Whirlwind Trip of Udaipur in 2 days

I sometimes think that it’s kinda sad that being an Indian and having lived in India all through,I have seen very little of it. It was couple of my foreigner friends who would not stop telling me how much they loved Udaipur! With a long weekend in hand, I was sure which place I wanted to spend it at.

In a new place, I start the day early. Nothing like a morning stroll to know the streets, the places to eat, the things to do.

After a sumptuous breakfast at Grass root cafe, I started my first day at Udaipur.

Day 1 : The city has mainly developed it’s touristy areas around 2 lakes, Pichola and Fateh Sagar. S since I opted to stay around Pichola (you should too!), i started my day at Fateh Sagar. Bad decision if you want to go for a boat ride. Just opposite the lake is a maharana Pratap Garden that they’re still developing but I chose to have a look around. You can give this one  a miss!

Saheliyon Ki Bari – My first brush with Royal Architecture. This is a well maintained garden with a complex that houses a beautiful fountain. It provided me the relief I needed from the morning sun.

17155529_10206655478785285_2245552718471553114_n

Vintage Car Museum- 

Although I do not have much interest in cars, let alone have any knowledge on vintage cars, I still decided to check this place out. What’s a royal kingdom that can’t take pride in it’s collection of old cars and jewellery?!

Well this one is a treasure and also a lesson on the evolution of automobile!

17201230_10206655485865462_6205887357159408836_n

The City Palace, Udaipur

The main palace of Udaipur, this one is going to take a lot of time to explore if you are really interested in history or if old palaces charm you. Do not make the mistake of taking a guide as they are usually crap. They were my source of entertainment, as I moved through the narrow lanes that sometimes echoed what the guide said to unsuspecting foreigners eager to know Indian history.

The view of Lake Pichola from the top of the palace is drool worthy, so if you can time your visit with sunset then nothing like it. Also you can see almost the whole of Udaipur and it’s matchbox like houses from the top.

There is an ATM right outside if you run out of cash. And if you have to take  a few gifts back home try the shops outside but make sure you bargain well.

17352227_10206655485745459_8606928136934734771_n17349924_10206649857164748_5981691820379882124_o

Gangaur Ghat – I ended the day watching the sun set from Gangaur Ghat and let me tell you there are very few places that have such a calming effect on you despite the crowd. I strolled back towards my hostel and decided to sit and sip coffee at one of the cafes by the canal and sink in the feeling of this beautiful city.

Day 2 :

I started the day by taking a walk again till Jagdish Chowk( the main chowk near Lal Ghaat). By now I have started exploring lot of different Cafes. Funnily enough, it’s tough to find Indian cuisine because these cafes cater to people from other countries mostly.

Monsoon Palace

I decide to start the day with the Monsoon palace which is quite far from the city. The auto rickshaw guy charged me 300 bucks for the to and fro ride. I have no clue if he charged me more because I had no other option. The challenge is that you will have to wait for a ride to take you up to the palace which is on top of a mountain and usually there is a long queue. I managed to escape the queue as I was alone and got a seat next to the driver. The uphill ride could have been nice but the dry winters haven’t been very kind to the trees on the hill and so we made our way up through crude nature devoid of any greenery. 17201079_10206655479385300_6521417622717378922_n

As beautiful as the Sajjangarh Fort or the monsoon palace is from outside, it is as disappointing on the inside. Going by its name, I am hoping this ride or the view from the palace will be totally different during the monsoons.

Tired from the Fort visit, I settled for a sumptuous lunch and a quick afternoon nap at my hostel before venturing out again.

Bagore ki Haveli – An old palace by Gangaur Ghat turned to a museum. I did not waste my time going through the various rooms as most of them had scary puppets. I strolled through the porches, the backyard, rested under a tree in the courtyard. This place has a dance show in the evening but I decided to give that a miss.

17309860_10206655481145344_5671437108432103304_n

I ended the day, dancing to Bollywood Holi numbers on the streets of Udaipur with mates from Backpacker’s Panda (yes, that’s where I stayed and maybe you should check it out too!)

17353437_10206655480425326_843386787625777332_n

 

(All photographs have been clicked by me)

How to make Summers better?

The heat is killing us here in India. For me the months April- May suck and I keep waiting for the rains to come. During these two months I mostly hibernate in the darkness of my room and refuse to go out.

However here are some Crappy Ideas that can actually end up making your summer better.

