A lot of friends both in India and in the U.S. have asked me what I do on the weekends. Though time passes and I feel busy, it’s been tough to answer that question because every weekend has been different. I’ve posted about going to the zoo and TedXHiTechCity but here is a larger sampling of what my weekends have looked like in Hyderabad as I come up on my very last just a week from today.
- Saree shopping at Pochampally: A little known attraction just outside of Hyderabad is Pochampally, the home to handmade silk saree manufacturing. In 1970, some village headmen decided to integrate silk weaving into cotton weaving to improve the livelihoods of the village and now they are leaders in the industry. We arrived with tempered expectations and were amazed by the selection of incredible silk sarees and equally incredible tour of the huge factory. The lack of crowds, friendliness of the staff, and up close experience of seeing silk dyed and woven made for an awesome experience and I got a saree to remember it by. Now I just need an Indian friend to marry so I have somewhere to wear it.
- Senegalese hip hop band concert: BBC Sound System was an awesome group that stopped at the Novotel on a 12 city tour. Despite their mostly unknown music, they had an audience of ex-pats and Indians captivated for the couple of hours they played. I highly recommend them.
- Sight seeing in Mumbai with Abbey: My good friend likes to wander the back roads with a camera, exactly my style for traveling making for a perfect first visitor. We spent a couple days in Mumbai, where she was the pied piper for little kids looking for a few rupees and then a few days in Hyderabad where she was a celebrity taking photos with young Indian guys at Golconda Fort. It was fascinating to notice the difference in how I am treated alone versus when I’m with another white, blond woman.
- Playing Holi at the Hyderabad Children’s Aid Society: There really is no better group to spend a festival of colors and water fights with than 80 teenage boys. They were quite excited to see they had blank canvases as Mary Ann and I arrived clean with pale skin. It was a lot of fun but almost two months later, I still have pink streaks in my hair.
- Exploring road number 11: Every day I leave my apartment building, I turn right. It took me until a few weeks ago to turn left to see what the rest of road number 11 looked like. On my journey, I met these two kids Mansoo and Akoo (”like Hakuna Matata” is how they told me to remember it) who walked around with me for about an hour while I took a lot of pictures. Last weekend, I took a bunch of the pictures I took back to the people and it was pretty awesome to see their faces as I handed them the photos of themselves. Two days ago, Mansoo spotted me getting into an auto and called out “Ali Auntie”; he wanted to invite me to his birthday party. These moments are some of the best I’ve had here.
- Getting baptized at Hash: Each time a “virgin hare” lays the course for the Hyderabad Hash House Harriers, the individual gets baptized with a name and a showering of beer. A few Sundays ago I was up at 7am with a bag of cement and 3 other hashers to lay the trail. It took almost three hours and then I spent the entire day trying to recover before having to do the course all over again with the group in the evening.
- Fundraiser for the Hyderabad Multiple Sclerosis Society: Last month, I joined a few Deloitte friends for a Saturday evening art auction, dinner and cocktails to raise money for the MS Society. It was interesting to get a small glimpse into the Indian philanthropic community which a Bain study (full report) recently reported is about 0.6% of the country’s GDP (compared to 2.2% in the U.S.). The event was well done with about 50 pieces of art for sale starting at around 13,000 rupees up to a couple hundred thousand.
- GreenMango retreat at the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary: On this Saturday, about thirty of us spent an hour walking 6km around a wildlife sanctuary only to see one deer (that we could actually pet) followed by listening to a park ranger talk for over an hour about how we shouldn’t feed plastic bags to cows because they will expand in their stomachs and cry (while motioning a tear running down his face). Lucky for most of you reading this, I didn’t capture it on video or I would make you sit through the joy of Kindergarten-level environmental education. The rest of the day was equally entertaining as we picnicked in a park full of wild monkeys.
- Pedicures at Juice: A couple times I’ve splurged for a 400 rupee (about $8) pedicure. Given that I, like most people, wear sandals every day and there is dirt and trash everywhere, a good foot scrub is the perfect way to pamper.