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Hyderabad's People And Culture

... Full Hyderabad :

"Desamante Mattikadoyi, Desamante Manushuloyi" sang a popular local poet. It's not necessary to know what the verse means - mostly since we don't the meaning ourselves. A proofreader told us we are reducing a global scope to a local scope by using it as intro for this article, but only the techies at fullhyd.com made anything out of that.

It's as hard for us to describe Hyderabad as it would be for God to describe the world. While you are pondering over that statement, you might as well get yourself a cup of coffee, for we're planning to indulge ourselves anyway.


The Basics

Hyderabad has 2 kinds of people - the locals and the immigrants.

If you know something of the history of Hyderabad, you will know that it was under Muslim rule for 600-700 years, from about 1300AD to 1948AD. That means a significant Muslim population, most of which is concentrated in the old city (see map to understand the topography). These people speak mostly Hindi and Urdu.
 

The tech boom has brought in many new faces

Hyderabad is also the capital of Andhra Pradesh, a state in South-India with an almost entirely Telugu-speaking population. This results in a huge Telugu-speaking populace in the city, forming a majority (and they are almost all Hindus). A significant chunk of that is people from the rest of the state who've come seeking careers/wealth in the capital which has also always been the biggest business hub. Along with the Muslim population described above, these people broadly form the locals.

Immigrants in Hyderabad are people mostly from the rest of the country, most of whom have come in primarily after the software boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. They speak mostly English, Hindi, and any mother tongue other than these, and their presence plays a big part on lending Hyderabad its cosmopolitan image.

This is the broad demographical knowledge you need to understand Hyderabad and its twin city Secunderabad.


Geographical Scattering
 

The old city from inside Charminar

You'll find the Muslim population primarily in the old city, below the Musi river, and upto a few kilometers above it, getting gradually sparser. The immigrant crowds are found mostly in the more upmarket areas like Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills, Madhapur and Begumpet, and the neighbourhoods, which is rather intuitive since most of them came here leaving their home-towns mostly due to big money.

Telugu crowds are all over the place, but are marked by especially huge densities in the Punjagutta-Kukatpally stretch on the west of the Hussain Sagar, Dilsukhnagar, areas east of the Hussain Sagar, and all the sprawling outskirts.

These are, of course, broad patterns.

People

There is really no such a thing as a typical Hyderabadi, unlike what many journalists desperate to fill up space write.

 

If you wish to engage them at a very basic level, Hyderabadis are a pretty friendly people. Almost anyone will help a blind person cross the road if asked to, and they will all be eager to give directions if asked. Beyond that, however, people's attitudes and principles - like perhaps anywhere else in the world - are a function mostly of their educational and economic levels, and not of the region.

What face of Hyderabad you will encounter then depends on what kind of people you will need interact with. If you do not have to encounter a large chunk of the city, Hyderabad can be a very good place to be in. In all upmarket businesses, you have professional service levels, courteous people, and strong Hugo Boss or at least Axe wafting around. The executive and software professional classes are polished and patient, speak good English, and can entertain. And they are usually ethical in more situations and issues than the average Hyderabadi.

If you have to get out of that oxygen bubble and interact with the hoi polloi, however, life can be different. Hyderabad is part of India, whose per-capita income of about $1,400 a year (in 2012) puts it in the bottom half of the world. Thus the majority in Hyderabad too are people who do not have a minimum standard of living. It's hard to be principled when you have no role models in your immediate community, no one to even tell you what is wrong, and no money. And ethics for most people are relative, not absolute.
 

A typical scene on Hyderabad's roads

So many autorickshaw drivers will cheat you if they can, many police and municipal officers (government officials in general) can be bribed, women get stared at everywhere and really badly in certain areas, a fender-bender in the traffic almost always erupts into a very foul-mouthed and quite possibly physical fracas, just about everybody breaks traffic rules... Actually, to determine the ethics of the average resident of this city, you just have to stand at an unmanned traffic signal for half an hour.

Yes, a point that comes up is that not all offenders above belong to under-educated and poor classes - for example, several cars jump signals, and several highly educated bureaucrats take bribes. We don't know about our theory then - ask God.

