Friday was such a fun day. All three classes were eager to get their English and math tests over with so dance class could commence. We played musical chairs, freeze dance and I even choreographed (a very, very simple) dance for the kids to learn and practice. They added in their own Bollywood moves, taught us some awesome moves as well, and of course we danced 800 times to 'Sunny Sunny'. It's a huge song right now here in India and EVERYONE knows the dance. Well actually everyone knows the dance to every song. Not kidding.
Anna and I collapsed after arriving back at the guesthouse. We had worn our sarees to work on Friday and we didn't exactly chose the lightest material. Our energy was completed drained as we peeled off our sarees, disgusted by how much sweat had come out of our bodies. It must have been every millilitre we had drank all week.
With excitement being too much to bare for our journey to Udaipur, I think we jinxed it. Anna ended up falling very ill Friday evening, just hours before we were set to leave for the train. It took me a while to decide if I would go, as I wanted to be there for Anna and nurse her back to health, but a part of me was really just screaming 'Udaipur'. So, I listened to my gut. I packed my bag at 5:30am and flagged down a tuk tuk on the main road.
I boarded the train with sleepy eyes at a very loud 6:45am at Jaipur Junction railway station. It was hard to sleep as I had purchased a second class ticket, which is just seats in a box car with open windows and a lot of people crammed into a small space. But, it was cheap! It was really a lose-win situation: the heat was so uncomfortable but the view was phenomenal. For 7 hours, I watched as the dry land turned into forests, then into deserts. Women and men worked in the fields completely covered head to toe, as buffalo, cows and goats roamed. But most were sprawled out under whatever shelter they could find, away from the sun's harsh rays.
I arrived in Udaipur at 1:30pm. I had spent a little bit of time looking up which guesthouse to stay in, in my Lonely Planet Rajasthan book, and thought I'd wing it with an option a fellow traveller had recommended. I asked a few tuk tuk drivers to take me to the Dream Heaven Guesthouse, but of course with my luck, not a single one knew what I was saying either in Hindi or English. Fortunately, a random man approached me and told me he knew where it was as his friend worked there. So there I was, sitting up on the back of a moto in India. It was freaking awesome. The streets of Udaipur are extremely small and curvy, it was such a blast to zip through them passing all the markets along the way.
I spent the day roaming the streets, amazed at everything I set my eyes on. From the beautiful sparkle of Lake Pichola, to the breath taking views looking out onto Udaipur from the City Palace. I sat and had chai with locals, and watched boats in the distance while walking across the Daiji Footbridge. I ended up playing a very bad game of Cricket with some local kids. I definitely embarrassed myself. I will blame it on the fact that I actually have no idea how to play Cricket...
When night falls, the view of the City Palace from the rooftop restaurants of Udaipur is indescribable. Again, my photos will never do it justice. It's just the most beautiful thing. Sitting high above the rest of the city, it's definitely a sight for sore eyes.
Sunday I awoke around 9:30am, feeling extremely well rested. I overlooked Lake Pichola while eating breakfast. I could have probably sat there all day. It was so peaceful, but extremely hot. Like it had to have been 50 degrees. It was the kind of hot where you aren't even hungry, you just have to force yourself to eat. It felt awful, but the city looked beautiful. I caught a ride up to a temple not many tourists have set their eyes on. It's about 22km away from the city, sitting high atop one of the mountains. It's called Vbeshver Ji Temple. It's carved right into a huge rock that is part of the mountain. You need to hunch over and suck-in as you shuffle through the narrow tunnel. You also need a flashlight or a cellphone, it is extremely dark when you enter. You walk a few steps and enter a small dome in the rock, where you pray to Suryanarayana (as that is the Sunday God and it was Sunday), then you bend down for a man to place tilak, red sandalwood paste, on your forehead and put prasad, a handful of sweet little round ball things that taste just like sugar, in your hand. You then shimmy out the other way, finding a way to fit through the small crevice carved out as an exit. Although it sounds claustrophobic, it was a very calming moment to pray in there. I still am not sure how to pray, I think I just get nervous in the moment, but I do always take a few minutes to be thankful for everything in my life, and then watch others around me pray silently. It really is fascinating how others like to communicate with their gods.
After returning to the city, I needed rest. The heat, plus my non-existant hunger and constant thirst was really starting to take over. I sat on the rooftop of the Dream Heaven Guesthouse, and let the wind cool me down. I spent the rest of the afternoon checking out other sites around Udaipur, including the Bara Bazaar, where I bought one of the very stylish anklet bracelets that all the women wear here. They are super cute and jingle when you walk around.
Before heading to the train, I caught a 7:00pm show at the Bagore Ki Haveli, where I watched performances of traditional Rajasthani dances, music ensembles and puppet shows. The show ended with a lady dancing with 10 pots on her head while stepping on broken glass. Everyone gave a standing ovation. How could you not?
I boarded the train at 10:15pm. I ran into a friend I had had chai with the previous day. We talked about his family life and how his parents are on a serious hunt to find him a wife. I could tell he was unhappy about it. He said he had been in love twice but the first, his family would have never approved of because she wasn't in the same caste, and the second, just didn't work out. I can't imagine not being able to marry for love. Love can't be forced. It has to come natural. Your gut has to tell you it's real and you have to feel it in every inch of your body.
I thought about this a lot on the train ride home. I know it is obviously part of the culture here in India, but for some reason it stills saddens me. Maybe one day more people will open their minds to the possibility of real love...
As I practised my Hindi, the train trekked into the dark of night. I let out a sigh, relieved that I had followed that tiny voice inside me screaming 'Udaipur'. Now I will never have to regret making one of the best decisions of my entire trip.