Sunday, October 31, 2010

Daal, Pakora, Kingfisher - yum!

Well I am not leaving Udaipur starving. As always I have had the best food, and the best time in Udaipur. My hotel, Mewar Haveli has some fine food, and always cold Kingfisher, both at fabulous rates, and with the most wonderful views of the city and the lake. I have eaten daal, naan, and my favorite snack - papad masala washed down with an ice cold Kingfisher. I also went to dinner with my friend Manish to Hotel Natural View, where we had papad and pakora, then bringal (eggplant) and tomato, yummy egg curry, and of course Kingfisher again! Delicious food and great company. I met Manish on my first trip to India and we have remained friends. His cousins have the hotel where I now stay, and I am always welcomed and looked after, and feel safe, secure and happy travelling alone. Manish also showed me some back ways around the city to avoid touts and street boys hassling and asking stupid questions.

Yesterday I picked up my rings which were made here at Silver Art Gallery by Bharat and Pramod Soni using my mum's, nana's and great aunt's diamonds, and what a beautiful job they did. I also was naughty and bought some beautiful gold earrings which I have covetted for the past 2 trips. They are divine, based on a traditional Rajashtani tribal design and given it was an auspicious day on the Hindu calendar for such purchases, how could I refuse. These guys make the most beautiful jewellery and given I handed over the family jewellery stock, they are also very trustworthy, lovely people. They are now my jewellers of choice anywhere in the world. And their family make the best chai too!

The afternoon was spent on the lake, visiting Jag Mandir, an island on the lake. The first time I have been there as this year was a good monsoon and the lake is full, unlike my first trip in 2004 when I walked across the lake, and when boat travel was difficult to say the least. On my return, walking through the city palace complex, I came upon the flag ceremony, with much goose stepping, stompping, pomp and ceremony. It was totally bizarre and a little funny, complete with bag pipes, and handsome Mewari men in uniform.

So today I am off to Bombay - always a little sad to say goodbye to beautiful Udaipur - my past life home, but always exciting to go to Bombay! Namaste.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So much to laugh at, so many reasons to cry

Yesterday while driving from monument to monument it occurred to me that there are many amusing aspects of life in India. I was waiting at the lights (yes amazing they stop) and there was this guy going from car to car with an assortment of goods one might find in a $2 shop. What made me laugh out loud was that he had one of those synthetic feather duster type things and I wondered who would be driving along and think "oh just what I (or my wife) needs". And many other things - I have had a number of laughs at life - something that often happens to me in India.

It is also normal to go through a whole gamit of emotions in a day, even an hour. Life is also cheap and hard, some sights just make you sad, the poverty, homelessness, helplessness of many. I have often wondered in the last two days as I leave my hotel early, with people sleeping on the streets, totally destitute, their stories, who knows. But yesterday I actually wondered whether someone was dead or alive. I really don't know.

And today I visited the Gandhi Smitri, Birla house, the location of his assasination. It was really powerful and made me reflect on what a truely amazing, unique soul he was. Many stories bought a tear to my eye.

Tonight I move on from Delhi, I've really enjoyed my time. I've mastered the metro, navigated the city by foot, rickshaw, bus and train, been infuriated by the touts, and humbled by the kindness of people. So Udaipur here I come, the place of my past life ancestral home I feel.

The only things missing thus far are the urchins with their chapati hands, and someone throwing thrice into a sentence. But now I leave on a train, so anything is possible!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Delhi I am warming to you.............

I did have a KL post but my mac wouldn't work with the hotel's wifi. Anyway here I am in Delhi. After another fab flight with Air Asia, I arrived in Delhi. The airport looks amazing, very swish and glam. My pick up however never eventuated (as I suspected would occur), nevertheless I grabbed a prepaid taxi voucher and headed out to be greeted by a range of dodgy looking vehicles with even dodgier drivers. Mine smelt of the drink and drove like it too. I swore many times and had sore eyelids from clamping them shut many more as we sped into town with little regard for anyone or anything else. Of course he had no idea where we were going but suggested he take me to another hotel which was met with much protest from moi. I did notice between potential smashes that the whole place looked remarkably clean. Anyway we finally found it and I was soon in my room sipping a vodca (vodka + Limca - my fav non alco Indian drink). Oh and I also picked up the latest Indian Vogue and Elle so had a lovely night, despite being quite exhausted flicking through the Indian fashion mags!

Sleep was minimal - woke up at all hours and many times so got up early and headed to New Delhi Railway Station to try and book a confirmed train to Mysore or Bangalore to no avail, but got a few tips on navigating the train system from the guy.

I then headed to Connaught Place and Scindia House to book my city sights tour for tomorrow, then had coffee and chatted to some guys from Srinagar, before heading on a self guided shopping tour of Janpath, the Tibetan markets and up market designer boutiques in Khan Market. I then navigated the metro all on my own (well with the help of a few people - it's good) taking the ladies carriage and making it back to my hotel thought Main Bazaar without drama.

So I am warming to Delhi, and tomorrow will do some old sites, and Wednesday, before leaving for Udaipur. Oh and I will pick up my reading glasses I'm having made for $10.50 tomorrow - bargain - my Chanel frames, but $10 - it's crazy! An am loving the shopping, might try and find designer Manish Arora's store tomorrow arvo though he is a little out of my price range. Though I helped a girl pick a Divali frock today and she suggested I buy one - we were in another favorite designers store - all my Indian mags coming to life, but I didn't have anyone to buy me one, and I think her mum was not keen on forking out for me (her dress was about $500 - $600 AUDs).

Anyway it was a great day and tomorrow I will take the metro again - let's hope it is another fun packed Delhi day!

Friday, October 22, 2010

One day to go............

After making it through the coldest Melbourne winter for some time, and today enjoying some long awaited Melbourne warmth, I'm off to the Sub Continent tomorrow. Well actually a night in KL first, then India here I come, for a good dose of travel, shopping, yoga and a wedding to cap it off - Delhi, Udaipur, Mumbai, Panaji (Goa) and Mysore. Six and a half weeks of adventure, fun and no work!!

Practice this week was challenging, after an awesome workshop last week with Peter Sanson from NZ. The workshop felt like a bit of a turning point for me, it's been a hard slog rehabbing my knee, but like all things patience pays off. And lots of practice, support and encouragement. So I'm feeling really positive about the months ahead, and in particular practice in India, though with few expectations except maybe shedding a few kilos which never seems hard in India, even totally enjoying food.

So goodbye Melbourne for the next 6.5 weeks. Enjoy Spring - see you in summer!