Walking the local streets of Hyderabad, we heard intense barking. A group of dogs, so skinny their ribs stuck out, were going crazy by the side of the busy road so, of course, we went to investigate. “Don’t get too close!” my co-worker yelled as I weighed the odds of dying if I ran through scooters, cars and buses to get a picture of the monkey vs. dog urban turf war. In a wise choice, I decided not to get any closer to the angry monkey as he drove off the dogs and wandered back into the trash-infested vegetation to claim his territory. One lone dog raced up a piece of broken concrete to continue the battle, barking furiously at the monkey but no longer with back-up. Monkey 1, Dogs 0.
So it goes in India. Finally escaping the cocoon of hotels and offices, I broke free after work to walk around and soak up the street life in Hyderabad, a city known for it’s tech worker population. Tall office buildings for HSBC, Allegiant, Expedia, etc. give shade to the tin shacks and roadside food carts where locals huddle to eat in the heat. Amidst the dirt and debris, we dodged traffic to get a flavor for the neighborhood. I was struck by the similarity to what I observed in China both with the abject poverty of the locals and the camaraderie of the people smiling as they congregated on the streets to eat and chat.
My colleague, a diverse female, and I got many long stares as we walked, the only Westerners in sight. I waved back to the children looking at us with curiosity. They smiled in return. The men I ignored as they gave us “up and down” looks. You get used to being surprised by men’s behavior here unfortunately. The local men immediately speak only to our male team member travelling with us. Men like to take over and make decisions for the women, a practice that doesn’t sit well with strong women like me. I now understand why the Indian women I have observed in work situations can speak very loud and firm. They probably have to in order to live and work in this type of environment and have their voices heard. Good for them!
Another day in India and then off to Munich and London. What a contrast that will be to India. Cheers!