Days have been quick in Udaipur. Our arrival was matching the beginning of Diwali, the festival of light and fire crackers in India. For them, it is like Christmas for us, so we decided to celebrate our own Diwali our own way. This was gathering all of us again in Udaipur and doing a Secret Santa on the 30th of October, the big night of the 5 days that Diwali lasts.
There was so many known people around that was almost like being at home. There was that familiarity that you miss so much and known faces were all it was taken to get it back.
Udaipur is known as the Venice of India, because of it lakes. I remember more the painted elephant I saw walking around and the amount of group activities I got to do there. But the sights to the lakes from any rooftop were always there. Tourism was eclipsed by the celebration of Diwali. But we got to visit a cool temple (one of the few I have seen) and see the sunset in the Monsoon Palace (where I lost my half silver new brazalet. Not happy about it.)
Diwali took all my attention and I realised how the houses were getting painted, the floors in the streets, rangolas everywhere, paintings, flowers, decorations… By the day of Diwali, there were little ceramic lamps with oil lightening the streets and houses and the women were looking amazingly pretty. A man invited us to his house the night before Diwali and there we went Maritza and me, ready to check out how Diwali was from the inside. It wasn’t disappointing at all, but I have to say we felt completely out of place. The old couple that invited us started preparing their “little private temple” and doing kind of offerings. Then, they prayed, asked us to take pictures of them and then, invited us to do the same. Guided by them we did, they took a few pictures of us and then we all sat for sweets and a roses juice that was like drinking flowers. We got into an awkward conversation with the nephew of the couple about traditions and new generations and the difference between Western and Eastern tradition. We could feel how different we were from each other.
Back to the hostel, we lived a very special night of noise and light, of celebration. Diwali was here and fire crackers had to be all over the place. I got some, got also one of these flying lamps that due to my skills ended up on some roof top lower that ours and almost causes a fire. That’s me. But happy Diwali! Beers and fire crackers kept going the night until really late. We meant to go out and feel even more unsafe than we were in the hostel, but didn’t happen; we got caught in so much fun… Flares were handed continuously and one of the most hilarious moments took place (along with my failed flying lamp): Nicolo threw the flare he had just used and one of the guys from the hostel went nuts about how dangerous that was, as somebody could step on that hot stick. I could not stop laughing because after people walking around fire crackers, kids throwing fire crackers, guests in the hostel worried about some situations that we lived on the roof top with some fireworks, etc… that seemed to him the dangerous thing!!!! This is India.
Anyways, the night ended up in our room, doing our Secret Santa: Nicolo got me and I got Marta. I got an amazing ayurvedic massage, that I took next day. It consisted of a full body massage, quite invasive and intimate. It felt amazing to feel relaxed and full of oil that smelled wonderfully after so many days looking like crap and being sweaty all the time. My skin was soft. I was felt pretty and lovely after so much time. But, getting back to our night, everybody loved their present and the night kept going with some music from Nicolo after we all felt slept. Magical and full of feelings, as we all knew we would separate quite quickly and it was the end of our combo team.
The next day was an attempt to visit Ranakpur, a Jainist temple I had been recommended a lot. It was a failure due to our late night, but I got my massage done and in the evening I went to a Rajasthani show of dance and puppets that was amazing. The colours and the movements really kept me entertained for a while, almost hypnotised.
By the first of November our last day in Udaipur came and an early morning with the goal of going to Ranakpur was followed by the first goodbye. I said bye to Nicolo and Elia. I really said goodbye to Elia, although I hope to see him soon, somewhere in Europe. I only got to say see you soon to Nicolo as I will meet him in a couple of weeks after organising him the trip from Calcutta to the South of India. Marta, Francisco or François and me got to Ranakpur and the amazing Fort that were waiting for us. Unbelievable and quite a shame we were in a rush as I had to take the train in the evening to re-iniciate my solo travelling and also because I have been invited to a wedding by Samir and I need to get back to Jaipur for that. It’s ok as I need to make time to meet Nicolo in the South and give him time for visiting Agra, Varanasi and Calcutta. And I couldn’t say no to the wedding invitation as much as I was unsure about getting back to Jaipur because I know I will regret to miss the experience.
Travelling with this super cool group has made me think a lot. I didn’t have time for myself, for processing, for writing…However, things were going slower than when I am alone. Also, the things and local experiences I have when alone, you don’t have them in a group: you have a different perspective as a tourist and get a different taste. The fact of having the same faces around you, to count on them on every single thing, to get to truly know a person and see how a groups of so different people combine themselves to form what they conform… That’s unique and a very different perspective of travelling alone. People are making my way. Local people, foreign people…Some of them have touched my heart and truly move me. And that is why I haven’t been sad on this goodbye. I hate goodbyes, I cry, I feel them, I just get sad and upset every time. Not this time, though. I have understood that these 4 people have crossed my way to make it better and they won’t go away that easily. I want to believe we will keep in touch and that in some point we will see each other again, because I really want it to be that way. I can’t be sad this time because meeting them has been by pure chance but that instant that they have crossed my path, they have change the whole thing and have brought so many good things to me…I feel grateful for that. I feel grateful for the opportunity that they have given me to meet them, to get to know them and how wonderful they are. To see the magical combination of their personalities and how they complement each other. I strongly believe I will see them again, all of them!
As for my next destination: Bundi! Completely out f the blue, it has appeared in my plans. I just chose it because it is on the way to Jaipur and I don’t want to spend more time in Udaipur or in Jaipur and also because I have heard of it around here. It really wasn’t in my mind. But the ‘no plans’ things allow me to do this kind of things and go with the flow…or with your heart…or with your guts…or with that thing inside me that tells me to keep going and looks for the adventure anywhere. This time alone, here I go!