Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hyderabad - Old & New - Part I

Hey! I've been asked by many people to blog about my trip to Hyderabad. It was a Microsoft employment test and I didn't get through. But I had a chance to visit the MSIDC (Microsoft India Development Center), Microsoft's major development center, next only to their HQs at Redmond, the SalarJung Museum and many more places. But I found these two places particularly awesome. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed at either of these places . And, I'm generally a law-abiding person! You can find some uber-cool photos here at MSIDC Facebook Page

Before I boarded the flight to Hyderabad, I had a typically oriental picture of Hyderabad in mind. As I'm proceeding towards my seat, I see a young woman completing some accounting task I suppose, another guy reading a GMAT prep book, another person using his laptop (doing something meaningful, I suppose). I, for a while, felt I'm in a corporate office. It was more frightening than impressive.

Quite generally, the first thing that you notice about a new city is it's airport. Of course, photography was not allowed. I don't think it is wrong to say that Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi Int'l Airport is among the classiest and most hi-tech! In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm also checking out the official website of the airport and it says, "World's No. 1 Airport". In fact, the carrousel itself was the most hi-tech I've seen in India . The weather was moderate as it was late October. It had rained before I arrived I think, so it was a little humid. But I loved the touch of warm air after months of chill-out at Srinagar. In fact, during the flight, I made the cabin crew increase the temperature twice!

As I entered the city, the clean, wide roads at once appealed to me. I felt happy. The highways and bridges were almost like in Mumbai, just with many more slopes since the terrain is mostly rocky. My friend Farah picked me up at the airport and we drove straight to dinner at a place called Rajdhani. The food was way better than what you would expect towards the south.

The days that followed changed my whole perception of the city. The place where we were putting up is close to the Hi-Tech city area- populated mostly with the corporate work-force- and, hence, officially known as Cyberabad. Cyberabad has the offices of all major IT players like Facebook, Google, Delloite and of course Microsoft- which is located at a place called Gachibowli (the name reminds me of a funny character in a Telugu movie starring Siddharth- too bad I couldn't see Siddhu  ). 

Hyderabad is a strange mix of the hi-tech and the conservative. The first time I found this out was on 21st October, 2010 when I was late for my employment test at Microsoft- I hired an auto but it had no meter- not that we have meters in Srinagar, but I was only expecting to see meters in a city quite like Hyderabad. I could either wait for some more people to share the auto with me or I could pay an exorbitant amount. I did the latter. I ended up paying 100 bucks for a small distance  . I felt duped. Okay, I'm only exxagerating, it wasn't that disheartening!

We arrived at the MSIDC Hyderabad, quite excited and refreshed by the tinge of heritage that the city roads still bear. It was kinda strange to see people from Facebook live - I'm talking about my MSP friends from Facebook. I, for some strange reason, naturally mixed up with the Mumbai gang. We were given visitor badges after verifying our identities from the expected list and we started walking in awe towards the marvellous buildings that are the MSIDC. We read the warning against photography. We did not click any, because we were afraid it might lead to disqualification from the test for which we had worked so hard to be eligible- so naive!

As we entered the building (building # 3 I suppose it was) there were around a 100 other MSPs from all over India. I naturally received much attention as I was from Kashmir. The MSPs were very friendly and all as nervous as I was- that gave us a feeling of solidarity rather than rivalry! As the test was behind schedule, we proceeded towards the cafeteria where we had FREE coffee. We were like, WOW! Microsoft employees can have free coffee and coke all day! But it turns out  that there is much more that makes Microsoft employees loyal to MS- it is the RESPECT & TRUST that they receive that makes them hang on to Microsoft for a long time.

PS: I don't wanna bore you, so, I'll continue my story in the next part. Errors- grammatical or otherwise- should be either pointed out or ignored, but never complained about. I'm very sleepy. Good Night.

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