21st December 2013, 4.50 am: We left to the Bangalore International airport in meru cab and reached there by 6.25 am. This was the first flight journey for my wife, Nandini and my little princess Keerthana. Actually, it was a childhood dream for Nandini to travel by flight. Finally, the dream was coming true on this day of 21st December 2013. I can see the sheer joy and excitement in her eager eyes…
After check in, we had our break fast and hot coffee in the food court. We had ample time to roam around and click a few snaps. Then I settled on a vacant chair with my playful little daughter, while Nandini started clicking some snaps of the planes in the airfield.
Finally, the time came for us to board the flight. I clicked some snaps of Nandini posing in front of our flight and later, inside the plane. The only spoilsport was that she didn’t get the window seat. I assured her that next time I would make sure that she gets the window seat. The journey by flight was normal one and we landed in the Rajeev Gandhi International Airport by 9.40 am. The one thing that was bothering me throughout the journey was local sight seeing travel arrangement, which I hadn’t planned so far.
Once again, we got into meru cab and I started my conversation with the cab driver whose name is Shaik. Shaik gave me his visiting card and asked me to call him by evening and let him know if I needed his service for Ramoji Rao Film city, the next day. He dropped us at the Minerva Grand Hotel, Banjara Hills. It took some time for our check in due to formalities at the reception.
Room no.308 was very comfortable. It had all the amenities like electric kettle to make coffee/tea, hair dryer in the bathroom, even a telephone in the bathroom, a mini fridge, you name it and it had it. Even the sewing kit. I realized that I had made the right choice with the hotel. The only thing was that the view from the window wasn’t that exciting one, as I was expecting to some nature view when I pulled aside the curtains. We thought of having a short nap before going out. However, Keerthana, who had a nice nap in the flight didn’t allow us to have it. So we decided to get ready and go out to have our lunch, before deciding on the next reception.
We set on foot and found a hotel named Sarvi at the corner of the road. We decided to have our lunch over there. The food was delicious… all waiters started giving their full attention to little Keerthana as if she was a little princess. Later, in Reliance Fresh, I got five packets of Goodlife milk for Keerthana, as milk is the one thing she has frequently. The other thing she loves is Cadbury’s Gems.
After having fruit juice at a nearby fruit juice stall, we walked back to hotel to take some rest. We never knew how long we had slept as when I woke up it was 6.30 pm in the evening. Actually, this delay was a blessing in disguise for us. My wife told me that we should see at least one place for that day. So we got ready and I picked up Charminar, as I knew this was one place we could go and see at this point of time.
Looking for an auto, we started walking on the road which leads us to the main road. One auto person declined to take us to our destination. Then we saw the auto no.AP09 X0523 coming in our direction and the auto driver asked for Rs.200 as he said Charminar was quite far from Banjara Hills. I agreed as it was already getting late and didn’t like to waste time waiting for another auto to come along.
During the journey, I started the conversation with this auto person. He told me that his name is Shaik Haji. He took us to Charminar, where we clicked some snaps. Then he took us to Mecca Masjid…he was waiting for us outside.
Later, he took us to the pearl shops one after another one. Later, I asked him to take us to some good hotel to have our dinner. He took us to one…unfortunately, idli wasn’t available there. Idli is only food my daughter used to have usually. So I went and told him that I require idli for my daughter. He told me not to worry…he would go and get the idlis parcel while we finished our dinner. He had the parcel ready by the time we came out.
The food in this hotel was delicious too, but the bill wasn’t so. Finally, he dropped us at our hotel. I asked him how much I should have to pay him. He hesitated and said pay whatever I like. I told him that I may pay him less, which I didn’t like to do. Finally, after much hesitation he asked for Rs.500 which I felt was pretty reasonable, as the to and fro journey from Hotel to Charminar and back would have cost me Rs.400…Also the place was quite far as he had rightly said. His honesty touched me. Also we felt that we were lucky to find such a person.
He wanted to take us to the Ramoji Film City, the next morning. Also he said that he would charge us less too. I told him that I had already called and asked the Meru person to take us there. I didn’t like to call him and cancel it now. I told him that I would use his service from Monday. I asked him to be at our hotel by 8 am on Monday morning. He agreed and left with a smile on his face.
22nd December, Sunday, morning, Shaik had come and was waiting for us in the parking lot of the hotel. We had our breakfast and left to the Sangi Temple in the comfortable Meru cab. Bala, my colleague had told me not to miss this temple. It was truly magnificent as he had described. Many Telugu movies had been shot at this place. It was very near to Ramoji Rao Film City.
Shaik dropped us near ticket counter and told us to call him two hours before leaving in the evening. The Ramoji Film City is really wonderful place to spend time with one’s family. Also the longest winter feast was going on. We started roaming around clicking snaps.
We went for some complimentary joy rides after having our lunch, which wasn’t that good. Then we hopped on the Vintage Bus ride around Ramoji Film City, with a guide explaining us about the film city and movies shot at various sets inside the film city. The film city is spread across 1,664 Acres and it would impossible to cover all these places by foot.
Later, when it became dark and lights came on, it was like as if we were in a dreamland. The carnival parade was good too. We came out by 8.30 pm. We had our dinner in Sarvi and this was second time we were dining at this place. We went to sleep with alarm set at 5.55 am.
23rd December 2013, Monday morning, Shaik Haji was waiting for us while we had our breakfast which was complimentary. There were so many varieties in the breakfast buffet. Shaik took us to the magnificent Birla Temple. Nandini loved the temple. We went to a pearl shop near the temple, while returning back from the temple. Nandini and I liked a pearl set and ordered for making pearl bangles for the same. The shop keeper said it would be ready by evening.
