It was a mistake of mine to profess my love for momo’s, for Kathmandu, for India because every blog I write I have fallen in love with something/someplace new.
Behind most things in India seems to be a love story or romantic sentiment… when you get over all the over throwing of emperors by close family members, massacres and long-term imprisonment that is.
Udaipur is no different, nicknamed the Venice of India, we arrived here from the slight disenchantment of Agra city (of course apart from the beautifully heartbreaking Taj and Fort). We were ready for the India we had all been dreaming of, we found this in the lakes and galant architecture of Udaipur, with a little help from our quick-witted Rickshaw driver. Looking out from our Rooftop view it was hard to not feel a romantic glimmer creep in, a strange contrast to my usual happy single self. Not enough however to make the offers of chai or free massage from random men on the street seem appealing.
The city itself is built around natural and man-made lakes with grand palaces and gardens or even simple terraces built upon them, the streets lend themselves to leather stalls and beautiful traditional Rajasthani dress shops and the food markets add a burst of colour only fresh fruit and veg can bring.
We’ve walked through the old tombs where the grass and bushes with their shocking pink flowers, that provide a welcome break from stale grey concrete, are slowly taking back the land it once predominated. A sense of calm from the outside traffic, when you’re not shrieking from standing on another thistle.
Beautiful gardens designed out of a father’s love, walked around palaces and forts of emperors past and just ambled aimlessly through the streets having our own love affair with the city.
One of the things I’ve been most blown away by in India is its ability to surprise you, sometimes over this past few weeks I’ve felt like I’m not in India at all. Perhaps down to my naivety of what to expect but I feel I’m finally settling into travelling, looking forward to each night train to wake up in a new place, discover a new ‘favourite’, have new experiences I never knew I wanted to have and meet people I never dreamed I’d get to meet.
Sat in what I can only presume was the living room of a local Udaipur woman having our henna done it all kind of hit me. You’re welcomed in, not just to people’s homes but their lives, their culture, their country with the widest open arms and often the biggest smile. Sure you may feel like the only times you speak are to say, “my names Bekki”, “from England”, “I work in a hospital”, “no I’m not married”, “I don’t need a Rickshaw, thank you”, “yes maybe later”, but how often at home would a stranger take time out of their day just to smile and make small talk with you.
I realised in Udaipur how to feel humble again, how rude and closed off life sometimes makes us, how I know it’s made me. These people absorbing you into their lives, devouring your responses with such enthusiasm and good humour that I rarely afford to close friends and family.
And that’s it really isn’t it. Sat there on that hard woven mat in a brightly painted room, listening to a 4year old making rude noises to show off, giggling behind a curtain while smells of curry drift into an incensed room as a bubbly, angel of a woman decorated our limbs with henna all the while chatting and laughing introducing us to various family members and friends as they pop in and out, that’s what it’s all for, this travelling malarkey. It teaches us to be human again, what it all means, teaching us to fit in, to wrap ourselves around others lives like tetras pieces, each our own shape carefully placed but in a chaotic but somehow sensical pattern.
Pieces of the puzzle, just learning to fit.