Hyderabad's People And Culture
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!