I had expected to leave Hyderabad almost immediately after Seth Godin’s talk, but Mr. E’s roommates had recently moved out and left me an empty bedroom (and bed), and Mr. E’s invitation to stay a few more (free) nights at his apartment were quite appealing.
I spent the next six days at his apartment, and for the most part the days followed a similar pattern: wake up, work for a few hours, get lunch, work, Mr. E comes home, watch a James Bond movie/ watch the World Cup, drink a beer, work, the bed. It was just what I needed. That said, every day was an exception to this pattern somehow, including the following exceptional exceptions:
- On Saturday night I went to a party with the “King” of India. Actually, that was just what this one girl kept calling the host. It had something to do with being related to the former king that had ruled the area that is now Hyderabad. His house was fantastic, and the party was the most fun that I’ve been to India so far. It was an interesting crowd to be sure, an eclectic mix of Indian locals, foreign workers and interns and grad students, and wide-eyed travelers. What else can I say, it was just a party!
- On Wednesday, two Googlers I’d met (Megha and Pranav) invited me to visit the Google office and have lunch. Well-aware of Google’s famous lunches and eager to spend more time with Meha and Pranav, I made the 30-minute trip across town in just under 50 minutes, and was treated to a great lunch: gourmet grilled sandwich, have-it-my-way pasta, and then another sandwich. All in all, the Google office was about what I expected and was very similar to the ones I’ve visited in Mountain View and London: spacious, easygoing atmosphere, great food, drinks & massage chairs & gyms & music instruments hidden throughout. It was a great afternoon, and Pranav and Megha were engaging and interesting hosts.
- Mr. E and I spent a few hours on Sunday with me recording video from the back of his motorcycle. We took a drive around Hyderabad and ultimately into the center of old town. I couldn’t count with a computer how many stares and waves and glances I got from the people being filmed by the strange-looking foreigner. At the center of town, Charminar, Hyderabad’s most famous monument and known as the “Mosque of the Four Temples”, had been closed for several minutes when we got there, but as soon as the attendants saw us we were pushed through the crowd and let into the gate. Why? Because our fee was 100Rs ($1.10) while the average Indian only had to pay 5Rs.
- I watched the four World Cup games played at different locations: Saturday night at supposedly *the* hip Hyderabad bar, which was a blast because I got to meet up with others I had met at the other party. I watched the Argentina vs. Germany game I watched at a local Taj hotel where I lost six out six individual and unique bets on the Argentina vs Germany game.
Hyderabad was a city that would have been easy to write off and leave immediately had I not known Mr. E, and through him a lot of interesting locals and places to go. Instead of being a simple pit stop on my way to somewhere else, I left with some great memories and rested from a few days of staying put.
On the last day, I met Mr. E at his office which was near the bus station I’d need to go to. I was dropped off near a landmark he’d given me for his office, and what I thought would be some quick coordination to get inside ended up being a 90 minute affair. I was walking around in the sweltering heat amidst a sea of activity carrying my 35lb travel backpack along with the backpack with my mobile office inside. I was pestered throughout, and was drenched in sweat and frustrated in matter of minutes. Finally, after what had seemed like hours, and after atleast 3km worth of walking down a .5km stretch of street, I found it. I went inside, met some colleagues, and then worked for a few hours while I had time. After a bit, Mr. E helped me carry my stuff to the bus stop, we said our goodbye’s and I was on my way.