Hyderabad’s lost and never founds

There are a few things that truly are a thing of the past now. They cannot be discussed as current topics but only as history or, at best, nostalgia.
Musi river, Hyderabad
Musi river, HyderabadPhoto | Express

HYDERABAD: I was driving past IKEA the other day, and suddenly, my memory hit me. I remembered that the IKEA now was back then called Mindspace Crossroads. Seriously, imagine this: generally, shops are removed so that roads can be constructed, but for IKEA to be constructed, a road was removed. That’s Hyderabad for you — always changing yet never complaining. However, there are a few things that truly are a thing of the past now. They cannot be discussed as current topics but only as history or, at best, nostalgia.

Musi river

Every major city in the world, as a rule of thumb, settled next to a waterbody because, back then, water tankers and jet sprays were not invented yet. So did the early settlers of Hyderabad near Musi. But where is Musi now? We see the bridges under which Musi used to flow, but now the river—many would say it has dried up and only shows up when there is a flood. I would say that our river Musi has upgraded itself from freshwater to black water (the kind of water Sara Ali Khan carries around), but nobody is ready to recognise it like I do.

Auto metre

If you get inside a yellow auto, on the left side, you’ll see a black device with a red screen. Now it is mostly used to hang tote bags, but back when the centre of the city used to be Abids, this metre was used to calculate the fare. Auto drivers used to say things like, “You need to pay 100 rupees more than the amount shown on the metre,” or “The metre is not working, so just pay me the ransom amount.” They even claimed, “The metre does not work at night.” Somehow, they would go on strike later and ask the government to change the base fare of the metre. They protested for an upgrade for a device they were never going to use. Thank God for apps — I don’t have to deal with calculating a price; I can directly overpay the amount to OLA.

Setwin bus

Private buses were a thing back then in the city and were called Setwin buses. They were smaller and more in number, like mosquitoes after a monsoon, and equally annoying. They were banned eventually because these buses were hell-bent on reducing the population on their own. They were driven with the passion of a shared auto and would fit more people than a cruise ship would. They caused a lot of death until the buses started rusting themselves, and the government finally had to kill the killer.

Payphone

Hyderabad had just started to boom. Cell phones did exist, but there was a time when incoming calls were charged. That’s when the big yellow-coloured dabba with a dial pad was the redeemer in the telecom industry. Payphones taught us the art of delivering critical messages in 90 seconds flat. Need to apologise to a girlfriend? You’ve got 90 seconds. Convince your boss you’re sick? 90 seconds. And the best part? No call-backs.

Other honourable mentions would go to open plots where the next VVS and Azharuddin were groomed, which are now covered in blue tarps to show up as Sarpana Apartments a few months later. Also, there used to be horse carts selling pineapples everywhere. Think about that when you cross the well-lit T-Hub next time.

(The writer’s views are his own)

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