The City of Lakes. The city of what love at first sight is made of. Well, the old city at least. The new one is pretty much like any other part of India. Busy and full of the everyday hustle-bustle. But the regular little shops and buildings soon begin to give way to narrow streets and quaint houses with huge doors and lovely hand-made paintings on the walls.
If you get a chatty cabbie (like ours), you’d quickly be updated on the political situation in the royal family, the goods, the bads and the uglys of how it affected his beloved city and what Udaipur looked like in the good old days before people were allowed to construct their house pretty much anywhere they please. In fact, when you finally do reach your hotel, you’d wonder how this dude was able to fit in that much information in a conversation that didn’t even last a half hour!
Anyways, armed with all the mysterious intrigues that go with a story well told, the husband and I finished off all the check-in formalities (yawn!) and were led to our room. Now, since we were on a budget trip, all we really wanted were clean and safe lodging. This one, however, came with a view that allowed me to do nothing but stand spellbound as I looked out onto the gorgeous Lake Pichola. Granted that being slack-jawed with a bit of drool hanging onto my chin wasn’t very flattering but the bell boy seemed used to this reaction because he smiled indulgently as he put our bags down and exited silently. Quite honestly, someone should warn a first timer in Udaipur that they’re going to be gob smacked by something as beautiful as this.
We were lucky to get a hotel that was bang in the middle of the touristy part of Udaipur and luckier yet to have a brother in law from there. Our very own Nawab of Mewar 🙂 All we had to do was put on our walking shoes and follow his instructions and voila! Our stay turned into things that glossy magazine stories are made of.
Be it eating at the Ambrai restaurant and gazing out onto the lake and the City Palace or breaking our feet trying to walk the length of the gorgeous Palace and yet wishing for it to never end or just walking around the old city, stopping for coffee and picking up some catchy knick knacks, Udaipur turned our two day stay into a trip back into time. It almost seems like time has stopped moving forward here and you too could just lie back and soak in the feels with absolutely no disturbance from anywhere. I read a book, appreciated the fact that the lovely lake is quite clean despite being surrounded by a lot of civilization or watched the sunset turn the city golden and me into a poet and felt more at peace than I have in a long, long time. A pleasant evening at the Bagore ki Haveli watching a dance troupe perform local Rajasthani dances made us beam with pride at being Indian.
Of course, the reverie can be shattered when you’re damn nearly run over when you try to walk the tiny streets full of vehicles with blaring horns and no brakes, only to step into a well-planned deposit of cow dung or into an alarmingly deep gutter at sporadic intervals. The utter lack of cops is also something surprising. Completely unnoticed unless one of those wannabe-F1 racers takes an arm or a loved one away by accident and you’re shrieking in an ungodly fashion for them to bring it back! But then, even the moon has a blotch or two so I’m not going to be prissy and complain. Sigh… I loved the place and that’s just about that.
I realized this time that while it’s a lovely thing being a tourist, it can be quite heartbreaking sometimes. Especially when you’re packing up and leaving when all you really want is to spend just one more evening on the steps of the Gangaur ghat, gaze out onto the reflection of the golden lights of the city and understand what it really means to be in love at the first sight.