15 May 2010

Three favorite things to do in Hyderabad

Its 45oC outside and has been for several weeks. I was getting a bit low just sitting around at home on the weekend, with the curtains drawn and the fans on full blast. Mind you, even with all these preventive measures I was sweating a bucket each minute; the type where after 5 minutes on a chair your undy starts sticking to you.

The weather in Hyderabad sucks. But like everything in life there is always a silver positive lining that you have to think about. So, I am writing about the three things about Hyderabad that I enjoy, in spite of the weather.

1. Daram : My wardrobe has significantly improved ever since I started visiting this store. Daram is an arm of DAMA, an Andhra Mahila club that supports the rural handloom industry. DAMA markets the textiles and Daram is the retail branch that sells ready made garments. If you like Fab India, you will like Daram. I am inclined to believe that both Daram and Fab India have similar philosophies: to empower traditional workers by preserving their art, yet providing them a market to ensure their financial well being, although I have not really examined their business models in great depth to make this an academic claim. However, I can confidently say two things for Daram: firstly, all their stuff is handmade locally (AP), from fabric to stitching and secondly, their cotton is very comfortable. Besides they have local groups from different parts of the country coming over to sell things like lumbini work from north Karnataka, chanderi silk work from Rajasthan etc. I always find things at the store from different parts of the country. The prices at Daram are reasonable. There are no home furnishings here unless a group specifically selling those is visiting. I have been to a couple of DAMA sales and the whole cloth is available there if you fancy making curtains out of their cloth. The store never has a sale since they think selling something below price would disrespect the people who worked for creating the product you are wearing. Timbuktu Collective, which grows organic produce in Anantapur district also sell their products here - I am a big fan of the cold pressed groundnut oil and fox tail millet from the collective.

2. GHAC - Greater Hyderabad Adventure Club. A few months ago I was moaning to a friend about the lack of activities to do in and around Hyderabad and my inability to meet new people. My friend suggested meetup.com and it's there that I found GHAC. I couldn't have been more wrong about things to do around Hyderabad. You join the group for free and there are different events organized: from trekking at the outskirts of the city, overnight camping and adventure sports. I recently went on a 3 day paragliding trip with people from the club. It's a great group to do something active and meet new people. I was worried at first about not having my own transport to get to places but the group is quite friendly, so there are always people willing to make accommodations. Just RSVP and enjoy.

3. Share autos: I have blogged about this before and continue to maintain, this is the most amazing eco-friendly and commuter friendly mode of transport for short distance. Although, you have to completely ignore western concepts of safety to enjoy the ride. At a recent chat I discovered that this concept exists in several cities but Hyderabad and Panchkula (by accident) are where I have taken it. My last ride was quite memorable. My other companions were 5 summer camp going girls: giggly 10 yr olds with plastic bags stuffed with tiffin dubbas, crayons and chart paper. For some reason they couldn't get over my presence and giggled the entire way of the ride. What was really amazing was that they weren't being chaperoned by anyone so I think the auto driver was a regular to them. Once the giggling started, I couldn't stop smiling either so we all were a giggling for the next 3 minutes. I thought this was simply swell - everyone giggling for no reason.