Nautanki Gali – Hyderabad

Hello everyone! Hope you had a great Eid and enjoyed the long weekend. Sometimes unplanned weekends are all the more fun.  Just on a whim, when I go to know last Wednesday that Monday was a holiday for my son, we decided to go to Hyderabad. Booked tickets on the bus, made reservations at a hotel at a great location (thank you Trip Advisor), packed lightly on Friday evening and off we went on a two day holiday.  Recipe for a great weekend: one day of exploring the city and one day of catching up with friends you haven’t met in years.

It’s been over 25 years since I last went to Hyderabad and this was a first personal trip for my husband and son. The highlight of the trip was that it coincided with the end of Ramadan and festivities were on to celebrate Eid. I’ve never seen Bangalore celebrate Eid on such a large scale. After a while, it felt little awkward as if something was amiss if I didn’t see a “Irani Haleem” sign board every 50 meters. There were a few streets that completely took us by surprise – a street full of paint stores, one just for wedding invitations, another for hardware and electrical stores and yet another for just flowers – flowers of all kinds, sizes and colors, and fruits.

There was so much chaos and yet it looked so organized. As we meandered our way through the old city to the Museum, the contrasts of two cultures existing effortlessly side by side was hard not to miss. This is why India is secular: it was along drive from Golconda Fort to the Museum and I dozed for a few minutes. But, while driving through one of the narrow lanes, I woke up startled by the ringing of the temple bells. The temple was  flanked by a mosque on one side and a famous haleem outlet on the other. Most of the old houses have not been renovated, at the max, just painted. So those small windows, painted wooden doors secured with a chain iron lock on the top, and STD-ISD-PCO (it’s hard to see these in Bangalore) signs, was a treat to the senses.

Sunday, we met up with old friends and had lunch at Nautanki Gali – which is what this post was supposed to be about. But, I digressed. There’s nothing much I can describe in words about the restaurant other than that it was everything Indian(rural), kitsch, adventure, happiness, colors of life, street food ( spicy chat and sinful chocolate fountain desserts), celebrating life, making memories and indulgence – all packaged into one. Over to pictures:

A view of the hallway leading up to the dining area designed as a thoroughfare with steel balti seating for waiting guests and bright street-like painting on the walls.

A closer look of the art work with some funny captions. Inspiration comes from the graffiti on the streets, back of trucks and auto rickshaws around the country.

Isn’t it quite in-the-face in a nice way?

The evergreen stars of the 70s from the angry young man to the most charismatic villain Danny

After such a lively exterior, I went in looking for more and it lived up to it. It was too dark but on the whole, the interiors carried the Indian street story inside – from food to the atmosphere.  You had to jostle to get the food onto your plate –  from jal jeera to aam panna and papdi chaat to palak pakoda. The chocolate syrup fountain was a BIG hit with the kids and adults alike. The only thought running through my mind – let’s worry about the calories tomorrow.

The backseats of the auto doubled up as a table for four while the kids enjoyed the front seat.

And then it was time to leave. Even the bill box didn’t disappoint in design.

The design for this theme-based restaurant was conceptualised by 17dnorth – a design studio. Do check their portfolio for more such fascinating work.

Image courtesy – Nautanki Gali

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