I have been inspired by my good friend Vinod Ekbote who makes these solo visits to Necklace Road once a month and catches the tranquil sunrise there, followed by a cup of steaming Irani chai as he browses the news at Adarsh cafe. My plans to join him never took off though we planned it many times. But when Anjali told me that she had not seen a sunrise yet in all of her four years, I thought that maybe we should venture out this Sunday morning.
So at 530 a.m. we got up and stole off in the dark towards Necklace Road, Shobhs, Anjali and I. We had to wait awhile for the sun to shake off some persistent clouds but it was a wait well worth the time. Anjali. meanwhile, had a great time shooing the hundreds off pigeons that were around on the lawns (and getting frightened by the noise of their wings as they took off). The sunrise was beautiful and we watched as a clearly defined sun, red and full, rose sleepily over the horizon, lighting up the lake with its rays. In a short while the sun had risen enough to make it seem blurred as it got down to business and we went across to Eat Street in the hope of grabbing a bite. The guard there said that the joint opens at 730 so we decided to go to an old favorite, Taj Mahal at Abids.
On the way we passed by so many sights that never make sense as we drive past in traffic. The road past the Secretariat was serene, wide and beautiful. Rag pickers were brushing their teeth peacefully and enjoying the morning sun. A young girl clenched her teeth and was all concentration as her father tried to teach her the first lessons of driving in an old Fiat. If she can learn to drive that she can drive anything. A couple of cops looked peacefully and kindly at the dull morning, content enough to allow people their minor transgressions like playing cricket on the parking lots etc. Trees were green and were shedding those yellow flowers that look so pretty.
As we approached the Abid road I suddenly saw all the Impala cars, the red ones that are lined up beside Bombay cafe for hire for weddings. It took me back many years to my school days, almost three decades ago, when we would see huge cars lined up there waiting for 'giraak'. And right next to it a brightly painted Bombay cafe that was my first initiation to Irani cafes, a place where we had to eat lunch during our Sunday league matches at All Saints. Our worldly wise Abdul Rub would order Tandoor-mutton there like an expert. Two of the biggest tandoor rotis and a bowl of mutton curry, hot and lovely - I can still smell it, taste.
I turned off to All Saints to show Shobhs and Anjali my alma mater. The huge church where a Sunday sermon had already begun.
The church and the school were together those days but due to some litigation between the two parties they erected a wall, chopped off some of the most beautiful parts of our old school and proudly show off their divided status. As stupid as anything else we see around us.
We saw the ground where some private match was going on. I remembered all the matches we played, felt my yearning to play for the school before I got selected in my tenth as I watched the game exactly from the same spot that I would sit at and watch.
We walked into the school premises and I showed my classrooms in Xth C and IXth C, both on the ground floor, our canteen where we polished off many rugda samosas and chikkis, the Rector's office, staffroom, library, table tennis rooms etc.
At the church I showed them the famous 'tunnel' where boys and girls would crowd into to get on to the Gunfoundry road after school - leading to much mischief that only adolescents understand.
And then we went to Taj Mahal hotel at Abids which still looked like it had the soul of Hyderabad of some fifty years ago. There was an old weighing machine, the likes of which abounded all railway stations those days, which would gobble up two rupees and throw out a card with your weight and a message for you (and a film star's face at the back).
Anjali was keen to weigh herself and was quite happy with the result (we were not with ours). The patrons at Taj Mahal were all old timers and you could see that they probably come to the place everyday.
By 730 the place was noisy and crowded with people coming back from morning walks with newspapers. The old waiters were so polite and old school that it made us smile. The breakfast was excellent and we unanimously declared that the sambar was the best in Hyderabad.
All in all, a very satisfying morning and one that made me wonder how much we miss out by falling into a routine. If we change it ever so slightly, look at the world differently, every moment seems so wonderfully fresh and new. It's all in the perspective - so get up early tomorrow and do something you normally would not. It will make you feel so alive and so good. It did to me.