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Hyderabad - People & Culture

A summary of our lifetime experience with this city. What to do, we are like this only!
A fun day!
"Desamante Mattikadoyi, Desamante Manushuloyi" sang a popular local poet. It's not necessary to know what the verse means - mostly since we don't the meaning ourselves. A proofreader told us we are reducing a global scope to a local scope by using it as intro for this article, but only the techies at made anything out of that.

It's as hard for us to describe Hyderabad as it would be for God to describe the world. While you are pondering over that statement, you might as well get yourself a cup of coffee, for we're planning to indulge ourselves anyway.

The Basics

Hyderabad has 2 kinds of people - the locals and the immigrants.

If you know something of the history of Hyderabad, you will know that it was under Muslim rule for 600-700 years, from about 1300AD to 1948AD. That means a significant Muslim population, most of which is concentrated in the old city (see map to understand the topography). These people speak mostly Hindi and Urdu.

The tech boom has brought in many new faces
Hyderabad is also the capital of Andhra Pradesh, a state in South-India with an almost entirely Telugu-speaking population. This results in a huge Telugu-speaking populace in the city, forming a majority (and they are almost all Hindus). A significant chunk of that is people from the rest of the state who've come seeking careers/wealth in the capital which has also always been the biggest business hub. Along with the Muslim population described above, these people broadly form the locals.

Immigrants in Hyderabad are people mostly from the rest of the country, most of whom have come in primarily after the software boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. They speak mostly English, Hindi, and any mother tongue other than these, and their presence plays a big part on lending Hyderabad its cosmopolitan image.

This is the broad demographical knowledge you need to understand Hyderabad and its twin city Secunderabad.

Geographical Scattering

The old city from inside Charminar
You'll find the Muslim population primarily in the old city, below the Musi river, and upto a few kilometers above it, getting gradually sparser. The immigrant crowds are found mostly in the more upmarket areas like Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills, Madhapur and Begumpet, and the neighbourhoods, which is rather intuitive since most of them came here leaving their home-towns mostly due to big money.

Telugu crowds are all over the place, but are marked by especially huge densities in the Punjagutta-Kukatpally stretch on the west of the Hussain Sagar, Dilsukhnagar, areas east of the Hussain Sagar, and all the sprawling outskirts.

These are, of course, broad patterns.


There is really no such a thing as a typical Hyderabadi, unlike what many journalists desperate to fill up space write.

If you wish to engage them at a very basic level, Hyderabadis are a pretty friendly people. Almost anyone will help a blind person cross the road if asked to, and they will all be eager to give directions if asked. Beyond that, however, people's attitudes and principles - like perhaps anywhere else in the world - are a function mostly of their educational and economic levels, and not of the region.

What face of Hyderabad you will encounter then depends on what kind of people you will need interact with. If you do not have to encounter a large chunk of the city, Hyderabad can be a very good place to be in. In all upmarket businesses, you have professional service levels, courteous people, and strong Hugo Boss or at least Axe wafting around. The executive and software professional classes are polished and patient, speak good English, and can entertain. And they are usually ethical in more situations and issues than the average Hyderabadi.

If you have to get out of that oxygen bubble and interact with the hoi polloi, however, life can be different. Hyderabad is part of India, whose per-capita income of about $1,400 a year (in 2012) puts it in the bottom half of the world. Thus the majority in Hyderabad too are people who do not have a minimum standard of living. It's hard to be principled when you have no role models in your immediate community, no one to even tell you what is wrong, and no money. And ethics for most people are relative, not absolute.

A typical scene on Hyderabad's roads
So many autorickshaw drivers will cheat you if they can, many police and municipal officers (government officials in general) can be bribed, women get stared at everywhere and really badly in certain areas, a fender-bender in the traffic almost always erupts into a very foul-mouthed and quite possibly physical fracas, just about everybody breaks traffic rules... Actually, to determine the ethics of the average resident of this city, you just have to stand at an unmanned traffic signal for half an hour.

