After another difficult night of gastrointestinal disturbance, we were very much looking forward to seeing a friendly face in Hyderabad.
Our friend Cads, who lives in San Francisco, was coming to India for work and we had arranged to meet up with him in the city of Hyderabad. He was able to arrange accommodation for us at the spectacular Taj Deccan hotel in the centre of the city. This was going to be our second experience staying in a Taj branded hotel, and we knew we were headed to serious luxury. However, in reality, we had no idea what we were in for…
After our stressful Delhi Airport experience, the flight to Hyderabad was straight-forward. We landed at 5pm and made our way to the Taj Deccan. As we pulled into the driveway, it became clear that we were to be well looked after. The lobby was decorated with fresh flower bouquets, a crystal chandelier and marble floors, and a we were met with a traditional welcome, receiving a tikka (red dot) on our foreheads. We were taken to our room, which had been upgraded to a junior suite!
The room was huge and stunning! We soon figured out that were next door to Cads and went over to say hello and catch up. After some greetings and heated agreements about how amazing the rooms were, we went down to have some dinner at the buffet restaurant. It was so nice to see a familiar face and catch up with Cads, who hadn’t seen seen in a long time. Having been on the road for nearly 4 months, it was amazing what a positive effect seeing a good friend can have. It was awesome to have conversations about memories, friends and family.
For the next couple of days we spent some quality time in our amazing hotel room, swimming in the pool, and even getting some much needed laundry done. Coming to the end of our time India, we did not feel the need to do much more sightseeing and exploring in the 40 degree C heat of the day. This luxurious break came at a great time as we were starting feel a bit jaded and both of us were struggling with some bouts of illness. We were very keen to rest up to make sure we were both well rested and healthy in time for our upcoming hike in Nepal. We were quite happy to enjoy the air conditioning, pool, and cable TV, and took advantage of the reliable wifi to catch up with some friends and family, and make plans to meet up in the US in a month or two.
On our third night, at around 9pm our phone started ringing. Sam immediately thought that if someone was able to get in touch with us at our hotel that it had to be bad news. Luckily, it turned out to be reception. It was at this point I thought they were going to tell us off for doing laundry in our room (we'd really classed up the joint by hanging our dirty socks and undies from every available surface)… Au contraire, they wanted to upgrade us the following day… to THE PRESIDENTIAL SUITE! They would call us tomorrow when “our room” was ready. We talked with Cads about it, as we thought he should take the suite, but as he was going to be at work all day, he insisted that we take it and make the most of it. We agreed that we would all go up and have a drink there together as a compromise.
Sure enough, the next morning, the staff came to take us to our new room...
Ho. Ly. Mo. Ly. This room was not a room, but 7 rooms! A foyer, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, a living room, a bar, and of course, the bedroom (which on its own, was larger than our previous room). Without a doubt, this was the most luxurious accomodation Sam and I have ever had on our travels. What an awesome experience! We very much took advantage of the place, and spent the day embracing the luxury - basically sitting on every piece of furniture watching back to back episodes of Survivor and eating our welcome chocolates...
Embracing India's national obsession: a night out at an IPL cricket match
Our big, exciting activity for Hyderabad was getting to go to an IPL Cricket match live at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. Again, Cads had organised the tickets for us, and we were joining him and his workmates at the match. The local team, Sunrisers Hyderabad were taking on the top of the table Punjab Kings XI. We arrived to the stadium as the match was starting and we could hear the roar of the crowd from the parking lot. Unfortunately in the 5 minutes it took us to find our entrance and seats, Kane Williamson (the NZ national team captain) was bowled out for the first wicket (out) of the match after only 3 balls, before even scoring a single run… so we completely missed his at bat. Nevermind - seems like we didn't miss much! We took our seats, grabbed some stadium snacks and soaked up the amazing atmosphere. The Sunrisers finished their batting with a score 133, which is a reasonably good, but not amazing score for the Punjabi Kings to chase. The game was set to be a close one.
After a brief intermission, the first two batsmen for the Punjabi Kings took their spots in their adjacent creases. One of them was about 6’6”, built like a linebacker and made the cricket bat look like a toothpick. He proceeded to hit 4’s and 6’s without breaking a sweat and pretty quickly it looked like it would be a blowout. The mood in the stadium drastically changed and the crowd went a bit flat. Cads even made a comment along the lines of, “If this was baseball game, people would start heading home about now”. And he was right. It seemed like the 133 runs would be achieved in no time. Oh how we were wrong! Two quick catches put the Kings on the back foot and Sunrisers really seemed have the momentum.
Some outstanding bowling from the Sunrisers limited the Kings to only single run hits and the defence of the fielders clamped down, forcing the Kings to play a more reserved style. At the halfway point, the Kings were 10 runs ahead of where the Sunrisers were after 10 overs. This match was really starting to take shape and was back on track for coming down to the wire.
The fans really stepped up the noise and intensity and backed their team to get it done. Some lethal bowling was making life difficult for the Kings, and for the first time it looked like they were out of it. They needed 34 runs off of the last 24 balls! In the final over, the Kings could still win, requiring only 13 runs. But on the second ball of the over, the stumps were smashed sending the bails flying, and the stadium into a frenzy. That was the 10th and final out. Sunrisers WIN! Random people hugging and high fiving, banners and flags were flying high and cheers and screams filled the stadium. It was an awesome moment! I can honestly say, I am a cricket convert. I cannot wait to watch some more live cricket once back in NZ.
The next day we said our thanks and goodbyes to Cads (and our Presidential suite), and flew back to Delhi for our final few days in India before heading over to Nepal. Despite not seeing much of Hyderabad, it was great to recharge and catch up with old friends!
Lots of love,
Z & S