Seventeen years. That’s how long I’ve called this city of mine home – Hyderabad. It’s the unfortunate stepsister to the bigger metros of the country, still begging for that pedigree. I feel the heat acutely, no amount of time can tell my body to please, just get over it already. A sweltering 44 degrees on this summer day and the back of my neck is damp instantly. Sweating is unladylike so I do some mental voodoo. Must. Stop. Sweating. No such luck.
I get into my car and turn up the air conditioning full blast. Public transport in Hyderabad happens to be a bit of a joke. You have two options, buses or auto rickshaws. Auto rickshaws will force you to ingest a month’s quota of dust and smoke in a day while simultaneously ripping you off. The buses amble along languidly going as they please, can’t blame them really. Hyderabadi’s, as we’re called, are notoriously late for everything. Let’s meet at 4 is loosely translated to ‘Call me at 4 and then I’ll get into the shower’.
The area I live in is quiet, a temporary oasis. The houses are packed closely together on the narrow street, and foreign cars purr in and out. A few hundred meters and a turn left later, you’re rudely thrown into the hustle and bustle of the city. I’m safely ensconced in the comfort of my car, but I see women carrying umbrellas rushing for shade and men drinking icy sugarcane juice from the carts. I reach a busy intersection and as always I curse. Regulated traffic is one thing, but this form of random chaos is an entirely different experience altogether. I swerve sharply to avoid grazing a car on one side, only to almost hit a guy on a cycle on the other.
For a city filled with almost 7 million people, the world I live in is very small. I travel within a small area of the city and I meet a very limited set of people. This is one of the things I hate the most, and I only have myself to blame. The social structure of my particular circle is rigid. You go to a predefined list of places, and do the acceptable list of things. Number one on the list is where I’m headed – Beenz. It’s supposed to be a coffee shop but no one here drinks coffee. It has an earthy looking feel from the outside and attempts to recreate a rustic village setting with evenly spaced huts to sit under. Parked outside is a row of Jags and Mercs. The irony escapes everyone. The air is scented with the minty smoke of hookah and I watch as people strut in and out. I almost hear the mating calls.
As the evening turns to night, the set changes but the characters and script remain the same. Now it’s TGI Friday’s. The American assembly line has spit one of these out here too and who are the masses to complain? We proceed to have one too many drinks taking full advantage of Happy Hour and I’m happy to be surrounded by friends, I am. I’m enveloped in a warm glow and I’m singing along to all the music but in the back of my head, I’m wondering – whose life am I living?
NOTE: This is a part of my Travel Writing Evolution Assignment. I chose to write my piece in the Narrative form, “Hometown in 500 words”. This was part of my brief, I hope I’ve stuck to it.
The “plot” of your story can be about anything, from passing back through town after being away for a long time, to simply reflecting on it through an anecdote or a “day in the life” of the place. Please try to keep your narrative to 500 words or less. Most importantly, be sure to use terms, place names, and details that are as specific as possible.