Continued from Jodhpur Day 2 Part 1.
This is the period correct 18th century bar in my hotel’s sister hotel. It was not really open for business during lunch hour. When I went to Indique to order food, I asked if I could have lunch in the bar since it was so cool. Their only condition was that I order a beer, which I more than happily accepted.
Butter chicken shows up, and it’s bone in. It’s strange how sometimes the meat in the curry comes with bone in, and sometimes, not. It’s at random for not just the restaurants, but also the dishes. Like a good American, I prefer not bone in.
Lunch was delicious, and the bar was a good venue. What the bar lacked was other customers. It’s already boring eating alone, but when there’s not a soul around at all, it puts a dent in the dining experience despite the good food and good venue.
This is not a super touristy town, and on top of that, it’s the start of the low season. I was thinking about how it might be great to travel during the middle tourist season so you are around other travelers, but there aren’t so many of them where the lines become impossibly long. But, then I’d probably just complain about all the other people in line and the higher prices that I’ll pay everywhere.
I knocked on OC’s door after lunch and she opened the door dressed in an Indian outfit from head to toe….I know we were supposed to dress up nicely for the fancy restaurant, but full Indian outfit I did not expect. I went to my room to get changed into my best possible outfit, a wrinkled shirt, jeans, and the one pair of shoes that I’ve been wearing everyday. Can’t take me anywhere.
We walked out of our hotel, called a rickshaw over, negotiated a price, and then the rickshaw driver pointed to OC’s sandals. She just had a wardrobe malfunction. One of her $3 locally bought sandal had the sole partially separate.
Well, no worries. Literally 10 feet from where we were standing was a whole row of shoe repairmen!! Our rickshaw driver directed us to his favorite shoe repairman. OC stood on one leg like an Asian American Indian flamingo.
To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When it was time to finish the repair work for OC’s shoe, the shoe guy picked it up, and hammered the shit out of it to bond the sole to the rest of the shoe. Then just for good measure, he put a short nail right at the front tip of the shoe. OC’s shoe was now bejeweled, with a head of a nail, and only in the right shoe. I think this shoe guy would probably make an excellent engineer, but a very poor artist. I am glad it wasn’t my shoe he put a nail on, I’d be upset because I am so anal about my things.
Our driver must love cricket. During our ride to the palace, OC and I found out that we are actually both of Taiwanese descent. There aren’t that many Taiwanese around, and I am always surprised when I meet one on the road. She thought that I was Japanese, because I looked so “artsy”. Her and the whole subcontinent of India are on the same wave length.
And, we were promptly denied entry…It was around 2ish in the afternoon, and the restaurants have closed for lunch. They do not allow casual visitors to sit in the hotel and just drink at the bar. Wish we would have known, because now we’ve got 5 hours to kill. The royal family still lives in part of the palace, so that may partially explain the tight security. That or they just don’t want casual visitors.
This is the museum side entrance. I guess we’ll visit the museum first, and then figure out what we’ll do with the rest of our time. Whatever it is that we end up doing, it won’t be outside because it’s getting hot.
The current head of the royal family. I can’t call him a ruler, because he doesn’t rule over anything. I can’t call him a king, because he’s not a king. Also, does he have a picture of himself on his own hat?
The photo didn’t come out, but Maharaja Umaid Singh, who commissioned the palace, died when he was 44 of appendicitis. All that money, influence, power and he died of something that’s so easily treatable today. I am sure it was treatable back then too.
There was a room of intricate clocks, and I loved this one the most. There was a box above filled with these heavy metal balls that would drop down to a wheel then into a box below and this potential energy powered the clock.
The museum was pretty small. 30 minutes was more than plenty. Now what? OC suggested that we can go hang out at the bar in this other nice hotel just around the corner. Sure. The rickshaw drivers drove a hard bargain because they knew we were stuck at the palace grounds and couldn’t walk anywhere easily to get another rickshaw.
There was a mall next to the hotel with a movie theater. The only movie that we could make was what looked to be a drama, so that was hopeless without being able to understand the language. We decided to have a quick look in the mall instead and the go drink.
After the short visit to the mall, we walked next door to the hotel, which turned out be several hotels all located in the same compound.
I love the Rajasthan style shoes. Maybe of the men here in Rajasthan also wear earrings on both years. They usually wear gold studs that looks like a flower with a ruby in the middle. I think they were pretty cool.
We start drinking our beers, and out of no where, we hear a loud bang from the window right behind OC.
