I am very pleased, and a little surprised, that there is so much interest from people to India to read my blog. I had started it initially to share with family and friendly and people from the states so they can see what I am up to, as well as to keep a journal of this journey, but Indians seem very interested in what I have to say about Hyderabad as well, which I was not expecting! I think it is interesting for people here to read about the city from a fresh perspective, a foreigner, and to see what is different from the US. Although I have generally found many from the US want to see photos, and many from India want to read what I write, so I will try to keep a balance of both.
A little about the city: Hyderabad is the capital and most populated city of the state Andhra Pradesh, and sixth largest populated city and urban agglomeration in India. It covers an area of 621 square kilometers and has a population of over 4 million (Minnesota's entire state population is 5.2 million, Wisconsin's 5.6 million), with over 6.3 million in the metropolitan surrounding area. When I told people at work that my college town had a population of roughly 15,000 they were shocked. Hyderabad was founded about 400 years ago, but the region has been populated for much longer. Area about 1/3 the size of the US, it has 4 times the population.
Known as "The City of Pearls," I fully intend on investing this aspect of the city. Home to many software companies and technology services, it has developed a very large IT industry, which has modernized the city and brought many people here for work from all over India. I am told there are distinct Northern and Southern cultural differences in language, food, and various others in India, and Hyderabad is on the border creating a mixed culture, though generally adhering more to the Southern Culture. Telugu is the official language of Andhra Pradesh, Hindi and English are the official national languages (states can appoint their own official language).
It made me feel better talking to people who have moved here from other parts of India and speak English and Hindi (among other languages), when I told them that I was having a hard time learning phrases in Telugu, and they said it was hard for them too, and couldn't imagine learning it as a foreigner. Many of them have only been able to pick up a few phrases in Telugu.
In the workplace, both western and traditional Indian dress is widely acceptable, as long as it is conservative, and Hyderabad is a good city for women to work in. Daily wear is often a Salwar Kameez, for special occasions a Sari. Typical western wear for women would be jeans and a t-shirt/button up shirt, as well as either sandals or ballet flats. Don't even attempt to wear heels, stilettos would be a death trap in the streets. Men often wear typical western wear of jeans or dress pants and a button up or t-shirt to work. I have heard that the major cities of India are much more modern and have a very different culture than rural areas, but even in the rural areas everyone has a cell phone (or mobile as they say in India).
I have neglected thus far to mention the company I am working as a Graphic Design Intern at is called Innopark, and has a niche providing services in the online gaming and entertainment industry.
As far as sports, Cricket seems to be the popular one here, people love playing and watching Cricket, a sport not really played in the US (Indians compare it to our baseball). Other popular sports include soccer and table tennis (ping pong).
It also surprised me to learn that people have pets in India, such as cats, dogs, and birds/parrots and they name them, and that there are Veterinarians here as well. India has amusement parks with rides like carousels and roller coasters, which seems very similar to the US. I don't think that swimming pools are very common here.
I learned from someone is the hostel that "Bungalo" is a word used for a mansion. "PG" means "paying guest" and is another term used for a hostel, and people here usually call apartments "flats."
Yesterday I experienced bowling, so now I can say I've been bowling in India. I was a little amazed it was exactly the same as in the US, maybe because so many other things are different. The malls sell a variety of Hindi and English music, movies, and books, and Indian people seem very well versed in American movies and shows. Amazingly, I saw copies of the Twilight saga in the bookstore, which has apparently made it to India, for better or for worse.
Something that was quite amusing today at work was when one of my colleagues mentioned my post about how I was glad to find peanut butter in India. I asked if she had ever tried peanut butter, and she said no, and then she told me she had never heard of it! So, apparently, it's not really a staple in the Indian diet, haha...So, I am planning on bringing it to work this week. For my Indian friends, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are very common in the US, called PB & J, which you eat with sliced bread.
Weather wise, this is a fairly good time to visit, temps have been in the 70s and 80s (F) since I've been here. I have been comfortable so far, as the hot summer (monsoon season) is on the tail end and the weather is getting nicer. Summer is very hot in India, commonly over 100 degrees F, but winters are a much better temperature. When I told people here that Minnesota and Wisconsin often have negative temperatures in the winter, with even colder wind chills, they just shivered at the thought.
Another tidbit, is how dates are written. In the US it is month/day/year, in India it is day/month/year.
Vac's - a good bakery and pastry shop (excellent cakes)
Indians have moped riding down to an art. It is common practice for people to ride mopeds with the back person not holding on to anything. I have also seen many women riding side-saddle on the back if they are wearing a dress. Apparently it's not really technically legal, but still pretty common to see, 3 or even 4 riding on one bike. If you can tell from this photo, a man and woman are each holding a child. I can't imagine how this would fly in the US.
I have heard that some Indian celebrities and political figures live in this area, with all the huge mansions, not that I would be able to pick them out of a crowd if I saw them.
These panoramas don't quite show how truly large the city is. It just stretches on and on for miles and miles. I've heard it can take at least an hour to get to some parts of the city, maybe longer, especially with the transit system. When I flew in, it was dark, but I could still tell by the lights at night that this was by far the largest city I have ever seen in my entire life, not only in area, but density as well.
From the Roof - (wearing a kurtie)