Sometimes you just can’t forget about a specific place, or a city. Not because of the food, or the atmosphere or the city itself. But because of the memories you create there. Udaipur is the highlight of my journey during India. Well, there are a lot of reasons behind it.
In this writing I won’t be talking about the best café to go or the price of the food or the history of the city. I will write my heart down and you are very free to read or to leave!
It was the third destination of our journey. We arrived there early in the morning and after settling into we were lucky to witness the sunrise. Well, in the monsoon season, it is not likely to see sunsets or sunrises but you got to be happy with what you have. The sky was so beautiful as if the air and the lake were calling on us.
After having a fresh shower and all dressed up, we split into groups and were ready to discover what’s hidden in the ‘’City of Lakes.’’ Me and my friend decided to discover the religious side first and headed to “Jagdish Temple.” When we reached there they had been doing their daily rituals. Waking the GOD up and worshipping him in their own way. I was happy to witness such a different yet beautiful tradition and I lost myself to the clapping. I was happy to see so many happy and blessed people around me. After they were finished, we went to the front to bless us (or maybe that was what I wanted to believe) with a dark red paint and marked it right between our eyebrows. I actually liked having it and looking like one of them. They gave us piece of sweet cooked-rice to swallow and we did as we were told. But we were not ready to drink the “holy” water from that woman’s palm.
We also discovered the architecture from the outside with the help of a “stranger.” That guy also recommended us to visit one of the biggest palaces in India a.k.a. the biggest one in the region Rajasthan. It was huge and a bit complicated to discover alone. With our guide next to us, we discover the luxury side of India.
All seemed like a fairytale at first but it all had happened back in time. What caught my attention the most was the horse figure with an elephant’s trunk on his face. There is a reason behind it: to deceive the opponents’ elephants so they would think it is also elephant and they wouldn’t attack it. I like the idea personally. If you know what I really mean.
We were mesmerized of the palace and its charming view, not only of the lake but also of the whole Udaipur. And I never regretted to chose this way to discover on the first day. Since it took us so long to discover the palace, we didn’t have much time of the day. We met others and decided to have dinner. While trying to find any place to eat, we found ourselves being lost in the streets of Udaipur and we liked it. We took some natural pictures of others and the houses. We ended up having ‘’tikka masala” or some really spicy noodles or soup with “chapati”. No lie; all delicious, and all tongues were burning!
Who says who can’t have a beautiful sunset in monsoon season. Well, ME! But somehow what I witnessed on that evening was beyond fairytale, it was just like Utopia. The warmth of the colors and the reflection of everything on the lake..
That was the moment I realized that this city would be very but very special for me. Because it was the firsts of most of the thing: having brothers for a lifetime and sharing the first ‘h(u)sh’ as if sharing your privacy. Maybe it was the night where I rediscovered how much in love I am with dancing and let my dearest brother know about it. That was the night the four of us had gathered for the beginning of a story: FOREVER. Well, until the others wanted to have a meeting about the project and we (all high) walked there by the lake with our minds still hanging on our rooftop haha!
With a great (comparing to other hostels) breakfast and no-indian-chai, I made with myself a group right before another friend wanted to join. We were supposed to interview women in India and enlighten them about “Gender Equality and Woman Empowerment.”
It was not bad for the first day and after interviewing two women and one man, we ran into other group and joined them for lunch. There were lots of markets/open restaurants right across “Pichola Lake.” The view was great, so were the food. They were really tasty and cheap. We randomly interviewed two girls at the age of ours and then split the group again.
On the advice of one of our friends, we were ‘tuktuking’ our way to “Shilpgram.” It is a village that has shows and welcomes sales people from a certain time of the year. We entered the village and walked around to see the attraction. It hadn’t started yet so we decided to look around longer. We met a man behind the stand who does “NAILART.” Well, I know you would think of the same I did when I saw the writing. But he literally draws on a paper with his own NAIL. The very sharp edge of a nail. We watched him doing it and he drew us an elephant. The beautiful one.
After that we went to another place and met another man who was also doing nail-art but this time the way we know it. I let him draw me an elephant and my friend got a peacock. I also bought a real painting from that old man. According to him it was the last piece of his father’s work and he was no longer with us.. Without doubt I immediately fell for the piece and had it. Wisdom, love and power; elephant, camel and horse!
We watched a beautiful traditional dance shows in the village, I was the happiest somehow. I felt the peace once in awhile and found the pure love in the eyes of a mother of two sons. After the show we drove back to our hostels and the first thing I did was to check the rooftop, since it was the beginning of everything. Everything some would remember for a lifetime. The rooftop, with its all stillness and loneliness, yet the love inside of it.
On our next day of discovery, we found ourselves top of the mountains and really far from hostel. It was raining on and off. But we got used to it, eventually. After walking miles and miles, we reached the place where we could finally see the lake and a nice view above.
But we got stuck there and there weren’t any vehicles to take us back home. Meanwhile we enjoyed sharing our corns with monkeys and played with them. With the kindness of strangers (again) we succeeded to go down again. That midnight the rooftop was looking as lonely as I was.
It was another day in Udaipur, where we happened to know that it was a festival day, in other words: Jagannath Rath Yatra. This huge festival in Udaipur that takes place once in a year is to celebrate the Lord Jagannath. A lot of people from all around Udaipur gather to be a part of it. It was pretty crowded in a variety of colors. We tried to observe the way they celebrate it and tried our best to be one of them. So we decided to act like locals, I shot the gun many times in the air(fake ones), danced with Indian kids and grabbed a free ice cream.
I laughed a lot and I didn’t remember when was the last time I had a real, huge laugh coming from the bottom of my heart. We celebrated with them and became one of them. Which felt good instead of weird. During the festival I decided to buy some traditional pants for myself and after looking in the same shop for the million times, I bought two that I really liked. Golden elephant figures on the black and red pants.
While returning to hostel me and girls decided to rent a scooter which we wanted to do from the beginning. So we did, we rented a scooter for 24 hours and I was willing to let them carry me, on the back. When I drove with the boys to have a gas for their scooter, we had a call from other girls about their small crash. They weren’t hurt but it meant I was the only one who had to drive, yet I didn’t know how to..
After dropping one of our friends back to the hostel, I learnt how to drive in two seconds and with two scooters and four explorers, we started the best day of our lives. We were driving recklessly because we didn’t know where to go. The signals in Udaipur shut down and the networks were not working. We drove and drove. With happiness, craziness, hope and the sake of Adventure! It was thundering and I could barely my front while driving. It was getting dark and we were all getting wet, completely. We didn’t stop! We kept driving because we knew the best stories are made from the unexpected and crazy situations. We were shouting with happiness and following our hearts where it led us. After a long drive, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. One of us made a joke “Maybe we are in Jaipur now.” No we weren’t, but we didn’t know where we were exactly. No lights, no sings, no vehicles and no MAN. We panicked for a second until we saw a human-being approaching us. We were joking with him for awhile about the roads and Jaipur and so on, but since we were afraid not being able to go back again, we asked the guy how to go to the center and he (again) as a stranger helped us like all Indians do!
We reached the hostel all wet and amped, at that moment I felt like being a family with six members. I was the happiest girl on EARTH. God knows why! That night was different than other nights. Since it was raining a lot, I preferred not to go up in the rooftop for once. But I found myself sitting there with someone ‘special’ next to me, who was ready to make me believe in something, something indescribable.. But we were not alone. We were four of us from the group. But his heart was beating on mine. For the honor of the last night in Udaipur, I inhaled the air and the lake of this city, knowing that this rooftop was and has always been the beginning of the beginnings. The start of something new, start