Waking up in Udaipur was peaceful. It was nice to not have to wake and leave. We got up early though because our two new buddies needed to get to the train station early to get tickets to Delhi for later in the day. I stayed back to organize a bit and Chuckles went with them to get their tickets. The plan was for us to hang during the day and then they would train to Delhi and we would car to Pushkar. It was nice to have new friends to travel with and explore for the day.
While they were away I went out to watch the city wake up. It was awesome.
First up was this awesome car. Most of the town is suspended in a cloud of dust. So this car had to have been there for quite some time to get stuck like this.
I ventured down to the water to see kids getting ready for school and some clothes being washed. The city really is gorgeous. Especially at this hour.
Down by the water
Next, I doubled back to the other side of the city. The cows really are everywhere and quite persistent in their wants and desires. While I was taking the picture below I heard this guttural grunt behind me and it was a massive bull trying to pass. It was a percussive sound, like a drum with a tighter CRACK. Never heard that one before. So I yielded to his way.
The Bullied Scooter
Working back to the hotel, I met up with the tribe for some breakfast on the rooftop. Post breakfast it was off to explore the city, we had a few hours before everyone was due to shove off to the next stop. Us to Pushkar and them to Delhi.
In Udaipur there is a massive City Palace. It’s always interesting to explore palaces. Man the lives of the rich… Anyway I am not going to bore with a bunch of staid shots. Palaces are palaces. But we did have a few cool experiences.
One, we broke the rules. You are supposed to pay for a “camera ticket” if you have a camera and are going to use it. Well some of the tribe got one but two didn’t. Well we got caught and this guy was not nice. One of the tribe took a picture and the guard asked for the camera ticket. Uh oh. It was a little scary as he dragged her away to get kicked out. After some baksheesh it was taken care of. But the shot below caught the scene.
Shaken but not stirred we soldiered on exploring. We came to another guard who could care less. I thought it fitting that he was roped off like the object of desire. Kinda like a do not disturb sign for him as he was texting.
The view of Udaipur from the palace was amazing. The town had a very Mediterranean feel to it from this angle. Its interesting how that changes when you go down below.
One thing that is striking about India and that keeps coming around, is texture. Everything has a layered and underpinned feeling to it. Like you can strip back the surface and find something underneath. Walking by this Angel caught my eye.
On the way out of the palace we walked through one of the courtyards where there clearly had been an event. Hanging from all of the trees were these balls of flowers. Still fresh and unwilted. They were awesome. We wondered how they made balls of flowers, so tried to get a close inspection.
Out of the palace it was back to the market and we had to start thinking about the trip to Pushkar. The markets and lanes around these attractions are fascinating. Because it’s a mix of touristy hawkers and also legitimate market commerce for locals.
The woman and child below caught my eye. She had such a claustered expression as she was holding her child close. I am not sure of her status but she was begging and no one would approach her.
Many of the merchants work off of mobile carts. With their goods loaded, which range from bananas to a full rolling kitten with boiling pots, they work the strip.
The alleyways and side streets are the real gems though. I love how compact the scooters and other vehicles are to be able to careen through the side streets.
Cars are tiny here for that reason as well. I am sure that the “mini-vans”, emphasis on the “mini”, run off the same 50cc engine that seems to power everything from rickshaws, to scooters, to generators, to sugar cane grinders (more on that later).
These guys caught my eye as well.
Back to the hotel it was time to sort our goodbyes as part of the tribe was heading to Delhi and we were heading to Pushkar. But as we settled into the last meal together it was clear we weren’t ready to part. So as is often the case on the road, we decided to stay together for the next stop Pushkar.
But now it’s complicated. We have to deal with our driver, Billu. Sorry but Billu really does chafe. I have tried everything with this man and I am pretty good with cross cultural exchanges. Nothing softens him but money. So while we have paid for the car and his time, we knew there was going to be a fight to get our two companions in the car with us to head to Pushkar. How much was it going to cost? Ugh.
With gusto, Chuckles tried to handle the situation, but Billu met his approach with the yielding of a concrete wall. Round 2, our travel companions jumped in to spar with Billu. Yielding some elementary Hindi she battled to negotiate. Nope not working Billu is too strong. All weapons are failing us. Ugh. Chuckles went back in for round three, trying to emotionally connect with the plight while expertly finding common ground and was mildly successful… we had gotten to a deal. Now why the heck do we have to fight so hard with the driver we are paying, is beyond me. But we did and he won. Grr. Mildly annoyed we are packed tight in the car and we were off to Pushkar.
If I must empathize with Billu, I would say I do feel his pain on the packed car. We have a total of 5 people in the size of a subcompact. And we aren’t small folks. Billu was pissed the whole time.
People really do love when they spot me in the back of the car. They kinda combust into a smile.
Take a picture
This was one the only time we drove through a chunk of night. And if it’s scary during the day. It’s freaking The Shining at night. Imagine 65mph, no shocks, faint headlights, cows, pigs, birds, scooters, tractors, speed bumps, kids, camels, bicycles, milk trucks, semis, all trying to make a two lane highway a 4 lane highway -and all are determined to not use their brakes. Dang, really not doing this again.
As usual the ride was interesting to take in the countryside a people. Our car suddenly kept cutting off. Like taking it’s last breaths. No. Please no. Luckily it seemed timed with the sprouting of a town along the way and we stopped for repairs. This scene was awesome. Fluorescent stick lamps lit the shops and the texture of the place was crazy. These men were making it go. There was arc welding, the pounding of metal into submission, parts on walls and generally the “get er done” of auto mechanics. The scene below is one of my favorites of the trip.
Back in the car with it respirating normally, we rolled onward to Pushkar. Again trusting the lonely planet was a good idea, but it did manage to piss Billu off. The driver expects to be your pimp in India. You buy something he gets a cut, you go somewhere he gets a cut, you eat something, better fix him a plate too. Its crazy. In essence they think they own you, and your decisions have to go through them. So when I made this hotel reservation, he scolded me because he “knew them” and would have gotten a better deal. Uh huh. Really. What he wanted was to get a cut and maybe a free room. You know, all of this is fine and all, but man don’t be such a punk about it. And he’s crossing my line of respect. I really don’t want to go to Indian jail for shaking my driver….
Arriving in Pushkar was a relief. Tired and brow beaten by Billu, it was off to a quick dinner on the roof top with a fire to warm us.
Post dinner it was just sleep. Ugh Billu sucks. But hopefully Pushkar will be fun.