Bytes to Biryanis: Fateh Hyderabad

The mid of the week is usually the most ambiguous time in the life cycle of a software engineer. Monday blues are over, tasks are stacked up and Friday looks like a mirage. On a Wednesday afternoon, tired of the same old canteen food and life we decided for a getaway during the weekend .A much awaited change- way back to our sanity! A unanimous call on Hyderabad was taken and a joy wave traversed across the lunch table.

Charminar -The first thing that comes to mind when you listen the word Hyderabad.

Charminar -The moment you hear Hyderabad.

Before I imbibe the readers with my story, let me put some light on my allies- Avinash Hegdal and Mayank Dua.

Avinash: The not so foodie, happy go lucky, damn enough of Karnataka now let’s go out of it guy! Avi is also known as the loud speaker of the team. Office turns out to be a deserted island the day he isn’t there. You can pull his leg all day long, you’ll get tired but he’ll stay at peace like a monk.

Mayank: The not so golibaaz guy anymore. He is someone who values the relationships more than anything in this world be it family ,friends or his girl( extra affection included here ).Khulla saand ,ready to take on the world right now (Just imagine Sunny Deol from the movie Gadar).

More than colleagues or friends I see them as brothers for lifetime.

Coming back! So, Avinash decided to book the tickets from Bangalore to Hyderabad, Dua sahab did it for the return and I decided to take on the planning department. There we were – Looking for a transition from bytes of code to kilos of biryanis.

On Friday July 25(which was our scheduled date to travel), the first thing I listen to in the morning is “Bro we guys are saved! By mistake I had booked the 9 am bus instead of the 9 pm one. Hahaha! What a way to sally. I had an evil laugh in my mind and I started to ponder about the bloopers to come.

We boarded our KSRTC airavat bus from the Shanti Nagar bus stop. As soon as we occupied our seats, clouds of sadness started hovering over Mayank’s head as there wasn’t any charging facility in the bus. Just imagine a guy obsessed with whatsapp (24×7) had to go through when he saw that. To add fuel to the fire was the battery symbol in his cell phone that was proudly displaying 40% charge. Woahhh! Now this was something to cheer me and Avinash, considering the fact that it could’ve helped him follow the brocode. Well, the brocode said “No whatsapp, no reading, no girls and follow the divided by N principle.” which implies that we’ll live together, sleep together, drink together, eat together and divide the expenses by N (3 in our case).

The journey to Hyderabad was a bumpy one. We reached a couple of hour’s late courtesy the flat tyre but it was a memorable one. Avinash also was the victim of brocode. His exacts words were “Yaar jab bhi main travel karta hu tab hi sab ladkiyaan kyun ping karti hain, baaki din kyun yaad nahi aata unhe yeh Avinash and Dua gave him that look – Bitch please. Put the mouse back in the house and don’t give us all that! Hahaha.

The fun part begins now –

Saturday 6:00 a.m. MG Bus Stop Hyderabad- Day 1
The so called “Planner” just woke up from his slumber with absolutely no clue what to say when bade Nawab and chhote Nawab asked him “Planner Bro! Where do we have to get down?” The thing that made them doubt my planning abilities was the reply “Saalo mujhe kya pata.Jo last stop hai utar jao. Yahi hoga! Dekho  sablog to utar rahe hain.

Waah as if it wasn’t enough .Another event triggered at the wrong time and gave me the official tag of “A Useless Planner”. As soon as we got down the bus, we were bombarded with hotel brokers from all possible directions. Panic button was pressed and it was I ,The Planner who took the charge and told one of the broker/auto  guy to take us to Taj Mahal Hotel(as per my itinerary).The move backfired as he enlightened us about the existence of 6 different Taj Mahal hotels situated at different corners of the city. I recollected from my little memory that it was Secunderabad and ordered him to take us there. He replied “Bhaiya 15 km hai! Chaloge kya?” Nawabs were left dumbstruck.

Considering the fact that we had to board the bus from the exact same point the next day and logically the hotel should be in some proximity. Then the so called “Wise Men” took control of the situation and we settled at Hotel Sandarshini Inn. When you can’t decide between your heart and brain, go for the dick. Well the same logic was applied in the hotel selection process. Not that the hotel was great or the tariff was low, the fact that we got a magnificent view near the reception counter did the trick.

the three musketeers

the three musketeers

After some spicy roadside dosas, we decided to get into an auto rickshaw for our first destination- Golconda Fort. The auto guy told us about the various places on the way ,their history and seemed to be a genuine guy till he stopped his auto in the middle of nowhere and told us “Bhaiya aapke 7 Tombs aa gaye” and we were like WTF we didn’t even ask you to get us here !We were still OK with it .The moment he asked for 300 INR for a 200 INR meter reading, saying “Bhaiya yeh to purana meter hai new rates ke mutabik 300 hoga ” and when he replied that the updated price sheet is at his home when questioned Dua sahab lost it completely. He was belted left and right with all possible mother sister words. I was the peacemaker and Avinash bhai a mere spectator (standing 3 feet away).

