The soul of Hyderabad
BILKEES I. LATIF
WHAT is the soul of Hyderabad? Is it the ‘Ganga Jumni tehzeeb’, as it has often been called with some justifiable pride? To those of us of this city, it is much more – the caring, the warmth, the special bonding between people of varied origins, both within Hyderabad and the surrounding Telangana areas. It is a feeling of respect, for sharafat, recognizing the decency and good values in another, and thereby being a true ‘Hyderabadi’. There is a saying in the Telugu language, athiti devo bhava, a guest is like a god, and so it has been.
Through the centuries the ethnic Telugus of the region have intermingled with people who have come and been made welcome to this region of the Deccan. The fusion has brought about a special composite Hyderabadi culture that has evolved between its Telugu population and the Mughals from the North of India with whom Hindus of the Kayasth community came in the 16th century, and occupied important posts in the state. There was a further influx of Turkish and Persian scholars, artists, craftsmen and traders who came between the 16th and 19th centuries, invited by the rulers to embellish the forts, tombs and other structures. This interaction and mingling amongst those of different regions and lands also led to the emergence of a beautiful language, Urdu, with its colourful locally spoken Hyderabadi Urdu or ‘Dakhni Boli’ which often includes an element of humour at one’s own expense. Parsees, Buddhists and Jains as well as Hindus and Muslims are all a part of this Hyderabadi composite culture, which is one of understanding, humour, respect and caring that goes back a long way.
What brought about this special Hyderabadi ethos, this innate ‘soul’ of Hyderabad? As early as 1000 BC, Pliny recorded that those of this region were a strong people with a large army that included elephants! The Deccan region has had a record of great rulers since 236 BC when a small kingdom was established by the Satavahana kings, and thereafter came the dynasties of the Kakatiyas, Chalukyas, Vijayanagara Kings and later of the Adil Shahi, Barid Shahi and Qutb Shahis, thus creating multiple influences through the centuries. When the Buddhists arrived they were treated with respect and thereafter several of the queens became Buddhist, though the kings remained Hindu. Over several centuries the Buddhists illustrated the great caves of Ajanta, with the most beautiful paintings depicting the life of Lord Buddha. Incidentally, after centuries of lying in oblivion, it was the Muslim ruler Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last of the Nizams, who was instrumental in getting the Buddhist caves reopened and restored with foreign expert guidance in the 20th century.
Great temples for pilgrimage, famous diamond mines, and international trade attracted people from many regions. There was contact with distant lands through coastal trade that included the export of precious stones, and printed textiles, especially of the famous chintz that was so popular with the ladies of Rome and further into Europe. The beautiful Dakhni style of miniature painting, the famous kalamkari handpainted textiles depicting the Persian tree of life as well as scenes from our Ramayana are equally a legacy of this fusion. Shipbuilding was another important activity. The British, Dutch, Portuguese and French established trading centres and factories, and unfortunately also benefited from the internecine warring between neighbouring rulers who kept jostling for power.
Between the 10th and 11th centuries AD, one of the greatest rulers of the region was Krishna Deva Raya II. Among the outsiders who came at the time were also Muslim traders. An especially sensitive gesture of this king towards his Muslim subjects was seen when they came with other subjects to pay obeisance to him as their ruler. Being aware that Muslims would only bow to God or their holy book, a Quran was placed on a table next to the throne. They bowed before the holy book, and thus also paid homage to the ruler. Strangely, many of the Hindus chose to wear the Muslim style of pajamas, as well as a kulah as headgear, and to use the salaam for greeting as the Muslims did.
By the 16th century, from 1512 to1687 AD, the Turkoman Qutub Shahi Sultans ruled this kingdom of Golconda stretching from the Narmada river in central India to the Tungabhadra river in the South, and from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal. They were great builders who also supported both mosques and temples for worship. The fourth ruler Ibrahim, learnt Telugu and married a Hindu princess named Bhageerathi. He patronized Telugu literature and poetry and appointed a Telugu poet named Addanki Gangadhara Kavi as Poet Laureate. Within a few decades when Golconda became over-populated, the city of Hyderabad was built nearby between 1598 and 1601.
