Chapter 2: Udaipur
and its shimmering lakes.
Udaipur was exactly what I needed after a few crazy days in Mumbai. This rather small city of Rajasthan is a real charmer with its calm, serene atmosphere, its shiny lakes, mountain views and breathtaking sunsets. On my first morning wandering its colourful alleys, I knew I would stay there longer than anticipated. After seeing Mumbai, I had a strong feeling that my first two weeks in India would be hectic and slightly stressful, and I figured Udaipur would be different: a little haven where I could recharge my batteries. I decided to extend my stay and remain in Udaipur for almost 4 days, making sure I could relax and experience all the things this beautiful place has to offer.
I met great folks in the guest house I was staying at, connecting to people from all around the world but also to the lovely indian people that were hosting me and had fun stories to tell. I took the time to walk around the city and discover its hidden gems: shops, places and people. I went horse riding in the surrounding hills, watched traditional Rajasthani puppet and dance shows, ate delicious curries whilst gazing at the sunsets and even treated myself to a little swim in the rooftop swimming pool of one of the city's most beautiful hotels.
The best sunsets
I ever did see.
When I was in Udaipur, I met a lovely young couple that initiated me to the best ritual of them all. Each evening, they would head to a little rooftop café around 5:30pm to eat some pitta bread with hummus (not very indian I know, but still delicious) and patiently wait for the sky to turn into the most beautiful pastel show. When the sun had gone, they would head to another place to eat dinner and watch the bright lights of the buildings reflect on the now dark blue lake. I happened to be following this ritual with them on my first night in Udaipur, and that's probably when I fell in love with this magical city.
The bright colours all around also helped, obviously.
Now let's talk about monkeys. Firstly, I'm going to assume that if you are reading this, you know me a little, even if only through the internet, and that you already know I am slightly (that's a lie) obsessed with animals. Especially exotic creatures we don't find here in Europe. One of the things that really excited me about my trip to faraway India was the prospect of seeing all the amazing animals I had never seen before: monkeys, tigers, boas, elephants, sharks (while scuba diving) and so on...Well, let me tell you now, my jungle book fantasy did not happen. The only creatures I spotted were monkeys but that was more than enough to make me jump for excitement. I'll admit it, I adore monkeys. They're a fascinating bunch. It probably has to do with the fact that they are very human-like in their behaviour and are both adorable (especially the baby monkeys! *swoon*) and smart. They can also be quite scary. Yes, I have a scary story to share, but it happened in Bharatpur, so you will have to wait until Chapter 5 to hear it!
everywhere you look.
In hindsight, I can now say that Udaipur was my favourite place to visit in Rajasthan, allowing me to slowly but surely discover indian culture. It was calm, peaceful, beautiful but still pretty exciting and full of life. I could take photographs without feeling like I was intruding too much, I could talk to people without feeling tense and I could walk around and enjoy some time on my own, reflecting on the things of life (as one does).