Around 10am every morning, Rosie's cleaning lady, Ajju, comes to the apartment to clean the bathroom and make the bed (not necessary but definitely appreciated). Let me tell you about Ajju. She is probably four feet and maybe nine inches (makes me feel like a giant) and is the cutest, littlest, sweetest ball of energy I've ever met. I want to put her in my pocket. She knows about five words in English (which is far more than I know in Hindi) so communicating is a bit challenging but that doesn't stop her. She still talks and talks as if we fully understand each other. She is just a wonderful human being who loves to hug and kiss. When we were first introduced, she said "hi, I'm Ajju. Ajju. Ajju. Ajju". So I followed and said, "hi, I'm Kim. Kim. Kim. Kim". Doesn't have the same ring to it but we both still laughed.
Today we were going on a tuk-tuk tour of Udaipur. We've really enjoyed doing this in a few other cities because it's a great way to see a lot and it's easy to hop in and out. Plus, the tuk-tuk drivers are trained to provide a little history and if we want to visit some "non-tourist" attractions they tend to have some suggestions.
First up, we walked around the spice and vegetable markets. The produce in India is so much smaller than the produce in America. It seems as though three eggplants here equal the size of one eggplant there. And the same goes for garlic and onions. Not sure what that means but I can't imagine it's a good thing.
And I love how they display everything. Spices, coffees and local snacks are usually piled up in massive mountains in the wide open air, fruits and vegetables are either on a cart or on the ground and peppers seem to be in life size straw bags filled to the brim. Nothing is in a pre-packaged container like we are used to at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods or Ralphs. Neither one I am saying is better or worse, just different.
And these three friends are just watching it all...
Next up was super random. We went to the Bhartiya Lok Kala Mandal, which is a cultural institution engaged in studying folk art, culture, songs and festivals of Rajasthan. It was set up in 1952 (and I don't think it's been updated since) and has a museum that exhibits collections of folk articles like rural-dresses, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls, folk musical instruments, folk deities and paintings. There was a fifteen minute puppet show that was hilarious. A little creepy in fact. But it sure provided us with a few unexpected laughs. No one clapped afterwards which was awkward but maybe that's a cultural thing. Who knows.
After the puppet show, we went to Sahelion Ki Bari, otherwise known as the Princess Gardens (although the English translation is "Garden of Maids"). This small, splendid, quaint garden, which was built in 1710, was laid out for a group of forty-eight young women attendants who accompanied a princess to Udaipur as part of her dowry. It is filled with beautiful, well-maintained fountains (water shortages permitting), kiosks, marble elephants and a delightful lotus pool.
Following the gardens, we headed to Fateh Sagar Lake, which is the second artificial lake of Udaipur, the first being Jaisamand. Fateh Sagar Lake was built in 1678 and is embellished by three small islands that can all be reached by taking a boat ride. It was extremely quiet so Vinny and I took a nice stroll up and down along the water to soak in the tranquility that this pear-shaped lake had to offer.
Last and definitely least on our tuk-tuk tour was a boat ride to Nehru Park, which is in the middle of Fateh Sagar Lake. It is a garden that comprises of a boat-shaped restaurant and a small zoo for children. However, it seemed to be during their off season since everything was under renovation. The fountains weren't filled with water, a lot of the gardens were being worked on and the sculptures all had construction tape around them. There were still a few pretty areas but that's about it. Our tuk-tuk driver had to pick up some kids from school so I think he needed somewhere to drop us off for an hour. Although the park wasn't ideal, he could have definitely picked a much worse location. At least we got a nice boat ride in and some tourists who wanted Vinny to take their photo as well as a photo with him.
It was about 4:30pm when we arrived back at our AirBnB. We had two things we wanted to accomplish in the next hour. One, get cappuccino's from our favorite new spot, Jaiwana Bistro Lounge and two, buy tickets to take a sunset boat ride along Lake Pichola. I know, we are such overachievers sometimes. When we got to the little rundown kiosk to pre-pay for the boat ride around 4:45pm, they said we would have to board around 5pm if we wanted a good seat. But wait, this means we don't have time for cappuccinos. Oh no, what do we do? Do we forego the coffee or do we forego the one experience that everyone says we have to do while in Udaipur? I wish someone could have somehow captured this moment. We were so flustered that we might not be able to do both. Seriously Kim and Vinny? After about three minutes we realized how foolish we were being. Of course we can do both. If that's our biggest issue on this trip, hallelujah. It's funny how when you have very little worries the smallest things become unbearable. Pathetic, we know.
Good thing we didn't have to choose in the long run because the sunset ride sure was magnificent. The weather was perfect. This doesn't need much of an explanation as our photos say it all.
However, we did meet a fascinating couple. She's from New Zealand, he's from Iceland, her parents live in Australia, they've been to all fifty US states and are now traveling throughout Rajasthan for fifteen days. One city per day. To make this even more intense, they are with their eight month year old son. And they are driving themselves. Excuse my French but hell no. You couldn't pay me enough money to get behind a wheel in this country. Good for them. They are much cooler than we are. Very motivating too that they don't let their child weigh them down. He goes wherever they go. I love random encounters like this. Plus, they speak five languages between the two of them. Which reminds me of a joke someone I used to work with told me. What do you call a person who speaks three language? Trilingual. What do you call a person who speaks two language? Bilingual. What do you call a person who speaks one language? American. HA!
That night, we went to a wonderful restaurant for dinner called Charcoal. It had stunning views of the lake, tasty food and most importantly, delicious dessert. Thanks to my friend Ashley's recommendation, I tried Gulab Jamun, which is a soft, spongy, drenched in syrup, melt in your mouth, traditional homemade Indian sweet. We complimented this with vanilla ice cream and Charcoal's very own caramel sauce. Bullseye. Hit the spot.
I sure will be having sweet dreams tonight knowing my sweet tooth has been satisfied:)