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Colouring and erasing a city

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SERISH NANISETTI

You can live in Hyderabad without ever crossing the Musi. Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Cyberabad the lines are getting blurred, discovers Serish Nanisetti

Discovering Hyderabad over a period of 10 years is like watching a fickle-minded child clutching a number of crayons and eraser working furiously on a paper. New roads are laid, buildings get erased, another set of buildings get painted, the sign boards change, the landmarks disappear, new landmarks come up. And before you can say wow, another wow factor appears/disappears. Sometimes you feel there are more erasures than sketches, sometimes more sketches than necessary. Welcome to the world of happening chaos.

In a span of 10 years, the airport from the centre of city has been picked up and plonked some 40 km away. The all–in-one Fateh Maidan, where Aurangazeb's army rested after winning the war against Qutb Shahis, has been transformed from a sports stadium to a function hall as a spanking new cricket stadium has come up in Uppal and another multi-purpose stadium has been created in Gachchibowli. Multiplexes, malls, office and residential complexes that reach for the sky define the city now. Charminar, Golconda and the annual Numaish are for tourists only. Shopping at Abids is a memory for old time Hyderabadis who would shop for woollens at one particular place, school uniforms in another place, shoes at another famous shop, books from the familiar faced shop owner rounding up with an idly, dosa and coffee at the palatial hotel. Now, children cringe and groan at the idea of shopping at another place than the mall where they can bump into their pals occasionally, never mind that the stuff in malls is worn by every sixth person on the street.

Ten years back, twin cities was the name used for the city. No more. It is now Hyderabad that encompasses Secunderabad as well as the brash new Cyberabad with its chrome, glass, gravity defying shapes and blinding colours. The stretch of road that led to the University of Hyderabad was a landscape of rocks, lakes, trees and peacocks on the rocks in the morning and evening. Now it is a whizz of honky-tonky traffic on wide roads, the rockscape has made way for a skyscape that can belong to any metropolis in the world. The few white Ambassadors on the road have made way to a fleet of white Indicas.

Kohinoor Road no 1, Banjara Hills. Where's that. But say GVK One and you will reach the mall where you can watch the marine aquarium or sit down for a fish pedicure. Kohinoor, designed by a German architect in 1930, was there till 2003 when it was felled to build the present mall.

A little ahead on the road near Masab Tank (earlier this used to be called the Inner Ring Road) is the sign Hebraist Tailors, here for 37 years. Alas that's just a sign, the tailoring firm is no longer there. The newest neighbour for the sign is Paradise Restaurant.

A world away is Kukatpally. It is no longer the sleepy ‘Asia largest housing colony', it is the place where most of the software blokes stay, a place where you can spend a day without seeing anyone over 30. Bringing these young people to their workplace are wide roads that give hints of a rocky panorama that existed before the creation of Cyberabad. The road girdles the city like a rubber band. A rubber band that binds yet divides the city. A 400-year-old city that is reinventing itself every five years in the image of the young folks who bring their pulsating energy to transform the place.

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