How Cosmopolitan is Hyderabad?

Cosmopolitan? Metro? Hyderabad,is which?

I started to comment on another post.. and reliased that there is more to this than just a passing comment. About cosmo/metro.. guess Metro is just a size attribute. So it may be sometime before Hyderabad becomes a Metro. But Cosmo.. guess we are anyday more cosmo than most cities.

By Cosmo I mean a truly plural society, tolerant, broad minded and relatively more intellectual (dont know abt the last one though.. atleast I see that as an essential pre-req for a cosmo env :-)).. Hyderabad is all of these. Now.. it is something esle, if one confuses Cosmopolitan with being ultra modern (as in ultra mini shorts/shirts, more liberal views. Even here.. one person’s “liberal” is another’s “loose morals”. For an ultra-conservative anything short of an 8-yard saree is being “extreme”. For a second generation city dweller, even if conservative, anything beyond a Salwar-kameez (which is considered “modern” in conservative south) may be non-acceptable.. And for fairly modern parents, sleevless tops are OK, but not showing too much of skin in the mid-riff. As you can see, this changes with time. What is acceptable, and what is extreme (“liberal”) is something that surely evolves with time.And.. always outliers fringing on the majority’s moral periopheries). Now, this is just about dress sense.

Back to Cosmo.. Hyderabad is definetely plural society. Religions. Cultures. Lanuages. MIndsets. Thinking. Intellect.

Hyderabad is a city where one can get away with chaste Hindi, the very very localized hyderabadi language- urdu+hindi+(yes.. a little telugu)+some-terms-very-hard-to-figure-where-they-came-from. And ofcourse, one can manage with telugu.. well almost. Can any city be more cosmo than this.. where the city is capital of a telugu speaking state.. and yet the biz language is hindi, more than telugu. A place where many people come here to work from other states, live here many years, and still do not need to learn the local language telugu.

Can you imagine this in Chennai.. or for that matter even in Bangalore? Other than Mumbai, can you think of any other city, where the masses in the city by and large are atleast bi-lingual, and in most cases tri+-lingual! Can you imagine any other cities where the city has atleast three religions in fairly large proportions! Yes.. we did have our riots.. but am in the camp that believe that these are more politically driven, than truly grass-roots and spontaneous. At a time when we have government sponsored religious riots, here i sHyderabad where the city administration gets more creative every year to prevent the riots in a very religiously-charged-ganesh-immersion processions. Here temples, traditional shops, modern malls and pubs.. all very peacefully co-exist. Each have their preferences. Maybe very strong. And still do not mind other’s preferences.

Isnt this the essence of being liberal? And isnt this at the core of being Cosmo? Plural. Positive. Considerative and accomodative.

10 Comments so far

  1. Naveen (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 4:13 am

    You mean to say Bangalore isn’t as cosmopolitan as Hyderabad? Both are cosmopolitan. But how did you come up with the statement that one is better than the other in this aspect?
    An avg. Bangalorean is tri-lingual too for that matter.
    Pls stop comparing cities. It gets a trifle irritating when people who don’t know abt other cities start comparing their own with them.

  2. Bharath (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 11:02 am


    Defenitely Chennai is not as bi/trilingual as Hyd but I feel bangalore is much more diversed than hyd. There also U can manage with Hindi/Tail/Malayalam/Telugu/Kannada. (Some autowallas read Deccan Herald)…
    Many many restaurants serve u multicuisine food. Atleast there are specialized restaurants for each cuisine. Those kind of restaraunts are very few in hyderabad. A simple example: U get good mallu food in Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. But u dont have any mallu restauant in hyderabad. In the so called IT savvy bangalore, i ve seen a setup very very similar to small village in North kerala (malabar side) where in a tea shop I could get ‘Puttu’ (A mallu dish) for 10 Rs. The same puttu costs 100 Rs in Malgudi (Hyderabad) when they have this kerala food festival (and it tastes a bit bad).

    OK. Coming back. I never find very few cultural activities here compared to the other two big cities in south and even Bombay. Very few carnatic music, very very few films at the film club, very few drama clubs… Isnt all this needed in a cosmopolitan city? Defenitely U get to attend more of all these in Bombay/Chennai/Bangalore.

    It will defenitely take some time to see a much better hyderabad which caters to much broader needs.

