- Understandably, the best part of it was catching up with some close friends (Kali / Subhadra whose daughter Kinny’s wedding gave me the opportunity to visit Hyderabad after more than two decades) and a few relatives dear to me (Egbert uncle, aunty, Kumar and family)
- I found the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport to be in a world-class mould, but it was not a surprise as I had already read a lot about it and was prepared for an impressive feel. It did not let me down.
- My short stay saw me revisit most key places there — Tank Bund, Birla Mandir, Hitec City/Madhapur, Abids, etc
- Got to savour Double ka Meetha and Hyderabadi biriyani, thanks to Kumar
- Pulla Reddy Sweets / Karachi Bakery – Was able to buy their signature products — Cashew chikki (Pulla Reddy) and Fruit biscuits (Karachi). They both retain the taste I was used to in the 80s.
- Abids, once Hyderabad’s equivalent of Bangalore’s MG Road and one of my favourite haunts, appeared to be in a state of complete neglect. I wonder how what was once the city’s most plush shopping destination allowed to languish with no development.
- Potholes, cables dangling along the stretch, water stagnation and the disappearance of what was its most famous landmark, Maheshwari/Parameshwari theatres were among the disappointments.
- The development of the Hitec City / Cyberabad, with big malls there and in other newer localities, has possibly taken its toll on Abids. Still it is difficult to accept how the City’s popular central spot was ignored amid the emergence of Hyderabad as an IT nerve centre.
- The Narayanguda YMCA is now almost non-existent, ready to make way for a multi-storeyed development..The hostel there where I stayed for the first three years of my Hyderbad life and a restaurant (Harrys) are both gone.
- The YMCA is where I made some great friends (Solomon, John, Sandip, Murali, Anji Reddy, Srinath and many others who were staying in the hostel. Ulaganathan, my senior at both the MCC and Indian Express, was also an inmate. Unfortunately, a close senior friend, Passport Officer Sivakumar, passed away while in service after he moved back to Chennai).
- I had masala dosai and coffee at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Narayanguda and I thought it was as good as before. The Balaji Mithai shop remains where it was back then.
- I tried to locate a Gujarati family-run mess and another meal joint that I used to frequent then but could not spot them. It was an unreasonable expectation given that three decades have passed since I left Hyderabad.
- Narayanguda is where I lived in even after my marriage. The central location was a big plus – close to Abids, Kothi and Chikkadpally. I could even walk to Abids from there though I was often on Soly’s scooter pillion — even falling off it once in the middle of Abids!
- Soly, John and I would often dash out to the Sukh Sagar ice-cream parlour in Kothi in the middle of the night for some delightful melting delights,
- My Newstime Days remain memorable – the journalistic staff were almost entirely made up of freshers straight from college. Kali was my first friend there – we had attended the interview the same day and we both made it to the team.
- VR Parsa, Venkateshwar Parsa, Mamta and AV Ragunathan are a few of the other great friends I made there. Sadly, I have lost a few friends as well – Srinivas Parsa, Devaprasad and Abhinav Nayar.
It was a very short visit, but I am glad I made it
G Joslin Vethakumar