Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Last Saturday some friends and I went and visited the Qutb Shahi Tombs, which I learned about in my Lonely Planet before I even got here. We've been meaning to go and see them for a few weeks now, but we've gotten side tracked or been away from Hyderabad. No one here has even mentioned them to us as a suggestion to "go see" and we didn't know anyone who had been to them so far, so we really had no idea what to expect. In fact, I really just expected an old grave yard with some ancient "mausoleum" type structures. Not for the first time, we were totally unprepared for the reality that is India.
We biked to the main gate from Tagore so we could get a city bus to the area where the public park/tombs were. The bus fare was only Rs.11 and the bus ride was exactly how you would expect an Indian bus to be. As usual, we were the only white people and the bus was brimming at maximum capacity. At least there weren't any chickens on board. I really don't mind traversing the city via bus; it's really economical and I like becoming immersed in the real India. The only slight difficulty is knowing which stop to get off on. So far we've survived by depending on helpful Indian women who know a little English.
Saturday was no different, so a nice women told me which stop we needed to get off on, so I signaled to the rest of our "whitey brigade" and we trailed off the bus as it pulled away again.
We payed a small fee to enter the tomb area of the park, rounded a corner and were completely amazed.

The First Tomb
These tombs were all pre-Moghul, ranging from the 15th to 17th century, and all in various states of decay. However, their disrepair made them all that much incredible. Each tomb, like a smaller version of the Taj Mahal but in stone, still has an attendant, and the actual tombs inside are still decorated with shawls, incense, and flowers.
After the first tomb there were another ten, at least, behind a fenced in area. Some were smaller than others, but all were beautiful. The vegetation and life growing through the hundreds of year old stone made them even more beautiful than they might have been when they were first erected.
Not only were our surroundings amazing, but the day was great too; hot, blue skies, and not too humid. Unfortunately I chose to wear jeans that day... We spent all afternoon there, just wandering around and taking pictures.

The only woman's tomb in the group

View from the largest tomb

Successfully playing with my camera

My favorite tomb

My Roommate (Alana) and the Norwegians (Marianna, Kaia, and Trudy) eating corn from a vendor
We decided not to spend money and return to Tagore for dinner, so we got on a larger, shared tuk-tuk and headed back to campus. Of course, it was on our way biking back to Tagore that I finally found my puppy and to top off the exciting day the Norwegians, Diana, and I ended it in the Apollo Hospital ER (for my benefit only).
The night before all this, Friday, was nice too. Again, the Norwegians, Diana, and I went to the theatre with a couple of Indian guys from the Norwegian's International Relations class. The play was Baghdad Wedding, which I swear I've heard of before (I'm sure on NPR), and it was quite exceptional. It was nice to hang out with non-Tagore people in India, and I've actually run into the two guys a couple of times since then.
Sunday, after taking Oogy to the shelter, was nice and lazy and tomorrow, Thursday, we're taking a train to Pondicherry for the weekend. We're keeping our fingers crossed for no rain so we might actually get a chance to wear the bikinis we keep packing. But alas, al-hamdu lilah... (an Urdu phrase meaning "god gives us whatever he likes").

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