Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The group decided to satay one more day in Udaipur, while I felt it was best to move on and spend a quick day in Jodhpur, the blue city. We would all meet again in Jalsaimer in two days. My bus arrived at five in the morning and I went to the train station to store my bags fro the day and wait for daylight.
It was a foggy cold morning and I walked to a rooftop restaurant to view the magnificent fort and to pass the time until it opened.
Jodhpur was a pleasant city, most houses blue as advertised. The main draw is the Mehrangarh Fort, the towering stone citadel, growing right out of rock crags of the town's main hill. It's an imposing fortress, straight out of middle earth, sure to intimidate raiding armies. In its hundreds of years of use, it was never captured.
My walk up the hill passed the lovely Saswant Thada, a nice tomb. The fort's inside was beautiful, featuring great architecture. The windows with their finely carved lattice coverings were incredible. Included in the admission was one of the greatest audio tours, I'd ever had. It delved into the history, the culture, lifestyle, the changing role of the Rajahputs after the disillusion of the monarchy after Republicanism. The information alone was worth the visit.
The city features a particularly special local style of lassi, the Makhanini lassi, a thick yogurt shake, flavored with sugar, saffron, and cardamon. My first was so good, I ordered a second immediately. My full belly kept me from getting a third.
I planned to visit the other palace, miles out of town, but the stomach problems from the previous day's thali prevented mobility.
A long-haired Indian guy, seeming more native American, stopped on his motorbike and asked me, "American, huh?"
"How'd you'd guess?"
He pointed to my nalgene bottle. "Only Americans carry those around."
We talked a while on the street before angry honkers drove us to change locale. WE jumped on his bike and headed to a small bar and had chai and beedies. He was a music teacher in Goa, who chose to travel during the peak season, which seemed odd to me, but made sense for a relaxed guy like him. His English was perfect: he'd dated an Australian woman for a year.
"Let's go to my sister's house, we can chill out, have chai, listen to some good Indian music.”
"I don't know man, I've had some bad experiences going places with Indians."
"That's fine, you can get nervous if you want, but you will be fine."
We chatted for another hour, his eyes were honest and caring, with the crazy look only reserved for nomadic artists. This man had no malicious intentions; he was just a social soul.
Thy family's flat was modest with two rooms and a nice rooftop. I met his cousins and his aunt, all lovely and sat around listening to relaxing, Indian inspired world beat music. We swapped stories into dinner time, where I cautiously nibbled on some gobi aloo and chapati. He shared an interesting compilation of articles on transcendental meditation and the Beatles flirtation with Eastern culture. Before he rode to the train station, he burned me a few CD's of the music.
I left glowing. Besides that fort, there was little to see, but Rajahstan was taking my heart. Finally an Indian approached me on the street who was not after my money, only worldly company.