April 16, 2008

Hyderabad's new airport

Hyderabad has a new airport. It has been much talked about, much written about. I went excitedly to receive a friend. The first look at the facade disappointed me. A futuristic steel-and-glass structure. It looked so cold...like it was some factory. No colour, no warmth, no character...nothing Hyderabadi about it. And it has been named Rajiv Gandhi International ...why?

I live on hope. I am hoping that once the landscaping is done, there will be more colour. I am hoping that they will fill the walls inside with the rich colours of our part of the world. What I liked were the date palms all along the road leading to the airport. Yes, they do give it a certain character.
Of course, the real character of our Hyderabad airport comes from the people. People fill the airport..they are standing, sitting, sleeping on the floor (I went there at 4 am), taking joy rides up and down the escalators. There were some simple folk afraid to set foot on the escalators, others with them laughing and taking pictures of their nervous faces, as they stepped, for the first time in their lives, on stairs that moved up or down! The picture was delightful. I wished I had taken my Kodak with me.
And there were the crowds waiting for their loved ones to arrive from Dubai, Muscat, the US. I saw this young group (the call-centre types) waiting for their friend to arrive from an overseas trip ...he came and one of them first gave him a kick on his butt! They all cheered loudly, garlanded him, hugged him, they slapped one anothers' backs...this group of young professionals looked stylish, savvy, and confident.

I cannot comment on the efficiency of this airport...haven't yet had a chance to experience it. However, despite all the criticism, I feel we must have good airports in India. Those of us living in Hyderabad, are witnessing an important milestone in the life of this city. Many changes happen when there is a new airport...apart from increased traffic on certain routes, we are suddenly seeing a whole fleet of state-of-the-art taxi services. And the airport buses are sleek, stylish, colourful...much like the generation to whom all this belongs.

As for good old Begumpet, it holds many memories for many people. We will miss going there. I do hope they decide to turn it into a NY City-style Central Park, as suggested by a local scribe. Wishful thinking, maybe, but the city needs to breathe too.

As I said, I like to live on hope.

April 01, 2008

Is there ever anything called sheer joy?

Happiness comes in many forms. This book of my poems, illustrated by my daughter Ragini (then 10 years old), and inspired by my younger daughter Malini, gave us great moments of joy during its making. But once it was accepted for publication, the journey was tough, and I had to fight many battles with the publisher. But all in all, I have forgotten the pain and this cheerful book, published in 2004, has given us many smiles.

And now, without any effort, I have become the author of a Hindi book, the translation of Autorickshaw blues...! I am happy about this, for it will reach a larger number of people...but the irritants are there—some of the translation sounds weird, and I just spotted a mistake.

Oh well...

An apology to Africans

We have had a professional connect with Africa for a long time. While at ICRISAT during the eighties, we met and were friends with sever...