One of the reasons why I chose Lalghat Guest House was because, according to the Lonely Planet, there was an Ayurvedic Massage Parlour just a few doors down. On our first night, we came across another one just round the corner and the owner was having a drink with a friend and an Australian girl and beckoned us over and, after having a chat, we booked massages for the following morning.
Although very small, it has two very private boothes and we both enjoyed our massages and ended up having pedicures after and of course a cup of chai! The owner also does readings and he gave us each a complimentary one and was amazingly accurate with what he said. However, he told me that I needed to have a ruby on a certain finger on my right hand if my life was going to improve and we ended up jumping in a car with him and driving off to a jewellers and purchasing a ring!
I realise now I was very gullable but as it was all my rings had been stolen previously and I really wanted a new one but regret being such an easy target! He then asked us what else we wanted to do and when we said “shopping for clothes”, took us to a friend who was a tailor. This was very embarrasing because we looked at the photos of what the tailor had made before and the clothes did not look good, also I prefer to buy ready-made so we somehow got out of the shop and away.
Young men approach you all the time being very friendly and the purpose is always to take you to a friend’s shop or restaurant – inevitably they must get a cut on anything you spend.
That was how we stumbled upon the yoga – someone who failed to lure us into his family tailor shop, or uncle’s restaurant, set us up for a 6.00pm yoga session on a roof top. We were met in the foyer of a building by a complete stranger and followed this man deep into the backstreets of the old part of the town and realised this was the second time in one day where we were putting our trust in complete strangers and could be ending up kidnapped for the sex slave trade (well, they wouldn’t want me, but Sera would fit the bill). As it turned out, our teacher was delightful and we had an hour’s session with traditional, basic yoga on his rooftop with delightful views over the old town whilst listening to the sounds coming from the mosque and watching the sun go down. He was such an interesting person as he was a classical musician as well as a homeophathic consultant and said that he advised people for free on natural remedies for their ailments. We had to decline the compulsory glass of chai as my ring was going to be delivered to our hotel but booked up for the following morning at 7.00am and had another session whilst watching the sunrise.
In Lal Ghat there is also a small music shop and, as Sera is a singer and surrounded by musicians, we could not not go in. The owner was so funny – he took an instant liking for my swatch watch (a teal colour with a plastic strap which I had bought for holidays abroad with the view that nobody would want to mug me for it). He kept offering us tabla for so-much plus your watch, or this sitar for so-much plus your watch. After a while, I told him that I was not interested in selling the watch and when he showed me his collection of watches and I then understood his fascination with having mine to add to it. We spent a good half an hour in the shop, Sera bought a singing bowl (you strike it with the little “stick” and then roll the stick around the top and keep the humming going…that’s the only way I can describe it), we drank the compulsory cup of chai and then he played the tabla for us and sang. Recommended for any musician!
The crystal shop is a find with original earings, bracelets, necklaces and lots of crystals – all not too expensive. I realised to my horror that I could have bought a lovely ring there with the ruby that was going to change my life at a much cheaper price. The jeweller admired Sera’s pink bracelet (which I had bought at a jewellery party and was very unusual) and I could see him making a mental note on how to make one exactly the same. We bought ear-rings and Sera bought a healing stick.
It was a special religious day and we decided to visit the temple, having first bought flowers at the bottom of the steps. (The flowers smelt amazing but I later found out you were not supposed to smell them as you offer them up uncontaminated – it’s always so embarrasing when you are unaware of how to behave properly in another country). A lovely man attached himself to us and took us round explaining what everything was and at the end I realised he was expecting payment… as did the man to looked after our shoes in the shoe locker…. and the holy man who we were allowed to photo…
I have just finished reading Sarah MacDonald’s “Holy Cow” – laughed all the way through it – a must for anyone visiting or having visited India.
Other places we visited were the Monsoon Palace set up on the top of a hill overlooking Udaipur and surrounds (never actually lived in because it was too difficult to get water up there! – they discovered that after they had built it!), the City Palace and the daily cultural show.
There is plenty for our volunteers to do in Udaipur and I am sure they will have lots of fun like we did!