Bargaining or haggling on the price is a passionately followed art form in Hyderabad. Your talent is put to test every day, whether you are buying lemons at the local bazaar, or expensive silk sarees in multi-storied, air-conditioned stores. You start at 25% and NEVER EVER go up to more than half of the quoted price. Finally, the shop keeper will seal the deal with an emphatic, “Arrey amma, abbhi aap bolre to detum main. Nahin to itte kam daam me nahi bechte hum logaan”.
One of my favorite weekend outing spots in Hyderabad was the ‘Public Garden’ or the ‘Bagh-E-Aam’. A beautifully designed and maintained garden in the heart of the city was the perfect spot for us kids to run around and the grown-ups to relax on the cool sprawling lawns. The gardens held a big mystery for me for a long time. Why was it called the Bagh-E-Aam when there were no Mango (Aam) trees around? I am sure I gave a massive heart attack to all the Urdu scholars in the city. I can almost hear them screaming - “Kya baigan ke baataan karri tu potti? Kya sochti ki kya ki…Aam boleto khaane ke nai…Aam boleto Public…boleto Aam logaan!!’
Speaking of Aam, summer time brought a variety of sweet mangos to the bazaars– Benishaan, Rasalu, Himayat were some of the popular varieties. While my parents (then recent migrants to the city from Maharashtra) thought that they didn’t stand up to Alphonso mangoes, I begged to differ....”Merku Benishaan ich achcha lagta”. Another peculiar habit of Hyderabadis…or at least of the ones who visited us, was to eat mangoes along with the skin. This was a shock of massive proportions to my mother’s Maharashtrian sensibilities. Till date she hasn’t gotten used to the idea.
Hyderabad has only two seasons – Hot and Hotter. Rains were a rarity. I don’t remember ever needing an umbrella or a rain coat. Or for that matter, ever owning a sweater. Of course, water and electricity shortage were in abundance! But the Hyderabadi spirit was always high….whether you were standing in the line to get water from a tanker or studying in candle light every evening.
We would look forward to the rare occasions when it did rain. The next day would invariably be declared a holiday. “Kya baarish hua miyaan kal…..rodaan pe poora paani bhar gaya na…bachche kaisa jaate eschool? Aur tum sweater kaiku nahi pehne? Thandi nai lagri kyaaa?” The rain would “cool” Hyderabad down to about 25C.
The little rains that we did get though were very powerful and evil! They would turn all the streets into pothole hells. You could hear the following dialogue from pretty much every Hyderabadi for many months afterwards -
“Ye kya baarish hai ki kya ki! Itte gadde ho gaye sub rodaan pe!!”
“Hau…phir kya…galli me gadde hai ki gaddon me galli…..”
I could go on and on but the clock on the wall is reminding me, “Baataan bahut ho gaye, ab thoda kaam karo miyaan!” Until next time then!
Read Hyderabadi Baataan - Part 1 here!