Nawabi city or the Pearl City – Hyderabad

Hyderabad is a city of confluences. Modern flyovers/bridges cris-cross elegantly to settle amicably with ancient places of interest. One spot/scene stands out in this city for me - the Hussain Sagar lake with the gigantic Buddha in the center of water. Looks equally gorgeous by sunrise as it does by sunset when night falls. I have always unconsciously deciphered my hotel address from this iconic Buddha lake

Ninety percent of my visits to Hyderabad have been related to work and hence the prominent impressions I carry are that of glass chrome buildings, hi tech malls, whooshing past as I drive with my nose buried in my BB not noticing the noise and buzz, signaling a robust business growth

The bustling markets of Hyderabad overwhelm me. Like everywhere else in India, the bazaars are teeming with people and sellers - buyers looking to negotiate a good deal while the sellers use their best skills i.e. the art of persuasion! You feel guilty if you don’t buy and move on

When going shopping or window gazing, make sure you have enough time on your hands to enjoy the bargains of the market place be it silk, bangles, pearls or shoes. I have always been in a rush and hence have never done any justice to shopping in Hyderabad

Charminar has the famed Mecca masjid, one of the oldest and largest monument in the world, many centuries old

The Golconda Fort, used to be a strong large fortress, built at the site of the famous diamond mines of Golconda. Today it shows off an amazing acoustics system that allows the sound of a hand-clap to be heard right at its citadel 200 feet high

The Salar Jung Museum displays more than 35,000 exhibits, considered one of the biggest and richest collections in the world

I had always heard Dad speak about Hyderabad’s Nawabi culture. I quite never did put it together, till the multiple visits when I interacted with the locals and business communities, understood the nuances of the way of life in Hyderabad. The city prides itself in high culture, where the legendary etiquette (adab and tehzeeb) are indeed, even today, a way of life. The welcoming nature and the inherent simplicity of its people charm you straight away

Life in Hyderabad is graceful and slow-paced. It is the land where Urdu language dominated (besides Lucknow), rhythms were created on the 'tabla' and melody was born from the 'sitar'. The shayrana (poetry) and khushmizaji ( jovial nature) emanated from the rich tradition of wholesomeness sought from food

In the olden days Nawabi also meant the lifestyle of the rich and famous with an ear for music and the good things of life. Which encompassed the Kothas (large houses), the mehfils (group of men) and the tawaifs (dancing girls)

Nawabi food: As a vegetarian I hope I do justice in describing the delectable ‘Nawabi’ cuisine that adds such a unique character to the city. There are two kinds of experiences to be had in this city of Nawabs. The charm of the best street food you will ever find and the sophistication of a well served, royal 5 course meal in a top dog hotel that you savour and remember for always

The senses titillate while the taste buds dance to local ‘panipuri' in the Chowk area. The gheee idlis served by the babai, melt in your mouth accompanied with the delicious chutney that makes you unabashedly ask for more in Srinagar Colony

The flavours are borne from the usual 'zeera'(cumin seeds) 'hing' (asafoetida), 'pudina' (mint), lemon but the taste buds don’t stop demanding more. The floating kebab aromas to the much talked and discussed Hyderabadi ghost Biryani, ask a non vegetarian how (s)he feels about it- you will see him/her roll their eyes heavenwards as words don’t do justice to the food variety and tastes available in the city of pearls.

If it had not been my work, I don't think I would have ever discovered this city or appreciated the smaller nuances that make Hyderabad warm and special.

Grand Prix at Sepang, Malaysia

Putting aside the glamour that is associated with F1 being the richest sport in the world, Formula One exposes itself to be the embodiment of all things that define a competitive sport at the very limits of Man’s capabilities. Whether it’s the painstakingly disciplined level of fitness the 22 drivers have to maintain, or the commitment of 100's of people who labour all year round to design, build and maintain a set of monstrously fast cars that represent the absolute cutting edge of technology – it all comes together to form a spectacular season of ultimate sport.

This was my 3rd Live race. And a tad disappointing too. The Sepang stadium was not fully packed, the weather gods threatened rain but nothing beyond a few drops of drizzle, and most importantly a race not like many F1 races I have seen before!
So many pit stops for tyre changes?!? Baffling!

There were lots of individual battles, some surprises but overall disappointment for me. Two happy moments I took away from Sundays race was Felipe’s brilliantly fought lead at T4, T5 finally giving way to Webber at T6. More often than not Felipe loses his rightful spot in the sun because Alonso is the favored child of Ferrari. More aggressive, more steely, more competitive!

And the other moment - the fierce battle between Alonso and Hamilton. Actually any head to head becomes delicious because of the much acclaimed public warring of the past, between these two. Credit to Lewis who kept his lead. Alonso was all over Lewis’s backside, finally Alonso’s front wing touched Lewis’s back tyres, knocking off the front fender from Alonso;s car which forced him to pit, thereby losing a could-be podium… :(

I was so so disappointed with Ferrari’s performance - no Prancing Horse once again on the podium :( !! Since I can remember I have been a fan of the Ferrari, I thrilled and loved the races till 2009 when Ferrari dominated every circuit in the season, with a vice like grip, unshakeable was its dominance! But since 2009 ( Schumi's retirement) the races have fast started losing its charm for me, I don’t see Ferrari cars making it often to the podium!

Ok - back to Sepang, yet another horrific moment is etched in the memory. When I saw Vitaly drive off the circuit into the gravel with the steering wheel full of buttons and controls that had come off in his hands!! Imagine his feelings coming to rest alongside a signage showing '150 meters' to the next turn; bitter and ironical.

The good news (or bad?) from the Malaysian government communique is that, they are yet to decide whether to keep hosting the annual Grand Prix's at Sepang beyond 2015. PM Najib said he was happy with Sunday’s bigger crowd than usual – more than 100,000 – and sounded optimistic about the future. So we will know, in time I guess…

'Overall': what makes these races special - besides the fact that it is such a specialized sport ( don’t be mistaken – this isn’t a motor sport where cars simply go round and round in a circuit) - F1 makes the most of every competitive factor; from the characteristics of a track designed to challenge drivers’ and cars’ technical capacity and endurance, to the outwitting of rivals in race strategy or wheel-to-wheel in overtaking.

Also the fact that this sport is hugely (perhaps the only one) which is truly international, in every definition of the word “international”!! Drivers, work with engineers and technicians from varying cultural backgrounds. Life is dependent on language, trust and respect. And they all seem to thrive on it:) Now only if our daily world could learn from this – we as a globe would live more peacefully and harmoniously with each other

Here is wishing Ferrari better luck in Shanghai, hope to see a spectacular Live race in Noida Delhi in Oct 2011 of the GP, this season!