April 05, 2020
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The Perfect Blend

The Perfect Blend
TO go to Hyderabad from Delhi is almost like travelling to another country. It has clean streets, which a visitor compared to Singapore's. Chandrababu Naidu's administrators, realising that municipal babus were not interested in keeping the city clean, handed over the contract to a private firm. Cleaners pour out on the streets at 10 pm, with modern equipment, and together with jhadoowalis, are at it up to 4 am. So Hyderabad wakes up to spanking clean streets. No banana peels, no plastic bags, no bidi ends. I was eating an orange in the car and according to the Delhi custom, almost threw the peel out of the window. The driver advised me to keep it in a paper bag, saying he would throw it in a dustbin later. Hyderabadis are as proud of their clean streets as Calcuttans are of their Metro. Give Indians something to be proud of and they'll respond.

But Hyderabad isn't exactly Singapore when it comes to women. I first did a double-take when I found two burqa- clad women whizzing past on a two-wheeler. One was driving, the other riding pillion. No helmets here or anywhere else in Hyderabad. I had barely got over the burqa'd women on a scooter, when two more women, also in burqas, flashed by in a Maruti. They negotiated Hyderabad's heavy traffic without blinking. At the Char Minar women walked confidently through heavy crowds - no eve-teasing here. But the male passers-by could not stop gaping at a young Delhi woman wielding a heavy camera, assisted by another wisp of a girl who was producing the programme. So novel a sight was this all-woman TV team that local newspapers front-paged their photographs. But there were quite a few local girls covering the film festival for the print media with equal zest. And that is where we find the real charm of Hyderabad, a perfect blend of the old and the new.

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