One of the questions I’m asked every day is “How are you liking Hyderabad?” I thought the readers of this blog might have an interest in the same question, so here’s a slightly expanded version of my response.
The short answer is: “Very much.” First and foremost, we have met wonderful people. Azim and I have found Hyderabadis to be warm and welcoming. In addition to feeling personally welcomed, it’s nice being somewhere that has such strong and affectionate ties with the United States—we feel understood as Americans. Coming from Zimbabwe, it’s also wonderful being in an environment where the economy is growing and there’s great optimism about the future.
While the people are far and away the most important reason we love it here, we’ve also found other aspects of life here notable:
Things we knew we’d love
· The food. We love Indian food. Everyone told us that Hyderabad cuisine was among the best in India. We agree wholeheartedly.
· Paigah Palace. Everyday when I drive up to the front porch, I’m amazed that I have the chance to work in such a lovely heritage building.
Even better than we expected
· The weather. OK, I know everyone says last summer was much hotter, but we really haven’t found the heat to be as oppressive as we were warned to expect.
· The flight connections. India has a terrific network of airlines that allow us to fly direct to all sorts of interesting places. The convenience and the cost are wonderful compared to our experience in Africa.
· The golf. Azim and I are both fanatic golfers, and we weren’t sure what to expect in Hyderabad. The clubs, the courses and the friendship of our fellow golfers all exceed our expectations.
· Cricket. As an American, I never followed cricket before, even though I’ve lived in cricket-playing countries. But first the World Cup and the IPL have made me a fan.
It’s going to take some time to get used to
· Late dinners. We Americans aren’t used to sitting down to eat at 11 or 12 pm—especially when the alarm is set for 6:30 am. But the food is so good we’ll figure out a way to adjust.
· Indian weddings. I still haven’t entirely figured out what part of the invitation I’m expected to accept, or when to bring a gift. In the U.S., 200 guests would be considered a big wedding, and the invitation is only for a ceremony and reception, both on the same day. The fact that we receive invitations from acquaintances and even people we don’t know is part of the warm welcome we have received, and it is an honor to be asked to share such a special occasion. But we are still figuring out some of the finer points.
Things we may never get used to—but that’s OK
· The traffic. I know it’s much worse in other cities, but I’m glad I don’t have to drive myself!
· The photographers. I just can’t think of myself as a “celebrity,” and I’m always amazed that people want to take my picture.
Things we just don’t like and never will
· Littering. I mentioned in another blog that this is something that has changed dramatically in the U.S. in my life time, and I hope it changes in Hyderabad.
· Littering isn’t the only anti-social act we see on the sidewalks as we drive around the city—but I won’t mention specifics of the other habit we find unpleasant!