Monday, March 2, 2009
Hyderabad Tour Part III - Return of the Charminar
Our next stop on our journey was Charminar, a 400+ year old mosque that is the heart of the old city of Hyderabad. Surrounding the mosque is a huge sprawling market area that is probably 0% targeted to foreign tourists. In fact Scott and I were the only Caucasians I saw, but there were a TON of people.
We were told by our guide to watch our wallets but neither Scott nor I had one. We were still a little on guard though because things are just so busy and noisy (and we had our cameras). Crossing the street was a little daunting, traffic is very busy here and there are so many different things to watch out for: auto-rickshaws, mopeds, cars, trucks, people.
Nearby to Charminar there was another Mosque, the interesting thing here, besides the wandering goats, was the fact that there was a sign telling people to feed the pigeons(?!?). A man tried to persuade us to go in, but our guide said no - apparently once you get in you are pestered for tour guides who then try to charge you.
Walking around the market was pretty neat. I have never seen so much STUFF. A lot of it looked like leftovers from the west that have slowly trickled down here, like old combs, toys etc., the plastic was fading and old. Amongst this though there were many beautiful dresses and bangles which is one of the things this area is known for. Scott and I were approached to buy sunglasses a few times but for the most part we were left alone. One funny thing happened when these two kids were kind of arguing/fighting with each other, as we passed by the one kid suddenly jumped back into his pitch and asked if we wanted to buy sunglasses and when we said no he went right back to fighting. Behind the main street there was a quieter market than was a nice change of pace. With each store selling essentially the same goods Scott reflected on how you differentiate and compete, like him I had no idea.
Click here for my video of the Charminar area and market.
When we were ready to leave we went back to the Charminar square and waited for the car. While we waited a little boy came up and tried to sell our guide one of 20 odd purses he was carrying on his two shoulders, which she declined. He then asked Scott where he was from and he told him and the boy said "Welcome to Charminar!" all excited. He then asked what Scott's name was and after he told him he said "Your name beautiful." Too awesome. As we waited for the car I looked over at the boy and saw he was obviously uncomfortable carrying so much weight on his shoulders. It reminded me a little of Slumdog Millionaire and I couldn't help but feel bad for him.