Thursday, November 12, 2009

Octopussy

One of the reasons we decided to stay at Hotel Udai Niwas in Udaipur was that it promised to show "English movies every night on our rooftop terrace." Sounded pretty great. However, when we asked what movies were showing we were slightly dispirited to hear that same movie was screened every single night: "Octopussy," a James Bond thriller featuring the Lake Palace (one of Udaipur's main attractions). As it turned out, nightly Octopussy screenings took place at many of the city's tourist hotels and rooftop restaurants.

This oddity aside, Udaipur-located in the desert state of Rajasthan-has been a wonderful stop on our India tour. The streets are wider, the people are more friendly, easy-going, and relaxed, and there are lots of palaces and forts. Street vendors also hassled us a lot less here, with the sole exception of a dedicated cadre of rickshaw drivers who vigorously peddle marijuana. "Rickshaw?" No, thanks. "some joint? A mariijjjuuaana?" No, thanks. Five minutes later "some joint? A mariijjjuuaana?" No! "Maybe rickshaw?"

In honor of my birthday week we stayed at a nicer and more comfortable hotel than usual (17 dollars a night) and participated in some fun organized activities. First, we took a 5 1/2 hour cooking class with Shashi; you should all look forward to reaping the benefits when we are back home. Then, we got some relaxing but rather strange massages, including a 15 minute head rub for Jeremy. We also spent a half-day riding "Royal Marwari Horses," which have different ears than English ones and very curved backs. The experience was very different from our Nepalese pony trek. The horses were beautiful, healthy, and spirited, and while the five-hour ride was scenic, the environment was unlike any we had seen so far-arid, dusty, hot, and with little vegetation. We were exhausted, hungry, and thirsty by the end of the ride and dissapointed that our driver had not yet arrived to take us back to our hotel. He showed up after forty minutes apologizing profusely for being late. "I would have been here earlier," he explained, "but I was drinking beer at my friend's house."

Yesterday, we woke up early for a trip out to the massive Ranakpur fort and an impressive Jain temple. Jeremy and our Australian friend especially enjoyed locating places on the upper parts of the castle where scalding oil could have been dumped on intruders. Ali's favorite part of the day was sitting next to several Jain women in the temple and listening to them play drums and sing devotional songs. The day was pleasant and, other than having our taxi charged by a bull, peaceful and relaxing.

We leave to Delhi tonight and have decided to take a 50-hour train ride all the way south to Kerala next week, where we hope to settle in for a while. No wi-fi in Udaipur, but we'll upload photos soon enough.

Love,

Jeremy and Ali

1 comment:

Zanadar said...

The explanation for the OCtopussy fixation here is that part of the movie Was filmed here.
Also that is such a fucking indian excuse for being late...aaahh it reminds me.
He probably followed it with "I'm sorry, it could not be helped."
Indians have an awesomely differant sense of time than americans.
Good luck on the trains guys.

- Zander