Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Our first day out in the city we visited Charminar. The monument was built in 1591 to commemorate the end a plague epidemic that struck the city. Like many of the buildings in Hyderabad, it beautifully combines Islamic and Hindi architecture and symbols. If you break the name into two pieces, Char = four in Hindi and minar = spire in Arabic. The photo below shows decorations using the lotus flower and Sanskrit writing:: Above the large archways, there are three floors. On the first is a walkway that allows you to look out each of the four sides of the old city. While we were there, many groups of Indian visitors would be sitting in the walkway relaxing and visiting with each other. The second and third floors are now closed, but used to house a school and mosque.
The area below Charminar is a constant hive of activity. This is the location of Lad Bazaar, famous for its bangle market. In addition to bangles, there are shops and stalls selling saris, jewelry, henna, fruit, and haleem {more on haleem later}.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from in the thick of the bazaars. As Calder said, I walked around the whole evening with "the eyes of a deer in the headlights". There was so much to take in as we navigated the streets that were crammed with people, scooters, auto rickshaws, and animals. Needless to say, the activity and excitement left little room for taking pictures! Although, after looking at these pictures, I realized that the bazaars don't look nearly as hectic from above as they felt from below!

Lucky for us {or me}, every once in a while we would stumble into an alley that was quiet. It gave us a moment to breath, and if we were lucky presented us with something that we wouldn't see on the main streets. One alley in particular was a real treat. First we came upon this room of bangle makers::Because these alleys weren't part of the bazaar, or retail areas, the people in the alley were surprised yet happy to see us. In particular, the bangle maker on the left asked us many questions about where we were from, how we got there, how long we were staying, etc.

Then, a few more feet down the alley we came upon this room of men sewing the embellishments on sari fabric:: Finally, we were moving to quickly for me to take a picture, but there were other men in the alley sewing large mattresses that are placed on the floor for sleeping and sitting.

After a few hours navigating the streets we were starving. Calder had visited India before and was excited for the chance to eat more Thali plates. For how busy the markets were, there were relatively few restaurants, so we had to scrap our plans for Thali and eat whatever was available and unlikely to make us sick. As we were about to learn, the city of Hyderabad LOVES haleem. It seemed to be the only cooked food we could get in the area.

Being the adventurous eaters that we are, we ordered some not knowing what it was. When the haleem arrived, we received a bowl full of grey, slimy, chunky, snotty, chewy food. Wikipedia kindly refers to it has having a "paste-like" consistency. Mine was "sweet", Calder's was "salty". A few bites were enough to get the feel for it {the "feel" being that this was a food one had to be raised on to love}, but we were hungry and didn't want to leave the food uneaten, so knew we should eat a few more bites.... our conversation consisted of trying to figure out what ingredients were put into the pot at the beginning of the day. Calder was sure that it was made from all meat, which really turned my stomach ~ how did they turn "meat" into snotty sweet slime? So, we downed a few more bites, I gagged just once, and then we were on our way.

Back at the hotel, we did some research and found out that haleem is not all meat. Its base is wheat, and we think it's the wheat's gluten that creates the paste. So, if you ever travel in India, and come across haleem, consider yourself warned.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

<-----never eating haleem! *gag*