Posts Tagged Hyderabad


The Wall

I know what should be out

and what should be in.

But then

what’s this window doing here?

– Ismail

(trans. V. Narayana Rao)

(Source: Twentieth Century Telugu Poetry. An Anthology

Ed. & trans. V. Narayana Rao. OUP: 2002)


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Living and dying in Hyderabad

One of these days I will probably meet a ghastly end on the roads of Hyderabad. Why the morbid thought? Well it’s utter mayhem out there. A situation not helped at all by my being a very nervous driver. Ask the kid, he knows. 

He sits by my side, cringing: “Amma! That’s an auto! You can’t let an auto overtake us!”

I assure him that I can:”We’re not in a race, da. You never know when that  three-wheeler-with-a-mind-of-its-own will stop to let someone hop in.”

Or ” Amma, do we have to crawl behind this truck/bus?

“Yes, da. I’d much rather be behind that monster than in front!” I say, thinking of my colleague whose car was hit by an RTC bus from behind while she was waiting at a traffic signal for god’s sake. It was many years ago, but her neck hasn’t completely recovered. 

The solution I think is to abandon traffic rules altogether. The few morons who observe them are just risking their lives and creating trouble for others. Let lawlessness prevail and it will soon be the survival of the fittest. Weaklings like me will go off the roads. And we’ll have Formula One driving all over the place. The kid would be so thrilled. Shudder!!

Every morning when I drive out to work I wonder if I’m risking my life.  But guess what. (Ahem. Fessing up.) More than death, it’s the thought of my epitaph that haunts me. I mean, should I keep one ready?  Because if I don’t, then someone else will probably write it for me. (No, I’m no celebrity, but there’s this psycho spam commenter on my blog who might just want to . . . ) 

And if someone else wrote it, it might just have a typo! Aaargh! I’d have to rise, phoenix-like, and wield the red pen. Or be condemned to wander eternity, a tormented soul with a typo-ridden epitaph. A fate worse than death.

So I’m seriously thinking about my epitaph. Suggestions are welcome. The best ones that come to mind are Emily Dickinson’s “Called back.” and Frank Sinatra’s “The best is yet to come.”

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Of stone-throwing and dilapidated buildings . . .

In class last week during a course on Speech Communication,  a student wondered about the role of physical noise (sounds, objects, etc., that distract and therefore affect communication) in our classrooms of yore when students sat under a tree and listened to their guru with all of Nature as backdrop. Well, noise or no noise, it was probably infinitely safer back then! At least they didn’t have parts of their building suddenly collapsing on them.

 Like it did on Saturday in a college on the outskirts of Hyderabad, killing one student and injuring several others.

So what’s new? School and college buildings have been collapsing with tragic regularity all over Andhra Pradesh.  Undoubtedly it’s a shocking and distressing incident, but as if to prove that one death is news and several just statistics, the media and the government have gone into a tizzy over the incident. The Chief Minister has ordered the inspection of all private colleges in the city and the tabling of a report thereafter.

Hey-lo? Now this is what I call stone-throwing by people in glass houses. Except that we’re talking dilapidated school buildings here, and other people  children  are getting hurt. The management of this college is guilty of criminal negligence  no two opinions on that. But I’m dumbfounded by the government’s disparagement of conditions in corporate colleges. 

For one thing, the Neerada Reddy Committee submitted a scathing,  extensive report on these conditions last year. What happened to the report? Why hasn’t action been taken on it?

For another, what about government school buildings? Yes, go ahead and inspect all private colleges. But shouldn’t that favour be extended to government schools as well?

This picture of a government school (from Kalpana Sharma’s article on primary education in India in last Sunday’s Hindu)  is representative: 






A lot of government schools are little better than this. Like the ZP school in Madhapur, in the heart of Hyderabad’s “Hi-tech hub” — a stark contrast to the sprawling, luxurious buildings around. 

When basic sanitation, ventilation, space, and safety are compromised like this, how can we expect children to be in  any frame to study? 

As Sharma rightly asks in her article:

When we can contemplate investing in nuclear arms and energy, in highways and airports, in oil fields and mines, in industry and the market, can India not build schools?

 Government schools in Hyderabad beg the question: if governments can invest in swanky airports and countless SEZs, why can’t they spend on decent buildings for schools? Why do we repeatedly elect such governments back to power? What is happening to the taxpayer’s money?

And we hear all the time of plans for more and more universities, Centres of Excellence, IITs and IIMs. Depressingly ludicrous. What is the point in investing in higher education when the base of the pyramid is rotten and tottering? Will any government have the sense to redirect at least a part of that funding to primary education?  






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Leave frogs in wells please!

Andhra Pradesh is now officially Andhera Pradesh. We are back in the Dark Ages – we have no power and no water. Well, we have power cuts and rationed water, to be precise. So my entire life (by which I mean the measuring out of my day in coffee-spoons) is now structured around those two hours of power cuts and those precious hours when potable water gushes forth from the tap. No packaged drinking water for me, thanks to the pesticide scare. Not that I think (Aquaguarded) tap water is any safer. It’s really a devil-and-the-deep-sea kind of choice. Middle-class boom it seems. Superstar India it seems. I’m not amused.

But we, the people of Andhra Pradesh, do not despair easily. We are nothing if not feisty. We leave nothing to chance. So, while the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences & Weather Modifications (CASWM) of the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University is undertaking cloud-seeding operations, a few women in Hyderabad are roping in frogs to help bring the rains down on us. The picture says it all.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Andhra Pradesh/Hyderabad News/ July 15 2008

These women got together and performed holy matrimony, Hindu-style, on two frogs. Seriously. The Hindu reports it. And I am trying to fathom what this is all about.

Now, I know that rain and croaking, mating frogs kind of  happen together. But I’m assuming it’s a metonymic relationship – you know, one of association and not of cause and effect!  Did they think that “marrying” them would encourage them to mate?! And bring forth the rains? 

My background in Biology tells me that frogs mate anyway, and with multiple partners, without the social sanction of marriage!  I’d think the whole ordeal of marriage would probably kill the drive. In fact, the story goes, one of the frogs took such a fright that it ran away, and had to be caught and brought back. Consequently the marriage, originally scheduled for Sunday, was brought forward to Monday! And, apparently, no one one knows whether the runaway frog was the bride or the groom. Croak! Have they at least made sure it was a male and a female that were married?

 And where, pray, amidst these merry goings-on was that champion of Animal Rights, the SPCA? And Hyderabad’s very own Blue Cross? Huh? Huh?

I’m not making fun of anyone or any practice here. Even though my jaw dropped right to the floor when I read the story. And even though I’m guffawing even as I type this. My heart goes out to those poor frogs locked in holy monogamy till death do them apart, when actually Nature had ordained them for healthy polygamy .

This is a one-off post. Written only because I think it is a story worth recording. Maybe I’ll write a poem on this, Prasanth. Croaking frogs do not a monsoon make. Or some such thing!


Update: Not even the dead are spared the travails of the power crisis in AP. The Hindu informs  me today that crematoriums are beginning to feel the heat, with bodies piling up thanks to delays due to prolonged power cuts. So I’m going to be plagued by this even after death?!

Forget the frogs, I now have an existential dilemma: Should I live or die?

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