Avasa, located bang in the middle of HITEC city, has been beckoning us for a while. We hadn’t heard any reviews of the food there, and really hadn’t considered it before for dinner. On a Saturday evening, we were looking for a new place to eat at. After much debate, we decided to boldly go where we had never been before, and ended up at Avasa with no idea of what kind of dining options we had.
Vidya and I spent a delightful three days at the Jungle Lodges at Vilaspur. It was a wonderful experience, and we hope to do it again sometime.
We drove from Hyderabad to Vilaspur – a distance of about 135 kilometers. It took us a little over 3 hours – we stopped on the way for breakfast and pictures. The road was a National Highway all the way to Zaheerabad and except for a few patches around Zaheerabad, it was quite alright. After Zaheerabad, we turned into a state highway – this was bad in patches, but again, was not too painful. We continued driving past Bidar and past Naubad till we came to a sign for the Black Buck Resort. We turned off the state highway into a narrow road which soon petered out into bare rock. After about 3 kilometers of following signs on bare rock, we reached the resort.
A long-time plan to visit Barkas was realized today. Khadeer was my guide for the day, and his brother Nazir accompanied us.
We met up early in the morning and drove to Barkas. First, some background. Barkas is part of the history of Hyderabad. The Arab soldiers who were part of the Nizam’s army lived in barracks, and their descendents continue to do so – except that the area where they live has come to be known as Barkas – a corruption of the word ‘barracks.’ Today, Barkas is an integral part of Hyderabad. Yet, it retains a stamp of Arabic influence that is distinct.
Every Sunday, volunteers from the local Roots and Shoots chapter visit the Nehru Zoological Park and station themselves near the cages. They talk to visitors, keeping them from feeding or troubling the animals. Since the park receives (roughly) ten times the number of visitors on Sundays as all the rest of the days put together, this action is very impactful.
Today, as part of an initiative at work, a few colleagues and I joined the R&S volunteers for a day at the zoo.
But before we kick off, a word on the zoo itself. Known locally as the Joo Park, Hyderabad’s zoo is to it what the Marina beach is to Chennai – the one place where every local family and their non-local extensions heads for some R&R. Hyderabad empties itself into the Joo Park on Sundays (similar to how Cyberabad empties itself into Shilparamam on Saturdays and Sundays). The Zoo is by no means small – it is indeed one of India’s largest – but on Sundays, it quickly starts resembling the Black Hole of Calcutta. Given that there are thousands of children and only two medium sized slides, the lines for each is roughly about 2600 long and full of angry parents yelling, “My son was here before your son” at each other. Of course, someone has to back down, and all of them storm away into the zoo to take out their frustrations on the poor animals. Which is where we come in – we try and stop them from behaving inappropriately with the inmates.
Went birding in Anantagiri Hills this morning. It is 88 kilometers from my place in Hafeezpet, and Ajith and I drove down. We made an early start, leaving at 5 in the morning. The roads were nearly empty and the drive was comfortable.
Anantagiri Hills is just past Viqarabad, reached from Hyderabad through Moinabad and Chevella. The roads were good, though the ever-changing geography of the way to the airport made it a bit tricky.
As we were driving on the perimeter wall of the Gandipet lake, a sleepy Brahminy kite was startled out of its stupour as it lazily glided in front of us. Further down the road, a peahen flew across the road in front of us. Just outside Viqarabad, we saw a black-winged hawk alight on a treetop in front of us. However, he would not stop for us, and went on his way when we tried to take a picture of him. Just before we reached Anantagiri, a grey hornbill did the same thing to us.
An early morning walk around the Lotus Pond – Ajith and I have been planning this for a while, and managed to make it happen today.
We set out early (by my standards that is!) and reached the Lotus Pond around seven. There were a few cars parked outside, and there seemed to be quite a few people walking around. However, the birds were pretty much minding their own business, and didn’t seemed to mind us stopping and staring at them, and clicking away with our cameras.
The atmosphere in the pond and the surrounding park was serene, and the morning sunshine was golden. On the water we saw a grey heron standing on a rock, Zen-master-like. All around it, coots and moorhens squabbled over who got to walk on which part of the water. A purple moorhen suddenly took umbrage and ran, screaming, across the lotus leaves that covered the water around the edges. All this action happened within the first couple of minutes of us entering the park.
Last night, I took a series of share autos to reach home from Panjagutta, and this seems to be an opportune moment to take a look at this alternate public transport system that so effectively supplements and complements Hyderabad’s official public transit systems.
My ride was simple enough – I got into a share auto in front of the Y2K restaurant at Panjagutta. Once I got in, it took about three or four minutes for the auto to fill up. The driver kept calling out the destination of the auto – Jubilee Hills Checkpost – and one by one my fellow passengers took their seats. The ‘seats’ have to be described, for apart from the usual and expected three passengers in the back, there are additional, rather unexpected (to the uninitiated) seats on either side of the driver. Since I was first in, I got the choicest of seats – the middle seat in the back. Two guys squeezed in on either side of me, and two guys squeezed in on either side of the driver as well. The driver not being a greedy sort, we took off right away, and made good time to the Checkpost. Two guys got off just before we reached and I hopped off when we stopped at the red light – it was easier for me to cross to the next share auto ‘stand’ that way. The ride (4.1 kilometers, according to Google Maps) cost me 8 rupees.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you come across things that boggle the mind and leave such an impression on you that you just have to write stuff about them. Meals Carner is such a place.
Driving down the road from Kondapur to our home in the not-so-sleepy hamlet of Hafeezpet, Vidya and I noticed the new brightly-lit sign that proclaimed the arrival of Meals Carner. After about a week since Vidya noticed and remarked on the place, I had occasion to go there to buy some food, and this is what I encountered.
Meals Carner, regardless of the fancy name, was a bit of a dingy place with white-painted walls, the obligatory fan that would rather sprinkle dust than stir even the slightest of breezes (should it ever be switched on, which thankfully it never seem to have been, going by the massive arachnid civilization that seemed to be flourishing in and around it) and the increasingly popular compact fluorescent lights that seem to leave the insects confused as to whether they were coming or going. What made a screaming difference between Meals Carner and its brethren (Popular names include Sai Prasad Mess, King Star Bakery and Meals, Cafe Abba Beel) were the posters that adorned the walls.
In the last few days, we ended up eating at three different restaurants we hadn’t previously eaten at – Chhattees on Jubilee Hills Road number 36, the multi cuisine restaurant at Katriya de Royal, and Bowl O’ China at Begumpet.
Saw this guy at Kukatpally a few days ago and asked him if I could take his picture. He was ready, and took out his pipe from his bag and posed along with his bull. He also started talking to me rapidly in Telugu, the dialect of which he spoke was so totally incomprehensible to me that I couldn’t get even a single word of what he was saying. He was also going on in a very sing-song way – so there was no help even in terms of inflection or accompanying facial expression or gesture.