The decision to come to Hyderabad, as well as it being on the way down South, was so that Brendan (Australian) could watch the cricket match (though personally, I wasn’t overly excited).
After the most hellish train ride of my life, I couldn’t wait to get my head down in our accommodation in Hyderabad, in which we were the only non-Indian businessmen staying there!
I must have picked up something whilst on the hellish train journey, as I was sick for the final 5 hours of the train journey, and continued to be ill in the hotel. A hungry Brendan ordered food while I wretched at the idea – despite having not eaten for two days – and FINALLY, we were sleeping in a SPACIOUS double bed, with fan. At that moment, nothing else mattered.
Waking up early, we hastily got ready so that we could get there for the opening of the cricket match, though we arrived an hour late… my fault I’m sure. We searched for a place where we might be able to scout tickets from, and we were hopeful as we could see through one of the gates that the stadium was only half full. It was as if our (Brendan’s) prayers had been answered when we were offered free tickets from what looked to be a passer-by. Accepting immediately, a microphone with NTV written on it was thrown at my face, and a cameraman appeared from nowhere. Before we had time to realise what was happening I was being pounded with questions about my passion for cricket. Of course, I have one, and as a huge circle of people gathered around us, my embarrassment grew:
- “Are you a big cricket fan?”
(awkward laugh) “erm, no, not really”
- “Where are you from?”
- “Who are you supporting?’
”Erm, Australia I guess”
- ”Do you often watch cricket?”
- “Have you ever been to a cricket game before?”
- “Why did you choose to come today?”
”Erm, I came for him” (Pointing at Brendan)
Thankfully, they moved onto Brendan, who answered questions with perfect, calm, and expansive detailed responses. Feeling relieved when they sounded like they were about to round up, to my (our) horror, they (foolishly) went back to me, probably hoping I had something useful to say on NTV:
- “Who’s your favourite player?”
”Erm, I’m not sure”
- ”How do the crowd supporters here differ to English cricket supporters?”
”I don’t know”
- “Thank you very much, here are your free tickets”.
The shaaaaammmeee!!! But, a few minutes lter, the crows around us cleared and we were giddy about the free tickets. That is, until we got to the gate and were told “No bags, no cameras, no phones”….. WHAT!? Failing to find a storage area, because of their worry of electronic equipment following the cinema bomb in Hyderabad the week before, we had to go back to our hotel to take our bag and camera back.
After paying 150Rupees for the first journey in the morning which took 15 minutes, this second rickshaw driver, who agreed to take us to the hotel and bring us straight back to the stadium, well and truly ripped us off. Taking over three times as long as our first journey just to get to the hotel, and only 20 back to the stadium, he then pretended that we hadn’t agreed a price, resulting in us paying three ties more than we should have done! I have to say, this seem to be a recurring theme in India.
Back at the stadium, it was now lunch time and we had missed te morning session. Oh well, still four-and-a-half hours to go.
The afternoon was fairly relaxed, and Brendan saw Merv Hughes again. In the game, there were a team of Aussies and two Indian batsmen. Not really understanding the game too much, but taking an interest, I’d ask Brendan for information regarding the rules, etc. By the end of the day, I think Brendan was a little disappointed that noone was “out” on the Indian side and therefore had nothing to cheer for all day. Infact, these only two Indian players earned more points for their team today than the total points from the entire Australian team put together… nevermind.
After the match, we returned to our hotel and discussed food. An argument over food followed, as a hungry me, who hadn’t eaten all day, wanted to try a recommended restaurant, but Brendan, who had eaten 2 pizzas, 2 bags of crisps, a packet of chocolate biscuits, and 2 icecreams at the cricket match, was full. However, we finally, eventually, went to a lovely Italian restaurant in Bananja Hills, where we both devoured a sizeable, tast pasta. Highly recommended!
Walking around Hyderabad the following day, I noticed how modern and more Westernised this city was compared to where we had visited so far. I actually have to admit, it was a little refreshing to be sat in an air-conditioned shopping mall, having a drink in Subway and a coffee from a Waterstones-equivalent. I found I was less stared at here too, which again was quite a nice change also. Sadly, we didn’t have enough time on this trip to visit the large Buddha statue, the planetarium, the film studio or the lake as we were due to catch the train to Madurai that afternoon.
Thinking with our stomachs, not our minds, as we so often do, we chose to check out Fusion 9, a cafe mentioned in Lonely Planet. A ovely cafe, we entered, asked to eat, and were shimmied upstairs. Arriving at the door, we knew we had been sent to the expensive restaurant part, and that this would seriously blow our budget. However, not wanting to lose face we stayed and chose the cheapest pasta (me) and fish & chips (Brendan). Both dishes were 495 Rupees each. Our dinners were DELICIOUS!!
Walking out of the venue through the cafe part, we saw that we could infact have eaten downstairs for a lot less, and so were confused why they sent us up. Nevermind. Back at the hotel, we collected our bags and headed to the bus stop for our 8 hour bus to Pondicherry.