Murmeli goes India

An AIESEC traineeship in Hyderabad, India

Sick again but getting better

Don’t worry, it’s just acute homesickness, so nothing too severe. I got very stressed last Saturday. It is never really quiet in here. You have at least the fans rolling to keep away the heat. On Saturday people were working at the construction site next to our house and the noise was terrible. Occasionally a plane flies over our flat to land on or to take off from the Hyd airport. Every morning you can here kids, adults, chicken, someone banging a hammer, babies crying and dogs barking. I basically spent the whole Saturday in bed listening to music. I did not really have any energy to go anywhere or do anything. We went to have lunch at about five and it was too late because it was between lunch and dinner time. Many restaurants don’t really server anything then. We did find a place on Road n:o 1 where they served food (funnily, between lunch and dinner, this place did not have any veggie food, only chicken). That place was situated in a big crossroads and the noise there was awful. You had to shout to make the person on the other side of the table to hear you.

On Saturday morning some kids, probably, threw a rock through the girls’ room window. There was glass on the floor and all over Claire as well. Good thing she was not hurt. Shortly after that some people came to look at the flat since it is for sale! I let them in because they had the landlord on the phone who said I should let them take a look. AIESEC has said that they have a contract on the flat for another year, but who knows… Damn, that was a stressful day.

In the evening we had a break from all this fortunately. We went to a party outside Hyderabad. There were tens of people there, filling about 9 jeep taxis, mostly AIESEC trainees. The place was a weird, abandoned looking house in the middle of nowhere. However abandoned it was, some people still thought that the police will come there anyway. Not because there would be some real trouble but because they will get money out of it. Bribes or “gifts” are common practice. On Friday evening cops on a motorcycle stopped Claire and a friend of hers when they were coming home from a bar on an auto. One of the cops was very drunk and started pulling Claire’s friend’s long hair insisting he cut it shorter. My understanding is that the other, more sober cop put an end to the scene eventually and they let my friends go.

Undoubtedly I need a break and that’s why we’ve been planning to go see caves in Ajanta next weekend. I should be going there with Eduardo in our flat and then Simon and Kevin from the flat downstairs. Let’s see if the trip works out. Did not hear about the boys downstairs today. I hope we’re going, because a break would do me real good.

I called home on Skype on Sunday and it was great. It was nice to hear familiar voices. Everybody was home: parents, both sisters, brother, brother’s girlfriend, the cat and the dog as well.

There was a festival in Hyderabad on Sunday. I woke up on Sunday morning to this loud music playing and drumming. It was the festival of a very popular god (Hindus can freely choose which gods to worship, and as my boss has many times pointed out, anything can be made a god, just lift it up on a shrine and start worshipping). The name of the god was Kali something. It had another name as well but it was too difficult to memorize. Should have asked them to write it down for me. Eduardo, Pike and Miki (from Japan) went to see the festival together and I followed them shortly after they had gone. That was the first time I had stepped into the slums in our backyard. It was _weird_. All the people, except for one, were really friendly to me. The little kids guided me to the temple where there were people dancing. Obviously they made me dance as well. They thought it was hilarious. There was one guy there who did not like my presence. He called for three nearby police men to come talk to me. The police asked where I’m from and when I said I’m Finnish they said OK. The police convinced me and the guy that it is OK that I’m there. When the crowd got a hold of me, surrounded me from all sides and made me dance “one step one step sir” the police were seemingly worried about me and asked if I’m OK. The situation was strange and scary but the people did not seem threatening. They were merely fanatic (jaiks!) about the festival, the god and a foreigner who shows even some interest in their life.

After the dancing I started the search for Ed, Pike and Miki. The little kids (mostly boys, did not see any girls I think) were more than enthusiastic about helping me find the “two girls, one gentleman” that I had lost. We ended up walking a complete circle, following the advice from different people, ending up in the same place where we had left. On the way people stared at me from the windows and doors. Generally everybody was really friendly. People came to shake my hand asking “hello what your country?”. For the boys it really seemed to be an honor to get a chance to shake hands with a foreigner. The camera they saw hanging from my neck made them shout “one photo one photo” and a couple of times I took the photo. Showing them the picture on the LCD of the camera made them go completely bananas, every time. This gang of boys seemed to have a leader who introduced me to a bunch of his friends. In the gallery there are pictures where you can see all of them.

