The delicate gold plated earrings stare back at me.
In the busy shopping centre at the crowded Bazaar, I breathe in the scent of Hyderabad.
People, walking around in search of useless things to buy crowd the narrow roads, hardly bothered about what they’re bumping into or whose feet they’re crushing underneath theirs. Middle aged ladies cling on to the tiny fingers of their terrified children as they push and shove their way through the unstopping masses of humans, trying to find the best deals. I look at those earrings again, hanging at the top on a block of cardboard, catching the fancy of a lot of women in front of me. I try to push forward, but either due to my lack of ability or my restricted upbringing, I watch sadly as the Khadi clad shopkeeper takes my dream pair out of display and hands them to a fair skinned Muslim lady. There is exchange of money and suddenly, the lady is gone, earrings and all.
My heart sinks.
I stop at a bangle store and get into it. I see long rainbow coloured shawls hanging from hooks and multiple shiny trinkets piled together.
“How much?” I ask the vendor, holding out a beautifully carved pair of green gold bangles.
He looks at me, analysing my economic background from my clothes.
“600” He says.
If I get this for 600 bucks, then I can’t buy those beautiful red beaded slippers at the shop opposite the street.
Maybe I can get both?
Or, maybe I’ll make do with my old slippers.
After a painful minute of mental math, I hold the bangles out to him.
“400” I say.
He shakes his head and tells me the price is fixed.
Then, without a moment’s pause, he starts packing them up for me.
I reach into my bag, bidding farewell to the slippers I wanted.
Just like before, a lady stops me.
“What are you doing?” She asks.
She looks nice, her hair plaited, her sari plain.
I shake my head, suddenly scared.
“This will hardly be worth a hundred bucks each” She says, shaking her head in disbelief and unwrapping my delicate bangles.
“I’m taking them” She says and hands him 200 bucks.
A few minutes later, I’m wearing my bangles and am trying out my new footwear.
Walking out of the bazaar, I start searching for a bus.
I’ve never been in a bus before. I thought, how hard can it be, right? Besides, it is really cheap and I’ve seen a lot of my friends use it.
But, I was totally wrong. I’ve never done anything harder. Three bags in my left hand, a pair of slippers clutched in my right, my handbag constantly running down my shoulder, I start running behind a bus.
One of the men who is hanging out of the bus, one foot on the step, the other in the air, hits hard on the body of the bus to stop it. It begins to halt and I run, panting, thanking the man with my eyes because I’m too tired to say anything. As I move to the front to get in, because the men are blocking the other entrance of the bus, I notice that the women are spilling out.
Shaking my head, I apologize to the driver, telling him I can’t get in because I have too many bags with me. He looks at me angrily and drives away. Even the man who helped me out looks peeved.
Feeling miserable, I decide to catch an auto instead.
Stopping the first auto that comes my way, I get in, telling him where I need to go.
“Two hundred” He says, holding up two fingers.
Looking out, I see a lot of spectacular things that I don’t think I’ll find in any other country.
I’m surrounded by unique greatness that astounds me.
People crowd around a Pani Puri stall, waiting for their turn for some of that delicious goodness. A tea vendor makes conversation with a customer, pocketing the cash he makes out of Garam Chai (Hot Tea) and Sambar Idlis. Overcrowded roads are filled with dented four wheelers, scratched two wheelers and buses that block the way, creating kilometres of blocked traffic jams.
Life here is hectic. But it is also fun.
I breathe in the polluted air of my city and I realize that this familiarity is what home feels like.
Over the pot-holes, the auto driver trundles, knowing he has made a good profit out of the money I’ve saved from all that bargaining.
The sun sets, only to rise again tomorrow for my imperfectly perfect city, diverse with cultures, tradition and languages.
I only have two words to describe what this place means to me.
About the Author: Shravya Gunipudi is a 20 year old CA Final Student from Hyderabad, India. Writing has been her passion right from a tender age and she has won numerous contests. She also has a blog titled ‘Fictionally Inkspired‘