Writers and travellers who visited and wrote glowing accounts about the state included Marco Polo, Nicolo Conti, Duarte Barboza, Athanasium Nikitin, Bernier, Tavernier, Abbé Carré and Thevenot. They described it as the finest city in the East, a city of gardens and a centre of free trade. Marco Polo, speaking of the textiles manufactured in this region in the 13th century said, ‘In this kingdom are made the best and the most delicate buckrums and those of the highest price. In sooth they look like the tissues of a spider’s web. There is no king or queen in the world but might be glad to wear them.’ Warangal carpets, Nanded muslins and Paithani material also had their excellence of design, fineness and durability. The Persian Ambassador who came on a mission to the Qutub Shahi King of Golconda in 1603 and returned only in 1609 took with him, among other gifts, a piece of Kamquab brocade that had taken five years to weave on the looms of Paithan.
Prshant Lahoti/Kalakriti Art Gallery
Diamonds mined in the state were then brought to Golconda where thousands of men were employed to polish them. These included the Kohinoor, now in the crown of the British monarch, as well as the Orloff, the Hope, and other famous diamonds. Only recently I had a query from Ron Winston regarding the old diamond mines. His father Harry Winston had bought the famous Hope Diamond of Golconda, which was said to have brought sorrow to those who possessed it. Harry Winston donated it to his nation, and it is now the most visited item at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
There is something romantic in the air of Hyderabad with its lakes, white-domed buildings, the rugged rocks of the Deccan and its beautiful multi-coloured sunsets. The Golconda Fort is where the Qutb Shahi Sultan sat on the terrace, listening to the voice of the singer Taramati, wafting from her Baradari across the hills. Premamati, the other favourite, is said to have danced on a set of wires stretched right across these hills till she reached the terrace of the fort. Today the Baradari is once again a cultural centre where singers perform.
The city of Hyderabad was built in an area where Prince Quli Qutb Shah, the heir apparent of the Sultan, used to visit his beloved, a dancer named Bhagmati. When he became the Sultan he is said to have made her his queen with the title of Hyder Mahal. He named the city Hyderabad, and built its main monument, the Charminar, on the spot where they first met. At a nearby palace there was a large dining hall where delicious meals were served free every day to the poor. Not far from it is the Mir ka Daira, the graveyard established by Mir Momin. A great prime minister, he designed the city of Hyderabad around the Charminar in a parallelogram with houses for the rich and poor, schools, a hospital, nine and seven storied palaces with piped water from artificially created lakes and gardens for coolness along the Musi river with the maintenance of temples and mosques funded by the ruler.
An outstanding queen of this era was the Sultan Quli Qutb Shah’s beautiful daughter, Hayat Bakshi Begum, who was not only the daughter of a king but the wife of another king and then the mother of a future king. Widowed when she was only twenty-one in 1626, she ruled the kingdom ably as her son was still a child. It is said that when her son Abdulla was born, it was predicted that if his father, the Sultan Mohammad Qutub Shah, set eyes upon him before he became twelve years old, the Sultan would die. The boy was kept away from his father, though both father and son yearned for each other. When Abdulla was almost twelve his father accidentally saw him, and soon thereafter passed away.
The queen appointed two able Brahmins, Akanna as the prime minister and his cousin Madanna as a minister, believed to be ancestors of Narasimha Rao, our late prime minister. In 1685 when Aurangzeb laid siege to the city, this brave queen went out, beyond the walls of the fort, to the emperor’s camp. She made a deal with him proposing that if his eldest son Prince Mohammad married her granddaughter, the daughter of the ruling Sultan, he would be designated as heir apparent and the next ruler of Golconda. And so the siege was lifted. The last Golconda ruler, Abul Hasan, was known as Tana Shah, a colourful character. Yet it was through his support that the dying Kuchipudi dance form was revived, as he made a grant to the village that provided support, and saved it for future generations. Tana Shah was also particular about pundits and pujaris being fed on special days.
There is an account about Tana Shah and the great temple dedicated to Sri Rama at Bhadrachelam on the banks of the Godavari river. This ancient temple was rebuilt at a cost of six lakh rupees by Ramadas Gopanna, the nephew of Akkanna, the prime minister. As no funds were available to repair the temple, he took the required amount from government revenues. When this offense was discovered, he was arrested. He prayed to Lord Rama for help and it is said that Sri Rama and his brother Lakshmana appeared before the Sultan one night, gave him a bagful of coins equivalent to the amount taken, and enjoined him to release Gopanna. The Sultan not only set Gopanna at liberty but thereafter made an annual grant to this temple which his successors, the Nizams, continued to give in the form of jewellery.
