It’s the Numaish time of the year. Yay! What’s Hyderabad without the Numaish and vice-versa?
In the month of the Numaish, Nampally is war zone. They might want to film Survival here. The drive along Nizam Shahi Road (Exhibition Road, duhhh!) requires brains and brawns, no less, with the whole of Hyderabad and his uncle (with little Munni hanging from his pinky) making for Entry Gate No. 1. The name of the game is survival of the fittest. And they shall inherit the parking space. The meek will risk being bullied by the coupon guy. “Lock nakko karo, lock nakko karo” he’ll tell you as you squeeze your bike into the tightest space. You better not, for he’s king for a day.
The Karaoke Kop
On the approach roads, there’s a traffic cop who’s doing the karaoke on the megaphone and hitting on the demure girls crossing the street, whom he addresses as Babyji. Quite the g’man, he reminds the men gently, “Ladies first!” and lets women cross the road first.
Numaish is not over until a visit to the food zone. Walk over to the chat bandis, which are living proof that it’s not only pizza counters that dish out execrable food. I read up one flashy banner advertising a plate of samosa ragada with a fancy name and paid for it. Then come the never-heard-of brands of ice-creams and then there’s the cotton candy, pink gargoyles that you eat up.
I thought I could lose myself in the Numaish. But then inside of 10 strides towards the chikankari stalls, I met my aunt’s friend’s cousin’s neighbour. She was going out and I in. She said she bought an orange bedsheet with green floral prints for fifty bucks. I think she just wanted me to be jealous. I also met the Alam family. I counted 23 of them. No kidding. No, no, a lot of kids in fact.
Once safely into the crush, the girls lift their veils and reveal Hyderabad’s stunning beauty. This is Hyderabad in microcosm: Girls buying Cinderella slippers, women haggling for kitchenware they’ll never use, kids slurping ice-cream with their noses and Uncle patting his backside to see if the purse has not been picked by a pickpocket or by Begum.
Numaish this time is playing host to about 2,500 stalls. A lot of the usual things, really: Kashmiri shawls from Himachal, lungis from Tirupur, psychedelic slippers from Cinderella and plastic kitchenware from Guangzhou. Bilkul asli hai, babyji. O babyji! But, sacchi mein, this year I found one beauty products stall from the Dead Sea! Amma thodu! Dude, we’re going international!
And Hyderabadi tehzeeb is at its best at the Numaish. The sales bhaiya at every stall makes you feel like you are a princess -- Babyji, O Babyji. And you can flaunt your jhatak with no risk of sniggers from that Jubilee Hills crowd. And I saw people carrying plastic bags of less than 40 microns without wanting to make a fashion statement with jhoot bags. Kaun measure karta, woh sab!
Bolne ka daam,dene ka daam
Fixed Rates Only? Nonsense. Every sale is a sensuous transaction between seller and buyer. Hyderabadi women know the tango. Step 1: walk in, looking uninterested. Step 2: Look bored and ask for the price. Step 3: Look shocked at price stated. Step 4: Divide state price by half and offer as olive branch. Step 5: Regardless of response, walk away. Babyji, O Babyji! Lelo. Sirf aapke liye.
Khana aur Khelna
Buying and haggling done, head over to the rides. Just follow the sound of the “dhinchak” music. The ride zone is like walking into a Shammi Kapoor movie. The kids are enjoying it but it’s the adults who are screaming. I Yam Lovin’ It. Beware of people puking on you, though.