Saturday night in Hyderabad

posted by on 2007.09.22, under India, Travel

Picture this. It is Saturday evening and you are out. You are seated at a table with fine white table cloth with 2 red fancy clothes covering it. The place is surrounded with men in bow ties, mustaches, and with a genuine interest in serving you, so that you may enjoy your evening. They care not whether your tip is 15% or 20%, because in reality, they know it will likely be less than even 5% your expenditure at their place of employment this night. You take a sip of your Antiquity whiskey, take a bite of your deep fried vegetarian appetizer, and take a deep breath. Look around the room, you see nothing close to a resemblance of a woman, similar to the audience in a San Francisco Gentleman’s club minus the staff. A man to the right of you is repeating an obnoxious phrase, over and over again. You look at him, and realize he is directing his words to you, the only fair skinned man in the room. You become tense, understanding that you could wipe the floor with this fellow if you so choose to, but the consequence of such actions might involve a mob of 30 or more men chasing you, some who might decide to use a sword in their favor. This man continues to taunt you. You’ve been a guest in his city for over month now, and even share the same ethnicity as him, but yet he is adamant to let you know that you are different. You look at him with more intensity, violence has not left the back of you mind, but courage has now entered. You spend an extra minute staring at him while he is potentially abusing in a foreign language. It is neither Hindi or Telugu, as you have become aware when you are being insulted in these languages after a months worth of clumsy encounters. It is actually an ancient Indian Language called Sanskrit that this man has decided to use to speak his mind to you. After a minute of reading him and his crew, you decide to wink at him, and crack a smile to ease the tension. More words are spoken. You just listen, not understanding, but not diverting attention. The man and his crew start to move, and get out of their chairs. It is on. Three men walk behind you, and this guy gets up. You realize that he is wearing no pants, but a cloth around his waist, similar to a Lungi, an outfit worn by just a few men you have known, but deeply respected. Nonetheless, this man is a stranger and you have been insulted, you are ready. The man approaches, just a few feet away from you. Just then the place erupts with a volume of noise you recall from your college days in the Breslin Center at MSU. Forgetting your current situation you jump out of your chair, your tensed muscles flex, veins popping out of the side of you neck as you add your foreign accent to the chaos. Exchange high fives with your present company and much to your surprise, this man embraces you as an Uncle would embrace a nephew. Today India has defeated Australia in a cricket match for the twenty20 tournament in South Africa, and will be advancing to play Pakistan once again, but this time for the championship. The man who had a conflict with you earlier had been drunk and repeating “India always wins” with the tone to imply that you were not Indian. Your immediate reaction to India’s Shanthakumaran
Sreesanth bowling Australian expert batsmen Matthew Hayden to take a crucial wicket from the Aussies was enough evidence needed to convince this drunken man not to hate you, but to take you in as his own countryman. His choice of using a language that even most locals wouldn’t understand remained peculiar, but his embrace made your decision to make a night out of this cricket match worth it. You finally start to feel like you belong to this city, and wait in anticipation for Monday’s finale. Your Uncle in Dubai calls you, your father back in the US calls you, men are hugging each other, screaming, showing the middle finger to Australian players on TV, and in the most emotional state any of these stoic characters have shown you so far. The world’s number one rivalry in sports, India vs Pakistan will go down one more time, this time to decide the champion of the most exciting form that the game of cricket has allowed in its history. Americans back home, the time to adopt this game is now – I urge you all to watch this game on Monday. Goodlands is the place to watch it if you are in Hyderabad, the city will certainly shut down for this one, as it is not just cricket, or one of the biggest religious festivals in India’s yearly calendar, this is India vs Pakistan. (U of M vs Ohio State is not even close in comparison).

That was my Saturday night after a morning of haggling with my bank to take my money without a 10% commission, finding out that the restaurant I had been going to had been ripping me off by only serving me 1/2 the quantity of Chicken 65 in my orders because I had an American Accent, my driver Satyam informing me that a substitute who neither spoke English or had a phone would be taking over next week just before I spent the Saturday afternoon in the office getting ready for my site to go to development. Only one thing on my mind right now, though, and that is victory. I just hope my new friend is in the bar Monday to celebrate our mutual teams success.


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