Sunday, 26 February 2012

Udaipur

Udaipur is a really nice little town. It's relatively clean with the usual amount of temples and holy cows. I arrived at 5am, 3 hotels that I checked were fully booked, and I ended up in a nice hotel in the center with a really good room and price, the only problem was that it wasn't advertised anywhere, and so nobody came there, and I was pretty much alone. And it's usually in the hotels where you meet people to hang out with. I wasn't totally bored, I got myself busy with a bunch of activities, like walked all around the city, went into the city palace which was the most beautiful palace I've ever seen. It's so nice in here that usually they ask for a ticket at the entrance to the building, or at some gate, and you could walk pretty far inside for free before reaching that gate.
I took a boat ride in the lake, and did an ayurvedic massage. This time it was a guy. I wanted a male masseuse in Pushkar, where I also did a massage, but they told me it’s a professional place, a male masseuse for guys and female for girls. Here it wasn’t a problem. It was mostly rubbing, not really a work on muscles, but it was relaxing :) He gave me a head massage too with oil and I really needed to take a shower afterwards. For 2 days there was no hot water in the guest house, and I didn’t take a shower, this day I gave up on the idea of a hot shower, but a new problem arose … there was no water at all! The last 2 days, they just told me, wait 5 minutes, 10, minutes, 20 minutes, and of course nothing would happen. But I know, this is India, if you want anything done, you have to be present and supervise the situation until desired result. So after I heard to wait 20 minutes, I said that I’m not moving anywhere until I have water. I went with them to check the tank which turned out to be empty, then to find a water machine, fill up the tank, turn the heater on, took them into my room to see if there is water or no water. Finally I was able to shower :) It’s a little bit annoying because if you ask for something to be done, and they say it will be done, 90% chance it won’t be :S
I also took a cooking class which was amazing. It was 4 hours for $10 (with all ingredients included), we were 3 people and we must have made at least 10 different dishes. We were so full! We all came to the class very hungry, but couldn't finish even a third of what we made. The woman was very interesting. She told us a little bit about her caste. Her husband died, and she was not allowed to go out of the house for a whole year. For the first 45 days she was supposed to sit in the corner while all the women of the village came and cried from 9-5, and only after 5 she could get up and eat something. She's also not allowed to get remarried, so long story short, after a year of not working, and no husband to support her, she run out of money. Her caste is not allowed to work in dirty jobs, but that's all she knew how to do, and she worked doing laundry illegally. Somehow she came up with an idea to do cooking classes, and since then they got famous, and now she has more money than she knows what to do with. Her English is really funny (pretty much all Indian English). They just use order form. You come; You sit; You open fridge, you see, you use; You bucket, hand wash :)  There were mice running around the kitchen, but we didn't mind, they were cute and little, besides mice are holy, so you're not supposed to kill them. They are the transportation of Ganesh (a god, who is btw an elephant). The story of Ganesh is: there was a god who wanted a son, somehow she created one. She went into bath and told him to watch the door so that nobody will come in. Meanwhile Shiva (one of the main gods) came, and wanted to go into the bath. The son didn't allow for it. He didn't know who Shiva is, and Shiva didn't know who that boy is, so he chopped off his head. When the wife came out of the shower, she started to cry that Shiva killed her son. Shiva ordered everybody to go into the forest and to bring the head of the first animal they see. They found a sleeping elephant, chopped his head off. Shiva took the head and attached it to the boy’s body, and now you have a human figure with an elephant head. Very cute :) It's one of the favorite gods in India. He's the god of happiness and good luck. Usually when somebody is getting married, a picture of Ganesh along with the date is painted outside the house near the entrance. My question is though, if Shiva is so strong and put dead elephant's head on the dead body of the boy, why couldn't he attach the original head?? And while I'm on the subject, I asked around why the cow is holy, and was given answers because it's the mode of transportation of Shiva and also because it's like a mother, giving milk, yogurt, cheese.
There is a temple somewhere, where there are 3000 holy rats/mice are worshiped :) I didn't go there :)
Here is a recipe of chai. I drink it every day, it's really really good :)
Serving 1 glass (250 ml)
- 1 glass of milk
- 1/4 glass of water
- 2 heaped tablespoons of sugar (ok girls, you could put not heaped :) )
- 1 tablespoon of loose leaf black tea - such as Darjeeling. Important - loose tea, not tea bag !!!
- 2 pieces of cardamom
- 4 black peppercorns
- fingernail of ginger. I personally like more ginger
- optional ... add dry basil and nutmeg

Grind all the spices together, until completely crashed.
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to boil, and simmer for 4 minutes. The chai should start to turn a coffee brown color. (The longer you boil it, the stronger it will be. I personally like it stronger). Pour the tea into a glass through a strainer.

