Meetings, meetings and more meetings. Not only is it the end of the month so monthly review and planning was happening but the District Manager from Pali came down to discuss the past years goals and set new targets. 7-hour meetings ended up in passing notes and drawing pictures in our notebooks so I could understand the discussion. Amongst the discussions were things such as proper drinking, separate restrooms or electricity in the schools. It’s times like these where I find myself just listening and realizing this is still truly an issue.
This week we also said goodbye to our friend and co-worker as she is taking another position up in Pali. One tradition that’s held at going away parties is you feed each other cake, just like at a wedding. Everyone took turns feeding and receiving cake from our departing one. So many fun traditions I’m constantly being exposed to and learning about.
Big City!!!!! I took my first vacation to Udaipur this weekend, also known as the City of Lakes, which is about 2.5 hours by bus. Often it’s called “The Venice of the East” since everything’s built around the lakes and canals. During the day it’s bustling with tourists and making their way around to the gorgeous temples, the City Palace, nature reserves and markets. There are structures in the middle of the lake you can boat out to and just sit and relax. At night the city is illuminated by colors on the hills, immaculate hotel lights and the little structures along the lake side with changing colors. One of my good friend’s fellows lives near by so he came to hang out for Sunday. We went for lunch at this wonderful restaurant where two different sets of tourists came in. They would look at me sitting with two Indians, wearing a Kurta and just look so puzzled. One couple flipped through an ‘Indian Lonley Planet’ guidebook as they ate. I laughed to myself for I felt like this time, I was the tourist! So great!
During the day it was hilarious to watch other foreign tourists’ reactions as we drove by on the fellows motorcycle. I can only imagine their thoughts, “Oh no! A foreign girl on the back of an Indian man’s motorcycle I hope she’s okay,” or other foreign couples would stare as they wondered around trying to navigate or hoping their rickshaw was headed in the right direction. It’s been a dream of mine to ride one and with pure joy and hair flying that dream was fulfilled. That night I also had some cold coffee that tasted just like my caramel frappaccinos, ahhhh!!!! How lovely it was to get a little break and …. to see foreigners! One sight I will ever forget was a party in the slums. As we drove past the small houses and tents you could hear music playing and cheering. A break in the hut’s walls revealed many, many children gathered around an orange glow from a fire and two children dancing their little hearts out on a stage. What a cool sight to be seen. I’m going to try and paint it so I never forget that moment.
With certain hotels not allowing foreigners, little begging children and the incredible beauty of the lakes and palaces, this city had it all. I’m excited to go back and explore more later. Essentially I am here for work though, so back to the grind. ~Anna
“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” -Seneca