Happy Independence Day India!

Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2009

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Flag of India  ,
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Happy 50th Anniversary on Independence India!  If you really want to read more about India's independence from the Brits, click here.  But if you don't....no worries as I can explain in one sentence what it's all about.  Independence Day in India consists of seeing a lot of the India flags flying around, seeing people and objects adorned in the colors of the flag, eating sweets, taking the day off work...oh...and not drinking.  That's right...there's no alcohol served anywhere in India on Independence Day...including the major hotels.  I'm going to take a stab at this and make a statement that in the US, our July 4th Independence Day is probably one of the major drinking days in the calendar year...at least it is for my dad. :)  But seriously...in the US, we go to the lake, drink beer, buy fireworks, drink beer, cookout, drink beer....do you see the common theme here?  But in India, drinking is a no no on Independence Day...or is it (insert evil laugh here). 

One of my new friends in town (Ania from Poland) has been here all of three months and hasn't seen any of the major tourists sites in Hyderabad as she works 6 days/week and doesn't have a car.  So I pick her up a little before noon on our day off and head towards the Charminar so she can at least tell her friends and family back home that she saw "something" while she was here.  She's lived a sheltered life the past few months and hasn't really ventured into the old town of Hyderabad which is where India literally gets up and smacks you in the face.  It's entirely possible to live in this town and really not experience the harsh realities of living in India (except for getting stuck in traffic and avoiding cows in the road).  You could conceivably get up in your plush western-style apartment, get into your nice car with your own chauffeur, enter your office which in my case is just as nice if not nicer than we have in the US, go to dinner at a fancy restaurant, head home...repeat 5 times/week.  Living that lifestyle you would never experience how the locals live, eat and interact.  Well...Ania was getting ready to get that "real" experience by taking the journey into old town.  I prepped her on the way down on how to react, what to do if someone touches you, what not to do, etc.  When we arrived at the Charminar, there was a line to enter..and as we were the only white people for miles, we drew a lot of stares, a lot of beggars asking for money and a couple cute kids who were hilarious.  They kept asking me "where you from?" and I kept telling them I was from India which just cracked them up.  We got harassed a bit by beggars but I have learned the best way to deflect them is to not make eye contact and just ignore them.  Only when they touch my arm do I say something...and then it's said in such a tone that usually sends them running away.  Anyway, we enter the Charminar for the tourist price of 100 ruppess (locals pay 5) and spend a bit of time there taking photos and laughing about her first old town experience.  She's decided she doesn't need a second trip.

Earlier in the week, my boss decided to organized a late lunch for all my company expats to be held at the the Marriott.  For roughly 600 ruppes each (which she paid...yeah!)...we got all you can drink (non-alcohol) and an all you can eat buffet (which is great).  I've eaten at the Marriott many times and it's buffet is indeed one of the best in town complete with a pasta bar, sushi rolls, fresh salad and even a cold marble slab ice creamery.  Pretty much everyone shows up including Deanne and her kids, Pam and her husband, Melissa and several others who are either expats, short term rotators or guests.  The kids went crazy in the pool while the adults enjoyed the food and drinks.  A couple of us (me included) brought in water bottles filled with rum and vodka and helped "spice up" our non-alcoholic beverages.

We spent probably 5 hours eating, drinking, chatting...and finally when it started to get dark, we all went our separate ways.

Good times on Independence Day...enjoy the pics!
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