On a visit to this temple I heard the head priest relating that as long as the Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan was alive, he sent an annual offering of a priceless pearl necklace to this temple even when he was no longer the ruler.
In 1687 Aurangzeb attacked Hyderabad again. It was only by bribing a traitor within who opened a side door that his troops finally poured in. The women in the fort jumped into a huge well and killed themselves rather than be captured alive. Hyderabad was then looted and its palaces were razed to the ground by the invaders. Mir Qamruddin Khan was sent from Delhi, appointed Subedar with the title of Nizam-ul-Mulk. He later assumed the further title of Asaf Jah in 1725, the founder of the Asaf Jahi dynasty of the Nizams who ruled Hyderabad thereafter till 1948. He brought with him Sagar Mal the recently orphaned son of his late prime minister whom he brought up almost as his own, as well as numerous Kayasths. They, as well as their descendants, served as dedicated and efficient bureaucrats and statesmen of Hyderabad. They strictly observed their own traditions and religion, but also adopted much of the Hyderabadi lifestyle and ways, thus further enhancing its culture.
Towards the end of the 19th century, in 1884, the sixth Nizam, affectionately known by the people as Mahbub Ali Pasha, the Beloved, established a constitutional monarchy. Towards the end of his reign, on Monday the 28th of September 1908 the rains poured down without a break for over forty-eight hours. The heavy downpour, breaking all barriers, swept onwards thundering down the Musa river over the bridges and deep into the lanes and streets of the old city. The waters surged ahead washing away all life before its wild onslaught. The Nizam went every day to the area till the waters subsided, and did whatever was needed for those whose homes had been swept away. He stood in the river with the priests, pujaris and maulvis to calm the waters with the chanting of prayers and performing of pujas and soon the rains abated.
An interesting tale about the Nizam Mahbub Ali Pasha refers to a trip that he made to Manikpur near Homnabad, where he visited a revered sadhu, the descendant of the great Manikprabhu Maharaj. The sadhu and the Nizam found themselves in harmony, and the sadhu proposed that they exchange souls while meditating. They sat together quietly in meditation and the Nizam who previously had a terrible carbuncle on his back was amazed to find that it had healed! Maharaj then gave the Nizam a sacred thread to wear, and it is said that from then onwards the Nizam acquired certain powers of healing and was able to cure victims of snakebite.
Mahbub Ali Pasha did not have this kind of rapport with the British. At the Durbar in 1903, Lord Curzon had invited the rulers of the states and decided to garland each royal invitee, the first being the Nizam. The latter held up the sword that he wore for ceremonial occasions and did not bend his head to receive the garland. The Viceroy then said that he would place the garland taking it over the Nizam’s head. Mahbub Ali Pasha was, however, unhappy about the efforts of the British to dominate him, as they had managed to annex the districts of Berar. He replied that as he had come to assure the ruler of his faithfulness, it was proper for him to present his sword which was always available, and thus a permanent symbol of loyalty, rather than his head, which was easily dispensable. Despite the Viceroy’s long look, the Nizam stood without bending his head. Finally the Viceroy hung the garland on his upturned and steady sword.
The 7th Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan was born in 1886 and became ruler at the age of twenty-five on his father’s demise in 1911. The era of modern development in the state began thereafter. The young ruler, well educated by select scholars, was fond of writing poetry. Stylishly dressed, he was at ease with social graces and even enjoyed formal ballroom dancing. He announced that he would be a caring and just ruler.
He issued the Nizam’s Asafia creed stating, ‘Whatever be the religion of my house and my own personal beliefs, I am, as a ruler, the follower of another religion as well, which must be characterized as "love towards all" because under me live people of different communities, and the protection of their houses of worship has for long been part of the constitution of my state. I do not desire therefore, to injure with narrow-mindedness the susceptibilities of any community or faith, or to distort the practice of my religion in such a manner as to earn the title of a bigot. In my capacity as a ruler, I consider myself an atheist, but in the sense of being without ties as a ruler for or against any religion or community. In that faith, I and my forefathers have taken just pride and will continue to do so.’ He started off by building houses for the poor to prevent slums, and constructed artificial lakes and dams for adequate water supply.
