See Hyderabad through the eyes of International Consultant Bradley Carter as he works, lives and travels across India.
Brad and Nilu talked for two and half hours.
Syed was fast asleep in the taxi when Brad finally left Olive.
Brad gently knocked on the window.
"Sorry, Syed. I should not have told you one hour."
"No issue, Sir. I was listening to Muhammad Rafi. I'm fine."
Brad saw Syed's happy face and felt better about delaying the friendly driver. Nilu and Brad had to stop themselves from talking.
Brad had to apologise to Syed (and Nilu to Kaya).
Brad didn't need people. He was okay on his own. But he enjoyed connecting with someone who could keep up with his fast-processing mind and who knows their stuff.
If Brad ever formed a tribe, Nilu would be part of it.
* * *
It was Sunday, and Brad was due to leave Hyderabad in the afternoon, back to Jaipur.
Nilu had offered to share a morning coffee (or tea) with Brad and then show him a nearby park, as he had shared his love for walking and the outdoors.
He didn't bother to wake Syed early today. Brad hailed an auto rickshaw and headed to KBR Park.
Brad had been messaging Sophie early in the morning after remembering their time in Ikea the day before. Sophie was as close to a partner as Brad had ever gotten.
She was similar to him, somewhat aloof but secure. Sophie was content just to find a like-minded person, and so she was resigned to hardly seeing the nomadic Brad.
His heart was a little heavy today as he left to meet Nilu. He wasn't used to this attachment to anything (well, maybe just a little attached to Snoop, his cat).
* * *
"Hi Nilu. No Kaya today?"
"Haha, no. Kaya's not a morning person, sadly."
"You feel like a walk or coffee first?"
"I think a walk maybe today."
"Okay, let's cross the road."
Nilu led Brad across the road to a very attractively landscaped walking track. It was elevated in parts and followed the peripheral of what appeared to be a large park. Joggers flew past them as they joined the trail.
"You can go inside, but I prefer the outside track," explained Nilu. "Do you jog? You seem like you keep in shape."
"Well, I used to. It must be muscle memory or something keeping things together these days." Brad laughed.
He did look like a cricketer or sportsperson. He knew it. Nilu noticed he was getting plenty of attention today from the passers-by.
After another chat session with Nilu that lasted an hour but seemed like 10 minutes, they headed for breakfast.
The park was in a great location, surrounded by good looking eateries. The whole area had a pleasant feel, just like the type of area Brad would have enjoyed back in Australia. They found a cafe with a few outdoor seats.
"Are you hungry?"
"I had breakfast at 6.30am. It's hard to resist the good breakfasts at Indian hotels" Brad smiled.
"Okay, then I'll order. Maybe yoghurt and muesli today? " Nilu perused the menu.
"I'll have a tea. I forgot to inform you of my addiction, Nilu - Indian tea!"
"Oh, welcome to the very, very large club, Brad!"
* * *
"Okay, thanks, mum. Take care"
"Oh no, I hope that was not bad news?" Nilu asked.
Brad's mother had called from Australia.
"No, it's just my cat. The poor guy is old and doesn't cope with the heat these days. Mum took him to the vet just as a precaution."
"Oh no, that must be hard, working overseas with a pet."
"Yes, I had him before I became a consultant. Otherwise, I would have thought twice."
Nilu's muesli arrived. Brad expected no less from Indian cafes - fresh ingredients, large servings and a skilful presentation.
* * *
Brad reluctantly returned to his hotel after meeting Nilu. She agreed to accompany him to his next site visit and assist with the next module he was developing for his client solution.
It was hard to visit former disaster sites; the stories of the victims are often etched on the faces of those left behind. He had become disturbingly immune to it.
* * *
Brad left Hyderbad on a high.
There was something about this city that had already seeped into his veins.