Today has been long, full, and very entertaining. This morning started like the last few, coffee and writing on a rooftop overlooking the town. The I went to the City Palace, and the City Palace Museum. I wandered around for at least 1.5hours looking at drawings and paintings. I had a relaxing lunch atop yet a different roof, and spent 15 minutes inside an oils and perfumes shop being accosted by every scent known to man. Around 3 I went back to the hotel to find the owner, Asif, who offered to take me up to Monsoon palace, located on top of a neighboring hill/mountain, about 7km away. The drive and the palace were beautiful. The views were spectacular- looking down from the mountain over the city and lakes. I hope my pictures do it justice. After a short tour through the city on the way back, I wandered back out for more window shopping. I came across this tiny store off the beaten path- I'm not sure why I went in, because I didn't see anything that really caught my eye, but I was pulled in there. The girl, who I later learned was Juli, invited me in and showed me all sorts of crafts she and her mother made. I ended up staying there for almost two hours, talking in broken English, swapping stories, teaching each other our native languages, and just sitting. Juli's mother spoke even less English than she did, but was so much fun to talk to because of her expressions and gestures.
When I finally left it was just before 7pm, and I remembered Asif telling me about a place to watch traditional Rajasthan dancing. Luckily I found the place in time. The show was an hour long and had 5 dances. The first was two girls in elaborate dresses (all the dresses and costumes were elaborate- it's India) and carried basins lit on fire on their heads. The way they were able to move so much yet never tilt of bounce their heads was amazing. The next dance, four women sat on the floor with chimes attached to their fingers, shins, and toes. They sat, swinging their arms and flicking their wrists, making different beats and rhythms with the chimes. I think this was my favorite of all the dances, because even sitting the women were moving and dancing, and the way they placed the chimes was just plain cool. The next was a man who played with puppets. One of his women puppets danced quite provocatively, which seems to be very out of Indian culture, but it was a crowd pleaser. Next, six women came out with their heads covered, each wearing a different color dress. Here the dancing wasn't anything special but I loved all the colors and all the noise their bangles made when they flicked their arms. Finally was one woman doing what I assume to be a dance to show appreciation of water (western Rajasthan is desert- water is hard to come by). She started with two pots (water basins) balanced on her head. Then three. She danced around a bit more. Then four. Now she was spinning and dancing faster. Then seven basins, each a bit smalled than the one under it, making an enormous tower above her head. She continued dancing, and finally performed a dance on a bed of broken glass. Throughout the whole dance her face was very expressive, her body movements told a story, and she balanced that tower above her with such grace. It was spectacular. I'm so thankful I went!!!
If you ever make it to India, come to Udaipur. If you make it here, you must see this dancing. It was beautifully done.