RESERVED seats!!!! Still dont understand, why do people hurry so much? as if their reserved seats are going to be stolen or is it that they still dont trust the entire reservation system? :O Chetana also had reached by 9.30pm and we were all set to sail.. oops rail! We were accompanied by a mid-aged gujju couple which was fairly decent and were enjoying our conversations. Another mid-aged couple came to the aunty sitting next to me and asked to take care of their daughter who had her berth in the next aisle. I immediately grabbed the opportunity and assured her mother that we will swap the berths at night. :D Blessings for me!!!! :P
Gaurav Maharashtra soon boarded the train at Kalyan and added some more life to our discussions. Next hour was full-of old memories and bout how Avadhut has proved himself as Haider and all types of inferences on whether Avadhut's is a love or arrange marriage! Well there was no conclusion though! We decided to rest our butts and backs after the never-ending conversations.
14th Dec-8am: Was surprised to see Chetana coming to wake me up, the girl who misses her 9am alarm when she is at home. Hussainsagar should be called as passenger train as opposed to express for its pathetically slow speed. We had theplas from Aai for breakfast and vada-upma and idli, courtesy irctc. Intermittent tea from every other chaiwala need not be mentioned when Gaurya is around. I preferred to open my laptop and work whereas this trio enjoyed Ramee. We were at Hyderabad-Decaan (Nampally) around 12.15pm, on time even when the train was running so slow. The girl sitting next to me enjoyed being a spectator of the game with frequent smilies.
14th Dec-12.30pm: A mid-2000's Indica was ready for us outside the station which took us to Haridwar Residency which was going to be our basecamp for next few days. Special thanks to Pawaneee(Pawan), Chetuk's friend. Chetuk is no less than a female Don, who has her contacts in almost all cities in India, currently she is working on expanding her network overseas.
14th Dec-2pm: Eating veg on a Friday noon is like ordering an Indian dish in a Chinese restaurant. Our Chauffer took us to Bawarchi, the so called famous restaurant and one of the famous for Biryani. None of us enjoyed the Biryani. Aai preferred to eat Veg. After a quick lunch we started our 'Tour De Hyderabad'. The numero uno place to visit was Birla Temple, one of the topmost point in the city which will show you a crow/sparrow/pigeon/and a few eagle's eye view of Hyderabad. Its located at the center and a typical Birla temple with excellent marble carvings and art work. Wonderful place to visit. Ideally one should visit this place in the evening to enjoy the fully lit-up Hyderabad city. We spent some time at that beautiful temple with few moments captured in our toys.
14th Dec-5pm: NTR gardens, another beautiful place in Hyderabad. Its a small amusement park with a toy train which takes you on a small round-up of the entire garden and couple of rides. We enjoyed one of the ride and preferred to move around the garden and laze around on the green-grass listening to Aai's humming songs.
14th Dec-6.30pm: Moved on to much hyped, Laser-show from Lumbini park, place more popular for the bomb-blast than the Laser-show. Wonderful amphitheatre with some peppy background music had raised the expectations bar, but was a total disappointment. Except for the few parts of the show everything was monotonous. Exclusive Hyderabadi song which every Hyderabadi will love to sing. A story of how Hyderabad evolved.
14th Dec-8.30pm: Eat Street, one of the hepp places in Hyderabad right next to the Hussainsagar lake which will give you a 270 degree view of the lake and the lighting over the sky-scrapers across the lake along with the reflections in the water. Simply makes a best fit to hangout with friends and family. We wondered Avadhut might have met Shruti at this same place.
14th Dec-10pm: Tired legs back to hotel and sneaked into the blankets on the cozy bed.
15th Dec-10.30pm: All set for the Day2 ride and more excited to see Charminar and buy some pearls from the famous pearl market of Hyderabad. Charminaar looks beautiful from outside, the artwork speaks about the history however the irony is as you enter you will see paan-spits and names of some fools who have spoiled the walls by writing over them and destroyed the beauty. Each and every window frame gives you a different view of the Old-city. One of the window also gives you the view of the renowned Mecca Masjid from Old-city which is presently under renovation. After a round of photography we moved on to the Lad-Bazaar or say the Chudee bazaar. The shop-keepers wont even hesitate to hold your hand and pull you inside their shop. Variety of bangles shimmering which would be a treat to every female. Each bangle was inviting for any female, wonderful handwork on each of them.