There were 32000 temples and 6000 mosques in the state, 11355 Hindu and 5024 Muslim religious institutions, as well as churches, and the famous Sikh gurdwara at Nanded, most of which were given annual grants by the Nizam’s government. Hindu officials managed 90 per cent of these temples as well as mosques. There was much criticism of the seventh Nizam for his personal frugality. One of the richest men of his time, he chose to spend his wealth on his state and on various causes rather than on himself. He appointed good administrators and experts such as Vishveshwaraya, and prime ministers such as Maharajah Kishen Pershad, Sir Akbar Hydari, as well as advisors like Imad-ul-Mulk and Faridoon Jung, the latter a Parsi gentleman whose descendants and their families still symbolize the best traditions of Hyderabad, and the closeness and caring that form the soul of Hyderabad.
When the Prince of Wales visited Hyderabad in 1922, the seventh Nizam had special arches erected in the city. The Charminar was decorated with crystals to look like the fabled diamonds of Golconda, with an illuminated outline of the Prince’s Feathers as well as of the Nizam’s headgear, the dastar. Fine fabrics of the state were displayed upon the arches as were examples of the famous Karimnagar silver filigree work, bidri damascene work, lacquer and many other craft. The motto, ‘Harkat me Barkat Hai’, was emblazoned on the sides. However, though a ‘faithful ally’ of the British monarch, because of the extensive aid given for World War II, there was nearly a diplomatic ‘incident’ on this occasion. The Nizam refused to go to the railway station to see off the Prince of Wales. He said that it was not correct protocol for a ruler to go to the railway station to see off a prince.
An oft-related tale is that in 1724, while leaving Delhi for the Deccan, Asaf Jah sought the blessings of a holy man. The saint, about to start his meal, offered the food to Asaf Jah who took a few pieces of the bread. The holy man kept asking him to take more. After accepting seven kulchas, Asaf Jah said he could take no more. The saint then gave his blessings and told him that he would be the first of seven of his dynasty to rule the Deccan. And so it came to be, for Mir Osman Ali Khan was the seventh and last Nizam who ruled the dominions of Hyderabad. Sadly, in the last years of his rule, the seventh Nizam did not realize the consequences of the growing power of the Razakars, which brought about such humiliation.
After the state was merged with the Indian Union in 1949 and Andhra Pradesh formed in 1956, the city of Hyderabad was retained as the state capital. Fortunately, the special ethos or soul of the city also remained intact. It was just a few years ago that the previous chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, at a public function, stated that for many decades Hyderabad had been well known abroad because of the achievements of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam and last ruler of Hyderabad. It was also known in India as a premier state with its own airline, an excellent railway, and good roads throughout the kingdom, which was about the size of France. In the first half of the last century, Hyderabad had established centres of excellence that were outstanding for the period.
In recent years not only major government institutions, but business houses too have been established, increasingly so since Hyderabad now has its own Cyberabad. The influx of people from all over India continues. Hyderabadis still retain their composite culture and cosmopolitan outlook with warmth of hospitality. There is a consciousness of being part of a confluence of varied streams and shared values.
Despite the setback created by the Razakars followed by the severe aftermath of retaliation, the warmth and understanding of the Hyderabadi ethos remains. It has continued despite the times of rioting, and now of bomb blasts, in the historic masjid and park. The people see this as politically motivated destruction, as it has always been. The Hyderabadi closeness and the ganga jumni tehzeeb remains, even as the fabric of faith gets weakened with each incident. One is bewildered by this deliberate destruction of innocent life that was unknown till recent times and wonders whether a polarity is not slowly creeping in.
Several hundred years ago the saintly Hosain Shah Wali had created the lovely Hosainsagar lake in just a couple of years. However, most outsiders now feel that Hyderabadis are too laidback in their attitudes. There is some truth in this for the citizens have been putting up with the most terrible stress over ‘improvements’ and the delayed completion of flyovers. The placid chalta hai attitude includes tolerating unpunctuality as well as an acceptance of action to be taken parsoon. This does not mean ‘the day after tomorrow’, but could be any day or month beyond that! But a sense of humour remains despite the grumbling.
There are many more parks and gardens now, an especially lovely one being the Lotus Pond on Banjara Hill, if one can spray oneself with anti-mosquito repellent before entering. Sadly, the two beautiful lakes, Himayatsagar and Osmansagar, created to provide water by the last Nizam a century back, are being allowed to dry up and it is said that the land will then be sold at high prices for housing. The acquisition of wealth seems to have become all-important. The growth of private and public construction is phenomenal. Earlier, the younger visitors complained that there was little to do in the evenings, but now there are plenty of pubs, shopping malls as well as restaurants, jewellery shops, and some bookshops too. A drive around Hossainsagar on the lovely Necklace Road takes you to a line of eateries overlooking the lake.