  •  Go to a beach – I know it’s super hot but then beaches have shacks and shacks have chilled beers and fruity cocktails. And the cool breeze in the evenings cures all summer woes.
  • Dress cheery, summery – To lift up your spirits, dress the part. Wear bright colors, flowy fabrics and florals. This is the time to show off your Sunglass swag! Pair it all with a big tote( that hides your water bottle and umbrella ) and flip flops. Upping the style quotient never hurt anyone.
  • Brunch time – Start your day early, when the sun is not that strong yet and start it with a nice hearty meal. Look for outdoor restaurants that serve your favorite cuisine and just chill out with your friends.
  • Party all night – Get hold of that friend that has a terrace or a garden. And if it is not too humid, light the place up with fairly lights and just hang out with your closest friends, food and drinks. This way you get to sleep through the entire day the next day. No sun, no problem.
  • Learn to make cocktails/ mocktails – Wanna be the perfect host? Please your friends by learning the coolest cocktails/ mocktails and serve them chilled and colorful. Immediate mood lifter this!

 

Not convinced? Then get a good book, draw up your heaviest curtains and just chill in the peace of your room. Happy Summers.

Breaking Myths around Hostels in India.

Till a few years back India had negligible hostels and trying them was never an option. I always looked for a hotel thinking of the hygiene, safety etc. Needless to say, hotels cost a bomb, even the very simple ones would charge you at least 2000 bucks per night.

To be honest, before watching Queen ( a famous Bollywood movie), I did not have any idea about travelers’ hostels. There too the things that came out prominently were that hostels are usually cramped, over crowded, have dirty rooms, pest infested toilets etc.

I stayed in a hostel for the first time in India in my last trip to Udaipur and immediately fell in love with the idea.

Myth 1 : Hostels are cheap and hence dirty.

There wasn’t a spec of dust anywhere. The rooms, the stairs were perfectly cleaned. The bunk beds had very clean white sheets, pillows and blankets. The bathrooms were squeaky clean too.

Myth 2 : Hostels are unsafe places for women.

If you are a solo woman traveler, hostels are the safest actually.

Myth 3 : Shared bathrooms filled with insects and pests.

I stayed in a 6 bed female dorm and when I walked in it was the cleanest shared bathroom I had walked in to , definitely better than  a lot of cheap/moderately priced hotels. And although there were 6 people when I left, It was still in the same condition.

Myth 4 : Food sucks

Its a hostel after all, how good can the food be?!! That’s what I thought too. Of course it wasn’t gourmet but it tasted like homemade food. Which is even better isn’t it?

Myth 5 : A hostel is so cramped, makes you feel like you’re stuck in a dungeon

Well the  dorms are small I agree and their is not always much space left after putting the bunk beds. But who says you have to be locked up in those rooms. There is usually a chill out zone complete with books, music, board games etc.

The best part of staying in a hostel is that you meet a lot of fellow travelers not just from your country but from all over the world. It not only opens your doors to the culture of their country but also gives you insight into the way they see your country.

** In my last trip to Udaipur, I stayed at Backpacker’s Panda and everything I wrote above is based on the experience I had at their Lake Pichola property. Definitely recommended if you are up for meeting new people and having great experiences*

To my She-roes!

(Although I don’t think a day is enough to count what good we do to this world, but atleast it gives the world that conveniently sometimes over looks our contributions, achievements and struggles,a reminder!)

To the girl whose voice did not get silenced today by a male family member, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who made her way out of male elbows in public transport, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who concentrated a little more on her books than the lecherous eyes of a teacher, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who chose to be a lil more alert to avoid being touched there by some smiling uncle, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who chose education beating conservative mindsets, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who fights the notion of being pretty everyday at work, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who just refused to sleep with her boss to prove that isn’t her only skillet, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who stood up to a bully somewhere sometime, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who broke stereotypes to prove everyone wrong, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who loved and lost and dared to love again, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who decided to proudly wear her scars , I raise you a toast.

To the girl who strives to be equal to her partner and not a parasite, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who decided to do the thankless job of a homemaker for the rest of her life, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who created another life inside her body, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who stood for another girl today, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who did not succumb to body shaming or stereotypical beauty standards, I raise you a toast.

To the girl who braved another day and survived, I raise a toast.

I raise a toast to all the women out there, who have learnt to live despite all odds.

The art of fasting!

Yesterday was mahashivratri, the day when most Indians observe a fast mainly as part of a tradition they grew up with.

Being brought up as a Bengali, I have seen my mother and grandmother fast on almost every festival, an act my then atheist father detested. I call him then- atheist because 40 years of marital bliss has made him change his heart and he has the same beliefs now as my forever God loving mother. But that’s another story.

Fasts for my mother and grandmother sometimes meant drinking only water, sometimes only a fruit or two for the entire day, only liquid diet and on extreme cases even ‘nirjala’ meaning no water and food. They would break their fast after completing the Puja by eating the ‘prasad’.

The Sanskrit word for fasting means Upvaas which means sitting next to God. This thought was very deeply rooted in Hindu women thousands of years back, specially the widow. After the death of their husbands, they were made to believe that God is the only one they should desire. So Upvaas basically made the body devoid of any lust or Passion.