Once the brawl was over and the auto guy was about to leave the Saint (Avinash) popped out and told him some words of wisdom – “Bhaiya aapne galat kiya yeh!”God knows why he took it to his heart so much that he started emphasizing on the fact that he would drop us to Golconda Fort now, no matter what happens !Our Punjabi brother (Mr Dua) advised him to leave ASAP unless he wanted bruises all over his face. After a mild tussle with the security guard over the camera, we were lost in the picturesque view of the 7 tombs of Qutb Shah Dynasty. There were three kinds of people over there. First – The photographers, Second- The coochy coo types love birds and Third- US. The sight was reasonably unpleasant for our Dua sahab considering the fact that he was on a sabbatical from his love life .We have termed it as “Off season“- the time when bros before hoes saying holds good in a true spirit.

Nawabs -Standing tall at Qutb Shahi Tombs

Nawabs -Standing tall at Qutb Shahi Tombs

Finally,after admiring the beauty of the tombs and decided to save some precious calories took an auto for the Golconda Fort .We BTW, refers to the two Nawabs who did not show  any spirit in walking at any point of the trip. For the first time the auto fare was actually fair. Then arrived the biggest dilemma whether to take the guide or not. The planner acted like a small kid and after a series of yes-no-yes-no finally it was decided to include Afroz (the guide) with us .Trust me the decision was worth every penny we gave him. Afroz is a pioneer when it comes to history, facts and engaging people. He made us climb 360 steps within no time, told us about the tharkiness of the king (how he had created a secret tunnel for one of his mistress that connects Golconda to Charminar, later married her and named the city Hyderabad on her name “Hyder Begum“).He demonstrated the architecture like a true craftsman.

Golconda Fort (shepherd's hill)

Golconda Fort (shepherd’s hill).View from the entrance

Golconda Fort (View from the top)

Golconda Fort (View from the top)

After the tour we were dead tired. I, on the other hand was equally scared at the same time. Considering my lack of geographic knowledge about the city what if they ask me “What next Mr Planner”. Playing safe I told them I don’t know which location would be geographically feasible from here, it’s better if we ask some locals. Based on majority of the recommendations, we decided to head towards the legendary Paradise Biryani at Secunderabad. The auto guy had an amazing Hyderabadi accent and was really a gem of a person.

On the way he helped us in restructuring our itinerary and emphasized on going to Salar Jung museum the next day especially because of the dwarf that rings the European clock. The Biryani was good (though I expected it to be fiery spicy).After the sumptuous meal,Birla temple was right there on the cards.

Paradise Biryani,Secunderabad

Paradise Biryani,Secunderabad

The planner was at his best once again, when he suggested walking down those 3 miles. How long it’ll take, just check your GPS?, asked Mr. Avinash. 20 minutes bro! Those two got furious at the reply. Seriously Bhai it’s by car not if we walk! Considering the criticality of the situation I didn’t retaliate and calmly slid my bums in the nearest parked auto because I knew even if I don’t take the rickshaw those Nawabs would’ve charged me anyway (remember the mighty By N rule).

Afterwards we saw the display of some quality marketing skills. The auto guy agreed to take us to the hill (where Birla temple is situated) in just 10 bucks, provided we visit a Pearls shop and spend at least 5 minutes over there. Even after the extensive peer pressure Dua sahab (the only eligible contender to buy something from there) didn’t buy anything and flabbergasted us with this filmy reply “Bhai baat 250 ki nahi hai, khareed to main 25,000 ka bhi lu, saali koi value to kare iski “. We both laughed till our stomachs ached. That by far was our cheapest auto ride in Hyderabad.

