While the rest of Hyderabad struggles with summer power outages, the very helpful folks at the resort I’ve staying at (a popular retreat with locals) came to the rescue with one of those power-surge protection thingies. I think. Uh-oh, just lost the Internet again…
Anyway, when I told friends I was including Hyderabad, India, in my round-the-world trip, there was a long pause and then a polite Really? Where? Those closest to me came right out and said things like: What’s wrong with you? How about someplace where you can at least drink the water? Couldn’t pay me to go there.
Well, I thought the NBC sitcom Outsourced was cute, even though much of America didn’t agree with me — just read it’s been canceled. I wanted to see how accurate it was.
I also love (mild) Indian food, and eat it every chance I get. Addicted to rice, and all that creamy yogurt and gravy-laced comfort food. That’s why my partner, Mitch, was partly right when he joked I was traveling halfway around the world to India just to pig out.
I also wondered what the scene was like at the other end of those never-ending phone conversations with Dell technical support.
Main reason: Tony Chapman, a former TV news boss from ages ago in Australia now living in Hyderabad with his partner, Juhee Ahmed, and their two kids, invited me to visit. I’d never heard of Hyderabad, but when I looked it up, saw it was in the middle of the country and sounded like an intriguing blend of old and new.
You see that description a lot in travel ads, but in this case, it’s true. Juhee, who works for Microsoft in Hyderabad, put it squarely in software terms.
What she said is basically: There are three versions of the city. V1 — version 1 — is the Old City, with relics like a really old palace and fort, and old-world ways. The developing areas are V2. And V3 is HITEC City, sometimes also known as Cyberabad. Where Microsoft has the biggest IT center outside of the Seattle area. And Dell, Oracle, Deloitte, and biotech company Novartis also have big presences.
Just as Bill Gates did, we’ll start with V1. But first, meet the Ahmed-Chapman family. Hanging out with them was as cool and refreshing as an Indian lassi — one of my favorite drinks.
Presenting Tony Chapman, communications guru and passionate cook, with Lancaster County, PA, cookbook — a novel addition to his extensive collection.
Tony’s partner, Juhee; their daughter, Zia, far right; and family friend.