Friday, 14 December, 2018
So this is the final post.
I’m sitting in Mumbai Airport, which incidentally is easily the largest and most modern I have seen. It’s a fantastic space, with a huge variety of quality shops – both indigenous and high-end high street – and, as far as the local produce is concerned, is of high quality and is relatively cheap. Some comfort for a browser who is sitting writing this at 11.30pm local time, with time to kill before my flight to Manchester at 2.45am.
Today was my tourist day, so I made a bee-line for the City Palace. It’s old, huge, sits on the side of the lake, and dominates the local landscape. It was £2 admission; not quite free, but tremendous value…go to my FB page for some of the photos. No particular surprises, other than very narrow passageways between rooms. A mix of internal small rooms and much larger external courtyards. All beautiful, and of course enhanced by the natural light.
A word about the climate. The average day temperature is around 75F – say 22C. And not a breeze, unless you’re at a hilltop temple. So it’s absolutely perfect for strolling, or sitting and watching the world go by. So a great place for a winter break. There’s one drawback, however, and that’s the haze. It’s patchy: on any day a part of the city can be shrouded in haze, and the rest totally clear. So it can affect breathing – lots of the local population wear masks. I was never affected, but it’s worth knowing.
So what do I make of my 6 day stay in this corner of India? Accepting it’s a small amount of time in a small corner of a vast country, I really felt I gained a true experience of living there, in a flat, rather than in the protected and rather cossetted environment of a standard hotel. I loved that. So now, on the way home, when I think of the past 6 days, I think of tuk tuks, horns, colour, saris, temples, and roadside stalls (thousands of them). I remember the local shops, with cheap and exceptional product. For example, today I bought an exquisite hand painted minature of an elephant on paper, for £2.50. And of course, I remember the food. All restaurants are immaculately clean, with great rooftop views, and the curries are absolutely tremendous. Whatever I’ve experienced in the UK – and they’ve always been top notch for me – just cannot compare with everything I’ve eaten this week. Glorious. If you’re a curry fan, this is Nirvana.
Above all though, like a golden thread running through my week, I remember a completely relaxed way of life. I never saw anyone shouting; I never saw an argument; amazingly, I never saw an accident! (Other than my own, as today I fell flat on my face not watching where I was going…!). I was met with nothing but happy faces, and a willingness to help, from everyone. The key word is kindness. Udaipur exudes it. Just go.