Well, every city has an underbelly, and maybe we at fullhyd.com know this city too well and know other cities too little to offer the right perspective.


21 Random Hyderabad Facts

 

1. Most Hyderabadis love Chinese food a lot. Or what passes for Chinese food on the road sides, anyway. And of course, mirchi bajjis (find out). All of the above provide your daily requirements of carcinogens and then some, at prices even college students can afford.
2. Most Hyderabadis love watching movies, like all Telugu people. And many hardcore Telugu youngsters fight badly over their favorite heroes - mostly on the web, and at times offline. If you understand the psyche behind people abusing each other over someone who has wealth, fame and gorgeous babes ...well, keep it to yourself.
3. Most Hyderabadis love chaat and pani puri (find out). You should try this only if you've done it a hundred times already - first-timers usually die.
4. 7 out of 10 Hyderabadi under-17 students are trying to become engineers, and 2 out of 10 are trying to become doctors. The other 1 out of 10 is considered a non-entity.
5. Salman Khan is big in Hyderabad, especially among the old city crowds. So big, he doesn't dare go there.
6. Pubs in Hyderabad play loud music, and most of them have to close at 11pm unless they make enough to pay off the cops, and are willing to. That is about all there is to Hyderabad's nightlife, really. Attempts to pump it up include offering free booze to women once a week, and newspaper photographers do the rest.
Women cannot dress too aggressively
7. Women in Hyderabad do not dress aggressively - a tight sleeveless top and low-waist Jeans are about the best it gets. Most parents will not allow anything more. Also, the men would stare until they ran out of eyes.
8. Men in Hyderabad do not dress aggressively - they'd get laughed at.
9. The most popular English newspapers in Hyderabad are Deccan Chronicle, The Times Of India and The Hindu, in that order. There's a popular saying in Hyderabad that whatever newspaper you read, you deserve it.
10. The most popular TV channels in Hyderabad are Telugu TV news channels that will coveranything.
11. Hyderabad is India's Silicon Valley (anything else you heard is a shameless lie), and there's a software professional in every home - at least a budding one. There's a place called Ameerpet which if you mistakenly enter, you'll be forced to sign up for some software training course.
12. Hyderabad's overall income has grown dramatically since the late 1990s, leading to a restaurant/nightclub scene that was unimaginable a decade ago. People go to Lebanese restaurants and all, and we bet 90% of them don't know where Lebanon is. Or even who he is.
Leching from Prasads' upper floors is in!
13. A popular pastime among Hyderabadi youngsters is standing by the railings of the top floors at Prasads multiplexand looking down at the crowds. We wonder what they look for. (Yes, we are in denial.)
14. If you do not get tickets in many Hyderabad cinema halls, most times you can ask the owner where to find his men around his theater selling them in black (though he may ask you to pay him for the information).
15. If you own land anywhere in Hyderabad, it will most likely be grabbed by goons, and cops usually offer to help only if you part with half the land (okay, that's an exaggeration - they ask for only a quarter).
16. Every other final-year undergrad student in Hyderabad attends CAT coaching classes. CAT is the entrance exam to India's premier B-schools, and needs divine intervention for success.
17. Someone once wrote to the fullhyd.com office that it is easier to find a virgin antelope in Hyderabad than it is to find a virgin girl, and we think that is an extreme expression of an uncomfortable truth. Like Gurajada Appa Rao (or whoever) once said, the times, they are a' changing.
18. The Hyderabad airport is possibly the farthest that any airport in the world is from its home city.
Hyderabad's autos are a royal pain
19. Autorickshaw drivers in Hyderabad are in general rude, and do not understand the concept of a straight line.
20. Public transport in Hyderabad, aside of the rather expensive autorickshaws, are buses and local trains. The former can be very crowded, and the latter untraceable.
21. The biggest addiction in Hyderabad is paan (betel leaves with nuts), and the related gutkha. People spit the red excrement from that all over the roads, and even if you can manage to stay outside the line of fire, you can't manage to never step over it.


You'll find out a lot more about us Hyderabadis in additions to this article by some really knowledgeable locals below. Welcome to our city!
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