India, Days 37-38: Udaipur

Almost 6 weeks have gone by, and so this may be our last post (or, at least, the penultimate post) from India! We are looking forward to getting home, but we are sad to see our adventure wind down, especially after the past two days.

Thursday night we took an overnight train from Jaipur to Udaipur. It was our first overnight train, so we weren’t quite sure what it would be like. Would we be fighting large Indian families for sleeping space? Sleeping in shifts so our bags wouldn’t get stolen as we slept? Nope, none of that. To our surprise, it actually went better than expected. We were in an air-conditioned car, were given clean sheets and a pillow with our sleeping bunk, and didn’t get hassled or bothered by anyone. Although we both woke up a lot throughout the night (I wouldn’t say the bunks are super comfy), I actually slept the entire ride and felt surprisingly rested.

We arrived in Udaipur at about 6:30am, and although the driver who was supposed to pick us up was not there, we hopped in a taxi and were quickly on our way. We are staying about 10 minutes outside of Udaipur, in a beautiful B&B/homestay called Mountain Ridge. When we first arrived, no one responded to the ringing doorbell or our knocks, except for a small black dog that eventually showed up. Just as we were beginning to wonder whether it was in fact the dog we had been emailing with about our reservation, the household woke up and we were welcomed inside.

Mountain Ridge was built by a British ex-pat, Piers, who first moved to India in 1999 after his mother had a debilitating stroke. He decided he could find better care for his mother, at a much better price, in India than in Britain. Once in India, he hired a Nepalese man (I am blanking on his name, so let’s call him Sam) and his wife to care for his mother. His mother died in 2005, just after he finished building Mountain Ridge. Sam also unfortunately passed away two years ago, leaving his wife and three young kids. By that time, Piers considered them all to be family, and so he committed to caring for them. They opened the home as a homestay, where various members of the family live and work (Sam’s wife, Sam’s brother Dil and his wife, etc). Piers pays for Sam’s kids, as well as a local boy who lives with them, to attend a good school in Udaipur. As a result, the kids speak at least 3 languages (Nepalese, Hindi, and English), which is pretty impressive. The black dog, it turns out, belongs to Piers, and goes by the illustrious name of Pee Machine. Nope, not joking. We have made fast friends with Pee Machine, who slept under our bed last night.

Mountain Ridge is set among rolling green hills and fields, just outside a small village. The home is beautifully designed, with lots of balconies and windows that open to let in the breeze. It’s the monsoon season now, so everything is very green. It’s such a peaceful place, all we did yesterday was relax and enjoy it. We met a really nice young British/Welsh couple who was also staying there and an American woman about our age who is in India working on a PhD dissertation in nutritional science. We had a really lovely breakfast and lunch with them, with lots of lively discussion about politics, Bollywood films, the British and American health care systems, and a lot in between. The British/Welsh couple told a hilarious story about their encounter with a hijra (google it if you want) on an overnight train, but you’ll have to get us to tell you about it, as it’s not entirely blog-appropriate.

In the afternoon, when the kids (Raj, Ravi, Sirzana, and Bandana) came home from school, we played and interacted with them. Ravi took us on a short hike to a hill nearby where we had a beautiful view over Udaipur. On our hike, we saw a langur monkey (black face, long tail, much bigger than the monkeys we have seen previously!) and a gigantic boa constrictor snake skin. No actual snakes, thank goodness. That evening, we had a delicious Indian/Nepalese meal with Piers and watched a movie with the family using their new projector (which Piers just brought back from Britain).

Today we are exploring Udaipur itself, including the city palace (Udaipur claims to have the longest serving royal dynasty in the world) and an historic haveli (traditional Rajasthani mansion). Tonight we have tickets for a traditional Rajasthani dance performance. Tomorrow we are planning a day trip to a fort and Jain temple in the region, followed by a morning of hiking outside of Udaipur on Monday before getting on an overnight train to Delhi on Monday night. We then have Tuesday and Wednesday in Delhi, and get on a plane bound for home at 3am on Thursday. I feel like I should end with two cliches that both apply, in different ways, to our trip: “All good things must come to an end” (this amazing, once-in-a-life-time adventure, which we will never forget) and “This too shall pass” (wearing the same smelly clothes for 6 weeks, getting food poisoning, being hassled everywhere we go). :) See many of you soon!

2 Responses to “India, Days 37-38: Udaipur”

  1. Alison Brooks

    Abby sends her love to Pee Machine. Just received my postcard. Unbelievably beautiful! Can’t wait to see your photos. Enjoy your last few days. Relax and reflect on what an amazing life adventure it has been. Safe travels, and we look forward to hearing from you stateside.
    Love, ALison and Matt

  2. Tony

    Enjoy your last few days! See you soon.