2011, a game-changer

Hyderabad, December 31: Dum Biryani: “Hyderabad bole toh Biryani-ich yaaron.” How often would a visitor to the city have heard this self praise by the city’s denizens. But true to the point, Hyderabad’s most recognisable dish remains the biryani.

Be it at Paradise, Bawarchi, Bahar or umpteen small restaurants dotting the city, the prices of chicken, mutton, egg, vegetable and even the jumbo pack biryanis, have all gone up by atleast Rs 10.
The demand for the dish, though, has not diminished one bit, with queues extending into the main road during peak lunch hour. 2012 will see a further price rise by Rs 10, say the owners.

Fast Fud: Funny menu lists and LOL spellings apart, the ‘Chainese Fast Fud Centre’, which greets you at every nook and corner is the rasoi of every budget conscious Hyderabadi. But the cooks of this low cost rasoi are businessmen in their own right. Not just have they reduced quantity, but prices of items such as ‘Cheeken Fraid Rais’, ‘Anda Chowmeenu’, ‘Chick-hen 65’ and their like have increased by Rs 2-3 as compared to last year. But thanks to its high taste, denizens readily swallow it despite the low health quotient on offer.

Chai: Served in white tea-cups chipped off at the rim or small plastic glasses, Hyderabad’s Iranian and regular chai enjoy a regular patronage. But that hasn’t stopped the prices of the same to increase from Rs 3 to 4 and finally rest at 5 for half a cup year ending, while the full cup costs Rs 7, thanks to a Rs 3 hike in milk prices recently. Hyderabadis though, have enough excuses to buck the trend. “To stop drinking chai is next to impossible. So now I have reduced the intake, as it’s good for health”, said a chai drinker, who refutes price rise concerns for reducing his daily quota from six cups to three this year.

Health indeed! Paan Dabba: It’s hard not to belch at the sight of red stained walls at public spaces. But for any Hyderabadi worth his paan, the stains are nothing but a holy refuse of a lingering sensory treat in the mouth. 2011 though, saw the price of Hyderabadi favourites such as Meenakshi and Navratna rise to Rs 12 from Rs 8, while the plain meetha costs a full Rs 8, a steep jump from the lowly price of Rs 4 till last year.

Cigarette- And if the cost of paan has increased, can cigarettes be far behind? While public smoking is banned across India, Hyderabad cares two hoots. The 50 paise hike on most brands last week, is barely going to make a dent in demand entering the New Year.

Samosa and bun maska- What’s chai without a chotta (small) samosa, Hyderabadis may ask? True, if one considers the demand for the common man’s evening snack, across the social spectrum in the city. But from Rs 2 till last year, the cost of a chotta or Iranian samosa increased by 50 paise mid-way through this year.

A miniscule amount, but not when someone eats 8-10 pieces through the day.
And for those who indulge in other bakery products such as puffs, bun maska, pastries etc, the expected hike by Rs 1 from Jan 2012, means a further constraint on gastronomical expenses.

The osmania biscuit though remains immune to global price issues.
Daroo (Liquor): It’s little secret that Hyderabad’s wine shops double up as watering spots, what with tipplers drinking and making merry behind the shop.

And love their daroo, Hyderabadis sure do. No wonder then, that even though the price of hard liquor increased by almost 5% this year as compared to 2010, and many shops sold liquor at prices 10-15% more than the MRP, shops in the city do a roaring business of Rs 1.5 lakhs per day.

With Hyderabad paving the way forward for AP as the third highest consumer of liquor in the country, the liquor guzzling states of Kerala and Punjab better watch out for competition in 2012.

Shoeshine Boy: Amitabh Bachchan gave them a cult figure in Indian imagination with his first film Deewar, way back in 1975. 36 years hence, Hyderabad still harbours them as its own. The innocent faced boys sitting by the road side, may have polished the likes of Red Tape, Woodlands, Bata and even the occasional Gucci, but with inflation riding high, the innocence masks a demand for as much as Rs 15 to polish a pair, up from Rs 10 till last year.

Room rent: Speculators will claim that real estate is on the downswing in Hyderabad, but for those who run hostels and apartments on lease, 2011 raked in the moolah.

Citing inflation and fears of recession, tenants imposed a hike of 10- 15% on monthly rental rates in most parts of the city. And a further hike in 2012 is only expected. So if you plan to shift to Gachibowli or Abids in 2012, be prepared to shell out atleast Rs 3000 more than what you would have paid, had you moved in early this year.

Fuel prices: The joke doing the rounds today is that motor thieves would rather prefer to pilfer your petrol than escape with your bike. And why not? From Rs 62.37 in Dec 2010, petrol today costs Rs 73.08; one of the highest prices for the same in the country, making it truly black gold! And diesel which cost a mere Rs 41.33 a year ago, costs Rs 45.08 as of today. If only the sun weren’t so harsh, the coming year of 2012 had in it all the ingredients to turn into the ‘Year of the Cyclist’.

Transport: It’s almost become a yearly ritual for the city’s public transport systems to raise base fare. From Rs 12 last year, the fare rose to Rs 14 in 2011, mostly due to increase in fuel prices. But surprisingly, most autos charge Rs 20 nowadays as the new unregulated base fare.

Their excuse: No change. And if you agree to provide change, they’ll just shake their head in disgust and prefer to ride away empty. Minimum bus fare too jumped by Rs 1 this year, making you poorer by Rs 4.