Blogg för J Magnus Ericsson

Kategori: Äldre Inlägg Sida 1 av 2

Inlägg som kommer från den tidiga existensen av Non Serviam

Hyderabad VII: Summing up – with some pictures!

A business trip does of course not leave room for a comprehensive description of the place visited. Therefore here I will provide just some bits and pieces, tounge-in-cheek observations, interspersed with more or less loosely connected pictures.


You are in a big and modern shop. Want to buy something? Take it to the counter, pay for it, and walk away with it? Oh, no!

Instead, this is one of the possible scenarios:

Choose your goods, and the attendant will take it and leave it at the counter. The receiver at the counter creates a bill which I am to hand to the cashier. The goods are handed over to the packer, and a delivery list is handed to the deliverer. I pay the cashier and take the receipt to the delivery point (by taking one step to the left).

Meanwhile, the packer has created a nice package, tagged with a list of the contents. When I hand over my receipt to the deliverer, he discovers that indeed he has a list of goods which are to be delivered, and which matches my receipt.

He then turns to the packer in a detached and formal manner, inquiring about the possible arrival of the goods to be delivered. His delivery list is checked against the packing list of the identified package. Satisfied with this successful identification, and no doubt with a certain pride in mastering this process, I am handed the package containing my purchase, and a carefully rubber-stamp cancelled receipt.

All this within a cubicle where these four persons can barely turn around. And with me as the only customer in sight. I’ve shortened this description a bit. Sometimes the cashier is in a separate cubicle a few steps away. In a few places, the western way rules, no doubt spreading rampant unemployment.

I thought this picture, from a show I visited, would allude nicely to the lunar eclipse:

Symbolizing a lunar eclipse, maybe?

Opening hours are generous, even for a Northern European. Unless there is a lunar eclipse. There was one during my stay, and the shops were closed as long as it lasted. I understood, somehow, that it brings bad luck to do a number of things during a lunar eclipse. Business was one of them. What happens during a solar eclipse I forgot to ask.

Food & Drink

One of my favourite topics!

Then, again, I start to realize what people coming to Sweden go through when they are invited to a smorgasbord with 1001 varieties of Baltic herring. In this case I experienced a number of varieties of Murgh and Gosht. Murgh is chicken, and Gosht is mutton, and the varieties commonly known to westerners as ’curries’. Well, there are some exceptions. Fish can, surprisingly, be quite good even in Hyderabad, so far from the sea. And, of course, the vegetarian dishes, which can be very good and should not be overlooked by us carnivores.

Pomegranates at the Charminar market

I mostly drank beer. Wine is expensive, and not very good.

When the beer is served though, it looks like the waiter takes beer as seriously as wine, showing the bottle to the customer. Actually, the customer is expected to touch the bottle to confirm that it has been properly chilled.


I do not know a word of Hindi, or Sanskrit, or the Andhra Pradesh language Telugu. Fortunately, almost all speak English. (Someone said that India is the country where everyone goes around making perfect imitations of Peter Sellers – Sorry, I could not resist.)

Some peculiarities though; In Golconda, which I visited in June, there were signs stating that

Writting on the wall is prohibited.

Another example of such information is given in this picture (in the Charminar monument):

It works! Everything but names was written on the walls!


My hotel bill stated that I was to pay 1.13.545,81 Rs. This peculiar way of referencing larger numbers stems from the use of Indian words for cardinal numbers. One lakh equals a hundred thousand, and one crore equals ten million. Crore is frequently used in financial pages of papers, referring to profit, turnover, or revenue of so and so many Rs. Crore for an enterprise. My hotel bill thus stated I should pay one lakh thirteen thousand … etc. rupies.


I conclude with some pictures from in and around Hyderabad:

Hyderabad VI: Bombs!

Considering the recent hideous Dehli blasts; They happened well after I returned home (landed in Stockholm last Friday roughly at 3 pm).

Something that surprised me was that there had been a recent blast in Hyderabad, preceding my arrival there (…Oh! No, I do not make a connection).

It seems that these bombings are a new threat. I heard that some announcement warnings had specifically mentioned Hyderabad as a potential target.  Still, there is some confusion over who actually comitted these crimes. Kashmiri separatists, Islamic jihadists, or the Maoist guerrilla of Andrah Pradesh. Here is another article, giving some more detail.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Hyderabad bombing never entered, at least the Swedish, media.

