Hyderabad in five colors

Pico Iyer on Hyderabad, India in NYRB

When I flew into Hyderabad’s new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport not long ago, I was excited to visit a city that had become my ancestral homeland’s latest technological showpiece. A well-traveled American businessman I met in Singapore had told me about the elevated expressway running into town from the airport—like Silicon Valley, he said, only cleaner. Great glassy boxes saying “Oracle” and “Microsoft” and “Google” did indeed fill the skyline in places, and design hotels were lit up in turquoise and purple after dark. Sudden clusters of shopping-malls were like nothing I’d seen—or imagined possible—in India. Even one of the palaces of the late Nizam, the ruler of Hyderabad once said to be the wealthiest man in the world, had recently been turned into a $700-a-night Taj Group hotel that society matrons from New York’s Upper East Side were flocking to pay homage to.

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