Monthly Archives: August 2012

Architectural Gems – Qtub Shahi Tombs

Ramoji’s Monsoon Magic

Pochampally Sarees, anyone?

Last  Saturday, we visited the small town of Pochampally.

When we moved to Hyderabad, the welcome materials shared with us by Santa Fe had references to traditional Andhra Pradesh textiles and where we could buy saris and now a days salwar kameez dress materials in those weaves. I was drawn to the opportunity of buying straight from the weavers co-operation (without the middle men making the profit ) from a small town/village of Pochampally, about 70 kms from Hyderabad.

With the upcoming festive season, and with parents visiting, we decided to make a trip to Pochampally and buy a few saris.

I couldn’t find many resources online, beyond the basic description of the town and vague directions. To make matters worse, the driver, whose car we had rented for the weekend, mentioned there are 3 villages called Pochampally around Hyderabad. While sitting in the parking lot, Vipul and I searched online while the driver called a few contacts to find out which was the weavers Pochampally. I found some reference of a NH-9 and Ramoji city on one of the sites and we decided to wing it.

Fortunately, within minutes, one of the drivers contacts called and confirmed that the village is about 7 kms ahead of Ramoji city and so off we went.

The drive along the way was lush green and the looming dark clouds, drizzle and slight breeze made the normally dusty drive a pleasant one.

The small town of Pochampally has one main road with many small lanes meandering off it. The main road has many showrooms – some are big but most are modest in size. As soon as we reached the town, our car was stopped by a few salesman, waving their cards in our faces and asking us to visit their showroom. We simply declined and drove a bit further to check out the town and stores before deciding which one to visit.

Our first stop was at Pochampally Handloom Co-op. Mainly because we assume Co-ops will be more regulated and we will get to know base prices of saris.

The sales folks showed use variety of saris in different price range – some silk, some cotton, some modern patterns and others traditional. After about half an hour of examining at least 100 saris and dress materials, we walked out with 1 sari. With handloom the challenge always is that patterns and color combinations are not always to your liking and if we liked the pattern we were not too keen on the color or vice versa. Typical Indian style shopping with mom.

Next we visited a smallish handloom store where we sat down on mattresses and the owner took out sari’s one by one from  Godrej Iron  cupboards.

He carefully aid them out of the mattress for us to view. He started with different patterns/styles and then showed us colors/options in the ones we liked. Varun wanted to roll on the mattress and jump on the silk saris much to chagrin of the shop keeper who clearly loved the saris a lot and wanted to keep them crease free.

We saw cotton saris, silk saris, unstitched salwar kameez materials, ready made kurta’s, handloom towels, handmade bags etc.

And we shopped a lot here – several saris, kurtas, unsticthed materials, etc. Mom bargained a bit but I thought the prices were fairly reasonable.

The owner served us tea while he was packing the loot and then took us to show how the weavers make these sari’s.

We went off in a small lane into a hut where there were atleast a half a dozen looms. Each loom had a sari being woven in different stages. We also got to see a sari being woven live while the other looms had a few saris in different stages of being woven.

The village has other attractions such as house with 101 doors and Handloom park ( a museum of history of town and weaving), but Varun was a bit bored by this time. He was thrilled by the chickens and goats outside the hut. Given half a chance, he would have chased the goat down the lane, but we picked him and decided to drive back home.

On the drive back, it was sobering to think about the amount of effort taken to weave one sari ( 5 -6 days depending on the pattern) and the money these artisans probably make after deducting all the expenses/paying off the middlemen. Some of the weavers have stopped their practise and are moving on to other stable jobs in and around the city.

We were happy that we got to see the artisans before this becomes a lost mechanised art.

Little Monster Turns Two

Family and close friends came over yesterday to celebrate Varun turning two!

The actual celebration in pictures.

The evening started with Vipul’s mom doing a ‘aarti’ for Varun to bless him on his birthday.

Varun touched all Aaji’s feet to seek their blessings.

Then we went to the community hall in our complex where we held the party.

The place was decorated in monster theme by Varun’s Mama and Mami with plenty of help from grandparents.

Phani and Illisa played with Varun while we waited for rest of the folks to arrive.

A few photo’s while we waited…

Then once everyone arrived, we cut the cake.

It was an orange-chocolate cake, covered in monster themed decorations! A big shout out to Sheetal – this wasn’t possible without you 🙂

Varun insisted on cutting the cake and managed to blow the candle after a few attempts.

But he didn’t want to eat any cake, and only had the decoration…

He enjoyed basking in everyone’s attention…

..and the shiny gifts!

While we missed everyone who attended his first birthday party, we were happy that a few friends could join us on his special day.

It was special day, made even more special with Varun’s friends who showed up to celebrate it with him!

A Ramzan Evening at Charminar

The city is reveling in Ramzan festivities.

And what better way to soak in the ambience, the call of azan for the faithful to offer prayers before breaking their fast, the hustle -bustle on the streets than in the Charminar. Charminar is crowded and busy even on regular days – so it was crazy yidea to go there during Ramzan.

We drove to Charminar with our friend Anand – who had the same crazy idea of visiting Charminar during Ramzan. As he is from Hyderabad, he had a plan to park about 2 kms away from Charminar and then take an auto rickshaw into the heart of the old city. But lack of traffic fooled us and we drove all the way into the old city. The last kilometer was particulary congested with people, rickshawas, food stalls and bikes jostling each other for space on the narrow stretch of road. We luckily found parking after 30 mins or so and Vipul was relieved to be out of the car.

We loved the energy, the lights and generally the crowd at Charminar.

First stop – Haleem at Pista House.

The prayers at Mecca Masjid were done and a crowd descended on various restaurants and road side stands to break the fast. We joined them in relishing haleem – a delicious stew of mutton, wheat and lentils slow cooked in ghee and spcies till the grains blend with the meat – the dish hyderabad associates with Ramzan. Topped with ghee, fried onions and a lemon wedge this is a wholesome meal.

We then decided to walk back to Medina for some Irani chai before indulging in some more Haleem. The way to Medina was even more crowded and Vipul was not comfortable having to push people around and we hopped into autorickshaw. The auto moved at a snail’s pace as well but atleast we were sitting in and enjoyed watching people buy bangles, clothes, dress materials, eat haleem and  desserts etc around us. The driver proved to be a typical Hyderabadi character – complete with ramming his auto into other peoples vehicles and not caring about it, scolding fellow rivers for honking and generally abusing folks in typical Hyderabadi Hindi.

When we got off, we couldn’t find Medina bakery – as it was closed for renovation. So we walked across to Shadab for some chai, haleem and biryani. Their haleem was just as good as Pista House – with more meat in our serving than the one before, but the Biryani was lame.

We were full at this point but stopped for a paan. Anand had typical hyderabadi desserts which he claimed were not so good- so we didn’t try any.

By this time, the crowds had lessened. So we walked back. We actually saw that the lane had footpath and we walked on that to avoid barging into the shoppers, hawkers and the road traffic. It was a bit sane here although the shop keepers lining the footpath called out to us with their wares. While some of the kurta’s and saris looked very enticing, we didn’t stop to buy any.

We finally made it back to the car – took one last look of the Mecca Masjid and Charminar and drove back home.

We took a longer route back to avoid traffic and Vipul breathed easily only once we were out on the highway.

Would we do this again- Likely not.It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Fortunately, all top selling Haleem restaurants have takeaway joints all over the city. And we plan a Haleem tasting as we are hooked on this nutritious warming dish.

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