HomeThe trip (June-July 2005)

2nd letter, from Hyderabad (5 July 2005)

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It's Monday morning, and we're supposed to make pancakes for the masses. On Saturday we left Bangalore in the van (plus driver) rented for a 3-4 day visit to Hyderabad to see Meher's sister Kausar and her family, as well as other members of the khandan (=clan, say, but in a very every day sort of usage meaning, equivalently, simply the extended family), an uncle and his family, and whatever country cousins have turned up here for the occasion. Using e-mail, we decided before leaving Toronto that for this trip to Hyderabad not only would we not fly, but also that we would go by road rather than by train, since national hwy 7 is now a good road and the 550km can be driven in a day, with a lot more to see than from the train (the way we made the trip in December 1997).


According to Azeem, "the wheels will be rolling..." by 0700h Saturday morning and anyone not ready will be left behind! Well, in solidarity with Munni and the other women who would be up by 0400h getting things ready, Meher insisted that we be up by then as well so as to be able to finish our ablutions in Rafi's flat and then head over to Munni's to help out there. By 0600h all 4 of us were up and waiting for Rafi to get ready, so Meher and I decided to take a bunch of our bags (clothes, bedding, presents) and precede the boys and Rafi. In the dark it wasn't quite so easy to find an autorickshaw willing to take us across town to Munni's place, but before long we did. By this time both of us had learned the route that keeps the fare down to something reasonable, like $1.25, as against letting the driver go some roundabout route and make the fare half again as much. Fortunately before we left Rafi warned us that up until about 0600h the fare really is 150%, so that didn't take us by surprise.

[Meher: I really thought that getting up at 5 AM was a reasonable thing to do in order to allow time for the obligate bathers to ablute and get on the road. Apparently, I was completely wrong in suggesting that we wake up at 5 AM. So, Rafi, Adam, and JS resisted getting out of bed while Tim and I woke up and got ready by 6 AM. Quite simply, I was disgusted by all the incredulous jokes about being ready at such an ungodly hour. So, Tim and I decided to walk out (partly realising my dream about walking out on family) into the dark and hire an autorickshaw to go to Azeem's. In recounting this abrupt departure, Rafi, Adam, and JS would roll on the floor laughing and relishing the scene of two figures with their kit and kaboodle walking into the dark, damp early morning, standing on the sidewalk and flagging down autos when they obviously could have waited to be driven by Rafi when everyone was good and ready. In actual fact, the joke was on the three young men.]

[Meher, again: So, at Azeem's place, while the whole entourage waited for the young men to arrive, many a hanger-on assembled, witnessing the family drama unfold. Yes, people stared, especially at Tim, the only white guy in the khandaan. Tim, on the other hand, always the one to notice things around him, took pictures of a lorry driver washing and annointing his vehicle before he set off (too many people were departing that morning) while his tiny daughter helped carry water to the lorry. So, with vehicular ablutions in action, loading afoot, cell-phones a-buzz, it was as good a scene as any representing modern India. Annointing your vehicle with vermilion, putting a flower garland on the tiny shrine on the dashboard, and talking endlessly on cell phones are all inconguous signs that India has moved into the twenty-first century.]


In the end all the bags were on the sidewalk, ready to be loaded into the van (arrived as per arrangement at 0630h) and we really did get going, by 0800h in fact. And it was Azeem whom we were waiting for in the end. Apparently he was on the phone to Munna's m-i-l, telling her all about the van and our preparations, and so on. Originally the plan had been that we would travel light (and with much less impact on the women) and buy food en route at the dhabas, roadside restaurants of varying quality, just making sure to eat only hot, freshly cooked things. Somehow, in Azeem's mind that wasn't right and the next thing we heard was that while Munni, Lakshmi (Munni's maid), and Shameem and I don't know who all else were organizing water, snacks, and clothing for the trip, Ayesha's big sister (who just happened to be visiting) was preparing food, hence Meher's concern that we be available bright and early to help out as needed.



Rafi (the baby of the family. He works for an anti-virus outfit in Bangalore now, after having gone to grad school in the USA and lived and worked there for some time.), and behind him Ateeq and Ayesha, making their way to the van at long last!

To keep the names straight, here's a list of the names of the people on the trip, arranged by the families involved as well as alphabetically.

  • Ammi - the mother of Meher and her siblings Azeem, Munni, Kausar, and Rafi (Munna is in New Jersey; Bhaiah, the oldest, did not come on the trip, but he came for lunch on Wednesday or Thursday last week, and then we visited him and his wife at the end of our stay). Ammi flew to Hyderabad on Friday, so as not to have make the all-day drive with us.
  • Azeem and his wife Ayesha, and their 5y-old daughter Aliyah.
  • Shameem is somewhat more than just their maid, since she pretty much runs the domestic economy as both Azeem and Ayesha work. The more negative way of putting it is that she does everything: looks after Aliyah, shops, cooks, and cleans. Ammi has taught her the recipes she knows, and she has learned them well: her cooking is very good.
  • Kausar lives with her husband Faiz in Hyderabad. They have 2 daughters, 5y-old Manaa, and 3y-old Raasha.
  • Munni and her son Nihal; Ateeq (husband/father respectively) did not come on the trip, but saw us off. Nihal is five months older than JS.
  • And the driver of the van, I think his name is Baloo.

Azeem, Ateeq, and Ayesha.

Nihal, Munni and Ateeq's son. Munni, Nihal's mum. Meher, Shameem, Ammi, and Munni... watching Raasha, Ayesha, Manaa, JS and Nihal playing Simon Says.

Notes from the future: more of Meher's December notes. It turned out that they were ready in time to arrive at Azeem's place by 7 AM. But, while whizzing down Bangalore roads at top speed, they had a flat. Rafi was driving Azeem's car, another long story. So, here at Azeem's place, we were all assembled and waiting for the three young men to appear when cell phones went a-ringing in unison. SOS calls about the flat tyre flew about. Azeem said a bit sheepishly, "heck, there was this cut on one of the tyres, I meant to fix it but kept putting it off ..." So, to make a long story short, apparently, Adam and JS had an unscheduled lesson in tyre changing on the side of the road in the wee hours of a damp Bangalore morning. Ah, that scene sure cracks me up. [back to top]


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all text and images on this site are © M. Shaik and T. A. Dickinson 2005 unless otherwise noted; some images are © A. K. Dickinson 2005.