Once we got back to the temple I was already ready to go home but somebody walked me to the temple. I had to take the sandals off on the stairs which did not feel very comfortable since the stone ground was filthy and muddy after hordes of people had walked to and from the temple during the day. I left my sandals and went into the temple. Instructed by the Indians, I did the namaste greeting before climbing up the last steps to the temple. Inside the small temple there was a shrine with loads of rice and other sacrificial gifts (pujas) laid upon its feet. I asked for a permission to take pictures of the shrine, the temple and the people and I also got one. The results are in the gallery. They also gave me a red spot on the forehead (have to ask what that symbolizes) and half a coconut and some other vegetable to take home with me. They offered some coconut milk too, of which I politely drank a few sips. They only said it is a tradition and I did not get any other, more religious reason for having that drink.

After the visit I got my sandals back, which were of course loyally guarded by the kids. Naturally they walked me up from the slums to the hill where they asked “you know way now?” and after saying yes a few times and taking “one photo” we said bye bye and went our own ways.

The visit to the temple really paid off, even though it was very dirty there, with a huge open sewer going through the slum, and the people were a bit too interested in me. Banjara Hills, where this flat is, is actually a very posh neighbourhood. The houses here are beautiful and very big. The slums, which actually are not the worst kind of slums I think, are located in Banjara as well. Hyderabad is not a poor city by Indian standards, as far as I know. Still, poverty is very visible. In the same album with the festival pictures there are pictures from our flat too. Check them out. It is getting late here so I’d better go to sleep. Today I ate lunch at a Chinese place and had chapatis for dinner. They’ve been enough to keep hunger away. Oh and I had a cafe latte and an ice cream in the afternoon as well, close to the office. My German colleague’s cappuccino was pretty much identical to my latte, served in an identical cup 🙂 Anyways, even if it was far from an authentic latte, it was inexpensive and tasted more European than the sweet stuff at the office, so I liked it a lot.

So, until we meet again, bye bye!

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July 24, 2006 - Posted by | Indian life, Pictures from India

3 Comments »

  1. Sounds like you’re having a blast there, being able to visit new locations and see new things. You must already have quite a pile of photos from different places.

    Constant noise must feel really oppressing sometimes. I guess one gets eventually somewhat used to that. It’s quite hard for me to image a place where there isn’t single silent moment.

    Comment by Tuukka | July 25, 2006 | Reply

  2. hey mikko,
    nIce to see your blog.keep on updatIng
    have fun…

    Bilal
    LC 1stanbul

    Comment by Bilal-istanbul | July 26, 2006 | Reply

  3. Thanks for the comments!

    Yeah, I sure see new places and things and people. And the monsoon, which has arrived here finally. Our balconies were flooding yesterday evening and it was amazingly cool this morning. Hope it won’t rain this much in Goa in three weeks 😉

    The work place is a mess right now. They are renovating the office to make room for four new students from Germany, three or four new AIESEC trainees from Columbia and about 20 (!) new Indian employees. Last evening they had painted the ceiling above my work station and they had cleverly moved my PC (which is normally _under_ the table) away for safety and left the monitor on the table (like it was less likely to get paint on it!!). Clever, I must say… the floor is filled with big splashes of dry paint and there is dust, screws, pieces of plastic and other stuff all over. My desk and my PC were covered with a few millimeters of dust as well. A cockroach was sneaking on the side of the drawer where I keep my emergency biscuits. Don’t think I’ll be having even one bite of those biscuits today 😀

    Come to India and if you can stand it there will be nothing in Finland that you will ever complain about 🙂

    Comment by Murmeli | July 27, 2006 | Reply


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