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Jan 29 to Feb 9

Hyderabad, India


(Patricia started a one month Yoga course in Madurai on January 23rd so the section below is Jose’s adventures alone)

After my laptop crashed in Madurai, I found the perfect excuse to make the journey to come and visit my AIESEC Internatinal colleague and dear friend Venkatesh Goteti (or Venky from now on) in Hyderabad.

GETTING THERE

To get there I had to take a train overnight to Chennai, stay there the entire day doing nothing and then an overnight bus to Hyderabad. Chennai was not my cup of tea, I remember having a great time there a few years ago when I came via Chennai to an AIESEC Indian National Conference in Mangalore. At that point I was taken around graciously to some lovely places. This time I was unlucky not to concide with any of my contacts in the city due to the short notice of my travel.

While waiting for my bus in a closeby train station (I was supposed to just catch my overnight bus from a landmark in a particular street rather that a bus station) all I wanted was a quiet place to sit and read. To my amusement I was kicked out twice from my chosen spots, once by a police woman that claimed the seat I was on was hers even though it had been empty for an hour and there was more than one seat in that section... I had to humbly leave (well I did protest a bit asking why she needed more than one seat). I was then kicked out of Ratna Cafe, a little simple coffee place and light snack place in Chennai Central Station. The staff would not allow me to quietely sit if I was not constantly munchin or drinking something even though the place was completely empty. They said they had to clean and could not do it with me onm a chair... I paid my chai and left to yet another chair inside the station until the time for my bus came about.

IN HYDERABAD

The bus ride was comfortable in a relatively modern sleeper bus. I met Venky at around 7am in a busy junction in Hyderabad where I was dropped, surrounded again by a maffia of rickshaw drivers that were waiting eagerly to see if my friend would fail to show up. Venky was there in an instant. However, to my astonishment he came in a scooter!!! As I am still recovering from my Goa scooter related foot wounds (see Goa section) and as I have a massive backpack and a rocksack, I was asking myself what I should do. For a moment I had forgotten that even after all this years Venky is a fully fleshed Indian and it should not have been a surprise when he suggested just to load all into the scooter (to be honest I have seen many Indians carrying up to 5 people in a motorcycle as well as unimaginable loads). I put the smaller bag on my back and the big one resting on the seat between Venky and I... off we went.


I am glad I arrived on a Sunday as we spent the day catching up, drinking chai,eating, driving around the city and sightseeing... not to mention watching a few movies which is one of Venky’s pastime since Rotterdam days and something I was really missing. We watched Isquiya, a really excellent Bollywood film, and also Avatar (the hollywood blockbuster). It was later on, while I was reading the Authobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda (a really excellent book) that I discovered that Avatar signifies the “descent of Divinity into flesh” in the acient Hindu scriptures and something that would apply to figures like Jesus Christ, Krishna and other figures in the Hindu tradition. If you have seen the movie I suppose there is some type of Divine connection (sorry a bit of a digression).

Last time I had properly catch up with Venky must have been about 8 years ago! I was glad to see that, even after going through some difficult times in the last few years, Venky will be very possibly be getting married later on this year. He also has a succesful business with the potential for phenomenal growth and working, as many other IT businesses in Hyderabad, with foreign and local clients. We had some good chats about each others future and offered some (I think useful) advice to each other.

During the week I went with Venky to his business office (AZRI) and mostly spend time with a few personal projects and trying to fix my laptop. I have to say that I am still not really sure what Venky’s business is all about (sorry Venky, I know you tried) but it has to do with social marketing using web tools and programming (is better to check the website to be honest http://azrisolutions.com/). Our day was starting late morning with a great bowl of poridge and a cup of tea prepared by Venky’s dad (who is a renowed authority in India for rail station design experience) and finishing most times shortly after midnight with a dog cuddling session (see pic below).

I felt a bit of a load as Venky was trying to help me as well as trying to run a business and organise passport and visa for a trip to Netherlands to see his girlfriend, without mentioning a miriad of other things. I was depending also on his help to fix my netbook. After an agonysing week bouncing from one place to another in the Dell network, a hardrive replacement and lots of support from Venky and his contacts, I was finally able to get my little netbook fully functioning again. Success!

As you would have expected the mode of transport during the week was Venky’s scooter!!! I am not going to lie and say it was the highlight of the week. Do not get me wrong, Venky is an experienced driver more than capable of dealing with the complexities of Indian driving. However, the Indian traffic chaos, mixed with Venky’s moments of intrepidity and overconfidence on the road made some moments a bit scary... e.g. ducking a truck mirror, saving ourselves from being squashed between an autorickshaw and a bus or filling to close to other bikers (i.e. my knees touching theirs). All of this was not helped by the fact that during the first few nights something a little bit important was missing from Venky’s scooter... the lights! Well, the bottomline is that I survived and learning some of the basics of Indian driving from the master also helped. For example, 1) there is just no right of way in India, is all about who gets there first (sometimes within small milimetrical distances) or who is less of a “chiken” to stop first, 2) the traffic lanes mean absolutely nothing, 3) you can drive in any direction in any side of the road, it does not matter, 4) people can hop on and off buses at any time (even when the bus is in movement or the doors are opening to the moving traffic, 5) no speed limit applies, just go as fast as you can (usually limited by congestion) and finally 5) wearing a helmet is not a must for motorcycle riders and driving with lights off at night is completely tolerated.

Gladly after some lobbying and the support from Mohan, now Venky’s bike has lights.

No seriously mate, thanks for the great times! (now off to Kerala again)



permalink written by  patryandjose on January 29, 2010 from Hyderabad, India
from the travel blog: Resumen de dónde estamos y para dónde vamos? - Summary of where we are and where are we going to?
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