I now know for sure that I should have been born in the era when nobility ruled, and I of course would have been a queen (!) of some erstwhile province, living in a rambling palace and painting with a view of the landscape seen from an arched window which would have been crafted with exquisite reliefs and had stained glass panes through which the sun rays could have danced patterns at my feet!
Well these profound thoughts come from my recent wanderings! On the day after Diwali I got the itch to travel and so Surendran and I went off impromptu to Udaipur, with computers and favourite books in tow, to seep ourselves with some "time away togetherness" and visual stimulus. We were fortunate to get a great deal at the Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace where you are transported to the old world charm and the nicest hospitality that is warm and embracing without being in your face or intrusive.
A room with a view took on a whole new meaning as we gazed across the lake at the city as it seduced us in its various avatars whilst the sun played with the landscape only to finally hid away; so that the lights of the city appeared like glow worm and fire-flies speckling the horizon with their magic!
We walked through the memories of the dead at the site of the cenotaphs known to the locals as Ahar, that held such peace that I could have sat there under the cupolas all day and some more! As the over grown grass swayed in the breeze and I sat on the cool of the marble steps with an unflattering hat on my head, I wondered whether the spirit of the departed knew that even in death their presence was felt so strongly by those who came to visit their city.
The City Palace Museum boasts of some glorious miniature paintings which held me captive in stunned silence whilst the flow of Indian tourists babbled about me cameras flashing, and the newly weds held hands boldly as the mehendi on the girl's hands signified the authenticity of her status to all.
We discovered the delights of Savage Garden (!), a retreat for foreigners dying to eat non-Indian food and desis like us with a need to have non-oily or overly spiced Indian khanna that weighs you down in the heat of a Rajasthan afternoon. The local are lovely people who exude a charm and regality that is refreshingly different from the loudness one seems to expect from street life in India.
Images of Udaipur crowd my head as I sit back in Baroda and I have begun, as we all do, to sort out "the favourites" and list them in my memories data-base ! The lady dressed in pink at the haveli, the largest cenotaph with the rising cupola, the tiger-hunt miniature painting, the riot of colour in the bazaar, the landscape of the city, the view from the lawns of the hotel....gosh I feel like an excited kid with pretty postcards from which I must pick only one!
Go visit this beautiful city and if you have then I am sure that it's magic beckons you back. I know I will revisit again someday, and till then I go back there in my dreams, only in my dreams I am of course a Queen !