Yes, a point that comes up is that not all offenders above belong to under-educated and poor classes - for example, several cars jump signals, and several highly educated bureaucrats take bribes. We don't know about our theory then - ask God.

Well, every city has an underbelly, and maybe we at know this city too well and know other cities too little to offer the right perspective.

21 Random Hyderabad Facts

1. Most Hyderabadis love Chinese food a lot. Or what passes for Chinese food on the road sides, anyway. And of course, mirchi bajjis (find out). All of the above provide your daily requirements of carcinogens and then some, at prices even college students can afford.
2. Most Hyderabadis love watching movies, like all Telugu people. And many hardcore Telugu youngsters fight badly over their favorite heroes - mostly on the web, and at times offline. If you understand the psyche behind people abusing each other over someone who has wealth, fame and gorgeous babes ...well, keep it to yourself.
3. Most Hyderabadis love chaat and pani puri (find out). You should try this only if you've done it a hundred times already - first-timers usually die.
4. 7 out of 10 Hyderabadi under-17 students are trying to become engineers, and 2 out of 10 are trying to become doctors. The other 1 out of 10 is considered a non-entity.
5. Salman Khan is big in Hyderabad, especially among the old city crowds. So big, he doesn't dare go there.
6. Pubs in Hyderabad play loud music, and most of them have to close at 11pm unless they make enough to pay off the cops, and are willing to. That is about all there is to Hyderabad's nightlife, really. Attempts to pump it up include offering free booze to women once a week, and newspaper photographers do the rest.
Women cannot dress too aggressively
7. Women in Hyderabad do not dress aggressively - a tight sleeveless top and low-waist Jeans are about the best it gets. Most parents will not allow anything more. Also, the men would stare until they ran out of eyes.
8. Men in Hyderabad do not dress aggressively - they'd get laughed at.
9. The most popular English newspapers in Hyderabad are Deccan Chronicle, The Times Of India and The Hindu, in that order. There's a popular saying in Hyderabad that whatever newspaper you read, you deserve it.
10. The most popular TV channels in Hyderabad are Telugu TV news channels that will cover anything.
11. Hyderabad is India's Silicon Valley (anything else you heard is a shameless lie), and there's a software professional in every home - at least a budding one. There's a place called Ameerpet which if you mistakenly enter, you'll be forced to sign up for some software training course.
12. Hyderabad's overall income has grown dramatically since the late 1990s, leading to a restaurant/nightclub scene that was unimaginable a decade ago. People go to Lebanese restaurants and all, and we bet 90% of them don't know where Lebanon is. Or even who he is.
Leching from Prasads' upper floors is in!
13. A popular pastime among Hyderabadi youngsters is standing by the railings of the top floors at Prasads multiplex and looking down at the crowds. We wonder what they look for. (Yes, we are in denial.)
14. If you do not get tickets in many Hyderabad cinema halls, most times you can ask the owner where to find his men around his theater selling them in black (though he may ask you to pay him for the information).
15. If you own land anywhere in Hyderabad, it will most likely be grabbed by goons, and cops usually offer to help only if you part with half the land (okay, that's an exaggeration - they ask for only a quarter).
16. Every other final-year undergrad student in Hyderabad attends CAT coaching classes. CAT is the entrance exam to India's premier B-schools, and needs divine intervention for success.
17. Someone once wrote to the office that it is easier to find a virgin antelope in Hyderabad than it is to find a virgin girl, and we think that is an extreme expression of an uncomfortable truth. Like Gurajada Appa Rao (or whoever) once said, the times, they are a' changing.
18. The Hyderabad airport is possibly the farthest that any airport in the world is from its home city.
Hyderabad's autos are a royal pain
19. Autorickshaw drivers in Hyderabad are in general rude, and do not understand the concept of a straight line.
20. Public transport in Hyderabad, aside of the rather expensive autorickshaws, are buses and local trains. The former can be very crowded, and the latter untraceable.
21. The biggest addiction in Hyderabad is paan (betel leaves with nuts), and the related gutkha. People spit the red excrement from that all over the roads, and even if you can manage to stay outside the line of fire, you can't manage to never step over it.