This hotel was pretty dead. It was just me and OC in the entire restaurant and bar area. Eventually, they turned off the AC and it was getting hot. Perhaps they were trying to get us to move on. We got up and headed for the hotel on the left side of the complex. OC said that it’s much nicer and I would be impressed.
I had to go out of the bar and call for a bartender.
For the next few hours, it was just the two of us, alcohol, and deep conversations. This is what Varanasi does to people who have visited it. You start talking about Varanasi, and then the conversation turns to life and philosophy. Everyone should visit the really shitty place that is Varanasi. It’s life changing. I told OC that I saw a floating corpse, and she was excited to see a photo of it. Everyone else I spoke with about the floating corpse in Varanasi wanted to see one but weren’t as lucky as me. That’s if you can consider seeing a floating corpse as being lucky…
The clock finally ticks past 7, and we wasted no time to make our way into Umaid Bhawan Palace! I was a little peeved that they denied us entry earlier. I joked that I should make it a point to go all Varanasi on their restroom floor as a spiteful act.
Right under the cupola. Yeah, this is a very grand hotel. I think there are only 64 rooms, so very exclusive. There were almost no one else in the hotel. The lack of people made it feel sterile. Just about the only other people here were P and D, the older couple from Switzerland from our hotel who we are meeting here. They made it before us and have already looked around and taken their photos.
There’s a nice lounge area in the restroom. I hear this is not so uncommon for a girl’s bathroom. I don’t understand the concept though. Am I just going to wait around here while other guys piss or shit? Do you wait on the sofa and give your friends high fives right after they Varanasi the toilets? Maybe the sofas are for talking about Varanasi while others do Varanasi? I’ve just coined Varanasi as a versatile word. It’s almost as good as the word Fuck.
Finally sat down in the restaurant. I was already a little drunk by this point as I had been drinking for some 5 hours on an empty stomach. I actually stopped myself from drinking more during dinner because I was starting to feel dehydrated from all the alcohol.
We ordered tandoori prawns, chicken korma, and some wild beans to eat family style.
How was the food? Well, I was pretty numbed by all the alcohol. With that said, I really enjoyed the prawn tandoori. It’s not everyday that I have prawn tandoori. The korma was good, but I still prefer the creamier and sweeter style that I’ve had back in Austin(Americanized taste perhaps). The wild beans were really spicy, and that fire masked over much of all the other flavors. It was a nice meal, but I still enjoyed my meal the night I saw Mehrangarh Fort for the first time more. My bill came out to $60, which wasn’t too bad by US standards, and considering that the cheapest rooms here go for $500 a night minimum. I am sure it’ll be a long time before I have another Indian meal that will out price this one.
The best part of dinner for me was actually not the food, or the venue, but the story told by P and D about their adventure to Antarctica. They had boarded a small cruise ship named MV Explorer to visit Antarctica in 2007. The MV Explorer hit an iceberg around midnight and it cracked the hull. They had to abandon ship, and all 80 passengers and the entire crew had to board the lifeboats.
The ship was listing, and the lifeboats couldn’t be lowered easily on the top side. The power for lowering the boats had also been cut. The engineers had to go back down to the compartments flooded with icy cold water and switch the power so that the life boats could be lowered.
Then there’s the problem with the life boats. They were not round, so they were susceptible to capsizing by a wave hitting it from the side. They were also uncovered, so water could just wash over and sink the boat. Of the four life boats, only one had a motor that was working, so three were stuck and unable to maneuver to get away from the sinking ship and to steer to fight the oncoming waves. Small inflatable tender boats had to be used to tow the lifeboats. They were lucky that the usually stormy weather in the area was calm that day. Some 6 hours later, another ship finally came to their rescue. The the MV Explorer eventually did sink like the Titanic.
Two years later, P and D made another attempt to visit Antarctica and were successful this time. They made sure that their ship had covered round lifeboats with working motors. I am always impressed by the fearless older couples who are big time travelers. When I get to be their age, I need to make that my reality.
I had downed close to two liters of water during dinner to fight the heat in my mouth and an alcohol dehydration induced headache. I saw the fan on this last visit to the restroom. In a hotel that does everything right and perfect, I am still reminded that this is India by the way the fan is attached to the ceiling with the big gaping hole.
P and D had hired a car for the whole two weeks that they are in Rajasthan, so they offered to give us all a ride back to the hotel. Awesome!
We entered our hotel and quickly said our goodbyes. OC had a 5am train to catch and I had an early afternoon flight.
Jodhpur, short, sweet, and good people.
To be continued at Udaipur Day 1.