Hyderabadis love to eat, indeed, almost live to eat. Most conversations seem to end with a discussion on food! In restaurants all over town or even if one is walking down a street at dusk, one gets the aroma of saffron and cardamom from a hot kachi biryani of fine rice and succulent meat, of which it is said that once eaten it will draw you back to the city for more! Hyderabad food has its own character depicting its composite culture. The food has the flavours of saffron, cardamom and nutmeg from Persia, the rich fried spices in ghee from northern India, enhanced by its basic, piquant, local Andhra ingredients of sour tamarind fruit, curry leaves and hot red chillies in meat, seafood, fowl or crisply fried vegetables and spicy, chilli hot dishes. Chilli hot food is followed with a helping of plain yoghurt and boiled rice as in the deep South to cool down the fiery fumes, and the rich masalas in the baghare baingan and mirch ka salan become easy to digest because of the addition of tamarind, so popular in Telengana.
There are certain days of joy, days of prayer, and of community interaction. Ugadi is New Year’s day, the first of Chaitra, the first month of the lunar Hindu calendar in spring. The lady of the house gets up before dawn to pray and perform the traditional ceremonies. A special meal must include a symbol of the different rasas or flavours of life. So for sourness there is tamarind pulp and grated raw mangoes of the spring season, with a little salt, as well as cane sugar and jaggery as symbols of the sweetness of life. One must take the bitter with the sweet, so the bitter fresh flowers of the neem (margosa) tree are added. If someone finds the taste bitter, it is interpreted as an omen of the bitterness that he will face in the year ahead! During the day there are pujas and the main event is in the evening, when an astrologer makes predictions for the following year.
When Surya, the Sun God, moves to the North it is considered a sign of hope and progress and a time for the Sankranti festival, which falls on the 14th of January. Bhogi is the day before Sankranti when the house is spruced up and all the broken or shabby things discarded. Families go on a picnic, and the sky comes alive with multicoloured kites. Milk and rice are boiled to bubble up and overflow in euphoric symbolism, signifying plenty and prosperity ahead. Chakkara pongal is a sweet of rice, milk, nuts cooked with ghee for the occasion, as is bobbatlu, a half-moon shaped stuffed pastry.
For the Parsis and Muslims of Persian origin, a very special day is Nauroz on 21 March, and again there are six special ingredients of symbolic value that are served and eaten on this day of sharing and prayer. Then comes the Bonalu festival with its Bathkama, the figure of the Goddess Gauramma swathed beautifully with flowers, and the worship of seven sister goddesses. At Holi, friends spray each other with coloured water or powder. Maharaja Kishen Pershad, a popular prime minister, would send to the Nizam and a few special friends, balls of very fine lacquer called khumkhuma, each filled with red gulal powder and abeel, a perfumed white powder. When pressed, the balls would burst, showering perfumed powder to permeate the air around. In years long past, every year on Holi the banjaras of Banjara Hill would come in a large group to the house of my uncle, Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jung. Young family members would join in as the women dressed in their lovely colourful costumes danced. Taherra Begum and Mehdi Nawaz Jung would exchange token dabs of colour and then serve them special snacks.
Christmas is another day of special prayer when even non-Christians would go to the church. As a young girl, I once went to the grand old Church at Medak, a district not far from Hyderabad. Long lines of villagers came walking in the dark to attend midnight mass, carrying lanterns and singing hymns. The hymns were sung in Telugu and the entire service too was in a language that the people understood rather than in Latin or English.
Prshant Lahoti/Kalakriti Art Gallery
The Eid-ul-Fitr is a day of special celebration for Muslims. The men go to the mosque for special Eid prayers and then the young people and children go calling on relatives. Each one is served with the traditional sweet sheer khurma, made of very fine vermicelli cooked in milk and loaded with almonds and pistachios cut in slivers, and chopped dates. Wrists are dabbed with fragrant ittar and paans served to every visitor. Often the young are given a gift of money, or an ‘Eidi’ by their elders, who stay home to receive visitors.
For girls, dressing up in the morning after a bath used to be quite a ritual – wet hair dried over perfumed incense smoke, with the clothes similarly perfumed before being worn. Girls still love to wear the traditional khada dupatta, a six metre long material with broad and intricately embroidered borders, worn draped around over a kurta and fitted pajama. The traditional kurti has a special round opening below the neckline, outlined with the special zardosi and karchob embroidery. The people of Hyderabad retain their fondness for their traditional jewellery too. But now the young people are also keen on reaching out to the trendy new styles in vogue elsewhere.
