Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Golconda Lights

Last night we watched the lights & sound show at Golconda Fort, a former stronghold on the Deccan Plateau. It's an impressive fort that was built atop a hill strewn with boulders, and was fortified with ramparts that were impenetrable, and impervious to everything but treachery. Local betrayal allowed Mughals from Delhi (basically Indian muslims of Turkish or Persian origin) to eventually breach the walls and conquer the Andrah Pradesh hilltop.

The lights show, while very Disney and a bit histrionic with famous Bollywood voice-overs and rhetorical questions, was a fun way to learn the fort's history, and see its walls aglow. We attended with three work friends and coordinators of the ambassador social committee, and over a dinner of North Indian cuisine, Lassis (yogurt drinks), curries, nan, and a delectable array of goodies, we learned a bit more about India.

India's religious breakdown is roughly 85 percent Hindu, 7 percent Muslim, and 2.7 percent Christian. One girl in the car was Christian, so she quipped that we were seeing a rarity! Hyderabad, in contrast, is nearly 50 percent Muslim, with the bulk Sunni (according to drivers). This is curious to me, as much of the former influence was Persian (Shia). Of the Christians in India, the bulk reside in Kerala on the Southwest coast. There is actually a Jewish presence here as well, somewhere near Cochi.

Another guy in the car is originally from Rajistan (Northwest near Pakistan), but currently lives in Kalcutta. He said that Kalcutta is a much warmer city, in personal touch, than Hyderabad. There he lives with his extended family. The wives join the men's family, and soon the house grows large quickly. He explained that this is quite traditional. His father, mother, uncles and their wives and children all live together under one roof. Their home is nearly 30 people large, and they own land to expand the home when need be. In contrast to Rajistan where he said many marriages still occur at ages 13-15, with the girl coming to live with and grow up in the boy's home, his family is less traditional. Dating is not discussed, but he said that it's something that is inevitable and happens in his family. At his home, the women are the primary caretakers and homemakers, a tough job with a family crew of 30 eating from one fridge!

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