Next, he took us to the Salar Jung Museum. It was really very good with vast collections of everything ancient. I and Nandini took turns in taking care of Keerthana. Nandini could see almost one floor and I completed covering the remaining floors. We had some snacks in the food court.
Next we went to Charminar, on the way we had very nice chai. Shaik introduced us to a person for clicking our snaps at Charminar, who charged Rs.10 per click. We took some snaps which came too well. We next went to the Mecca Masjid. Then we did some bangles shopping at one street nearby Charminar. Bangles are not only cheap; also so many different designs are available here.
We reached Golkonda fort from Charminar. We were almost half way through the sound and light show at Golkonda fort, when Keerthana started to cry. Maybe, darkness scared her. We had to abandon the show half way through and go out of there.
I asked Shaik to take us to nice hotel to have Hyderabadi Biryani. He took us to one hotel and we asked him to join us. He refused to do so. Finally, he agreed for us taking parcel for him, which we did after having our dinner. The biryani was good and we had tea after that. We returned back to our hotel. I paid Rs.1,000/- to Shaik as it was full day trip.
24th December, Tuesday morning, after our breakfast, we went to Chow Mahalla Palace and spent some time going around it and clicking some snaps too. I liked the watch tower in the palace. They say that the clock is running non stop for more than a hundred years now. Passers by adjust their wrist watches based on the time of this old antic clock, it is so accurate.
Then we went to see Guinness Book of World Records holder Sudha Cars Museum. It was really amazing seeing the wonderful creativity of this person and his wonderful creations.
We went to see the seven tombs from here.
It took us some time covering all the tombs and even clicked a wonderful picture of Keerthana over here, which I am sharing with you guys.
We went to a vegetarian hotel to have our lunch. We went to NTR Gardens post lunch and for the first time, we played dashing cars and it was nice fun. Also went around the gardens in a toy train. Then we reached the Lumbini Park and went for a boat ride towards the Buddha statue in the middle of the Hussian Sagar. We took a couple of snaps and returned back.
We were disappointed to know that there was only one laser show for that evening, tickets for which were given already. Dejected, we were resting in a nearby lawn. Then based on the crowd, they decided to have one more laser show at 8.30 PM. We got the tickets this time and
We had dinner in the same vegetarian hotel before returning to our hotel room.the laser show was amazing.
25th December, Wednesday, X’mas day! Sadly, this was the last of our stay in Hyderabad. We woke up bit late as we were all tired. We got ready and went down for breakfast. Shaik didn’t turn up till 9.15 am. I thought he may not turn up as he hadn’t called and informed me the reason for the delay. So we decided to take another auto to the Nehru Zoological Park. This auto person demanded Rs.300 for one way trip. We negotiated for Rs.200, which he finally agreed. Shaik called me while we were half way to Zoo park. I asked him to come to Zoo park directly. We reached Zoo park, bought entrance and camera tickets and went inside. We went for the train ride around the zoo and saw the animals. Then we went by walk till the safari ticket counter. The safari trip was just about okay.
We had some ice cream and came out of the zoo. We found Shaik was waiting for us outside. He took us back to the hotel. We got refreshed and then checked out. Then he took us to travel agency where we bought two tickets for the Snow world. We decided to go for 6.30 to 7.30 pm show. We decided to leave our luggage in the auto for the sight-seeing of remaining two places…Shaik told us that he would take care of them and we believed him.
We went to a posh hotel to have our lunch. This time I had lunch with Shaik. He was very pleased with this gesture of mine. He told me no one had lunch with him like this. I told him I see everyone equal. He said that I was like his younger brother; incidentally, he was the only child for his parents. He spoke about his late mother and his family. He is actually a poor man with 4 daughters and 1 son. But he is honest and down to earth. He has a dream to own Innova one day. I hope and pray that his dream comes true one day. He told us that he would pray for me and my family in masjid. I just smiled at him J
Then he took us to NTR Samadhi, where I took his snaps along with his auto. We spent sometime in this place. Then we went to the snow world. They said that they can’t allow our daughter inside as it is -5 temperature inside. So I asked my wife to go inside first and she came back after half an hour. I went inside and felt that it was nothing much. It was as if we were in a freezer…it wasn’t so cold. But it was too much artificial. Nothing close to real snow one sees on television or in movies.
We went to the vegetarian hotel and got two plates of chapathies packed for our train journey. Also got milk for our daughter. Finally, Shaik carried our luggage and came till our compartment. I spoke to my colleague Mr.Prashant, who was coming the same night to Hyderabad from Bangalore in bus with his wife, Pavithra. We bid farewell to our auto friend, Shaik Haji, as the train left the Kacheguda railway station. I messaged Shaik Haji’s contact details to Prashanth, so that he could contact him for the pick up from the bus stand, the next morning.
One more surprise waited me in that compartment. One person recognized me…he was my school mate Shasidhar Jayana. We had studied together from the middle school. He was also travelling back to Bangalore with his family. We had last seen each other many years back. We exchanged our mobile numbers and added each other on Facebook. We clicked each other’s snaps and parted in the Yelahanka railway station. So finally the memorable Hyderabad trip came to an end, leaving behind an everlasting sweet memory for a lifetime….
Shaik Haji, Auto Driver, Mobile No. 9346738358
Shaik, Meru Cabs ( Radio Cabs) Mobile No.9346361541