15th Dec-12.30pm: We begin our hunt for pearls from a shop which claimed to be Govt. Authorized where we met Mr. Jadhav who is of Maharashtrian origin but settled here in Hyderabad. He said 25/30% of the people here in Telangana are Maharashtrians. He was the third Maharashtrian we had met in 2 days. One of them was the chai-taprivala Biradaar uncle just next to our basecamp. After spending almost an hour in that shop we finalized a few items. For no reason i felt like buying pearls, surprised myself since am a no-no shopper, especially no for ornaments. Anyways i enjoyed every bit of it.
15th Dec-2pm: We moved on to Mangatrai- the giant pearl palace on the Charminaar lane. Gaurya was looking for a pearlset which he can gift Bhakti on their first wedding anniversary on 18th Dec. Hardluck though, we couldn't find one which could fit Gaurya's choice ;) :P It was 3 noon by the time we realized we have not done breakfast and we are hungry :O. Chauffer took us to Indu Lunch Home where we gulped atleast 4-5kg (to exaggerate) of rice since there were no chapatis in the menu. Awesome food with Chicken curry, fish curry and a variety of vegetables which my eyes didn't even notice even though it was in the same plate. I don't remember when was the last time i have had such an awesome lunch. Left from the restaurant complimenting the cashier which he quietly ignored.
15th Dec-4.30pm: Off to Golconda fort, one of the most visited places in Hyderabad. The road to Golconda takes you through the military cantonment zone with sharp turns and rock-built entrance gate. There was flurry of tourists at the entrance of the fort. Golconda is treat for any photographer's eye, so was the case with Chetna, rest three of us preferred to enjoy the place and watch people around taking pictures with the most funniest poses ever. We didn't complete the entire fort as it was very huge. As the huge round halogen in the sky was ready to set for the day we decided to move back.
15th Dec-7.30pm: After a quick snacks break at Surya Restaurant which included south indian filter coffee (if you miss to have one when in South India then you are a criminal!) and gajar halwa which was yummie as per Aai. We decided to move to Kashish pearls the one which was suggested by our hotel owner where after endless tries and combinations Gaurya finalized one custom-made pearlset for his wife. Chetana as in every shop, managed to buy couple of things even over here. We were stunned by the bargaining skills of Gaurya. Somehow, we all enjoyed shopping more than the tourist place, and am sure everyone will be unanimous on this ;)
15th Dec-9.00pm: Back to Eat Street, day 2. Today we decided to visit the terrace view restaurant, its more an elite view of the Hussainsagar lake and the necklace road. Returned back to hotel and called it a day watching Crime-Patrol.
16th Dec-10.30am: One of the last two days of the reason for which we were in Hyderabad. Yeah Avi's engagement day, however it was planned in the evening and we had ample time to add one more tourist spot to add to our list. Decided to visit Chilkuru Balaji aka VISA Balaji. People visit this temple to bribe the god-Govinda for their VISA approval. We only learned it after we were back from the temple. On the way to Balaji we were very hungry since we had skipped breakfast. Landed over to a Iyengar Bakery, tried as much fancy bakery items as we could. It was not very difficult to communicate with the south indian aunty who could understand Hindi but couldn't speak it. Aai was a savior since couple of helper boys from the bakery(who understood hindi) were too busy with other customers. It was a different type of breakfast we enjoyed. "Govinda... Govinda.." and intermittent "Morya..." from Gaurya, which invited stern looks from people around. Yes, we spent sometime with these prayers in the 30 mins queue in the temple. Decided to have the most hyped Biryani in Hyderabad, yes the Paradise Biryani. Located at a very prime location Paradise Biryani Restaurant has 3 levels and each level has around 100-150 seats. They claim it to be one of the most huge restaurants in India. Also understood the making of Biryani and its history how it came to India from the Mughals. Priya fancied some poses with a picture of Rana Duggabatti putup on a wall of fame in the ground floor of the restaurant. It had pictures of almost all the celebrities who had visited this place.