Later, my darshan got jeopardized and I was barred from entering the temple because I wasn’t wearing full length pants. All thanks to my brilliant convincing skills I was allowed to go inside. We offered our prayers and headed for Niloufer Bakery to have the best Irani chai and Osmania biscuits in the town. The bakery was named after Niloufer, one of the Nizam’s daughter  who was also considered the most beautiful lady of her era. The tea was simply breathtaking. No water, loaded with milk and sugar with a slight aroma of chaipatty.After a soothing stroll at the nearby Necklace Street we decided it call it off for the day and went straight back to our Hotel. The day ended with some peaceful pegs and “Yeh Veeraniyaan”(Dua’s favourite) in the hotel room.

Birla Mandir

Birla Mandir

Day 2 kicked off with another major goof up. Finding Govind was the sole aim of our souls. We reached Ghansi bazaar early in the morning looking for the best street food Bandi (lorry) in the town. Our confusion level reached the peak when we couldn’t figure out which was Govind as we saw two lorries parked back to back at the Ghansi Rd junction with equal number of people circumcising them in terms of popularity. Then the wise men suggested the usage of GPS, which clearly indicated that it’s 500m from there.

So I switched off my data packets and we proceeded. Merely after walking some 200 m God knows what struck us; we saw a fancy lorry and assumed it to be Govind’s. We stopped there, ordered 3 plates of Idli vada and even clicked a couple of pictures. Later the planner’s photographic memory came to the rescue and the planner suggested that it can’t be Govind as I can’t see any cheese and tomatoes here, which according to the internet is his speciality. After Dua sahab’s intervention we decided to move on and the moment we saw the GOVIND DOSA board, we were ecstatic. After eating at that Lorry, I could proudly admit that it was the best street food I’ve had in ages. Govind, the guy who runs on a Red Bull, should be treated with uttermost respect for his offerings to the food lovers.

Govind ,Ghansi Bazar

Govind ,Ghansi Bazar

After a brisk affair with Charminar and the Persian tea at Nimrah we decided to check major tourist destinations off our list. I don’t know whether the autowallahs in Hyderabad don’t interpret what we say or they are over smart to take us wherever they feel like taking. Again we got fooled and were transported to Chowmahalla Palace instead of Salar Jung. Due to that over hyped dwarf story, we wanted to be at Salar to witness the bell ringing ceremony.(12 times for 12:00 hours) and asked him to take a U turn and drop us at Salar on account of some extra money. Our sheer curiosity went in vain as no dwarf turned up (kat gaya bhai bade wala feeling aa gayi), still we had a great time exploring the museum.

The sword collection was imperial. It made me get lost in my wander land of Game of Thrones. We even checked our BMI and horoscopes. Mayank’s slip read “You exaggerate too much at times. Behave yourself” and mine said ” You are bound to get ditched by a colleague of yours .Sadness is expected (which did happen in terms of travelling plans)”.After a tiresome time we revisited Chowmahalla. Vintage cars and the royal photo shoot finally reflected the planner’s hard work and resilience.

Salar Jung Museum

Salar Jung Museum

Then came the major twist in the plot.Samridhi (one of my friend from Hyderabad) called me and said she wanted to meet and keeping in account the fact that you cannot expect her to come that far because of the iron nail incident, we had to go to Madhapur (that’s where she stays).Also Shadab Hotel’s haleem was still on the list to be checked, which was in the opposite direction to way we were planning to go then. I went into a numb state for a fraction of seconds due to the fact that I had to choose any one keeping the time constraints in mind. Then the Sr. Nawab’s decisive skills, Junior Nawab’s bargaining skills and their leniency in modifying the brocode came to my rescue. We decided to meet her at Basheer Bagh (half way at Madhapur).The Nawabs could see a big smile on the planner’s face. We escaped the narrow lanes of Charminar and Mecca Masjid and with every lane crossed Avi bro was chanting “aaj to bhai ko Samridhi se milwa ke hi rahenge in an over filmy way”. Finally we met her at Cafe Bahar and had Haleem as well. My joy had crossed all boundaries.

The famous Hyderabadi Haleem

The famous Hyderabadi Haleem

At last we bought some souvenirs from the Karachi Bakery and boarded our multi axle Volvo(the one  booked by Dua sahab). We had a hearty laugh looking at the charging sockets.

Cheers and I’ll come back soon Hyderabad.

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Bangalored !

I love you Bangalore !
Not just for an awesome college life, the craziest of the friends or the MNC job that you’ve offered me; there is something more to it. I wonder I would ever be able to express it.
6 years man! I know you in and out. Trust me you are the best, leave even the weather part aside.

The fact that I owe you one big time, let me pen down where all you’ve made me felt ecstatic. The places where I love to go again and again..In case, someone’s new to town and inquisitiveness in him happens to drag him down to these  places  after reading this piece of blog, I’ll be extremely glad .Here’s my list-

Now, Swalpa Cheers Maadi Saaar!