It was noted in the papers the following week how the police cracked down on people wearing backpacks, since this was the suspected outfit of the suicide bomber at the police station in the Begumpet area in Hyderabad.

This bomb was not even noticed in the SvD, or any other Swedish media I could think of.

Hyderabad V: Headline of the week

From The Times of India:

Finnish tourist blames local priests for nude streak

The Times of India, Hyderabad, Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I really enjoyed all the morning papers at the hotel.

Hyderabad IV: Charminar

Saturday, and a visit to the old Hyderabad: Charminar.

I mentioned earlier that the city of Hyderabad has grown tremendously in the last 5-10 years. The new parts are predominantly Hindu, while the old parts are Muslim. Charminar is a great monument next to a mosque called Mecca Masjid. Stepping up the stairs of the monument will get you a better picture of the monument itself, but also over the old city. A stunning view that starts one wondering if it is wise to blend in in that colourful and chaotic spectacle of market, traffic, and mosque.

Traffic is even more dense here than in the more modern parts of the city. Sometimes it is difficult to tell where the sellers stop selling, and the drivers stop driving. Crossing the street is an adventure, but because of the slow speeds it is usually successful. One should be careful though. Not yielding enough will mean that you will get hit, not hard, but nevertheless a clear indication that you should quickly learn the tacit understandings between drivers and pedestrians.

All the time an intense sound level. Cars, bikes, and autorickshaws signalling, sellers loudly presenting their goods. Apart from being brushed by the traffic, westerners are constantly approached by beggars.

In some shops, there is a constant banging sound. Young men and boys are crouching over a slab of flat stone, beating it with a wooden club. They are flattening silver. When sufficiently thin, it is put between paper and sold for use in cooking! The ultra-thin foils are used to wrap sweets, some delicious pieces of food, or a special after dinner wrapping of a bitter-sweet aromatic and perfume like blend of spices in a beetleleaf. It does not taste much at all, but is supposed to add luxury to the food item.

There were stacks of these foils between paper. I wonder how long time it takes to make one foil. One stack of them looks like a year’s toiling and sweating.

Beetleleaves, bananas, pomegranates, sugarcane, and lots of other items are sold in a big chaos. Bangles Street is dominated by shops selling bangles and other items of (cheap) jewellery.

And from all places one can view the dominant profile of the Charminar monument. […] This throws more light on the use of silver in food that I wrote about in a previous post. Maybe that was what saved my stomach last time?   […] 

Hyderabad III: Birla Mandir

On Sunday, the day we arrived, a visit to the Birla Mandir temple. It is a Hindu temple devoted to the god Lord Venkateshwaran. Visiting on barefoot. No shoes, food items, cameras, or video recorders, are allowed. People of all beliefs and denominations are welcome though.

It is a big marble temple with statues of gods here and there. I would say that tourists are outnumbered by worshippers. The greatest attraction is at the top and is of course a statue of the Lord Venkateshwaran himself.

Wonderful frieses, although somewhat stereotypical at times. Plenty of symbols. At one place an old Hindu symbol has been placed behind plexiglass. Since WWII, the swastika has taken on a different meaning, and needs to be protected when shown in its Hindu context. The swastika is not uncommon as a decoration on handicraft items.

On warm days the hot marble stones can be quite unbearable, and standing still is impossible. Fortunately it is allowed to keep your socks. Today this was not a problem.

Incense, statuettes of gods, and different items of varying degrees of kitsch can be purchased in a nearby shoppe.

The sight over Hyderabad, including the Hussain Sagar, or Tank Bund, lake is revealing. The city just goes on and on.

This part of Andrah Pradesh is called the Deccan plateau. Surroundings are striking. When the landscape eventually shows, it is characterized by small hills of round stones on top of each other, and other well rounded rocks of peculiar shapes. It is difficult to believe that they were not put there on purpose. The landscape looks eerie and non-earthly.

The Birla Mandir temple sits on such a hill, but it is difficult at first to see its structure.

Hyderabad II

Now I have been here almost a week already.

This is not my first visit to Hyderabad; I was here in June as well, but that was before my blogging era.

