‘If there is a (political) will, there is a way’ – a visit to Siddipet and you would definitely believe this. Just a small town in Telangana and with no fancy tags to show off, Siddipet is slated to become the next sports hub of Telangana.
I don’t know if Siddipet is slated to be one of the smart cities but it definitely felt like being on the right track on being one of the sought after cities in the near future in Telangana.
Where is Siddipet?
Siddipet is a town in Siddipet district in Telangana and honestly, we would not have visited this quiet town had it not been for the Telangana State Swimming Meet 2018 in which my daughters were participating. Just about 100 km from Hyderabad and very good road connectivity, this city is easily drivable in about 2 hours from Hyderabad.
A few weeks before the event which was slated for 26th and 27th May 2018 we tried to book a hotel room in Siddipet but to our dismay, we could not find a single room in the city so we decided that we would drive down the same day as our event. Fortunately, one of Arshiya’s friend who was also participating in the event offered one of their booked rooms to us and we gladly accepted. Hence, we had a decent place to put up in Hotel Akshaya Grand.
If you look up the Internet you would find just three or four hotels in the town. We were thrilled to be participating in the State Swim Meet but equally disappointed in the inventory of rooms the town had to offer. Undoubtedly, the administration is doing its best to promote other cities in Telangana apart from Hyderabad which is growing at a rapid pace but then before such events are organized basics like decent stay options should be taken care of.
Some parents returned home after first days’ event and could not come for the second day for unavailability of rooms had them stay outdoors the entire day in the heat and it definitely affected their morale and also the swimmer’s performance. There were some arrangements by the organizers but staying in a non-ac accommodation in halls full of participants and their guardians might not be the new India’s idea of sport.
Siddipet Swimming Pool
One look at the pool and you would be gladly surprised. A huge 50 meter sparkling new pool with starting blocks, well-marked lanes and filter plants is a delight for a swimmer. In fact, it was so inviting and the heat so much that we (I, the husband and the coach) also wanted to jump in the cool water. I have never seen such a well-maintained pool which is of international standards in a small town.
I think it is high time we make participating in sports and even preparing to be a sportsman a decent and a comfortable affair. We should concentrate more on sports and achieve accolades for the district, state and nation rather than let the participants worry about basics like stay and food. If we want more and more people to participate in sports and look at it as a profession rather than just a gateway to a position in one of the government departments we need to put things in the right perspective and then we will have a pool of talent that can sway the medal charts in India’s favor.
Swachh Bharat at Siddipet
Having said that, we were superlatively impressed by the town in terms of cleanliness and food options which we discovered in our 24-hour stay in the town. It definitely felt like we were in Swachh Bharat with the town wearing a clean look. Not a trace of rubbish on the roads and this is just an unheard town of India we are talking about. Seems like people in the interior parts of the country have taken note of Swachh Bharat Campaign better than us ‘city and high rise dwellers’ who still need to be told about the basics of hygiene and cleanliness. Comedy of Cleaniless? One might say so.
Another campaign – Haritha Haram, which is Telangana centric though does deserve a mention here. I moved to Hyderabad almost two years back and have to say that the massive scale at which trees are planted and taken care of here is exemplary. ORR (Outer Ring Road) is just an example. Way to go, Telangana!
Eat Local: Food Truck in Siddipet
After day one events were over we headed to our hotel –Hotel Akhaya Grand for the night and were just thinking about our dinner options when the husband spotted a food truck right opposite the hotel. Now, this was a food truck that could tempt to eat and overeat and yet ask for more. I have never seen a dedicated dosa only food truck which serves varieties of dosas that you would have not even heard of. Everything was so neat and clean and hygienic that we did not think twice before serving these dosas to our kids who had competitions the next day. We had Pizza Dosa, Schezwan Paneer Mushroom Dosa, Mexican Dosa, Kerala Dosa and Chinese Noodles Dosa which were served with three varieties of chutneys.
I had however prepared some rice and were carrying some snacks with lots of juices and energy bars for we were not sure of the kind of food we would get here. But we were pleasantly surprised and were happy to see that India is progressing at a faster rate than we can imagine.
Our girls win Silver Medals
On day 2 of the event, we were ready for Cheryl and Arshiya’s event. Arshiya participated in 50-meter breaststroke and got 4th position out of 7 participants which was a good start considering she had only practiced for 10 days after her final exams. She was chosen for the 50×4 meter relay freestyle and medley relay (butterfly) and she secured a silver medal in both the races. Cheryl also participated in 50×4 meter medley relay (breaststroke) and won a silver medal. It was a moment of pride for us as both our daughters participated for the first time in state-level competitions and won 3 medals in all.
Post these events we headed out for lunch and waited for the medal ceremony that was to happen in the evening.
Punjabi food at Athithi Delight Restaurant
Food was taken care of by the organizers for the participants and their co-travelers but frankly, we could not bear the heat and looked for a decent ac restaurant for lunch. Cheryl and Arshiya’s swimming coach had reached the town on Day 1 of the event (we reached on day 1 too but post lunch) hence we followed his advice and headed straight to Athithi Delight Restaurant for lunch which he claimed was a good food option and as we gorged on lunch with him we could not agree more. It is a newly opened restaurant with a separate section for families and is fully air-conditioned. We ordered Yoga Chicken, Chicken Malai and Crispy Veg for starters and Punjabi Prawns (imagine having Punjabi Prawns in one small town of Telangana but it was fab) and Nawabi Paneer with some Butter Naan for the main course with some milkshakes. Each and every dish was tasty and done perfectly. We enjoyed every bite of our food. And what’s more, we also got some inaugural discount on our total bill.
Post lunch we came back for the medal ceremony which happened in the evening and I must add here that I was surprised to hear latest Punjabi songs in between the races plus the emcee handled the entire ceremony so well and all the announcements were made in impeccable English. A sense of pride for developing India pervaded.
It was such a pleasant experience and I sincerely wish that we as Indians take up one sport for our lifetime if not as a profession than maybe a fun time with family and friends. We should also encourage our kids to be regular in one sport of their choice and who knows they might be the next sportsperson India would be proud of and also when this becomes a part of their life they would not have to struggle to remain fit in the later years of their life like most of us do.
Our Take Away:
- 3 silver medals in freestyle relays and medley relays.
- Sport is a natural adrenaline rush that can bring the best in you.
- Team spirit can do wonders and teammates don’t necessarily have to be your friends.
- Such events are also a time to forge new friendships. By the end of the event, Cheryl and Arshiya were happily playing with their two new found friends even though we all were super tired.
- There is a lot of talent we just need to harness it and give it a proper direction.