Of Hyderabadi addresses and code-crackers….

“‘ullo… ‘ullooo…’ulloo… good evening, Ma’am. This is Adil from Pizza XYZ speaking. What can I do for you?”

“One large veggie pizza with everything you’ve got on it, one very garlicky wedgies, one totally non-garlicky wedgies (otherwise poor hubby gets none – being the non-garlic type of person!), blah, blah…”

“Your address, ma’am?”

“12-2-275/1/A/567/B2… Prem Nagar, naale ke andar, nal ke paas” (inside the culvert, close to the public tap)!!

“Yes, ma’am, I know”, says the genius at the other end. And sure enough, the pizza turns up within the thirty minutes they promise it in! And once again, I salute the Hyderabadi delivery boys/postmen/courier chappies/ambulance drivers who, dealing with probably the most difficult and irrational system of addresses in the world, manage to get it right, day after day, year after year!

I bet that when the Allied Forces broke the Axis powers’ code Enigma in 1944, a decisive factor in the Allies’ victory a year later, they employed a bunch of Hyderabadi postmen to do the job! And I bet it was child’s play to these postmen too. All they probably demanded in return was some Hyderabadi biryani and haleem as compensation – pizzas didn’t exist outside of Italy and NYC those days!

I read in the papers today that Hyderabad is planning to rationalise its address system and go the way of the rest of world – door number followed by street name or number. Now most Hyderabadi streets don’t have names… so we’ll start with that first. Or naming streets could become controversial – the usual irrationalities of India – religion, caste and that rubbish will interfere, so decide the powers that be… so let’s just give street numbers. House number 34 on Street number 48 should be pretty straightforward, right? But wait, House no.34 is subdivided into eight little “portions”, as they are called – A,B,C,D…

So we’ll get to 34A, 34B and so on… But there’s a little gulley between houses 34 and 36 (35 is across the road, of course, did you expect it to be between 34 and 36, you poor sod?) So we account for the gulley with another alphabet – 34/H / 1… (1 being round the corner in the gulley!) Makes total logic to the Hyderabadi!

And on this scene comes a poor sod from another state in India – let’s say a Madrasi 😉 Desperately clutching on to a piece of paper in one hand, he’s looking for the erstwhile 12-2-275/1/A/567/B2, now rationalised and re-numbered as 12-2 (we can’t do away with the first two numbers because we don’t know what they originally stood for and what if we lose a lot of valuable information with these??!). So, 12-2- 36H/ 1/38A (the house in the gulley between 36 H and 38 A!). Perfectly logical, right? We’re just following the street and giving you directions at the same time! We are, in fact, being very helpful here!

And so our Madrasi comes up to the roadside chappie (there are always these guys hanging around whose only job in life is to help people with addresses – get this – they don’t get paid – they don’t get tips – they are in fact, providing a very valuable service for free!), spies the number 12-2-275/1/A/567/B2 and gives a cry of joy “ayyappane swami!” expecting that B3 – will be next door. But ah, you see, the end number is not the house number – it’s the middle number! Plus, Sir do you have the old address??!

The Madrasi collapses – with shock and exhaustion and sheer frustration! But our roadside chappies are very helpful – they revive him with strong tea and escort him to the house he’s looking for, “Arre Saar, pehle bolna tha (you should have told us earlier), – you’re looking for Mani maama’s house, na?!”

I think the Municipal Commissioner will meet with a lot of opposition!… All the way to America… where…

…a certain John Smith, looking for a friend (a certain John Denver… in San Jose, California… stops the first guy he sees – a Hyderabadi, of course and asks him for help with the address. Our pal looks at the address, scratches his head and finally shakes it sadly (we Hyderabadis hate saying no!), “Sorry, Sir, but there are no foreigners living here!!!”

Hum aiseech hain, miya!

Aur ham aiseech khaayenge! (This is how we are and this how we shall eat.) And feast on…


  • Sesame seeds/til/nuvvulu/ellu – 1 scant cup – about 100 gm
  • Ginger – grated – 1 ” piece
  • Garlic – 5 cloves
  • Green chilies – 4
  • Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Onion – sliced – 2 tbsp
  • Coriander leaves – 1 cup
  • Mint leaves – 1 cup
  • Tomatoes – 2 – chopped
  • Tamarind paste – 1/2 to 3/4 cup
  • Oil 1 tbsp
  • Salt

Roast the sesame seeds, cool and powder. Set aside.

Heat the oil, add tomatoes and fry till softened.

To the tomateos, add the ginger, garlic, mint, coriander, green chilies, red chili powder and salt. Saute for a few minutes.

Cool and grind to a very rough chutney along with the tamarind paste and sesame powder.

Add the sliced onions to this chutney – the raw onions and sesame are a very yin and yang combo!

Temper with 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and curry leaves in one tsp oil – optional.

Serve with a khichdi and yogurt on the side. Or idlis. Or dosas.

Can’t find the address or a roadside ‘helper’? Jus’ eat it yourself!