16th Dec-3.30pm: Back at hotel-room and ready within an hour to visit the gala-event. We were at the wedding hall by 5.30 pm. Everyone at the hall were busy getting ready. Barged into Avi's dressing room and surprised him with our all sort of questions like, whether its really an arranged marriage? did you all meet at the Eat Street? is the girl Gujju?.. each of which Avi smartly bounced (as always).
16th Dec-6pm: Ready for the Baraat, we were surprised with the kind of events happening around us. We had never imagined Avi's baraat would be on a horse and a brass band with people carrying those retro gas lanterns. Surprises add punch to life. :) Spent some awesome moments dancing with the friends and family. Our eyes were waiting to see the bride. Soon she entered the hall and there was a wave of smiles all around the hall to see the about-to-marry couple together. Avadhut and Shruti exchanged rings and cut the cake. Mischievous Avi did manage to put some cake on Shruti's cheek only to annoy her. Cake had two Swan's on it, one of which ideally should have been slightly more white :P. Avi i know, you would kill me for this one. :P Followed by a dinner which had a variety of Gujju dishes. Shruti's father made sure that we taste each one of it. There was a quick introduction of all of us with Shruti, i tried my questionnaire on Shruti, Haider warned her to not to answer. Shruti too acknowledged him like a pativrata naari and gave diplomatic answers.
16th Dec-10.00pm: Back at hotel-room. Gaurya and me logged the daily accounts and went asleep.
17th Dec-06.20am: Gaurav Maharashtra's phone ringing. Onya Calling..... He had reached the hotel reception and soon entered the room with Shweta, i was lazy to get up but had too since we were expected at the marriage venue before 9am, since the rituals were about the start and more importantly we didn't want to skip the breakfast :D. Too shameless to say it :P We made it late though not too late to miss the moment. Yes, we reached the venue just when Avi was wearing the license in Shruti's neck, yeah the mangalsutra. Captured some awesome moments of Avi's life in both the camera's Chetuk's as well as mine. Feels great to hold two SLR's in your hand, this was the first time i was doing it :D
17th Dec-11.30am: Chetana enjoyed catching hold of every girl, boy, uncle, aunty, kids who wished and also not-wished to click themselves.
Ultimately everyone enjoyed it too after watching the preview of their pictures taken by Chetuk :)
17th Dec-1.30pm: After another gala-lunch we went up the stage to congratulate and wish the newly wedded couple and took a signature photograph of the entire group. We left the venue and decided to do more shopping :D. Asked the girls to go ahead at the hotel since the indica could accommodate only 4 and we were six. By the time, the car returned to pick us, Gaurya and i had made up our mind to have a long tight afternoon nap and skip the shopping plan. Onya had no option since Shweta was willing to shop :D. Sometimes, i feel this is the biggest advantage of being single, you can change your plans anytime, though sound mean attimes :P. We teased Onya alot over this :D. Onya had a plan to continue his week long Hyderabad tour from that day onwards. After a 2 hours tight nap it was 6pm and these guys had returned from shopping and we were all set to catch the Mumbai express which was scheduled at 8.30pm from Nampally. Avi and his family also were boarding the same train, we met them at the platform. Soon we boarded the train, but the berths were not in the same aisle this time, rather 2 Side Upper and 2 Side Lower so couldn't really enjoy the return journey. The trip would have been more fun with Pashya, Priyanka, Bhakti, Deepak, Shweta and cutiepie Sanvi. Never mind... missed them alot... :(
I somehow hate return journeys, as you are left with only option to reminisce the entire trip and feel sad that the vacation has ended. Only reason to be happy was that we were returning to our Amchi Mumbai.
So guys... who's next? :)