Biryani, pearls a hit with visiting athletes

By Ravi Kant Singh, IANS

Hyderabad : Foreign visitors to the 4th Military World Games keen to sample the local fare have been bowled over by the local biryani – and pearls.

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Athletes from West Asia and Africa have been especially keen to sample the local dishes and have made determined trips to the old city for a glimpse of the famed Charminar and to savour the famed Hyderabadi delicacies. Biryani remains the firm favourite.

With Id-ul-Fitr and Dussehra following each other on successive Sundays, the twin city has been a riot of colour, leaving athletes dazed in admiration.

One Canadian woman athlete was so enchanted with the pearl necklaces that she bought more than a dozen of them as gifts for family and friends back home.

Athletes roam the city in autos

Visiting foreign lands is all about getting a taste of different sights and sounds. Participants from Russia have been keen tourists, travelling in auto rickshaws around the city instead of the team buses.

It was an amusing sight watching a group of men and women in tracksuits with the accreditation badges around their necks trying to settle the fare with the auto driver. The first hurdle was explaining the destination and it was quite heartening to see the military guards posted outside the games villages ready to lend a helping hand to the Russians.

Of course, with athletes’ accommodation at more than seven places spread around the city, the participants have not had much opportunity to interact with one another and that perhaps has given them more time to tour the historic city.

One of the biggest attractions after the Charminar has been the renowned Salar Jang Museum, where the Nizam’s famed jewels are on display.

“It is such a fantastic collection. I spent the entire day there admiring the fine jewellery and the furniture. India has such a rich tradition and culture,” said Col. Ahmad Hassanal Al Saad, manager of the Saudi Arabian track and field team.

Rain fails to dampen the spirits

A downpour Saturday afternoon failed to dampen the festive spirit of the Hyderabadis.

Dussehra celebrations began early Sunday and people were out in large numbers greeting one another on the festive occasion.

Buses and autos plying the roads are decorated with palm leaves and marigold flowers, drawing gasps from visiting sportspersons. A group of Canadians stopped a brightly decorated bus on a busy thoroughfare to click photographs, leading to a minor hold-up in traffic.

But being good hosts, the people did not seem to mind the small inconvenience to allow the visitors to carry with them colourful memories of the city.