You'll find out a lot more about us Hyderabadis in additions to this article by some really knowledgeable locals below. Welcome to our city!
1 - 15 OF 24 COMMENTS  |  NEXT  |  LAST
chaitanya aluri on 15th Mar 2011, 5:33pm | Permalink
I would like to appreciate you for being bold and truthful. One doesn't usually come across such reviews in most city-based websites. Finally, in spite of its shortcomings Hyderabad is not a bad place to live in.
asiya on 22nd Dec 2008, 6:38pm | Permalink
Hey definately hyderabad is the best intially i had problem getting used to this atmosphere and culture and now i think i seriously cant stay away from from hyderabad. hey i was looking for a help from you guys i was lloking for a friend whose name is ABRAR and i missed his contact and he is definately the special person to me and now fed up of contacting him through all the means i have .can someone help me in this regards he is from India2US ticket company does not have much information .please help me asap
Chandana on 10th Jan 2016, 5:00am | Permalink
Majority of the things presented in this article is purely baseless. Hyderabad is one of the safest places in India for girls. Eveteasing is the problem of our country and not just Hyderabad, and if you go by statistics, the rate of eveteasing is very less when compared to other cities.

When you talk about the autowala's, I think the author should visit other cities and then you'll surely understand the difference.

No offense, but before writing any article one should get their facts right. Because articles like these will have a larger impact on people.

I hope this will be taken in a good spirit!
mango man on 11th Jan 2016, 8:32am | Permalink
So you're saying an article about a city should call it a good city if it is better than some other cities in that country.
ravi on 26th Apr 2015, 12:50am | Permalink
i dont agree with some comments said in this article crime rate is very low compared to other cities in india like delhi mumbai etc. cost of living is very less compare to other metros. may b some autowalas cheat but chages are less than other metros. any where we go in india we will find first class second class third class life style. splittng of autowalas ,some auto walas rude mentality eve teasing not having cleanliness , bribing is all ovee india. we find evey where in india. now government of telangana is more focusing on security of people using technology and bring the she teams to restrict eve teasing of women/girls. some old city people rude nd participate in terrorism activities also so we need to carefull with them nd inform to police.
Sameer on 2nd May 2016, 2:11pm | Permalink
Who told u that Old City people are involved in terrorism? I know some of them are rude but they are not invloved in any terrorist activities. Please give ur views correctly.
2power10 on 31st Aug 2012, 11:14am | Permalink
Whoever wrote this is not a woman. Women in Hyderabad are subjected to much worse than "being stared at". Women are groped in buses, their asses smacked if they go on walks during times that the sun either sets or rises, and their jewellery robbed. One of the locations that eve-teasing occurs is on the much hyped tourist place, the Tank Bund.
Rao on 24th Dec 2013, 10:41pm | Permalink
Hello. It is a funny and informative article overall but could you go easy on the misogyny? The comment about "virgin girls" makes no sense when you talk about a city. Don't know what it is supposed to communicate either. Extremely silly unfortunately. Why restrict the discussion of virginities to just women then? Spread yourselves. It is a big city after all.

And yes, I would agree with one of the comments above. Hyderabad has a VERY aggressive groping, teasing (sexual harassment i.e.) culture. Esp at bus stops.

