Just a quick note, reporting I am safe In Udaipur after the 17 hr train journey through the night in the rain of Tropical Cyclone Phyan, for which the warning was posted about an hour before my departure from Bombay.
The cyclone hit in the area of Alibaug, near the beach house I described in my previous post. I have not heard from my friend whether everything there is ok.
The guesthouse where I am staying is called Shiva Guesthouse. The staff is nice enough, though it is surely geared towards a younger, more carefree kind of traveler. I have a nice bed, clean sheets, working electricity and an en suite bathroom with hot water.
My top complaints are that the shower barely emits enough water to wet yourself, and the hot and cold non-shower taps are separate, so if you try to wash under them, its either burning hot or freezing cold! ACK..
The alternative is the local style bucket bath.
I guess I should be content, some fellow travelers I met in the lobby earlier today declared it was a luxury to have the hot water at all.
It has been cloudy and misty, breezy and very cool, with occasional light showers since my arrival. I went out only briefly, explored the Jagdish Temple, where I made some stupid foreigner gaffs for which a guide (unofficial) duly reprimanded me. I did, however, get some great pics there!
The old city area is a maze of narrow winding streets filled with shops where shopkeepers great you in a variety of languages and do everything short o physically drag you into their shops. The array of handicrafts and souvenirs is mind boggling, and the temptation to splurge on my favorite style of silver and semi-porecious stone pendants nearly broke me down. I asked a few prices, but was not prepared for bargaining.
The streets themselves are, again (sorry India) really nasty. Trash as well as dog and cow dung make it nearly impossible to take a step, and you are wise not to look away!
I had plain ghee pulao (butter rice) and a banana lassi for lunch before taking a 3 hr nap, from which I've just woke. It's 8:10 pm. Some of the hotel "staff" is drinking (secretly but the smell is strong) and chatting loudly in Hindi here in the lobby where the computer is located. Normal everyday life, I suppose. They are still friendly and coherent, at least!
I will finish here, make a few tweets, then see about a light dinner (in the hotel rooftop cafe) before calling it a night, in the hopes that tomorrow is sunny and I can find the boat to get a lake tour and/or go to City Palace.
For an international tourist destination voted world's top city, this place sure doesn't make it easy to navigate or know what the heck is going on!
Here I go, rolling with the punches!