Writing from: Jaisalmer Fort, the day before camel safari.
Bundi. A little place with a big fort in the middle of dusty desert Rajastan (see my map for as much more accurate idea). We rumbled into Bundi a bit disillusioned, feeling the Daffy Duck dollar signs in the eyes of Pushkar’s pushy flower-wielding priests and relentless touts and shopkeepers (“Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me! MADAM! MADAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM! You want colddrinkwaterinternetsaripshminacigarettespecialcigarettetoiletroll?”).
It all got a bit much as waves of Lonely Planet must-do tourists rolled in. So we rolled out, in the company of Jorg (Indian internet does not let me do to dots above the O, so add them yourself), an antique-hunter from North Germany who knows everyone, and Tito, a Catalonian Barcelonian classical musician (?!) over here to learn sitar and English all at once.
I fell a bit in love with Bundi, as when we sat down to our first meal the menu told me calmly “In roof don’t left anything (monkey)”. Well, who wouldn’t love a place when a line like that is served up with your aubergine curry?
No time for lots of words sooooo… Reasons to love Bundi:
The tiny bats that clung to the outside of the mosquito net of our stained glass window. I tried (unsuccessfully) to open the window and photograph their tiny furry bat bellies and pointy wings at least three times a day. They squeaked their anger at me but always came back to let me try again.
Bundi Palace and Fort, sitting spookily on the hill peering down at the scampering mortals below as if it were about to squash them with an ancient iron fist. Kipling wrote that it was more like it was built by goblins, the people making signs for the palace wrote: “Such a palace as men build for themselves in uneasy dreams– the work of cobbling rather than of men.” Indian English is my favourite.
The Palace is all foot-smoothed marble floors, heavy studded doors, elephant-topped columned ceilings, and stairs winding to nowhere at all. It feels jumbled and slightly unhinged, and in large enough for you, and several generations after you, possibly being born while you are still trying to find your way out of the fort and are living on insects and monkey-leavings, to get happily lost in.
Anishta and her albino rat, Prince, who served me a fine breakfast of potato parantha, curd, and masala chai with a burny chilli kick, and were both fascinated by phone photos of my cat, Dazey. “Aren’t you scared sometimes to live with a cat?!”
The Muslim tailor/man who marry people/ex-wrestler (he proudly showed us photos of a much beefier barechested blackbearded him) who made M seven shirts and a suit in three days, and was so amused by M’s attempts to mime asking him to straighten a badly done (Pushkar hotel manager’s sister’s sewing machine) hem that he nearly cried laughing.
The constant echoing cry of “Namaste! Hellooooooooooooo!” and “One photo!” from Bundi’s toothily grinning urchins who piled into every picture for the honour of seeing themselves on the small screen, then ran off giggling and whooping.
Yug, an artist spending his days making miniature paintings with the teeniest brushes, who said “Halloo Michael Lauren” every day, and wrote our names out for us in Hindi in the back of my journal, along with a message saying we are friendly happy people (well, he hadn’t known us long…). I bought a tiny Ganesh (god of writers, apparently) painting which took him five hours to paint “Not five hours of time, five hours of my life!”.
Random shopkeepers (where are all the women shopkeepers? Every one is a bloke) telling M that he has a good Indian moustache (Movember goes down very well out here).
Fort Monkeys, breakfast monkeys, “Your monkey stick doesn’t scare me” monkeys. A whole monkey army of which sat around us as we climbed to the fort, perched on every wall and window, eerily following us with dark monkey eyes…
Micro-sized mice climbing around my sandals in an internet cafe.
Trying to leave a guesthouse restaurant only to be confronted with the biggest cow face I have ever seen (still attached to a cow, thankfully) blocking the whole door. “He comes every day for dinner. Same time.” we were told. It was true. I checked the next day. Though I never saw him wearing a watch…
Every single street being a picture. See?
Also I just wanted to wave madly at everyone still slogging through my blog with me, and say thanks for your comments and please keep them up. Even the annoying ones telling me someone else has done this already, and much better than I have. shoots BNM evil glare I am liking writing it muchly, despite horribly uncomfy internet chairs.
And I promise more knitting soon… watches non-knitters run away