Some of the comments are extremely Islamophobic as well. Nobody's denying anybody's rights to living in the city. But they are residents that contribute to its culture as much as any other community. I have had a wonderful time in Old City whenever I've been there and I have been a resident of Hyd for 8 years.
raghuram on 21st Jan 2014, 7:53pm | Permalink
Hyderabad is a city with historic points and good influenced community city,but people are worse than ever seen in india,3rd calss life style,college students are more 3rd calss,90%influenced to movies and alcoholic,way of living is 3rd class,mumbai slum people are 75% better than this people
zoya khan on 15th Jun 2014, 6:43pm | Permalink
what is mentioned in the article is truely correct first of all i would like to say that hyd is really wonderful but few things make it worst... but also there is many things which make it fabulous and i must say if u ever want to travel u must go hyedrabad first and the most beautiful place i hve evr seen is hussain sagar and charminar as well but u should visit in between of december to march,november to march so have a great holidays in hyedrabad.....
Shantha on 26th Apr 2016, 2:07pm | Permalink
The Article is good and the writer had truly presented the facts of hyderabad.
Viq on 25th Mar 2015, 2:09pm | Permalink
Guys, dunno who the author is, believe me Hyderabad is nothing as projected in the article. It is one beautiful city with very courteous people. Come unbiased and I bet you will fall in love with it. BTW, people from all over the country flock to Hyderabad and settle down here for rest of their lives....that's fact dear!
S on 12th Mar 2014, 8:29pm | Permalink
my grandpa ran to karachi from here to get a better lifestyle back in 90s to get a better job n standard of living...My mommy from lucknow origin tell me hyderabi women r sharp, cunning, no manners n r rude
young woman on 21st Dec 2014, 11:54pm | Permalink
I worked as a nanny for a woman doctor from india, named satya. she was the most mentally and verbally abusive person I ever encountered, treated me like a slave and believed she should do no domestic work at all. she drank like a fish and and would have tantrums. her daughter born in America was the sweetest young lady though. I feel that there was a complex of sorts with this woman believing she had to show her dominance and privilege in the most tasteless of ways. When I quit she bashed me all over on social media etc...this from a DR delivering babies! needless to say il stay anonymous and steer clear of this hyberdadess!!!
Arun on 20th Nov 2013, 3:25am | Permalink
I am a true hyderabadi, most of the points mentioned in the article are correct. It is one sided but they are facts. You can see the difference when you visit other cities, don't comment sitting in hyderabad. The major problem is cleanliness. We don't respect anyone, we spit everywhere, we urinate everywhere. Women's life in hyderabad is very limited. We are proud of our biryani adn our culture. But most of our hyderabadi lierates are like iliterates. Especially the old guys are like criminals. Neverever take any help from people of old city. They are very dangerous. They do all illegal things, their life is illegal. All illegal things happen only in Old city. Only 10-15 percent of Old city people are very very good and they come in educated people category.
Arun on 20th Nov 2013, 3:59am | Permalink
Overall Hydreabad is the best place in India..

It's time to change our standard of living and respeect environment..

Go green...
ramu on 23rd Jan 2014, 7:33pm
Post deleted.
Sweta on 26th Sep 2012, 2:02am | Permalink
Found it one sided arguement being a hyderabadi. First of all not just muslims are natives of hyderbad, read history. My family is here since centuries and so are most of my relatives and neighbours. Lot of other things are misleading about the basics. We own good amount of land in centre of city and never paid any amount to anyone, but its true that if you get into such troubles you end up spending and bribing but so are other cities in India I guess.. Lot more stuff is generalised based on one or two experiences.
kenny on 13th Feb 2015, 8:13pm | Permalink
I am a girl from mumbai, planning for my masters from hyderabad. reason: a good instutute thete catering to me needs but oh crap! Eve teasing thing has really scared the shit out of me. As far as i hav experienced mumbai is reallyyyyyyyyy SAFE. :O
sunil on 13th Feb 2015, 8:20pm | Permalink
Hey Kenny
Eve teasing is every where in mumbai in delhi and in washington but its not fair u look at hyderabad as a worst city its full of warm helping people who are friendly and its really secured inspite of few incidents, govt of Telangana created a special task force to curb eve teasing.
dini on 8th Jun 2014, 8:14pm | Permalink
im about to apply exchange program to hyderabad. but after read the comments from this article ive get 2nd thought. i know someone from hyderabad he's friendly . but im not sure for the rest..
babu bhai on 2nd Jul 2015, 11:14am | Permalink
He's just an outlier. He is NOT by A LONG SHOT representative of the rest.
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