  3. Ramesh (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 12:20 pm

    Agree that the Drama scene is prob not that strong. But there is a very active culture+tourism dept. There are regular programs (on major festivals & occasions) at Neclace road (peoples plaza) and also at Shilparamam. And every now and then we do come across good English and Hindi plays as well. Though not too often.

    Now, about Bangalore.. am not making up a fictional impression of Bangalore. I have lived in Bangalore, my parents and in-lawsd livein Bangalore. I have many friends in Bangalore. So have a fairly upclose view of Bangalore. For everything someone can say about Bangalore, I can find a parallel or better in Hyderabad. U can bet on this :-) )

  4. Naveen (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 2:40 pm

    “For everything someone can say about Bangalore, I can find a parallel or better in Hyderabad. U can bet on this :-) )”

    This post is basically a one-upmanship of Hyd over B’lore/Chennai – what we call a d**k comparison post.

  5. Ramesh (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 4:33 pm

    It is not about one upmanship at all. It is about what exactly comprises being cosmopolitan. Consider this definition: “The word cosmopolitan describes an environment where many cultures from around the world coexist; or a person whose intellectual baggage comes from many different cultures. It may also have the weaker senses of “worldly” or “sophisticated”.”

    This is my point. That being plural is more important. And by this token, Hyderabad is atleast as plural as Bangalore is. Given the religions, languages, and its general tolerances. And even more that, this plural socienty has been around since the founding of Hyderabad. 400 years back!

  6. Naveen (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

    Why drag B’lore into almost every discussion? If Hyd is cosmopolitan, good for it. But why try to belittle other cities just to make one’s city look good? I’ve observed this in many conversations I’ve had in Hyd. There’s been a growing obsession about comparisons with B’lore – in the local media and otherwise. And the funny part is, Hyd is a B’lore wannabe in business and not the other way round.

  7. Ramesh (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

    It is not about dragging Bangalore. My original observation in the post, was just a passing comment. Moer driven from the fact that Bangaloer and Mumbai are generally considered cosmopolitan. I was trying to highlight the plural nature, that is inherent to being cosmopolitan. And that this aspect is very strong in Hyderabad.. since its formation. (And from much before Hyderabad got into the IT “race”, creating the perceptions of being a Bangalore wannabe.)

    Abt Bangalore wannabe, here.. surely there is some kind of a race, esp made out in the media. But at the same time the facts are not lost on anyone.. that Bangalore IT industry is thrice Hyderabad’s. So any mention of a race is kind of ludicurous. Just that Hyderabad came from near no-IT to the present 4billion$ presence. A nice accomplishment. But surely, no race )

  8. Naveen (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

    Such passing comments cause a lot of problems. The rest of the article is good and gives a good perspective of cosmo Hyd. But just one statement can change the tone and tenor of the entire piece. Pls don’t get into city comparisons again without hard data. Subjective matter will always be questioned and fought on.

  9. Ramesh (unregistered) on June 6th, 2006 @ 11:41 pm

    I still stick by my passing comment. And, it is not about dragging cities just for the heck of it.

    In my view, and per my udnerstanding of cosmo, I find Hyderabad more substantial and deeper. And Bangalore more visible and a little shallow. My whole post was about this aspect.. that being cosmo may be a little more than just having different cuisines, music and dramas (which in any case is not bad in Hyd as well. And my point that this has been so for many many years in a city that is 4 centuries old. And not some recent development, with people coming in for work over the past few decades)

  10. Naveen (unregistered) on June 7th, 2006 @ 1:11 pm

    Pls read up on immigration of people from border areas of neighbouring states into B’lore over the last century, even before PSU’s were established and there was a wave of PSU-driven immigration into the city. Maybe a reading of the history of B’lore in the Mysore Presidency will show that the cantonment presence ensured a higly cosmopolitan atmosphere. In fact, B’lore’s geography ensures a steady immigration into the city. What makes you think that B’lore’s cosmopolitanism is shallow? Thats a highly loaded remark.
    Yes, Hyd’s Nawabi culture has ensured a great mix of people from all communities and regions. But that doesn’t imply B’lore’s cosmopolitanism is shallow. If this isn’t “dragging city comparisons into the post”, then what is? Btw, I never said that cosmopolitanism is only about dramas, multicuisines etc. Some other commenter posted that.
    Pls stick to Hyd’s cosmo description in the metblogs…its read by a lot of people who may potentially be influenced by such city comparisons which are being made without any basis.

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