After the trauma of getting out of Agra, we were prepared to be extra-impressed with Udaipur. And boy oh boy, Udaipur did not disappoint. The city is built around a lake and was the setting for much of the James Bond film Octopussy.
|New Year's Eve view from our balcony. Cue the fireworks.|
Due to the Gujjar strikes, we arrived on New Year's Eve and found our way to our Dream Heaven Guest House. As the daylight drained from the sky, we settled into an amazing room with a lake view and a balcony. Although our bathrom had two showerheads, I opted to steal the first shower all for myself and washed away the grime of a 20+ hour bus ride. I wandered onto our balcony while Beau showered, and watched with joy as hotels around the lake began setting off fireworks. I called to Beau to hurry up and join me. The complete bliss of being in India, being with the man that I love, watching fireworks light up across a lake...it just all added up to perfection. I wrapped my arms around Beau and started telling him how much I loved him, but all I could think about was my knee. Why was I thinking about my knee at a time like this?
Well, I had to figure out which knee to kneel on so I could ask Beau to marry me. And when he said yes (or rather, when he asked, "Does this mean we're really engaged now?"), we celebrated, and then he asked if we needed to buy a ring. That's when I directed him to my neck pillow, and he discovered that I had ordered a ring before we left and been carting it around the whole time.
|Engaged! I ordered a thali for the special occasion.|
We went up to the rooftop restaurant for dinner. Hotels all around the lake were having parties and competing to blast their music as loudly as possible. This was especially amusing, given that they all seemed to have the same cd with just a few American songs mixed into it. Thus, "I Got A Feeling" by the Black-Eyed Peas was the theme song of the night and has somehow become "our" song. I would have guessed that "My Humps" would have been most likely Black-Eyed Peas song to represent our love, but you can't argue with what the universe throws your way.
On New Year's Day, we set out on a walk across the lake to wander through the shops. We found a music shop, and since we'd been talking about Indian musical instruments for a while, we decided to look inside quickly just to see if there were any prices marked. The shopkeeper quickly hustled over from across the street and started showing off his wares. Bablu came highly recommended, so I had some trust in the guy to sell quality instruments. Having been engaged for all of 12 hours, I was still developing my psychic connection to Beau. So when Bablu showed us two different sitars, I started trying to set up a mental connection to figure out which one Beau wanted. Duh, of course he wanted the electric sitar.
|Is very good bargain. Good for you, good for me. Very good.|
I set to work bargaining, and Bablu whipped out his calculator and started trying to figure out if I was ripping him off. We went from Rs25,000 to Rs20,000, which is good, but not quite good enough for me. Bablu told me that I was his first customer of the year, so he was offering me his very best deal so that he would have good karma all year long. Bam. There was my edge. "First customer, first SALE of the year, very good karma all year long!" With that, we shook hands on Rs19,000 and Beau was the proud owner of an electric sitar, plus a fiberglass carrying case, all the accessories and replacement parts he'd ever need, and a few lessons with Bablu to boot.
We wandered back across the bridge and decided to check out the cafe next to our hotel for lunch. Dubbed "Soul Meet Cafe," it featured a cushion-covered terrace with numerous lounging backpackers and a sound system that pumped out a constant stream of trance and/or reggae music. Therefore, it was no surprise to find Special Lassi on the drink menu. For any police officers or my mother, I did not get it. Mostly because the waiter told me they didn't have the "stuff" to make it. A special lassi is also known as a bhang lassi, and is made with a liquid derivative of marijuana. It's legal in many parts of India, and Rajasthan has many licensed bhang shops where one could partake. But, as I stated, I did not get it. Because they were out. They were also, it would seem, out of food, and their chef had gone for food but hadn't come back, so we left and got lunch elsewhere.
|Lassi of unknown origins.|
Later that night, we decided to get dinner. On the way to dinner, we stopped at the Soul Meet Cafe for a pre-dinner drink. Don't judge. My special lassi arrived, and to be honest, it tasted pretty gross. Down the hatch it went, though. As I was drinking it on the terrace, I heard a huge rustling in the trees, and suddenly a monkey landed on our table and ran across it. Not knowing how strong the special lassi was, I asked Beau if that really just happened.
|Monkey. Great in theory, until you're tripping balls on a |
special lassi and it decides sashay across your table.
Yeah, that really just happened. For the record, it took a while for the lassi to kick in. Then I wanted to lay on the bed and listen to music (The Doors and the Grateful Dead, mostly) and talk about foreign policy and investment strategies. Then I suddenly wanted to stop talking and go to bed. An interesting experience, but not one I'm likely to repeat.
|The restaurant roof was bliss.|
We spent the rest of our time in Udaipur relaxing on our hotel roof, taking boat rides, trying to get pants made (my Hindi may not be great, but the guy clearly called me "jumbo" in English), having a mild breakdown after trying to get pants made, getting pants made at another tailor, and buying bus tickets for our next leg. For the record, India is hard on pants. Nearly every pair I had developed holes, probably from the vigorous laundry techniques.
Up next: Mount Abu and then some more Mount Abu
|This city is just so damn gorgeous.|
|The views from the roof were amazing.|
|The rooftop dining situation. Get the muesli for breakfast.|
|Private balcony off our room. |
Also known as the drying rack for my laundry.
|I call this one "Study of a Pensive Man."|
|Going on an obligatory boat ride around the lake.|
|This? I said I'd marry this?|
|This hotel was one of our favorites on the trip.|