Udaipur, Rajasthan, India – We were up relatively early and as we were walking though town we were befriended by a ten year old boy. Now when I say befriended we didn’t befriend him – he latched onto us and followed us around all morning offering to take us to his art school. The kid had a great personality – good fun to talk to, plus he spoke about five different languages, including Japanese (most likely as a result of the high tourist visitation rate to Udiapur). We finally consented to go see the art school where they were painting the miniature paintings Udiapur is know for. After he showed us around the inevitable occurred; we were offered a few select paintings to purchase. No way – hence the lad’s motives. When we exited the school without buying anything we also exited sans young school boy.
Udiapur is a city that thrives on tourism so everyone – shop keepers, hoteliers, etc. are all very forward – screaming at you to come into their shop and but their stuff. It got to the point where it was so obnoxious that I was screaming back at the shopkeepers if they bitched when I’d just look and not buy anything. I did manage to price the silver box I’d gotten in Bhuj for Rs250. Udiapur price – Rs600. Tie dyed fabric for Sarah, Bhuj price – Rs50. Udiapur price – Rs175. We made our way to the City Palace in the centre of town and after walking around this marginally impressive building Rich and I left the downtown area and walked to the Saheliyon ki Bari, which is a beautiful set of gardens with fountains interspersed throughout the grounds. It turns out this used to be the place the maharastra would entertain his maids of honour. The place did exude the feeling of the type of place you’d have a black tie Debutante party.
En route back to the city we got to see one of the rickshaws dropping off little girls off at their homes after school. Now a rickshaw only holds three people in the back and maybe one up front in a pinch. Add any backpacks and you’ve reached max density. The rickshaw I spotted had no less than twenty five school shoulder bags strapped in a fan-like fashion to the outside rear of the vehicle. That means that the corresponding number of little Indian girls should be inside that rickshaw. Unbelievable – the kids were absolutely packed inside the thing and when it stopped to drop them off a small child would pop out of the rickshaw, partially of their own accord and partially by the release of pressure from the inside. The girl grabbed her bag off the back and headed inside as the rickshaw sped down the street. This could have something to do with the reason Indians have no concept of personal space – they experience the sardine can effect early on so it doesn’t bother them.
We walked around the city some more and ended our walking tour at the boat jetty for our tour around the lake. Our boat pulled away and we got to view the city from the water (not much change). The boat banked to the port side and we were circling the opulent Lake Palace Hotel, which sits on its own at the centre of the lake. Boring. The boat continued its turn and after glancing at the Udiapur City Palace our tour ended. I think I’ve lost interest in Udiapur for the moment.