Meet the expat community of Hyderabad, basking in the charm of the city and making memories

Hyderabad has a vibrant expat community, which not only includes high-ranking diplomats but also people from across the world, who occupy top positions in some big firms

author_img Hima Bindu Published :  07th October 2021 07:20 PM   |   Published :   |  07th October 2021 07:20 PM

Joanna Kane Potaka (R) with her husband (L) and friends

Hyderabad has a vibrant expat community, which not only includes high-ranking diplomats but also people from across the world, who occupy top positions in some big firms. While they all strongly believe in ‘work is worship’, they also know exactly how to unwind and that too in style. From basking in the charm of the Old City to savouring Deccani delicacies, throwing warm and cozy terrace parties to just catching up with friends over a drink, they are making beautiful memories of their own in the City of Pearls.  

We speak to a few expats and they are all praise for the city’s culture, it’s oh-so-welcoming people and the breathtaking rocky landscape. One of them even feels that Hyderabad is underrated and that people should visit the city to see how fancy and happening it is. “We are rocking in the city of rocks,” says another. Here’s a look at their lifestyle, what they do for fun and their favourite hangouts in the city — Himabindu Reddy

Rocking in Hyderabad
Did you know that Hyderabad has a Twin Cities Expatriates Association? Not just that, it has over 100 members. Pamela Nair Cherayath is an active board member, who has been making life for expats in the city worth remembering. A person of Indian origin and a seventh generation Malaysian, she moved to Hyderabad seven years ago when her husband was offered the job of a project director at a top firm.

“Before this, we were living in Singapore. Hyderabad is such a safe city. I love the mixed culture and the open-minded people. I feel secure here. This city of rocks is a rocking city,” says the resident of Aparna Grande, a condominium at Nallagandla. As one of the board members of the association, Pamela has been organising events for the expat community, working closely with NGOs, and teaching English, arts and crafts and raising awareness on mental health at government schools. “But ever since the pandemic broke out, we have not been conducting too many activities. I want to bring it back on track soon, hopefully January,” says Pamela, who is known for organising tours of organic mango farms in Medchal and throwing Halloween parties at the choicest hotels.

Of barbecues and live music
Want to know how to live life to the hilt? Get invited to one of Maribel Gordillo’s intimate terrace parties in Banjara Hills. There’s a vast spread of delicacies, fine wine, soulful music, a barbecue and great company. “My family and I have lived in Bengaluru for eight years. We’ve lived in US, Spain and UK too. I find Hyderabad as one of the best cities in India to live in. I feel comfortable and safe here. The infrastructure is great and the people are pleasant,” says Maribel, whose husband Roland works with Boeing.

Maribel Gordillo with her family

As soon she moved here, she wanted to have a Latino community, for which she started a Facebook page called Corazón Latino Hyderabad. “I am the self-proclaimed president of the group (laughs). But we all have a great time over the weekends. On Fridays, we (friends and family) go out for Italian food at the Park Hyatt, Saturdays are brunch at Olive Bistro and Sundays are lunch at The Glass Onion,” she lists out. But before the Sunday lunch, Roland has his game of golf at Boulder Hills. Maribel is also part of the Wine & Dine Club and often participates in their sessions. She and friends love the live music scene too in the city and are always on the lookout for upcoming shows or gigs. She is already planning her next event, this one’s going to be at Hyatt and the decor is on her.

Life’s an adventure
India is most complex and a land of contrast, says Joanna Kane Potaka, an assistant director general at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The Australian has lived overseas for 25 years now, of which she has spent nine in Hyderabad. “I come from a marketing background and India is an amazing economic powerhouse. I love the entrepreneurship and start-up culture of Hyderabad. It’s so vibrant. They are so committed, dedicated and they believe in what they do. It’s very inspiring,” says Joanna, who is also the executive director of ICRISAT’s Smart Food campaign.

While she lives and breathes her work, Joanna loves exploring the millets restaurants emerging in large numbers across the city. “I didn’t even know what millets were until I came to India. I have converted,” she laughs. She loves forts and her favourite spot in the city is the Golconda Fort. Apart from this, you will find her participating in baking/cooking classes at 45th Avenue in Jubilee Hills or hanging out at Paaka Organic Cafe in Nallagandla. “I live on the ICRISAT campus which is spread across 3,500 acres. If you ask me, there’s no need to step out of here to have fun. My friends and family have movie nights here, cycle around the place, take long walks, go kayaking in the lake nearby and even have camp nights,” she says. Speaking of long walks, Joanna loves the Durgam Cheruvu cable bridge. She often gets off her vehicle and walks on the well-lit bridge. “My friends think I’m mad to do it. But I love walking on it,” she says.

Leaving with a heavy heart
Kubra Altinors, the wife of Turkish Consul General Adnan Altay Altinors, had to recently go back to Turkey as her daughter had to start school. After she settled in Ankara, she realised that she misses Hyderabad. “I want to visit my second hometown and catch up with my friends, whom I haven’t seen for a while. I will be back soon, but will have to leave for good as my husband’s assignment ends,” she says. While she prepares to bid goodbye to her friends here, Kubra is taking back priceless memories to Turkey.

“I still remember our spectacular event on women’s empowerment, wherein in Princess Esra also participated. So many accomplished women from different walks of life had shared their success stories,” she says. Kubra, her husband and their friends used to frequent Falaknuma Palace, Cock & Bull, The Glass Onion, ITC Kohenur or just hang out at home. “I’ve never seen such warm and welcoming people anywhere in the world, but in Hyderabad. We built a very strong connection with the city, which will never fade. So, distance doesn’t matter. We will be forever in each other’s hearts,” she says.

Mesmerised by Old City’s charm
Rosella Martinez, a teacher at Pioneer World School, moved to Hyderabad five years ago and she is glad to have been part of the city’s growth. “I have found home away from home. I have found family here,” she says. While she catches up with her friends over the weekend, the Honduras national loves to walk to the streets of Old City. “It’s not just the shopping, but also the entire vibe of the area. It’s interesting to see what Hyderabad was decades ago,” she says. Rosella loves Ganesh Chaturthi and used to visit pandals across the city till the pandemic struck.