The traffic is chaotic as usual, but it flows, that is, if you can call it a flow. Autorickshaws (three wheelers with a two stroke engine and room for three passengers. Again depending on what you call ’room’.) fill the streets. There is constant signalling, carrying at the same time the messages ’Watch out!’, ’I am here!’, ’Let me pass!’, ’You stupid!’, ’I am more important than you!’.

People on foot, bicycles with enormous loads, autorickshaws, mopeds, motorbikes, cars, buses, trucks, Ambassador type taxis, and then hired cars transporting foreigners like me, all compete for the road in this traffic soup. There is never a stand-still, except at the few traffic lights. Driving lanes are ignored, or just used as an indication of the general direction of the road. Driving on the left side is only strictly observed when there is a row of concrete blocks in the middle of the road, separating the lanes.

On business travel in Hyderabad, company policy does not allow us to drive ourselves. We do not want to. We would not stand an icicle’s chance in hell.

At the end of the monsoon, this is still a rainy season. Last time it was very hot and no hint of humidity. The monsoon was expected then, but was late. One night there was indeed a thunderstorm and heavy rain.

Now overcast, humid, and occasionally raining. There have been some sunny days, and the humidity makes life unbearable without air-conditioning. Not so hot in general; Ca 28 degrees C is OK.

The impressions are many, and force themselves upon even the casual visitor:

  • At building sites, the workers and their families live in makeshift tents. The women are nevertheless dressed in clean colourful sarees. Men and women work at the building sites, carrying loads on their heads. Probably paid peanuts.
  • People sleeping out at night along the roads, frequently lying in the planted grass that separates the driving lanes.
  • Women sweeping the streets in the middle of the storming traffic, bent over with a half-long brush. Even in the largest main roads.
  • Beggars, old and young, and some with horrible disfigurements.
  • Rapidly expanding, blazing IT-villages, connected by a totally inferior network of roads.
  • Luxury villas and apartment complexes for the growing upper and middle classes, always guarded.
  • Building sites everywhere!

People are very gentle, despite the enormous differences. Foreigners are scarce in Hyderabad, even though it is a fast growing IT centre and attracts much foreign business. Being the capital of Andrah Pradesh, it now houses some six million inhabitants. Most of the city has appeared in the last 5-10 years.

The starting point may be horrible to a western foreigner, but in general wealth seems to spread and grow.


Going away on a business trip to India.

If there is spare time, and internet facilities, I may return with some observations soon. Otherwise it will be a forthnight or so of silence on the blog.

Spanish flu

My paternal grandmother died of the Spanish flu in 1918. Therefore I pay attention whenever there are references made to the greatest pandemic since the Black Death in the 14th century.
Recently several newspapers and on-line publications announced the discovery that the Spanish flu was an avian flu, i.e. the same type of flu that is so much talked about today. There were articles e.g. in BBC News and in Svenska Dagbladet.

My memory is rich, but not always accurate, so it has taken some days to find the article where I first saw this.

In the article The Dead Zone by Malcolm Gladwell, published in The New Yorker, Sept. 29, 1997, the following was said:

Taubenberger and Reid have so far decoded about fifteen per cent of the genes in the soldier’s virus, and their work has made possible a few preliminary conclusions about the Spanish flu. It had already been hypothesized, for example, that the Spanish flu originated—at least, in part—with a bird, probably a wild duck.
All animals that get the flu—horses, ferrets, seals, pigs, among others—and human beings probably get it originally from birds.

The Dead Zone by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, Sept. 29, 1997

The real discovery, as related by e.g. The Guardian and Yahoo News, was that the virus had been recreated, and also what caused the virus to be so deadly had been established. Important knowledge when facing the potential threat of a new pandemic.

The desire in media to make the ’alarming’ coupling of one of the most devastating of the known pandemics to an existing, and so far limited,  outbreak of avian flu, turns old knowledge into spectacular new discoveries. I guess scary news sell better than good news about the progress of our understanding.

Zimerman in Stockholm

Sunday afternoon, at last Krystian Zimerman entered the stage of the Berwald hall, Stockholm, for a much longed for piano recital.

Last time I heard him play in Stockholm, also in the Berwald hall, was for the Swedish premiere of Witold Lutoslawski’s Piano Concerto.

