Detail in front of a temple in Udaipur
On the train ride to Udaipur
, I met a gal who gave me some local sweets and did the best Indian "bobblehead" I've seen thus far. She was a doll. I showed her pics from my Bollywood experience, and she exclaimed upon seeing the main actor, "Did you get your picture with him? He is very famous!." I laughed and said no, I had no idea who he was and she just looked at my pictures in awe.
Upon arriving in Udaipur, my taxi driver stopped and bought me some chai and of course, tried to sell me a day tour with him. I made no promises and then landed at the Lal Ghat Guest house, finding dorms for only 100 rupees. It was early in the a.m., so I ordered up breakfast and met a couple of chaps from England just starting out on a world tour.
Inside the Jagdish Temple, the largest Hindu temple in Rajashtan
I ended up spending a couple of days with them.
We first set out, getting lost among the streets of Udaipur. There are lots of shops eager to sell you books, textiles and jewelry. Mainly I'm on the lookout for something warm to wear. Now I know I was anxious to hit some cooler temps, but I'm afraid I've grown accustomed to the heat. I've been freezing ever since I arrived, and I checked the temperature, it's in the low 60s! It's like fall here, but I need a winter jacket. Ahh! I sent all my warm gear home, and if I intend to go further north, I'll need to buy a blanket (the locals' answer to winter gear) and a warm hat and gloves.
After snaking through the streets and grabbing a cup of chai, we set off for the City Palace hoping to catch a boat ride to Jagmandir Island.
One of the many ghats in Udaipur, washing clothes in Lake Pichola
Now Udaipur's claim to fame, aside from its beauty, is that Octopussy was filmed here back in 1983. They filmed at the Lake Palace Hotel, the island, Monsoon Palace and streets over a period of six months. We took a boat tour out to the island and felt like we were James Bond for the afternoon, sipping expensive chai and gazing back at the City Palace. It was a lovely afternoon. We hit up dinner later and then had an early night.
Now one thing I wanted to do when I arrived was hit up a cooking class, and much to my delight, my traveling companions came back after getting tailored shirts saying they wanted to take some cooking lessons with Neena. I glady asked to join them. So the next morning, we went over and ordered up our menu for the afternoon, and then grabbed auto rickshaws up to the Monsoon Palace.
The City Palace
This palace is perched on a hill above Udaipur, and as you would guess, was used during the monsoon season. From afar it looks amazing, but it has not been kept up, so it mostly offers great views from above. The inside is basically empty, with cracking walls and little else, but you can imagine what it must have been like when it was in use.
At one o'clock we met with Neena, ready to cook samosas, dum alloo, ladyfinger masala (okra), veg. biryani, chapatis and masala chai. It was just the three of us, so we got to do as much of the cooking as we wanted, and of course, lots of eating! I have to say, my plan to lose weight here has not been realized thus far, but as soon as I venture to eat some meat, I'm sure to get sick like everyone else at the hotel.
Anyway, the spices used in Indian cooking smell so good and really make the dishes. Of course, the fresh ingredients Neena had just purchased made the dishes amazing as well. I took notes, thinking I may attempt these dishes at home, but I think she made it seem easier than it really is. It was a great afternoon of cooking in this rooftop kitchen. With our bellies full, we headed back to the guesthouse. The boys headed off to Delhi
, so I decided to go catch Octopussy at a nearby rooftop restaurant. Nightly showings are abound in this town. It was really fun to see the places I had visited the last few days featured in the film.
I've got much more ground to cover on my Indian adventure, so I fought off the desire to just hang around here for a while and bought a bus ticket to my next stop.
Elephant cruising through town
Across the street from my guesthouse is a one-stop-shop internet/travel place, and the proprieter is a gem and remembers everyones' names. So when I went to buy my ticket, he clarified the spelling of my name and then said 24? You have to give your age for insurance purposes when buying any kind of transportation ticket. I laughed and said no, 33, and he looked at me with surprise, and then gave me my ticket and said, "Keep on smiling, and keep on pretending to be 24." So I set off tomorrow morning, feeling younger, and heading for Jodpur where there promises to be a fantastic fort.