Hyderabad, India is a great city for many reasons. Beautiful architecture. Great food. Warm hospitality. Oh yeah, and my wife is apparently a celebrity there.
Heidi and I were exploring the city and stopped at the Charminar, a beautiful and ornate mosque constructed in 1591. While not as popular as Taj Mahal, Charminar is one of the iconic architectural structures of India.
Anyway, my wife and I were up inside and I asked her to pose for a picture. Suddenly, several people around us (all Indians) pulled out their cameras or mobile phones and also began taking pictures of my wife.
Then, a young man approached my wife and asked for a selfie with her. She obliged. That unleashed a torrent of others, men and women, young and old, who also asked for pictures with her. A line formed. Families gathered around her. People were taking pictures of other people taking pictures.
Meanwhile, I stood at a distant and smiled. But as the crowd grew, I could see Heidi becoming uncomfortable. She signaled for me to come over and after a couple more pictures, I escorted her away. A gaggle followed us, snapping more pictures.
When I first visited Beijing in 2010 with my brother, there were 6-7 young Chinese students who approached us in Tiananmen Square and asked for a picture, one at a time. But as the China continues to blossom and its citizens explore the world, white faces are no longer a novelty.
My wife is objectively beautiful…it was one of the many reasons I married her. In Hyderabad, I wonder whether those who queued for a photo with her were enthralled by her beauty, amused by a white girl in their midst, or simply following the crowd.
Whatever the reason, it made for an interesting afternoon.
Also recommended in Hyderabad:
- Hotel Shadab – a great restaurant serving traditional Hyderabadi biryani
- Chowmahalla Palace – beautiful Persian-style architecture
Here are some pictures:
This reminds me of a very funny story of a friend of mine. Many years ago when technology was not as developed as it is today he visited a very small town in China for business. He is a very tall white American which for sure called attention on a small Chinese town. He was at a restaurant and many people came to him and asked if they could take his picture. People took some pictures and that was it. Fast forward 10 years later he goes back to the same town again for business and goes to the same restaurant. He is there waiting for his meal and finds interesting that lots of other people eating in the restaurant were looking at him and talking to each other and pointing. It took him a while to figure out that his picture from many years ago was framed in one of the restaurants walls. Apparently he became a celebrity there. People recognized him from the picture in the wall and were all pointing to him.
Open to any suggestions of where to find good, traditional Biryani in the LA/Orange County area. I live in Denver but I’ve scoured the area and have come up short. I travel to SoCal often enough that I’d settle for finding a good option there!
Best suggestion I can give you is Paradise Biryani Pointe in Artesia. Some stories suggest it’s loosely affiliated with the original Paradise biryani restaurant in Hyderabad, though I’ve never been able to confirm that. Anyway, they have a couple of locations here in the DFW area and they serve a pretty good Hyderabadi biryani.
Al-watan halal restaurant, 10 min from LAX, Sunday only for Biryani, Restaurant is Nothing fancy, but great food, I go to the airport early just so that I have enough time to stop by at Al-watan
You can also try looking for Thai biryani( kao mok gai), some thai restaurant have it or my favourite is Burmese Biryani(Dun Bout),
Try Noorani Restaurant in Garden Grove, CA
Looks like a really fun time. I would say with all due respect that you and your wife are pretty photogenic. The locals probably thought you may be celebrities of some sort. Hyderabad is not really a bright blip on most westerners’ radars.
Being 6’4″ and a former linebacker, I have kids in many countries stare at me all the time—mostly kind of in fear. I usually just flash a big grin and then they do the same. Always a nice moment.
@Steve S, I would start with Artesia. I have had some very good Indian food there and the downtown area is walkable, so you can window-shop all the little restaurants to find something promising.
It will probably not surprise you that neither my wife nor I have the celebrity problem when we visit India, though I do get numerous funny looks when they hear me talk. LOL. (P.S. your wife got the stares because, yes, white people are still largely a novelty in Hyderabad, though that has begun to change over the last 10 years or so as more multinational companies set up shop there.)
I’ve never heard of Hotel Shadab, though the food looks great. You missed the most famous spot in Hyderabad for biryani, though – Paradise Biryani and tea stall, right next to Charminar.
This is not uncommon for western female travelers to experience, especially those that are considered “attractive.” By every account of all women I know who have traveled by themselves at least some of the time report always being followed and approached by flirtatious men constantly. Generally when women and their male companions keep their wits about them , things are fine. But there have been many high-profile attacks on foreign women in recent years.
With the unfortunate rise of sex-selection abortion due to the easy access of ultrasound in the 1980’s, there are now over 37 million more men than women. To put that in perspective, think of the entire western United States being only male.
This means there’s a gigantic chunk of an entire generation of men who simply don’t know what it’s like to be around women on a regular basis, Few or no sisters, Few opportunities to date, etc.. This has lead to some serious social problems in the country like the increase of violence against women. The NYT has a good article on the subject here … https://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/indias-man-problem/
No photo of Heidi? Is your son traveling with you?
India is a fascinating place. Safe travel!
This is part of my “vintage” pre-Augustine trip report:
I actually have some great photos of Heidi for this story, but she asked me not to post any! Germans love their privacy.
A few years back we were part of a 6-pack traveling through China. Two of our gals had long blond hair. At every tour, we were surrounded: behind us, locals, and in front of us, family photographers. Several actually reached out and touched the long blond hair.
They blondes were good sports about it, recognizing they were simply a “tourist stop” oddity and no harm was meant.
People in the part of the city where Hyderabad was initially established act little wired around people coming in from other country. They start clicking pictures and ask them for selfies and it’s quite often when a team from the US would visit our office and we would take them out for a tour in that part of the city. As most the historic monuments and ancient structures are around the old city. I believe this is because of the movie Angrez. Do watch the movie, it’s a comedy movie. It would be difficult to understand as the script is mostly based on the local slang.
Matthew! Hyderbad is one of my favorites too. Of course I was there 35 years ago – and the Biryani I had was the best I have ever had -because it was in the home of parents of a friend of mine from college. Wow that was great. I think it is a very romantic city – I love all the ruins outside the city. Of course Heidi would be swamped – she is stunning. 🙂
I for the first time felt a lot of sympathy for stars – because I constantly had crowds of people following me everywhere I went. I lived in Serampore while there and they had only one other western that lived there at the time and he had been there for years, so he was more Indian than Western.