When I moved to the western part of India, I experienced a new kind of fast. Fasting is almost a festival here. It’s funny how people actually eat more during fasting which actually takes away the whole idea of fasting ( not sitting to God but giving your body the detox day or off day it needs). There are special Upvaas thalis. Famous vegetarian restaurants , office canteens and even dhabas offer Upvaas food.

So this year, I decided to try Upvaas Thali too. The thali had the following –

Sabudana Khichdi, raita, half banana,aloo chips and rajgira laddoo.

I still haven’t quite figured out what qualifies food as Upvaas food. My gujju friend tells me that in Gujarat they have special kind of pizza for fasting too.Talking of traditions, last night my Kashmiri friend tells me that on SHIVRATRI they break their fast with a special kind of mutton cooked at home. Now that’s my kind of fasting. Needless to say, I decided to follow Kashmiri Shivratri traditions for this year!!!

 

The measure of love.

In terms of love and depth in relationships, our generation has absolutely hit rock bottom. We are just kind of lost having been surrounded by fake love for so long, we no longer know it’s actual meaning.

We belong to a generation that believes in not just throwing away broken things( read relationships) and waste no time in buying shiny new things that can replace the broken ones. We belong to a generation where compliments mostly revolve around whatsapp or Facebook DP s , whatsapp’s last seen time defines loyalty, desire is shown by asking for nude pictures, love is emotional status messages on social media, companionship is tagging each other on instagram.

Don’t you miss the days of handwritten letters or when missed calls on landline meant something? When you didn’t hear from a person since days but that didn’t change the way you felt. I am sure some of you reading this wouldn’t even know what I am saying. Yeah that’s how old I feel when I see kids of today. Like I am some kind of fossil who doesn’t identify itself with  the new surroundings.

Needless to say I wasn’t shocked a bit when I came across an article that had a woman narrating her story about how afraid her best friend and would be husband was about being rejected by her as he couldn’t afford a great diamond ring for her. Since when did a piece of jewellery become so important? Why don’t we question the people who preach that diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Every time a female celebrity gets hitched, pictures flood the internet about how big the rock is. I even read an article that compared the prices of the rocks that these Indian celebrity wives wear. Why are we setting these standards for our future generations? why are the rocks on our ring fingers getting bigger and our minds smaller?

These questions bother me to the extent where I think what would be teaching our daughters? Right from the day you are born , your sole motto should be to hunt for  the man that can buy you the biggest diamond?!

Remember Priyanka Chopra’s famous quote, I don’t need a man to buy me diamonds, I can buy them myself. That’s the kind of role model we all need.

The measure of love isn’t by  the material things he would buy for you, the real measure of love is that peace of mind, the  contentment in your heart when after a long day you lie down next to your partner.

LOTIW #10 : Ladies, stand up to the bullies!

( This is part of  series of posts published under the title – Life of the IT Woman based on my own experiences.)

I sat shaking with anger at my desk with my eyes fixated to the code that I was working on till sometime back.The man sitting next to me with double my years of experience, had just ridiculously challenged me on my ability after trying to pick on me numerous times in the past albeit unsuccessfully.

I know I come across as a threat to many. When put with difficult people my otherwise sweet demeanor turns into a raging storm that can pick anyone and destroy everything.( through logic ofcourse!). Any strong woman is a great threat to useless male egos. Didn’t face this till first 4 years when I was still a newbie. But last couple of years I have come across these pot bellied men with graying hair in powerful positions. As long as you bat your eyelids and talk sweetly to them, as long as they can objectify you, as long as you fit in their wet dreams, you’re perfectly fine. Challenge them on their knowledge or come up with a better solution, they don’t know how to deal with you. That very moment the only thing they can resort to is being a bully, by troubling you unnecessarily , by trying to insult you for things you aren’t accountable for. Seeing the US Presidential debates, I am sure about one thing – men do not like women in power. When they can’t prevent it or beat her logically they turn to bullies. See how Trump treated Hillary to know what I mean.

So Ladies, this happened to me and I am certain it happens to all women.So when this happens to you, you have to stand up against it, you have to come out with a strong fist , you have to show the bullies that they can’t just get away bullying you. Having said that, sometimes standing up for your self might put you in trouble because accept it or not , our society wants the woman to be submissive, to not retaliate. I have been in trouble in the past, so much so that I have lost a good opportunity. But you know why I still sleep well at night? Because I taught the bullies a good lesson before leaving, because I taught them that not all will bear in silence and I made sure that the words that came out of my venomous tongue be remembered!

A previous boss, with whom I always shared a cordial and respectful relationship told me once, “I believe everyone has a bit of crazy in them. How you put it to use is what matters.” Show your crazy side if you have to ladies but don’t ever succumb to the bullies. And in situations where it’s not advisable to speak, here’s a trick – turn deaf to what they are saying  and if they still bother you imagine pinning them to the ground and punching their face. It helps!

P.S I am very non violent! Sorry for the last two lines but then that’s what I do!