Welcome to Hyderabad, the city of the Nizam. Famous for its Charminar, The Salarjung Museum, and not to miss the biryani, it is the state capital of Andhra Pradesh. One of the facts that I learnt as soon as I landed was the Hyderabad Airport was voted No.1 in the small airports of the world in a recent survey. Something to celebrate already!
It was very hot when I reached Hyderabad, and was not too sure if I will survive the heat, so in case you are planning to be in Andhra Pradesh, choose to go in the winters. I stayed at the Casa Luxorio hotel in Banjara Hills, a nice business hotel next to all the main shopping, clubbing areas. The old city is a thirty minute drive.
My first visit was the project of Ladies Cirlce 35, which was the Ganpat Rai Tibrewala School and the Smt Geeta Devi Tibrewala Maternity Hospital in Jeedimetla, Hyderabad. The Ladies Circle usually comes and donates money towards the functioning of the school. I was lucky enough to witness them donating a cheque for Rs 110oo to the hospital. The hospital gives maternity facility to the people at affordable prices and free to those who cannot afford. The school charges an annual fee of Rs 100 from each student. All 700 children are given free uniforms and books as well.
The ladies circle also runs Gurumurthi School, which is their main project with Round Table 89 and has more than a thousand students. The ladies raised their money through a tambola game and are now looking to spend that on the forthcoming projects.
Soon afterwords, I was in Masabtank Basti, near Banjara Hills. This time, I was at a project adopted by Ladies Circle No.17. My hosts for the evening were Chairperson Nidhi and her husband Chairman Sanjay. We were at St.Anthony’s Vocational School, which the LC call ‘Live your Dreams School’. This project came into being a year ago and today they were celebrating their first anniversary!
The school has students from the local colony, mostly Muslim. Most of these ladies are school drop-outs or domestic helps, who wish to learn a vocation like tailoring, henna painting or applying make up. All these activities take place from a two room apartment above the main school, run by a Christian trust. Today, each and every face was glowing,as cake was being passed around. A great feeling to see the happy faces!
This project is LC 17’s long-term project. They pay Rs 7000 to the school every month wich takes care of the rent, electricity and a few salaries of the teachers. But that’s not their final aim, they want this school to be self-sufficient so now are thinking of ways to get these girls a few projects, from where they can earn some money. Good thinking ladies! Running a school is one aspect, making them self sufficient is another!
And now comes my tip for the foodies. If you like to eat, you have to be in Hyderabad. The biryani here is to die for and the only place you should visit is Paradise. Its a landmark, tell your rickshaw or taxi driver and he would know it. This huge restaurant is the most popular biryani center. A 400-seater (maybe) restaurant, it is always jam-packed! Come here on a weekend with a reservation, else you be waiting for an hour. Though popular with tourists, I could see local businessmen, families and even a young chap who had got his girlfriend on a date. The food will make your nose run but then its authentic! I love bland food but could resist the spices and tries the biryani. The service is impeccable.
Sanjay was becoming my food guide. In less than a day, he had taken me to three popular places. The Sailing Club, Paradise and the last one was Chutney’s, a south Indian restaurant. Though I was already full and could take a bite more, the Hyderabadi hospitality made sure I made that extra space in my stomach. I first tried a steamed dosa (great for weight watchers) but my favorite was the babai idli (rice cake). I had never seen so much butter on an idli and I knew without taking a bite that I would love it!