Where to Begin? Maybe with the trivial.
Today I saw a yappy little dog riding a scooter a la the Indian version of carrying a Taco Bell dog in your purse. It almost made me laugh out loud. Pets are quite “the thing” here in Banjara Hills. I see lots of people walking little dogs around the neighborhood, often right past the dirty, skinny, but oddly endearing street dogs that also live here. We don’t have any big scary dogs here, but just some little street pups that spend all day sleeping in the dirt and wake up at night to fight and generally make me wonder why I never did get that rabies shot before I left.
Anyways. Today I was feeling a little cooped up and feisty from all of my time spent in Banjara Hills. It’s a lovely neighborhood but its not the only place in Hyderabad. So, I hailed an auto to the heart of the old city, a place called Laad Bazaar that supposedly sold beautiful bangles and is a hit with the tourists.
I knew things weren’t good in old city but I didn’t know exactly what that meant. Today I found out. Perhaps I wasn’t actually at Laad Bazaar, perhaps my driver misunderstood where I wanted to go but wherever I was, I didn’t waste time leaving.
The “Bazaar” was down a side street off of a main road and if felt deserted. There was camouflage EVERYWHERE. Fatigues were hanging in every store and every stall, not a bangle in sight. I couldn’t tell whether the fatigues were for sale, for rent, or what. Then I started trying to remember the last time I saw an Indian police office in fatigues. Then I started looking for badges. Then I realized that not just were the fatigues hanging from every stall, they were on most of the people in the street. And that’s when I realized, it was time to go. I jumped in the first auto that could understand Banjara Hills. I was too unnerved to take photos on the streets with every man in those big black boots was staring at me, but I did get this coward’s (and blurry) photo from the auto as I made my getaway:
I think I understand now why people say things aren’t good in the Old City. I didn’t see any out and out violence but just the deserted street and the soldiers were enough to make me not want to come back. I’m just happy I went and came back safely and that I didn’t try my little foray next Saturday when everyone says things are supposed to get really bad.
After I got back (proud feat actually considering I was giving the auto driver directions) I took a little walk around the neighborhood again, this time with my camera out. Which, as I should have known, led to some spontaneous portrait sessions. The guys were so nice and not at all annoying (sorry to be blunt but if you are a white chick in India, you’ve had a few annoying male interactions). It ended up being a lot of fun. Here are a few of my favorites:
This handsome guy is in the Indian version of a wheelchair. Interestingly enough, if you are strong enough to pedal one of these around, you seem to be almost as mobile as anyone else on the streets in India.
This auto driver certainly wasn’t as keen on the portrait session as his friends who put him up to it were. He put up with it sheepishly but you can tell by the last shot that his friends are in for a verbal beating after I leave.
This guy is 84 years old. Isn’t that amazing? He was very nice as they all were.
After a little email, I took another long walk at KBR. I felt a little like I was choking on dust but that’s alright, the exercise was nice.
Now its off to dinner and then some work and reading before bed. I’ll send you off with a few more photos from the day: