Asia | India | Rajasthan | Udaipur – Where everybody knows your name
I have to start asking myself what the hell’s going on as I find myself scurrying through the streets of Udaipur with my head firmly down making sure I have no eye contact with any of the locals. How had things come to this? 2 days ago I as happy, relaxed, in paradise, well paradise compared to most of the rest of the country. Now I was a virtual hostage in my hotel.
I’ll tell you what happened. Small town mentality happened.
I got off the station at Udaipur after a horrible journey of nearly 50 hours from Hampi, which involved bus, rickshaw and train in any variations. The last leg of which was an aggravatingly slow and hot journey from Ahmedebad. The train finally pulled in at sunset where I expected to be set upon by all manner of touts, but this turned out to be my quietest arrival in an Indian City, touch wood.
Wandered out and got a rickshaw to drive me to Dream Heaven Guest House which the book made sound pretty good, not least because it was on the other side of the river, which from my experience in Hampi was definitely a plus.
Now, Udaipur by sunset is a beautiful place. Gorgeous, romantic looking buildings, flanked by havelis, palaces and temples. The lake topped all this off with its palace in the middle. I knew I was going to like this place. And the streets were clean!!!!!!!!!
Got to the hotel., very nice. Clean, with nice rooms, and after wandering round a bit, I found one with a view of the lake. Yes!!!!
Things were definitely looking up.
Decided to wander round a bit and get my bearings. As soon as I left the hotel I was set upon by the guy who owned the restaurant opposite, coz he wanted me to come and eat there, or try his massage, and he was good because, and then I had to look at it, he had a book filled with comments from other travelers that had been there. Ugh!!!! So what I thought to myself!!
And he had a friend who was a rickshaw -wallah. Quelle surprise!!!! If I wanted to see anywhere he’d be around. I’d think about it, and off I continued.
Hmmm… looked like there was another festival going on. People banging drums, throwing paint, and dancing, the normal really. Everyone looked really friendly, but not in that creepy way Id come to expect where e/one stares out you.
I asked for directions, and the guy obviously thought this was his cue to attach himself to me. He was pretty ice though, an art student, little did I know tat every young guy in Udaipur was an art student, and would want me to see(for see read buy) his paintings.
so he showed me around a bit and took me to see this amazing view of the Lake Palace, then wanted to go for tea, or chai. At this point I was trying to politely get rid of him. Ended up promising to come and see his school the next day.
Then set off to do some more exploring. Definitely my kind of city. Windy streets, nice small shops, lots of bookshops, not too much rubbish, and great views. What more did a girl need?
Got to get the recipe for aubergine tomato from the cook at the guesthouse. Totally lush!!!!
Get up the next afternoon, eventually, totally knackered after 2 nights of no sleep on Indian public transport where there is no concept of personal space or sound. Left the guesthouse to be pounced upon by Raju, the restaurant owner who had obviously been lying in wait. I was hungry so I allowed him to appropriate myself. The food was great, but then he started going on about how he needed a website to market the place, so we ended up doing a deal, in exchange for some massages, Id set up a website for him.
*Quick timeout. What the hell is non-alcoholic Becks? they’re selling it in this Internet cafe. That stuff is rank even with alcohol in it, I shudder to think what its like w/out*
So spent the next couple of days having great massages before tackling the website. Now, he wanted me to do it at an Internet cafe of his choosing so he could see what I was doing. Big mistake, I’ve never used such a slow connection in all my life, and what should have taken 20 minutes ended up taking 2 1/2 hrs, but at least he was happy.
The men here are more persistent than most, e/one wants to talk, or go for chai. Then I met a friendly face, a guy who’d been in the Internet cafe the night before. He showed me the way to the bookshop and whilst talking found a mutual interest in Hindi Film. Big mistake. Now I don’t want to sound racist, and already I do, but in the book “Are you experienced” where he goes, I couldn’t be bothered to talk to any Indians, this is exactly how you s/times feel. You classify it as them and you. I’ve never done this before in all my months of travelling and it is a real eye-opener for me. I mean this country is making me positively xenophobic.
This guy proceeded to attach h/self to me for the next 2 days. I mean its nice to have company for a while, but when people expect you to spend every minute of everyday with them it gets a bit wearing. And so does the fact that the reason you don’t want to go for ANOTHER drink with them is because you don’t really trust them. AAAhhhh, Could it just not be because I don’t want to, because you’re bugging me, and making unwarranted suppositions about myself and my character considering you’ve known me for less than 24 hours. Okay, venting over.
So then the next day, I’m wandering around town chatting to another friend when he sees me, and calls me to come over to his shop to chat. now, I’m with a friend on my way out to dinner, so I tell him I’ll see him tomorrow.
Then later on I’m going to meet my friend and he sees me, anyway to cut a long story short we descend into a slanging match in the middle of Udaipur with all the shopkeepers gleefully looking on. The problem being I wouldn’t let him give me a massage, because I said I was having treatments with the web guy, but he knew that I didn’t have one that day, so I resented what I felt to be his spying. E/one in this place knows e/one else’s business. Its totally infuriating!!!!!!!
So I stormed off back to the hotel vengefully deciding to never speak to anymore locals, because e/time I did, s/thing like this happened. A sentiment which was wholly endorsed by all the other travelers at my hotel. It seems really bad to generalize like this but all the Indians I meet in India seem to be either after your money or just out to harass you, and I can personally do w/out the hassle.