Sometimes roles get reversed. Recently, a French woman visitor was so attracted by the lines and style of the men’s sherwani or achkan that she got one made, and it has been greatly admired in Paris. The textiles most sought after have been the Pochampally ikats. Though available in town, designers from abroad make a beeline for the little village where the weavers have their looms. Another attraction is the pearls that come from all over in their original soft colours, and are bleached in Hyderabad. They are then sent off to a village where each pearl is wedged into a wooden socket to hold it steady, and a hole pierced in it before being threaded into a necklace.
Aperson who shared and embodied these special Hyderabadi values was Sarojini Naidu. When her father Dr. Chattopadhyay was invited to work in Hyderabad, he and his family stayed for a long time with their old friend, a very learned man, my great grandfather Sayid Hossain Bilgrami Imad-ul-Mulk. Sarojini grew up in Hyderabad and joined the freedom movement. At an inaugural address at the Nizam College in 1937, she stated, ‘More than any responsibility that you have as Hyderabadis is the tradition of unity. In the outer world, where I live and travel, what is known as British India, they exalt the unity that prevails in our city. I always maintain that here, in the State of the Asaf Jahis, there are deep elements of human fellowship. Here, if nowhere else, we have solved the problem of communal unity. Others have greeted Hyderabad as an example of how Hindus and Muslims can work together in friendship and brotherhood.
‘Never be it said of you that, by a single gesture, you have created even a ghost of a suspicion of discord. For the destiny of India is to be determined by the unity of her people. No longer should there be a consciousness of majorities and minorities, that I belong to this community and he to that; for, so long as it persists we are not a nation, we are but a people divided against ourselves. You should show by precept, and by everyday practice, that the questions of the majority and minority communities, of tongues and races, do not exist, that the citizenship of the state can be achieved only when all sections unite for a common purpose.’ What she said then applies today as well. Sir Akbar Hydari, an outstanding former prime minister of the state spoke in a similar vein.
Today the race for mammon pervades the atmosphere. The dynamic Andhra with his concentration on earning good money has helped to bring in more business and prosperity. The Gulf-returned Muslims now celebrate weddings in Function Halls, a symbol of success that soon leaves them denuded of all their savings! On the other hand there was the poet Maqdum Mohiuddin with his leftist leanings, whose poems still reverberate in the halls at Sham-e-Ghazals long after he passed away. The sons of the great Qawwal Aziz Warsi who is no more are still in demand, and everyone longs to hear, again and again, his old favourites like Maqdum’s ‘Chameli ka Mandwa’. Yet the Chameli ka Mandwa, a grotto down a lane from the Charminar where once there were creepers and bushes laden with the fragrance of flowering jasmine, is now a bare and dusty corner.
Mir Momin, Maqdum and Aziz are no more, nor are Sarojini Naidu or Akbar Hydari, Maharajah Kishen Pershad, or Salar Jung, now remembered more for his descendant’s collection of Objects d’art in a museum than as the great modernizer he was. They have all been a part of the voiceless soul of Hyderabad. Does the rush of the brash race for visible success swamp this Hyderabadi soul, with its elegance and values getting submerged by the glitter? The voices of the poorer boys for whom there is schooling of sorts available, often free, are loud in their insistence on leaving school by the 6th or 7th standard so that they can begin earning, for there is so much available to tempt them. While it is good that jobs are available for the poor and middle class, but the prices of basics such as dal and onion still remain beyond their reach.
Most Hyderabadis prefer to observe from the sidelines. Whether smiling with amusement or saddened and distressed, they still closely bond, as a part of the real Hyderabad. Just as I began to wonder if the soul of Hyderabad is fading away, I came across something heartening in a newspaper. It referred to the endless problems that the state government has been facing about acquiring land from people for road widening in the newer areas of town with their large houses and big business offices. The article then mentioned that in the old city, people of all communities have not only agreed to hand over their much loved small or large properties for road widening to improve the area, but one young member of a highly criticized political party actually handed over two acres of land without any compensation. So, the Hyderabadi warmth and caring that is its soul, still exists. This soul, with its elegance and values must not be drowned in the glitter, the rush and the loudness of the brash race for visible material success.