Shortly after the trip to Japan, I had to go to Hyderabad, India on the invitation of the International Society of Information Fusion (ISIF) to take part in an ISIF grant program and to take part in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in December, 2008.
I went to Hyderabad via Chennai by Jet Airline. Chennai is not a good place to be. It is unbelievably hot and dirty. But I had no way of bypassing Chennai as ISIF bought me the ticket. From the Chennai Airport we went to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad by a domestic Jet Airline flight. The organizers of the event had sent a very good driver for me to take me from the Airport to the hotel in Hyderabad. He shared more or less the same tastes in Hindi music and movies like me. We talked about Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosley singing duo and Aamir Khan and Pooja Bhatt, the Bollywood’s most sensational couple in the 90’s. Since I was happy about his driving, English and tastes in music and movies I gave him a bigger tip than I usually give. He was exhilarated.
We reached the Hyderabad City passing lentils fields and extensive farmyards. All I had heard about Hyderabad was that it was a good place with a lot of ICT development under the former Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu and I was under the impression that the place must be like a city in America. But it was a very disorganized place with no road discipline, dirty streets, troublesome street vendors and restless passersby. If any Indian is reading this post you will be offended by my comments but I am telling the truth. So far with my two visits to India I didn’t see any cleanly place in Pune in Maharashtra, Chennai in Tamilnadu or Hyderabad in Andra Pradesh. The problem in India is that cities and villages are equally dirty whereas in other Asian countries only cities are dirty and villages are cleaner. While thriving to develop the country, India should put more weight into cleaning the country.
There were two lecturers from Sri Lanka from the universities of Colombo and Moratuwa at the event. Professor Gihan Dias from University of Moratuwa also had arrived. The two universities also had been selected grants from ISIF. The workshop was organized by Ms. Sylvia Cadena from ISIF while a gentleman from the Philippines compered the event in an attractive way. The first two days were allocated for ISIF. The rest of the days were allocated for IGF.
One day, an Indian professor who work in the USA was missing in the IGF session and everyone inquired about him. He was not to be found. Once we came back to the hotel we found him there. When asked why he did not attend the conference session, he answered that he wanted to come and had dressed up as well but could not come due to a funny reason. The reason had been that he had not been able to cross the road to take a taxi as vehicles did not stop even at the zebra crossing. He had been waiting for an hour on the road and had given up the idea of going to the conference as it was impossible to cross the road. If an Indian cannot cross the road what about the others from more disciplined countires? India’s traffic is such that they don’t have any discipline. Hardly any motorcyclists wear helmets. The police are just sitting ducks to ignore all these.
Hyderabad biryani is a famous delicacy everybody tries while in Hyderabad. We also tried it and it was really delicious. We invited our driver as well to the biryani feast and he ate only half and the rest he took to his son. An affectionate father.
Hyderabad is also world famous for its pearls. I too bought a beautiful pearl necklace for my wife. Everyone else was more interested in Indian saris though. I too bought few saris but didn’t spend as much time for it as the others did.
We went to see a few museums, fortresses, palaces, etc. in Hyderabad and the suburbs. India is such a diverse country that the places are entirely different from one another. What I most enjoyed was a place of a Maharajah and his collection of old cars.
The night before the day of departure was excellent as we could participate in a dancing tamasha. There were a lot of singing and dancing on a stage and almost all the Indians danced. The loud music they play with heavy drum sounds make anyone dance. When we travel at night in other places as well, we saw people dancing to the remixed music on makeshift stages. Young and old, men and women, rich and poor dance in equal happiness. Women were more boisterous in dancing than the men.