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Friday, 11 July 2008
Travel Experiences - Hong kong and Hyderabad, India
Topic: Travel

I have not been able to write for a few days. The reason is that I have been traveling and I have a lot to share. Actually, I could spend pages and pages writing about the good travel experiences but this blog is rightfully so, a green blog. So, I will preserve sanctity of it. I am starting a series on some of my travel experiences from the recent travel.

I work with an offshore team and so, travel to these destinations is very much a part of the job. This time it was a travel to Hyderabad. The flying time is close to 24 hours, so, I decided to take a break in Hong kong for a couple days. The richness of the city was marvelous.  The city is very well developed in general but has sharp contrasts. We (me and my wife) decided to visit a part of original Hongkong, the Aberdeen village. As our tour guide narrated, it is the only surviving fishing village in Hongkong and people live on boats there. It was amazing to see such a natural setting, however, Victoria harbour happens to be one of the world's busiest shipping channels and the pollution was striking. The color of water has changed and I dont think any fish would ever survive in that water. No wonder, Aberdeen fishing village has been shrinking. The worst part was a visit to the village, a heritage site, where ocean was lined up with plastic bags and bottles. Sad!

Fast forward a week, I am in Hyderabad, India. It is a great city with a lot of historical heritage. I would like to write about the heritage of the city in a different article but would like to focus on the subject of this blog. Hyderabad is situated in a very rocky area and one of its heritage sites include Golconda fort, a fort made of rocks standing proudly on a hill. The fort dates back 500 years and when compared to any American heritage site, it is much older. From my perspective, it is a national treasure for India and a site with amazing past. This fort has seen several kingdoms come and go, it has been home to the famous Kohinoor diamond. Everything about it is great. A striking thing about this was the amount of plastic trash that lined up the fort. Nothing had been spared, the water bottles had been hidden in the most protected secrets of the fort.  Ten years back, when I used to live in India, water bottles were a luxury and were barely available. Today, they rule the roads and any heritage sites. They are entrenched in every single restaurant, home and elsewhere. The municipal water quality is very bad and not palatable, so, from people's perspective, only viable solution for safe drinking water is bottles. While US has been fostering its new found dislike for the water bottles, this part of the world is fast catching this fever. A trash crisis is impending! The Arabian sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian ocean are bearing the consequences.

Ok, enough about trash! There were good experiences, Hongkong and San Francisco share character. After all they are both located on the perimeter of Pacific ocean. Hongkong has the similar heights and outlying islands as San Francisco's Alcatraz, treasure island and other smaller islands. It boasts of a big mall made at the top of a mountain popularly known as Victoria Peak. Watching the city from the heights of Victoria peak brought me some good memories of my last trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. The waikiki beach area looks very similar and Hong Kong by all means outclasses it when the urban beauty is compared.

Then there was Hyderabad, I liked the city primarily because of a great visit last year and went on this year primarily expecting that things will be even better this year. I dont know if things were better but I came to know of many more dimensions of this city. A drive to the Hitec city in Hyderabad was an eye opener. Having grown up seeing Delhi as an example of a big city, I really discounted Hyderabad. But to my surprise, the Hitec city was a new generation of Hyderabad - spanking new buildings, grand offices that would put silicon valley headquarters of many companies to shame, A great work culture and an active nightlife. The city is full of jobs. People say something very real about this city - a person born here either lives his entire life here or goes to live abroad.  I would love to live here.

Excesses!

I stayed at a hotel with a brand that I had fancied always. I had worked in the early stages of my career with this group. And my expectations were really high when I went there. The services and staff were very polite and helpful true to the image of the hotel which by the way, was more expensive to stay than a hotel in Manhattan. I later came to know that rooms in these hotels are a rare commodity and are marked up heavily. To my surprise, every single meal was more expensive than I would have in Boston or in San Francisco, both known for their culinary heritage. It was hard to believe that it is same country where I have lived a larger part of my life. The cost of a dinner in a good restaurant seems to have increased 8-10 times in a span of 6 years. The inflation rate is touching 12%.


People

Its the people of a city that define the character of a city. I was pleasantly surprised with the kind of reception I received. It really made my trip to the city worthwhile. A colleague of mine brought the speciality mangoes for me. It was a delight to enjoy not just the mangoes but the special feeling of feeling cozy in an unknown city. The hotel's gymn was really special, I tried to converse in English with the fitness advisor earlier and later found comfort in talking to him in Hindi, my very own native language. And then there was cricket, a great cricket match does a spell on masses there, life just pauses until the match is won. One interesting dimension of work ethic in sharp contrast with the west is that for every single job in the west, I found many more people there. The work is not too much more, so, I noticed that they spent a good time socializing and talking to each other.

Will write more experiences in my upcoming articles.


Posted by praneymittal at 8:24 PM PDT
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