Monday 20th October 2014
We have arrived in Udaipur at last, after our 'Spice-Jet' flight from Delhi was delayed by 5 hours ( delayed or cancelled, hard to know?). Lucky for us, I received a phone call from our Mr Ashish at 'Oriental Routes'. (there's a joke there somewhere…. ever had an ori… forget it) while we were having breakfast. I have an Indian simcard in my phone, and the only people who know my number are the folks from Oriental Routes (and in the Indian tradition of shortening everything to initials, they are henceforth know as OR,) which is the travel agent we booked with in Delhi. I know it's them ( although I do still get the odd call from an Indian call centre asking me if my computer needs upgrading….. you can't escape them !!!!) so answer the call. “Sir,do not check out” he tells me….. “your Spice-Jet flight is delayed” ……. ( have they run out of spice?) ” for about 5 hours” Asish-Ji tells me that he will inform the Hotel for a late checkout, and will collect us at 2pm to take us to the airport…. “and would you like us to take you somewhere on a tour of Delhi sir” …. No thanks Mr Hasish, we'll decline the offer and spend the time relaxing at the IH ( Imperial Hotel). I'll have to say that the service we have received from this mob at OR is fantastic…. they treat us like royalty ( Billy Livings, if he reads this, will no doubt be quipping that ” Mmmmm.. the Queen… but up yours Mr Livings..! )
By now, our driver Dev Singh ( or DS) and his/our vehicle is well on it's way to Udaipur, awaiting our scheduled arrival at 12:30 am, so we are free once again to ignore his advice and explore Delhi alone. We leave the IH by the front entrance, and go to turn left towards Connaught Place ( CP). Of course, no sooner have we taken half a dozen strides than we are approached by a TukTuk driver ( white people are incapable of walking anywhere, seems to be the view) who offers to take us to CP for 100 rupee( $2) “No thanks, we need the excercise, we'd rather walk” I tell him. ” In that case sir, you are taking the wrong way, you should be turning right… it's a short cut” I tell him that I know the way, but Memsahib lets me know in no uncertain terms that the TukTuk man surely knows Delhi better than me…”so why dont you listen to his advice”. Not wanting an argument, we do an about face and turn right. At the first corner we are told by another TukTuk driver to go up there…a narrow laneway… and then turn right, then left, and you'll be at CP…no worry sir!
Turn left, then right we do…. when we are approched by our first TukTuk driver, who has been discreetly following us, and offers to take us to CP for 50 rupee ($1)….. “it's not the money” i explain,” even if it's free we'd rather walk”. This is something he just cannot get his head around, even without his turban….. “OK, 30 ruppee then” “No,we want to walk” ” Sir, 20 rupee only, please” (that's 40 cents). Again, we decline, and proceed on our way…. but he has more advice for us….” You are going wrong way….that way to Connaught Place” he tells us, pointing in the the opposite direction to where I was certain the direction to CP was. This time I ignore his advice, and proceed on. After a few hundred Metres it dawns on me that by now we should have reached CP, but our luck seems to be in, as we strike up a conversation with an Indian man walking in our direction, who asks where we are from, and where heading to. He's on his way to work, a mechanic he tells us, and CP is on the way, follow me, we take a short cut through the temple. The temple is the Sikh temple we visited a couple of days ago, and it didnt strike me then as being anywhere near Connaught Place.
I realise that this mechanic only wanted someone to talk to on his way to his job, and had no intention of showing us the way to CP. You might ask why we dont have a map with us…..but I didn't think it neccesary. After all, CP is only about a 5 minute walk from the hotel….if you turn left!!!! By now we've walked for about 2 hours and still have absolutely no idea of where we are. Despite asking numerous passers by, who all give conflicting and confusing directions, we realise we are hoplessly LOST. Time is passing, and we really do need to get back to the Imperial pretty soon if we are to be in time for our airport pickup. I can tell by the worried expression on Memsahib's face that she is very concerned also. A passing TukTuk stops in front of us, and I ask him if he knows the way to the Imperial Hotel….I am not concerned with how much either, just as long as he gets us there quickly…. he tells me he only wants 80 rupees ( $1.60) so we hop in, hold tight, and join the crush of traffic heading in all directions….. another fun ride, but where is the small statue of Ganish when you need him?
Needless to say, we do make it back, both safely and in time, and a few hours later our Spice-Jet turbo prop plane lands in Udaipur. Dev, along with Vikram the local OR agent, are waiting for us, and we head off to the our hotel 'Fateh Prakesh' which is part of the Maharhana's old CityPalace, overlooking Lake Pichola. The hotel, built in the 15th century, was originally used as the Maharanas's guest quarters. We receive a 'Royal' welcome, a garland of marigolds round our neck, and a 'red dot' on our forehead's, and shown our room which has the most fantastic views overlooking the lake….and the palace in the middle of the lake. ( if you have seen the James Bond movie ////////, then you'll know what I'm talking about.)