Hotel: Dream Heaven
As well as sharing my trip, I hope that anyone planning to visit India is learning some things. Perhaps the most valuable trait you can have is agility. Not in the physical sense, I would fail miserably. I am talking about being agile and resilient around your expectations and actual experiences.
If you come to India and get flustered when something doesn’t go according to plan you are doomed to a tortuous trip that will be anything but a holiday.
The hotel manager in Pushkar assured me that a bus directly to Udaipur leaves from the bus station at 0900. Great news, I plan to be on it and in Udaipur in about 5 hours. Luckily later in the afternoon I double checked it is the bus stop (not really a bus station) where I arrived. Of course it isn’t – thanks for telling me up front – and I am shown a map of where to go.
You have already figured that there is no direct bus from Pushkar haven’t you? But no drama, I know that there will be one from the bus station in Ajmer where the local bus arrives. It was easy to find the right ticket seller in Ajmer and I am heartened by the fact that my R280 or so ticket clearly states Express. It will be a direct run 260km down the highway, none of this dipping into every town along the way.
I’m telegraphing the story aren’t I because you have also figured that there may be a different definition of Express in India. This bus stopped at just about every town and took 8 bloody hours to travel that 260km. Sigh.
But, an adventure is what you make it. It was hot and dusty and noisy with a window open and horns blaring. Sometime the bus was packed then for a while it would be relatively empty. Then it would fill up again for another stretch. My offers of Singara to my neighbours weren’t being accepted so not much talking happening, but plenty of munching by me.
I was thoroughly enjoying watching the world go past and started to wonder why. So I started playing a game of rather than just taking it in, of naming what was interesting that I saw. It ranged from the banal I wonder where that road leads to the visually captivating look at the size of the bundles of dried grass (or whatever it was) those people are carrying on their heads to the astonishing how on earth does a stone vendor compete?
Turn the sound down, it is just wind noise.
This is an area about 50km north of Udaipur. Kilometre after kilometre of the highway between Rajsamand and Nathdwara are lined on both sides with stone vendors selling the same product: marble and granite. How they survive with all the competition, like many things in India, is a mystery.
Along the way we stopped for food, how can you not love this piece of unintended art towering over our bus?
By the time we reached Udaipur at about 5PM I was knackered. A bit of research showed the managers recommendation of the Dream Heaven hotel was one thing he had gotten right.
In all the hotels I have been to, this is the first where reception is on the roof, 5 or 6 flights of stairs up (I can count if any pedants are interested) from street level.
I wonder if it is some clever ploy to suck people in because walking out on the roof through the restaurant gives me my first view of Udaipur and it is breathtaking.
It gets better/different as the sun sets
I’m sitting in the corner of the rooftop and have been here about an hour, I’ll fill you in on what has been going on.
A monkey climbed a tree just below eye level, about 10m away, ate some leaves or whatever it eats and seems to have camped there for the night. It is too dark to tell. Fireworks are going off all over and are getting bigger and more frequent. Over the water at a temple a drumming machine (see video from last year) is going off, people are floating candles on the lake. A building in the distance has a couple of search lights swinging around the sky – the haze makes them clearly visible in the night sky. Call to prayer has just started in a couple mosques.
In case I had forgotten (I haven’t) I am reminded of why I came back to India.
I am starting to think about eating, but not here, much more fun to go for a walk.
And walk I did today, here’s some shots from around town.
What a great face. He proudly showed me photos someone else had taken and given him. I couldn’t manage to get one printed today, will try again tomorrow.
I do love how three versions of the same image can feel so different.
Image manipulation is so hard on a tablet 🙁 The bottom one is a cropped screenshot, hence the date. It isn’t in the image.
Outside many shops and no doubt in most homes are these terracotta water holders. On a hot day the evaporation cools the water remarkably. They are for sale everywhere for about R60 apparently.
Puppeteer friends, you would have had an orgasm in this shop. It was so colourful with hundreds and hundreds of different sizes characters hanging one on top of the other in various rooms.
And before monkey arrived there were birds. The parrot looks a bit like a Port Lincoln Parrot. The other? Without some research, which I will leave to you, no idea.
I have also found great samosas, a shop keeper to chat with, the local bhang shop (if I dare, again) and also the local bang shop.
The lethal crackers, less than 2cm long and 1cm in diameter are called bullet bombs. I had seen and heard someone letting them off and asked for a personal demo. HOLY SHIT! is all I can say.
This is day one of five in Udaipur. I hope I haven’t peaked too early.