Well it’s Friday again and update time. It is also Aaron and Kiran’s 13th birthday and the third week anniversary of Ash’s 20th (oops I forgot to mention it earlier) so Happy Birthdays all round! I have been deserted by Jenna and Louise although it is a good thing because I hate making people wait for me and more than that, I hate having people waiting on me and not so subtely hinting their impatience through a series of taps and sighs. They are at a temple so its okay because you may have gathered I’ve had my fill of Ganesh and his buddies already haha.
Well our time in Udaipur is almost up and we will be moving on tomorrow. We were actually going to get a bus today but we have decided to go tomorrow morning to have an extra day in Udaipur. I could probably stay even longer but we have all our trains booked so things aren’t that flexible.
Udaipur really is a magical city. It is full of quaint whitewashed buildings, winding streets and narrow passageways. It feels like an Indian Venice – I could almost be in the Meditteranean right now because it is a world away from Ahmedabad which by comparison was pretty filthy and very crowded.
It is quite touristic here because its the quintessential place to visit if you are doing a tour of India. This is great because it means I can wear western clothes without my ‘erotic’ shoulders drawing a small crowd but at the same time I had quite got used to feeling famous! I really like the feeling of being different so it is something that I am going to miss when I go home – it will be like, “What? And why do you not want my autograph? Huh? Huh?” It’s funny because now the further north I go the more people know that I am part Indian. In Maharashtra I was anything from Russian to Spanish to just plain mongrel!
Less about me, back to Udaipur. Well on Tuesday we went on a stroll around the town. There are so many beautiful handicrafts… I would love to buy the whole town but I’ll have to stick to my 20 rupee budget! We all drive a hard bargain in particular Jen who takes it to a whole new level. I am somewhere in the middle and Louise is a bit too soft so I think she is taking lessons from the master. Louise bought some artwork – it is a beautiful painting on camel ivory. It is very small but absolutely exquisite. I have bought a couple of things at rock bottom prices and then we all had a bit of a mad moment at the tailors. Somehow and I still don’t really know how we all ended up having two ball gowns made. They work out at about 25 quid a piece. I shall now try to justify this expenditure – they are perfect fits, they are stunning colours and I designed them myself sooo there is no other like it! Well moving on…
Udaipur is just a beautiful place, so enchanting. Two weeks ago the lake was bone dry for the lack of rain so we are really lucky that the rains came when they did. On Tuesday we went on a motocycle tour of the island with the guys who run the Art School and it was amazing. I love being on the back of a motorbike it is such a thrill haha. In the evening we went to a rooftop retaurant which offered stunning views of the city at night over Lake Pichola (that of Octopussy fame!) which no camera would ever do justice.
On Wednesday we set off early by rickshaw to do the whole tourist thing. We visited a crafts village called Shilpram where you can get pretty much anything under the sun. Then we went onto Tiger Lake a mammoth artifical but very beautiful lake nonetheless. Then we drove past another lake, Fateh Sagar onto the City Palace and Museums. It is a huge edfice set in beautifully landscaped surroundings and is partly British architecture partly Indian interior design. There is mosaic, glasswork, beautiful miniature paintings, just mind-blowing. I have to admit whilst I could appreciate the craftmanship the huge palace with all its hidden passageways struck me as the perfect place for hide-and-seek. I am such a child!
I’d borrowed a mobile phone from one of the Art School guys and it was only once we had reached our final destination – some beautifully maintained Gardens called Saheliyon ki Bari (Garden of the Maids) when I sort of realised that it wasn’t in my pocket any more. Anyone who knows me well knows that they should not trust me with anything worth over 10p. Honestly though I could keep a scrap of paper with a telephone number on it at the bottom of my bag for years but as soon as you get into mobile phone/passport/airline ticket territory something very bad happns. In fact Jenna has been nominated as keeper of the purse because I have such a record of going to see people and leaving my money/phone behind. This would not be good in India.
So anyway we actually went back to Tiger lake and retraced all our footsteps over the scree to no avail and the same with the crafts village. I was really praying I’d find it because I was so worried of the consequences. Just as we had given up all hope the rickshaw guy took out all the seating on his rickshaw and lo and behold it was there. I literally jumped for joy I was so happy and Jen said she prayed for the first time in ten years because she was so scared for me and Louise said the same so there was a massive Thank God chorus from the three of us. Needless to say I didn’t relate any of the fiasco back to the guy. What you don’t know etc etc 🙂
That evening we relaxed at a place called Savage Garden which was expensive but very nice. Jen and I went back to the hotel and then Louise stayed out a bit longer. The next morning we were informed that we were being chucked out of our room because Louise broke the curfew by one minute. In truth I heard the guy had a double booking so I think Louise provided the perfect scapegoat. The guy told us that he didn’t like people like us which makes me laugh because it makes us look like a trio of hellraisers which we are not and couldn’t be if we tried. Nope we are just a bunch of geeks really!
Well we found a new place for half the price and then celebrated with a boat ride across the lake. It was so lovely and perfect weather too (Can you tell yet that I am in love with this place?) We stopped at Jagmandir Island which gives a lovely vista of the lake. In the evening we went to Monsoon Palace which is supposed to be great at sunset. It looked so beautiful with the light falling across the spines of distant mountain ranges, just captivating. We had to imagine the sunset because it was quite cloudy but the views were worth the trip. On the way down we were listening to Madonna’s Holiday and Material Girl (takes me back to being five years old again!) which I think will become the anthems of our trip…
They say it’s a small world well we now have conclusive evidence of this. Whilst we were in the palace, at the top of a mountain in Rajasthan no less, Louise happened to just run into a friend from her Medicine course at Cambridge. Just amazing, no? Alice is here alone so we invited her out for dinner and spent the evening at a lovely place right on the water’s edge called Ambrai.
Well thats the Udaipur round up for you. I think I will find the girls and do a bit of window shopping… I almost parted with a great deal of cash this morning to get a piece of artwork but after a couple hours deliberation I awoke from my trance and decided against it on principle thank God! We are going back to the tailors to check the fitting of our dresses later on – I can’t wait! This evening we are planning to visit a traditional haveli for a Rajasthani dance festival.
Then we will be heading northward where the weather gets warmer and the people get more beautiful (its true!). Check back next week for tales of warm summer evenings and gorgeous people. Maybe.