Skip to main content

Volunteering at the Zoo

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. read more

Read More

17 Degrees North

Had dinner at 17 Degrees North, a relative new-comer promising global cuisine. We’d just finished picking up groceries at Ratnadeep and were hungry, and 17 Degrees North beckoned from above. Located in the same building as Ratnadeep in Hitech city, 17 Degrees is ideally sited if you live, like us, on this side of town.

The night was hot, and we felt at home as we entered the pleasantly air-conditioned, dimly-lit space. It was cozy, not too full, not too empty, and the decor was interestingly kitschy without being plasticky. We were promptly attended to and seated at a place we chose. As we sipped the chilled drinking water, the heat and dust of the day receded to make way for a calm dinner. read more

Read More

Morning at the Lotus Pond

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.

The Lotus Pond

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.

A Purple Moorhen running on the leaves on the Lotus Pond

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. read more

Read More

Share Autos – Hyderabad’s Alternative Public Transit System

An Auto in Hyderabad

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. read more

Read More

Lunch Buffet at IndiJoe – Crowded and Disappointing

Today’s lunch was a buffet at IndiJoe. We have been fans of Indijoe’s ever since Suresh introduced us to the fondue there a couple of years ago. We found ourselves outside IndiJoe at lunchtime and spying the buffet, went for it.

The food at IndiJoe has always been pretty good. Today’s lunch was a lesson in how a restaurant’s buffet food does not always stand up to the standard of its a la carte offerings. The buffet was adequate, though a bit on the leaner side for vegetarians. But the menu was rather unimaginative, and the food itself merely passable – not what we have come to expect from IndiJoe.

Read More

Ice ‘n’ Jelly – Good Ice Cream

After dining at Trance Lounge last night, we decided to try out a new place for dessert, and ended up going to Ice ‘n’ Jelly. This place is right opposite Pedamma temple, on Jubilee Hills Road No: 21. Don’t worry, if you can’t find it, the man in the teddy bear costume standing on the road will wave you in towards the place.

The place was not crowded – there was just one other patron as we entered, and two more sauntered in while we were there. The seating was on a lawn (complete with fountain) next to a building that looked like one of the pavilions you see in period movies set in 18th century England. read more

Read More

Trance Lounge – Indian Food Rocks

We had dinner at Trance Lounge in Jubilee Hills last night. When we read the Description of the place as the former residence of the Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi, our curiosity was piqued and we just had to go.

The place is easily located – coming from Hitec City, turn right at Jubilee Hills checkpost and take the second u-turn. Drive on for about fifty metres and you’ll see a brightly-lit sign indicating the left turn you have to take for the restaurant.

Read More

Haleem at 4 Seasons

My second haleem experience of the season, and not a typical one at that! I was in GVK One to pick up Vidya after she had finished watching Kaminey. After we met up, we decided to get dinner, and since neither of us had been to the food court, we decided to check it out. The food court is called Polynation and has a weird payment system where you buy a prepaid magnetic card, load it with cash and use it to pay for food at the different outlets. The food court itself is pretty extensive, with a lot of choices for food – from Chinese, Pizza, Pasta, Hyderabadi, North and South Indian – all were available.
I was rather thrilled to see that there was a 4 Seasons counter, and even more thrilled to see that they had haleem on their bill of fare. About a couple of weeks ago, I had a wonderful lunch at the 4 Seasons in Hitec City, and their food was really delicious, and I jumped at the chance to taste their haleem.
The serving was medium sized, and would not have sufficed had I been as hungry as I usually am at dinner. A rather heavy lunch had left me not very hungry, and a single haleem seemed to be the ideal dinner. At first glance, I could see that it was a lot less greasy than the previous haleem I’d had. It was topped with cashew nuts and mint leaves along with the obligatory fried onions.
The haleem itself was easy to eat – it seemed to have been ground rather than pounded, giving it an even consistency that took away a bit from the experience. The meat was well ground, and there were no bones. What came as a pleasant surprise was the subtle and well-balanced spicing – something almost impossible for a Hyderabadi ustad, one would have thought. Again, the grinding rather than pounding had ensured the spices were mixed in well, and the taste was definitely a notch higher than Sarvi’s.
Because of the delicate and subtle flavouring, the haleem also lent itself nicely to an on-the-table taste modification. The bowl of haleem had been accompanied by two thin slices of lemon. I experimented with a drop of the juice on a spoonful, and liked the way it modified the taste. So, once I was halfway through the bowl, I squeezed in the slices and mixed it well, and had a different tasting serving of the same haleem! The lemon juice went very well with it, and the effect was most excellent!
Overall, while in taste and ease of eating, this haleem beat Sarvi’s hands down, the texture wasn’t quite haleem-like – that can be achieved only by pounding and not grinding. This was the lone negative in an otherwise quite outstanding bowl of haleem. Of course, some might quibble that at Rs. 95 for a smallish bowl, this was a steeply priced haleem, but I think it’s really worth it – the bonelessness alone was worth the extra thirty bucks!
What do you think about 4 Seasons haleem? Where have you eaten your best haleem this season? Leave a comment or write to me!

My second haleem experience of the season, and not a typical one at that! I was in GVK One to pick up Vidya after she had finished watching Kaminey. After we met up, we decided to get dinner, and since neither of us had been to the food court, we decided to check it out. The food court is called Polynation and has a weird payment system where you buy a prepaid debit card, load it with cash and use it to pay for food at the different outlets. The food court itself is pretty extensive, with a lot of choices for food – Chinese, Pizza, Pasta, Hyderabadi, North and South Indian – all were available.

Read More

Haleem Ho Jaye!

It ‘s once again that time of year when the streets of Hyderabad overflow with numerous haleem joints, and every Hyderabadi worth her or his salt is out there every day in search of the  perfect bowl. Dhruv jumped on the bandwagon yesterday and I opened my account last night. Dhruv and I were chatting about trying out more places near Hitec City, where we both work, and decided to start right away. We managed to drag Nikhil along, just like the last time we went to Hitec Bawarchi.

Read More