A Moving North

Having lived in Hyderabad for nearly two decades now, the one time of the year that I look forward to the most is the Sankranthi weekend. It is one in the morning of Saturday, and from my office at Ameerpet, I can hear the frenzied collective hooting of fleets of buses ferrying the better part of the city's population back to their homes. Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana, is still largely an immigrant city, with most businesses and workforces tracing their roots back to coastal Andhra. This demographic quirk is also what led to the creation of a separate state for the people of Telangana. When I leave for home before Suryadev visits us, the streets which are otherwise deserted except for manic cabbies dropping sleepy IT workers off, are bristling with last minute travelers and hordes of trucks, minivans, buses, haggling over fares and seats, frantically calling friends and relatives, much like Ramzan nights in the old city. Except that the rush here is to get out of the city.


The next morning and till the weekend gets over, the city quietens down, the air and noise clears up, and moving around the city becomes a pleasure. Hyderabad grew rapidly in the 90s and the Telugu Desam government under the leadership of Chandrababu Naidu gave shape to a vision of a truly global city, with wide avenues, industry specific zoning, elevated mass transit, and a vibrant cultural identity. Subsequent governments fed off that vision but did little to accommodate the boom that followed.



It is on the Sankranthi weekend that one can truly appreciate the beauty of the city, as it becomes feasible to traverse the city on road, something that is a nightmare at all other times.


Like all other calendar days, Sankranthi is an end and a beginning. Interestingly, it is one of the rare Hindu festive days that follows the solar calendar, and is dedicated to the sun god, Surya. Traditionally a harvest festival, it heralds the movement of the planets out of inauspicious and into auspicious alignment, uttarayan. There is a ritual bonfire, to offer up all that is unnecessary in our lives, and then there is kite flying, symbolic of freedom with restraint, balancing ascension and risk, knowing that while we might be in control of our lives, there are forces that we are subject to, defiance of which can lead to disaster. In the midst of all this is the feasting, and the resting, and the dressing up. However, for me, this weekend is not only the celebration of ends and beginnings, but also to enjoy the clean and clear air, and empty roads, and to catch up on visits and drives long on our mind.

6 comments:

  1. Happy road tripping!

    Wish you and yours a happy Makar Sankranti!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Deepakbhai. Best wishes to you and yours too.

      Delete
  2. Ah, I love Hyderabad in winter, you can really see the city's beauty when its not brimming with crowds. It is during this time the city takes a deep breath and we should too. Great article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sandeep. This year we made a visit to the international kite festival, and the crowds and the parking queues suddenly made us forget that it was the Sankranthi weekend. But the festival and the road tripping before and after made up for it abundantly. Hope you had a good time too.

      Delete
  3. wonderful beginning to the year indeed. Happy Sankranthi to you! the school and college and office holidays lend a rare touch of quiet to the city

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true, Sujatha. Thanks for your wishes, and hope you had a good time too.

      Delete

Dialog is the path to peace, and this blog is all about dialog, peace and love. Go ahead and join in.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...