I get nostalgic once in a while ever since I have moved from Hyderabad to Leeds, United Kingdom. When I look back, I find them very funny and I wish I had a time machine to go back and enjoy those moments.
First thing I remember is Pan dabbas at the end of every road, next to a bus stop or adjacent to Irani Chai hotel. Typically a 7ft height and 3 ft length box in which this guy serves pan, cigarettes, gutkhas to all those who enjoy guilty pleasures. His hands would be busy making the pan but he’s all ears and eyes on every one passing by his shop. They maintain a complete database on every one’s movement, and if it’s a girl then she is certainly to be in his database. An informer in the guise of a panwala.
Few steps next to the Pan dabba, you’ll find gang of teens on a prowl to pounce a sponsor to quench their smoke and tea urges. Every gang will have a leader and to qualify for this position, either you need a thick wallet or a well built body or be smarter than the rest. The rest of the gang would call him as “anna” (elder brother).
Their daily routine would be to have an eye on all girls and try to outsmart each other to impress the girl. By any chance if the girl gives any positive glance at one of the guys, he proclaims her to be his girl and the very next moment she becomes “bhabi” (sister-in-law) for rest of the gang. Poor girl, she wouldn’t have a clue on this whole episode on her.
The guy’s sole objective of the day is to wait for that moment of time when that girl passes by to try and create opportunities to talk to her. There is a code of conduct in flirting, in that only members of the same colony are supposed to flirt with girls of their colony. There will be a gang war if an outsider enters into their fort for any girl in their colony.
Boarding The Bus
Now let’s just have a look at life at a city bus stop. You will see people spread for half a kilometre to catch a bus with their own calculations guessing the driver would stop the bus exactly where they are standing. Most of the bus drivers derive sadistic pleasures to stop the bus far away from the bus stop and watch people, who are running to catch it, from the rear view mirrors. Those who are able to board the bus feel lucky and have a smirk on their face for having made it.
News On Wheels
If you catch the bus during office hours, you don’t have to read the daily newspaper. You will find a bunch of grey haired people sitting in the back seats of the bus discussing events from the newspaper on their way to offices. If you are lucky, they would also try to pop you into their group discussion on current politics. It’s a saga of news on wheels everyday in the city buses. The bus would have all older generation occupying the back seats and younger generation towards front of the bus (near ladies’ seats).
Finally the interesting episode of autowalas. Amidst all this busy day if someone chooses auto-rickshaw to reach their destination, they must ensure to have enough patience to win unreasonable arguments with Autowalas on the extra money they try to rob off the customer. Who says kings and kingdoms are passé, the Hyderabadi autowalas consider themselves as one.
I am sure anyone who has experienced a slice of Hyderabadi life would relate to these…
Image Credit: Vijay Bhandari