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- In Udaipur most of the restaurants located on the top floor of the buildings, and with 4-5 stories to walk up every time you want to check out the view or the menu, it's quite a work out! Most of the hallways and doorways are very narrow and low, I think it's meant for little and short Indians :)
- I needed to do laundry. I asked if the washing is done by a washing machine, and was reassured that it definitely was! Yeah, right. I think my clothes were cleaner before I gave them for a wash! Not only they were still dirty, but they smelled like they lied in a garbage tank for a day, they also had dirty lines from where they were hung! BUT!!! They were nicely folded! :))
- Most people don't understand connected sentences: hot water = ok; no electricity = ok. Is there hot water when there is no electricity = deer in headlights. she goes to mumbai = ??? she go mumbai = ok! :)
- I've seen a funny commercial on tv. A proper family (parents and 2 kids) are getting into the car, the radio starts playing a catchy song "I wanna fu*&%%&" .... naaahhhh ... better watch it for yourself :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXwpvGjPDJ0
- James Bond movie – Octopussy was shot in Udaipur. It was more of a comedy than an action movie though :) And it plays every night at almost every restaurant in the city.
- I saw new way of counting! You use every bend of your finger as 1 (and there are 3 bends in each finger), so now in each hand you can count till 15, and not till 5! :)
- Went to a tourist agency to ask about horseback riding. The agent as always was half listening to me, half on the phone, half on two phones. Then for sure he started to have some personal calls, while I'm sitting there. Finally I got up to go, he put his phone down. I said what kind of customer service is this, are you talking on the phone or with me. He then hung up his 2 phones, and said that only with me. I said that I'm no longer interested in the tour, and he offered me a private tour on his bike for free! No thanks! ... It's so weird that they really fight for tourist money, so much hassling I didn't see in my life, yet when they get tourists in their shop, they completely ignore them!!
- I'm thinking about the things that Indians do ... ALL THE TIME ... and why it’s rude. For example when they burp and spit and eat with open mouth? Who decided that it's rude. After all, sometimes when I'm eating by myself when nobody can hear me, I can eat with my mouth open, or if we eat pomegranate/mandarin, we also spit out the seeds, or when we clean our noses, it makes sound too, or is it ok because it's a necessity? But then what about burping? Children burp, so it's a necessity too? Other things however I'm completely agreeing with, for example to eat with your hands. I wouldn't do it somewhere where I can't wash my hands, but in all restaurants there are wash basins, and when you eat with your hands, you can feel the food more, so you're adding another sense into your eating, which enriches the experience. We eat chicken fingers with our hands, why not all the food? Or also when using the washroom. You know that I haven't seen any toilet paper in any of the washrooms in here. Tourists always buy toilet paper roll and carrying it with them everywhere :) The campaign is starting in North America about the use of bidets. If you get your fingers dirty, you don't just wipe it off and think it's clean, you wash it with soap and water. So why not do it down there? The only problem is that there is no soap ! So ok, they would wash it, but then they serve the food with these hands, and there are no utensils! Everything is handled with hands!
- This is a wedding season, and I was invited to yet another wedding of the guesthouse owner's brother. This was the 7th (and the last) day of the wedding, which is the reception day. The couple sits on the stage by themselves. Everybody comes to congratulate them and take a picture, then eat and go home. There was a band playing, but nobody is allowed to dance (another respect issue). There was absolutely no affection between the couple, they never touched each other, or barely spoke to each other ... again, something you don't do in public. And the wife didn't look happy at all, rather her eyes were red, and it almost seem that she's gonna cry at any moment.
The owner of the guest house said that Indian people don't usually travel because they pay for this expensive wedding. The guests don't give money, only presents, and that's not even all of them. The couple has to take a loan and then repay all life! And this was a love marriage, imagine arranged marriage, where you don't even like your chosen partner, and you have to pay all your life for that!
Got another 15 hour night bus to Mumbai. I had no idea where to go. Had to wait at some agency, they didn't speak any English, but reassured me that the bus will come. Then somebody came on the bike to take me to the bus, took my ticket, gave me another ticket. But it was the correct bus ( I still have no idea how things work in here! ). It just stopped once, and then didn't make any more stops, and I desperately needed to go to the washroom. I didn't do very smart thing, because in Udaipur, I really wanted to try pomegranate tea (which wasn't good), then I was treated to chai in the guest house, then their friend's restaurant, then at the agency, and I needed to go badly!!! I asked the driver to stop, but there are no stops on the way, but they told me to wait a little bit because in some time there is a forest and I could go there. This "forest" turned out to be some half chewed up bush :) But they were very accommodating, gave me shoes, and turned off all the lights in the bus :) Good thing that I went because I talked to them for a little bit, and turns out that the bus goes 45 kms from where I need to be! Mumbai is big, 16 million people, and 45 kms was still in the city! But they made a few phone calls, woke me up in the middle of the night, and transferred me to another bus :)

pix are here: https://picasaweb.google.com/100036016632387453128/Udaipur#

3 comments:

  1. That's what i call "roughing it", you go girl :)

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    Replies
    1. Hey, I have an idea, add a plastic bottle to that roll of toilet paper...u know, for the long bus ride :))

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    2. haha :)) I don't think it works for us girls :))

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