1. MTR 1924:
Considering the rich cultural heritage of Lalbagh MTR, if you think it is somewhat less, No is the answer. This place deserves the cult following. The very fact I love it because of the simplicity in the food, the menu and everything is enriched with the aroma of desi ghee.
Majority of my Sunday mornings are dedicated to relishing the best bissi belle bath, rava/masala dosa, idli vadas and filter coffee in town.

Well, you don’t judge a south Indian restaurant with its sambhar in Bengaluru!!Chutney is the one that matters the most and let me tell you it is just perfect here. Staying closely offers me the luxury to barge in any moment here. Even the 220 rupee one special meal during the lunch is equally delightful. Once you see the variety it offers to your plate you tend to forget the long queues and all the waiting.

If a Punjabi like me feels this way just imagine the joy on the faces of hardcore Kannadigas eating over there.

MTR's special bissi belle bath

MTR’s special bissi belle bath

2. PLAN B:
Dimly lit, glass bottles hanging over the bar adorned by cool posters and enormously loud music to go on with it! Well that’s plan B for you. Do not go on its name. Trust me! Once you have the chicken wings spiced with their iconic ABS sauce (ass burning shit) you’ll say realise that it is the only plan if you are visiting Ashok Nagar.

ABS for that matter is no ordinary piece of sauce. It has the potential to put your face on their legendary walls.  If someone can finish the wings (a dozen of that kind) in 120 seconds he is right there adoring the prestigious wall of fame. Plan B is like a small roadside American pub next door run by an over friendly Coorgi uncle. I can bet he will remember your name for his entire life once you share a talk/smoke with him for 5 minutes. Sometimes I wonder is it those pink lil Coorgi swines or the cigar he keeps smoking responsible for his sharp memory.

Even though it’s overcrowded, you can’t listen to what the person smelling your burps is talking or the fact that you always have to shred 45 minutes of your life to get into this place, you’ll still love it; the way I do. Just to clarify the above written statements have nothing to do with the fact that I have special liking for Coorgis. Their burgers, wings and pork have made me do the talking.

Ultra Spicy chicken wings at Plan B

Ultra Spicy chicken wings at Plan B

3. CHIN LUNG:
There are some good bars. There are some better bars and then there is CHIN LUNG.
Located right at the junction of residency road and THE Brigade road; stands tall this epic place. It is the one of the classiest and the shadiest places I’ve ever been to. You can find from rags to riches drinking pauwass (quarter)over there, where in rags being referred are the college kids, people just starting their careers like me and riches are the ones who are richer not only by their hearts, their  car brand as well.

Spread across three floors, the top floor gives the best view .The terrace is a space for heated conversations, loud exchanges, raucous laughter and the occasional brawl. If it is drizzling that day, the peanut masala and the chilli chicken can give you goosebumps.The best part about the place is that the waiters are the real bosses. I’ve never seen such rude yet caring staff at the same time.

It might resemble to some kind of hazy bars you could’ve seen in Bollywood movies but trust me just go there skip the dingy entrance, overlook the weird people occupying the dark alleys with chillums, grab a table on top, pour some whiskey and take a deep breath, feel the neon rays across the street and think about life; you won’t regret it.

Chin Lung-The hazy kingdom

Chin Lung-The hazy kingdom

4. OPUS:
Better known for its activities, situated near the great Bangalore palace; this place is a complete action hub. Ranging from a wide range of social events like Karaoke, Live Bands, Stand up comedies what stands apart and attracts me to book (I prefer to skip the curious case of drink and drive) a cab almost every alternate Thursday is the fact that 10,000 rupees, a trophy, a table on the house and an infinite amount of knowledge is up for grabs at Booze and Brains.

It is an ideal place for catching up with friends or a casual dine out with intellectual colleagues over drinks and some quiz stuff. The main courtyard is open and airy. Amazing music, Goan food, great vibes and the voguish chicks of The United States of Bengaluru are my secondary reasons to love this place.

Booze and Brains hosted every Thursday by Mark Rego

Booze and Brains hosted by Mark Rego.

5. TRUFFLES- ICE AND SPICE:
Life is too short to not eat the All American Cheese Burger at Truffles (Ice and Spice).I mean the cheese literally melts in your mouth. I’ve never had a better burger than this in my entire life. It’s proximity to the all girls Jyoti Niwas College converts the inevitable boring waiting durations to bird watching sessions .The USP  of the place is the enigma that makes you feel younger.Their chicken steaks are yummy and definitely add a great value making it as the perfect “American Brunch Place” in the town. Planning of giving a Budget treat- Don’t think too much. Start heading towards Kormangala Truffles.

