Friday, June 19, 2009

From Mumbai to Dreamy उदैपुर Udaipur

Liz arrived in Mumbai six hours later than scheduled, as her flight was delayed and re-routed through Abu Dhabi airport. After our joyful reunion at New Bengal (a stuffy and claustrophobic hotel in Colaba), we booked the next bus (16 hours) north-east to Rajastan State.
During our remaining hours in Mumbai, we took a taxi tour to Chowpatty Beach for lunch and our driver decided to take the "scenic" route through the city's slums. It was heartbreaking to see people living in such squalor. We grew silent as we passed through this area, my throat and chest constricted with sadness.

Currently I'm reading a beautifully written and fascinating book, called "Shantaram." It's a true story about a man who escapes from an Australian prison to Bombay, living as a slum-dweller. In the opening chapter he details his first impression of this depressing place.

"As the many motorways became one, and the trees disappeared, clutched at my heart with talons of shame. Like brown and black dunes, the acres of slums rolled away from the roadside, and met the horizon with dirty heat-haze mirages. The miserable shelters were patched together from rags, scraps of plastic and paper, reed mats and bamboo sticks... It seemed impossible that a modern airport, full of prosperous and purposeful travellers, was only kilometers away from those crushed and cindered dreams..." Although important to see how those less fortunate live, we were relieved to board the bus to Udaipur. Like I've said before, traveling has helped me evaluate my life, providing an entirely new perspective. In witnessing extreme poverty first-hand, I'm reminded of the countless blessings I've been given in this life....

This fancy hotel was just next door to our guesthouse. We made use of the pool facility, sipping cool watermelon juice, reading and sunbathing.
Udaipur is known as the "romantic city of lakes" but unfortunately when we visited the lake was dry. This is the view from our "Lake-side" guesthouse, just imagine glistening water where you see a herd of sheep, next to children and buffalo wading.
Royal burial grounds, bathing and cremation site.