Friday, August 1, 2008


Since I had time before the wedding on the second day, I explored the center of Udaipur a little.

I decided to walk at random, without looking at the map. I saved the City Palace - the main tourist attraction - for later. The road leading to the City Palace was filled with overpriced shops selling fabrics, needlework, leather notebooks and other items. The prices were outrageous, not even worth negotiating, so I left. I ended up wandering into the non-touristy area, where I got hassled less.

There was a main market area where the tiny shops sold things that locals would need - cooking pots and saris and things. I turned into an alley with mostly just residences, and immediately the cacophony of the main road - the honking, barking, shouting and overall din - faded and it was almost quiet. I wandered through these back streets for a while, until I found a main street again. I found a man selling leather notebooks, and he actually quoted me a very reasonable price, so I sat on his floor and looked at many until I found one I wanted. He said his name was Assam. He was very nice, and was probably the first shopkeeper who didn't talk my ear off, hurl random products in front of me and pressure me heavily to buy at a wildly inflated price. I bought a small notebook. Thinking about it later, I wished I had bought more, just because he was nice.

I realized that in the non-tourist area, I never saw a hotel, nor a shop selling water. This thought made me thirsty, and I wondered where I was. I kept wandering, and sure enough, the appearance of a store selling water signalled my entry into a more heavily trafficked area where tourists might be. I still had no idea where I was, so I took a rickshaw to the City Palace.

The City Palace was great - so much better than I thought it would be. It was huge, with tons of rooms displaying artwork of gods, or photos of British people who had governed in Udaipuir, or lists of former Indian rulers and the dates of their rule and their many accomplishments.

The rooms of the palace were fantastically beautiful, made of marble with intricately carved walls and decorative windows with colored glass. Some rooms were deocrated entirely with colored and colorless pieces mirror.

There was a group of four young Indian men that kept overlapping with me along the way. They stared at me at first, and then eventually approached me for "one picture, just one!" Which of course was at least 6 pictures, with each of them in different combinations and with all of their cameras. Only mildly tolerant of this in the first place, I frowned when they leaned on my shoulder to pose, and when one tried to put his arm around my shoulder, I pushed him away and scolded him. I got very tired of the whole thing but finally they finished and I scowled as they left. I am not a nice person.

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