Saturday, October 28, 2006


Last weekend, 21 October, was Diwali, a major festival in India. That meant two days holiday and lots of fireworks. I took the whole week off and went to Hyderabad to stay with the in-laws. I travelled down on Diwali itself, this was nice as the roads, airport and plane where all quite empty. A bit like travelling on Christmas day in the UK. It did make for an exciting night time landing with lots of fireworks going off alongside the plane on its final approach. I can only imagine the terror panic that would ensue if such a colourful simulation of low intensity conflict was carried out near Heathrow.

No pictures again as San still has the camera. She's back on the first of November. Instead, here's a map of India so those unfamiliar with its geography can get their bearings. As you can see there are two Hyderabads. The northern one is Hyderabad, Sindh, and is in Pakistan. The one I went to is Hyderabad, Deccan, and is about 315 miles from Pune as the crow flies.

The festivities kept on coming. Diwali is a Hindu celebration, but later in the week it was the Muslims' turn for Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan (or Ramzan as it is referred to over here). There was some confusion over the exact date. It all depends on the first sighting of the new moon: the consensus was Wednesday in Hyderabad, but other parts of India had decided upon Tuesday.

Hyderabad has a large Muslim population so Ramzan is a big deal there. As it coincided with Diwali this year, lots of businesses had banners and lights celebrating both. My daughter saw one illuminated crescent moon and confidently declared it a banana. We had some Haleem, a traditional Ramzan dish, served from a vast roadside cauldron. Back at San's parents house we were given a traditional Ramzan sweet dish, the name of which escapes me, prepared by one of the neighbours. This and my mother-in-law's cooking ensured that I was fed well for the week.


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