Audrey Rattay is a student at Thiel College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Audrey is currently studying abroad in Hyderabad, India on an ISA Fall 1 program.
I have clearly fallen in love with not only India, but Hyderabad in general after spending my fall semester here. Like many others, I have learned a lot about myself, my future plans, and about the world in general through traveling around the once undiscovered land of India. If you are considering Hyderabad as your next travel destination, first I commend you on choosing such a great city to explore. Secondly, I advise you to read these following six hints for happiness when living and traveling in Hyderabad.
Prepare to be overwhelmed: Traveling to a foreign land is one thing, but when you are traveling to Hyderabad, India – it is a whole different story. This city never seized to amaze me and there was never a dull moment. The rustic shops to the new bustling vibes, it can be difficult to adjust because at one point you may be overwhelmed with “India-style” and the next moment you may feel like you are in the up-town area of a United States city. Before traveling, prepare your mind for the hustle, bustle, and craziness that makes Hyderabad such a great city.
Do not stare a monkey in the eye: You have to admit, their sad eyes, soft-looking fur, and ability to flip and run around is rather attractive to the human eye and heart. However, please do not give in and do not stare them in the eye! The University of Hyderabad is filled with monkeys and especially baby monkeys which will pull at your animal-lover heart-strings. Yet, they are extremely dangerous and aggressive when feeling threatened. To avoid a hospital visit, stick to catching a glance at them when they are running around from a distance.
Never ask a waiter if the food is spicy: If you are like me, I never really have experienced extremely spicy food until moving to Hyderabad. South India is known for their spicy, face-sweating, eye-tearing food. When learning to adjust your taste buds, it is pointless to ask any waiter at a restaurant whether the food is spicy or not because no matter what they say, it will be spicy to you. Think about it, they have been raised on this food so the heat comes natural. I have realized this through many months of trial and error, just go in with the assumption that certain foods will turn you a nice shade of red (always have a glass of water or yogurt by your side).
Make sure all of your senses are in tune and sharp: Hyderabad traffic is high on the charts of the worst traffic in the world. When traveling throughout the city, be sure to have your eyes peeled, your ears tuned, and your reflexes ready, and maybe put your smell and taste on the back-burner because the pollution is rather heavy on those two senses. It can get dangerous out there so be prepared to have eyes in the back of your head.
Stand your ground when negotiating rickshaw prices: Larger cities in India generally require taxis and rickshaws to use their meters and generally they abide by law. Hyderabad rickshaw drivers chose to use the method of negotiating a price before the ride which can get frustrating, most of the time. When you figure out the system of about 10 rupees per kilometer, stick to it. They will try to take advantage of the fact that you are international but you must stand your ground because you should be treated equally to an Indian student. And for the record, Indians also have to haggle rickshaw prices – you are not alone!
Explore South Gate: When you are itching to go outside of campus but you do not want to travel far, take a little time to walk around Gopanpally, otherwise known as South Gate. The residents of this small town are as interested in learning about your culture as you are in theirs. The children’s faces are bright, and filled with life. Take a moment to learn the shopkeeper’s names and build a friendship right at the beginning because you will most likely spend a lot of time at South Gate. It is a nice walk from the hostel and a great place to fulfill 10 p.m. food cravings.
- The Hidden Gems of Hyderabad (isastudentblog.wordpress.com)