The legendary All American Cheese Burger

The legendary All American Cheese Burger

6. TOIT:
This is THE PLACE. It never gets older. Toit is an iconic landmark in terms of being the oldest and coolest micro breweries in the town. The first thing you see as you enter is a Dravid’s portrait (just behind the fumy reception desk) that says “To TOIT from Rahul Dravid”; I mean what else you want then! If someone in my circle comes to visit Bangalore I make sure that he/she has to have their Tintin and Baked Nachos.

I’ve had the most epic conversations here at Toit, ranging from “How does it feel to work for Anurag Kashyap” to “Bhai kuch to karna hai life mein. BC dekh lio”. Friday night is the best time to go there, stand at the bar, get sloshed, watch a game and dream. Their motto is “Fuck Reservation”. Hardly twice or thrice in my life I’ve sat there and eaten. The crowd just hits you and the best part is you barge into a lot of known faces and if you are high you are bound to have a gala time.

A brave new happy world

A brave new happy world

7. BISTRO CLAYTOPIA:
Located right at the epicentre of the city’s most posh area, Indirangar is this small house turned into cafe. It unleashes my creativity and I call it as my “Quantum of Solace”. Usually if I’m alone, I just sit back, get lost in my wanderlust, pen down my thoughts, plan my itineraries and take all my life’s imp decisions at this place. Ironically, it turns out to be a gossip ADDA in case I happen to visit it with the boys. That time we use the footpath space, share a smoke, sit outside and talk and the best part -you can peacefully sit there for hours without getting bugged for placing the order.

Another thing that I like here is its diversification of the crowd. At times you can see kids modelling clay pots, people holding hands on a date, someone playing with their pet or a group of friends relishing smoothies in a single frame. I like their Grilled Lamb Burger and Omelette the most.

Claypot your thoughts !

Claypot your thoughts !

8. MAHESH LUNCH HOME:
Some wise man once said “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I think he was at Mahesh Lunch Home while phrasing it. Forget about the ambience and the warm welcomes! It’s their food that does the talking. Undoubtedly the best sea food (I call it as the real happiness) I’ve ever had.

Their chefs, managers and Stewarts treat you like their babies. They know what they are serving(with minute details) and make sure that you know what exactly do you want to eat because the menu is huge.Still,if you are confused you have the exact raw thing on your table ! You see, you like, they cook -That’s their mantra!

You can customize the spice quotient with the chef as well. When I went there for the first time, I was awestruck to see such an amazing hospitality that I ended up paying 200 /- tip on top of the tax vats n blah blah.Try their lobsters, crabs and Bombay ducks ,I can assure that you will look forward to come back for the heavenly experience.

Lobster on the rocks !

Lobster on the rocks !

9. MATTEO:
Situated right across the most happening lane (Church Street) of Bangalore, this place demonstrates the true cosmopolitan nature of the city. My sole reason to love this cafe is that it gives me the perfect ambience to read.

I can’t imagine a better place than Matteo to be on a Saturday afternoon. You can spot me at the leftmost corner just next to the glass separation wall in case you happen to pass by the road. My regular is a grilled chicken sandwich clubbed with a hot coffee.

Also, this place offers me the pleasure to travel in NammaMetro at least once a weak. You can take a power break from reading and visit the Magazines (right opposite to Matteo) where in the Cats can give you the best relaxation therapy.The Entertainment Store also falls in the catchment area. So, once I am done, I usually check out that and retreat. Overall, it’s a complete package.

Matteo-Gift of God for the readers.

Matteo-Gift of God for the readers.

10. SAVOURY:
Located on the hustling Mosque Road in Frazer Town, Savoury Restaurant offers you the best Arabian dishes in the town. Though it is much known for their Shawarmas and pulpy juice, but I love their Al Faham Dajaj and barbecue chicken with humus equally. The meat is fresh, tender and perfectly cooked that it just hits your p spot. It always gives me the vibes to travel to Istanbul, don’t know why! Anyway let me assure you this place is an absolute delight for die hard non veg lovers esp. during Ramzan time. Go there and be their Nawab!

My little Istanbul.

My little Istanbul.

PS: All the images have been taken from the internet. Sorry, I was too busy cherishing those moments (every single time) that I couldn’t capture the photographs.