districts from Hyderabad. I selected the
uncle who stayed the nearest, in
Karimnagar. My aunt explained to me how
a simple bus journey would take me to the
district from where she would collect me
and take me to their house.
Karimnagar, with its jungle-like atmos- phere, the pure air and the untamed
wilderness felt so refreshing after the hustle
bustle I am so used to in my urban life. It
was as if Paris Hilton was visiting an
Arkansas farm, like a rich Amrish Puri visiting India for a pure Ganga, (remember the
Bollywood flick Pardes Or like Shah Rukh
Khan in Swades?).
“I don’t like exposing my legs,” announced
my 10-year-old niece as she got ready for
school and wore her ‘leggings’ beneath her
skirt. Ah! Here was a pre-teen who liked to
wear more clothes than necessary, what a
In Karimnagar I felt like I had turned over
a new leaf. Okay, a bit of an overstatement.
After living in pristine bathrooms and controlled temperatures for eight years, it was
not easy adjusting to Indian toilets with no
bolts and the freezing Indian December climate.
I became laughing stock when I paraded
in my socks, sweater, cotton in ears, and a
runny nose, saying, “It’s so cold here!” every
Imagine! Traveling from a colder America
to a tropical India and complaining of cold.
To top it all I had an explanation, “Oh! But
I have room heaters at home. I am so not
used to walking on the no-carpet concrete
with no house slippers in a cold house.
Every pipe, every faucet, every hole in
America has a cold/ hot water alternative. I
have heaters in my car and office. I never get
exposed to the cold climate as such.”
After two days, it was time to pack up. As
we were about to step out of the house,
someone switched on the television for the
early morning news. ‘The Telangana move-
ment has declared a bandh today. Buses will
not be allowed to ply from Karimnagar,’ said
the newsreader. I was flabbergasted. “Why
don’t you come along with me to my
school?” asked my aunt. “I will send you
home during lunch by then the movement
will slow down,” she added. That sounded
like a plan. After all, I didn’t want to end my
new bride journey here. I had a dozen other
things planned for my trip.
In India life is determined with only two sets of questions. It all starts with, is it a
girl or a boy, then, when you are 16 you are
asked science or commerce, then, engineering or medicine, followed by getting a job in
India or flying to the US, arranged marriage
or love marriage and then again, is it a girl
or a boy and so life continues.
Begumpet, Hyderabad: My mother-in-law wanted me to meet her 95-year-old
grandmother. “95? Still alive! Is she conscious?” I asked. How dare I question? I was
instantly told to shut up. “Of course she is. I
was waiting for this moment for such a long
time. For all four generations to meet. She
will be so happy to see you,” mused my
So we set about on the journey in an auto
rickshaw, from Vanasthalipuram to
Begumpet in the pleasant heat of
By the time we reached Begumpet, the
Hyderabad heat lulled me to a post-break-fast nap. I woke in time to realize we hadn’t
reached the destination yet.
I had seen my mother-in-law scribble the
address on a piece of paper earlier. Not a big
deal, there will be an address, the autowallah
just has to follow it and look for the apartment’s name, I thought.
Wrong! After an hour of searching for the
apartment, I couldn’t hold myself. I requested my mother-in-law to hand me the slip.
Scribbled on the piece were the words,
Meena Jewelers, railway bridge, and U-
Houston-based Mallika Kiran is a business
analyst and has lived in the US since 2003. She
hopes to become a full-time writer some day