a new year and rajasthani cheer

I could probably stay in Udaipur for another month quite happily, sitting up on the roof overlooking the river and drinking banana lassis and eating Bhang cookies, but sadly all good things must come to an end so I am heading off tonight deeper into Rajasthan.

Village viewsNew Year’s Day was a very lazy day for pretty much all of us, it involved a very prolonged breakfast up on the terrace and much lazing about. In the evening a few of us decided that it was about time to go and watch one of the screenings of Octopussy, a good portion of which was filmed in the town so pretty much every other restaurant has a television showing the film at 7pm. The one we chose even had little wooden doors enclosing the TV proudly naming it the ‘Octopussy Temple’…there was a comedy photo begging to be taken there! I have to say it’s not the best James bond film ever but it was quite exciting watching the scenes around the lake and up at the Monsoon palace. I forget just how wonderfully sexist and unPC those films were, especially the ones from the late 70s early 80s. in one classic scene 007 hands a wad of rupees he’s just won gambling to his Indian counterpart and says grinning, “there, that should keep you in curries for a while!”

Horse ridingYesterday I decided to something vaguely productive with at least half of my day and got up early to go horse riding outside of the town for three hours. Typically, as is always the case, I get given the naughtiest horse. Chandra, I was told was a very good horse but, in the words of our guide, “he has the mind of a child!” He was a lovely horse but had an amusing habit of trying to chase things if they went past fastest than him; buffalo, motorbikes, cows… Still it was a peaceful morning Tiger lakeriding through the country villages, visiting an animal orphanage and finally ending up at a beautiful place called Tiger lake far north of Udaipur. The villages are small dusty tracks lined with flat topped white or pale pink houses, tiny Hindu temples, sugar cane and crop fields with buffalo peering suspiciously over the tops of stone walls and women in vividly coloured shawls carrying huge water pans on their heads or working in the fields. The men, it seemed, were mainly sitting around in the the little chai stalls reading newspapers, no doubt doing the essential ‘thinking’ to keep the wheels of village life turning.

Last night we went to a gorgeous terrace restaurant on the other side of the lake for dinner and were a decided motley crew between us we had a landscape gardener, ex army recruit, two students, a fire eater, a musician and a guy who works for Cirque Du Soleil. I know I frequently mention this but it is one of the things I love about travelling you just meet so many more interesting people than you would in the same week to week routine at home. I even got to practice my French the other day with a couple in the guesthouse and discovered that I haven’t forgotten as much of it as I thought although it did confirm my suspicions that I can only really speak another language well if i’m a bit tipsy.

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