Next time should have been a couple of years ago, but then he cancelled, and we got a replacement concert performed by Imogen Cooper. Competent, but an impossible fight against the disappointment of Zimerman not playing.

This time, however, no cancellation, no disappointment.

The solo concerto featured works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin. All well known pieces; Mozart Sonata No. 10, KV330, Beethoven Sonata No. 8, Op. 13, Chopin Ballade No. 4, Op. 52, and Sonata No.2, Op.35.

Zimerman played Mozart with some humour, and Beethoven with forcefulness and clarity. In Chopin the lines were clear, tempi swift and perfect, and with an unbending will towards the finale.

After this effort, it was no wonder that no extra pieces were played by mr. Zimerman. Even if it would have been physically possible, it would have been out of place after such a performance. This was gracefully accepted by the audience, which after a number of calls to applaud the maestro, decided to let him go. One can only hope he will come back soon!

I noted the reviewer in Svenska Dagblade is not as positive as I am. The reviewer in Göteborgsposten (not on-line) was almost lyrical, but then there was no Beethoven, but Ravel instead.

Speaking of the audience, this was the first time for a while that we were spared the perky sounds of a mobile phone. Now, if we could just work a bit on that asthma…

Malta X: Conclusion of a short vacation

A week is a too short time to have anything very profound to say, but I will try and make a short summary anyway.

It has taken some time, mainly because I wanted to include some pictures in the post, but also because some impressions get clearer and ripen as time goes.

General tips

A good start is to get the complete bus timetable. It is just a leaflet. Pity that the Public Transport Association do not have a pdf variant available on their otherwise very helpful site, but the information booths at the Valletta bus terminus, or the Tourist Information Centre surely have them. Always make sure you get your ticket and keep it.  It is satisfying to see the frequent controls, so rare now in the Stockholm public transport system. A bus pass for several days is surely practical.

The more limited the time, the more important it is to have a good guide book, as I have pointed out in a previous post.

With this I managed to visit southern Malta (Tarxien, Birzebbuga & Ghar Dalam, and Marsaxlokk), the middle (Mdina and Rabat), Gozo and Comino, The Malta International Air Show, and of course Valletta. All in one week.


I made some observations before about the religious decorations that are frequently seen.

It strikes me that coming from a mainly secular country, it takes some time to realize how religion is such a completely integrated and natural part of life in a country as Malta. Need something to read on the bus? What could be better than the Bible? Bumper sticker on the car? How about some nice latin saying from the Bible?

I may generalize too much, but my impression is that to be Swedish and religious is a statement, to be Maltese and religious is a tautology.

Everywhere there are churches, and everywhere there are statues of saints as part of the corners of many buildings. And as you can see from the picture below, why change a successful design?

Tourist things

Anyone who buys a souvenir anywhere has agreed to get ripped off. This is not an observation about Malta. It is an observation about the tourist industry.

Malta is as far as I could see not in the bad grip of the tourist industry, despite the hordes of people streaming through the country every day. Transportation, accomodation, sightseeing, and dining were all chiefly good experiences. There was only one instance of a really bad restaurant which served cold food, inferior (not local) wine, and whose owner could not take constructive criticism. A change of venue saved the evening.

I did buy a few souvenirs…

Wining & Dining

Dinner is always an important part of my vacations. Let’s face it. Malta is not one of the gastronomical centres of the earth.

That said, discovering the mostly robust rabbit dishes and the delicious servings of fresh fish, was most agreeable. The wines were a pleasant surprise discovery, and there were some real gems, particularly white ones, but also good Merlot and Cab. S. wines. Not so wide variety of local beer; Hopleaf was my favourite.

The air show

Mainly to get a chance to show my pictures of the beautiful Merlin planes…

… and of the impressive B1-B bomber:


It has been a history lesson. Right from the megalithic remains, through the phoenician influence, the arrival of the Knights of St. John and their defeat of the Turkish forces, the French interlude succeeded by British rule, to the horror, devastations, and courage of WWII. I will for sure continue to read up on this important, but in this country too often forgotten, part of European history.

Even though culture and not landscape is the main lasting impression, there are some stunning views not to be missed.

I conclude with a view from Comino’s azure coves towards Gozo.

Comino with Gozo in the far

Sida 1 av 2

Drivs med WordPress & Tema av Anders Norén