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                       “Madam ji, gulab le lo, sirf dus rupaiye ”, saying this a hand clutching a pair of red roses sneaked in through...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: False Ceilings

Author: Amit Sharma
Publisher: LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd (2016)



The title of the book quite intrigued me when I looked at it for the first time on social media- the cover did not. I hadn’t by then read any fiction that Amit wrote and hence, I was skeptical about spending my pocket money on his debut novel. I had no idea whether I’d like what he wrote nor was I earning anything to spend without thinking. Luckily, a few days later he asked me himself to have a look at his book – I knew what it meant – Free Copy!! I said yes to review his book, almost immediately. 


He has been extremely patient with me post that as I promised that I wouldn’t read the book if I don’t like the first few pages, and I would take time to finish it even if I like it. It turned out that being an MBA student doesn’t give you a lot of time to read fictions unless you’re a fast reader and you can do with few minutes of sleeping – I couldn’t.

My reading speed gained momentum only in the end of July when I fell sick without much energy to work on other affairs in the college. As soon as I reached halfway through the book, I began marveling not only at the story or the characters, but also the way it was written.

It’s Amit’s first work, and I didn’t expect it to be half as good as it was. I can’t imagine the work hours he must have put in this one, for every piece in the jigsaw puzzle he created fits just right as the story unfurls. As I flipped through each page I was amazed at the care with which each detail was mentioned.


It's a story of five generations - one secret traverses through the lives, cursing their lives, ruining what could have been for them. If the writer had chosen to not make it crisp, he could have probably written the story for as long as 500 pages. But we may blame it on Indian publishers for having an upper word-limit or the need for the busy readers to pick a fast-paced novel that made this book a short read. It’s fast-paced – yes, five generations, more than ten major characters, detailed plots and incidents, in just over 200 pages.

Enough with my assumptions now, let’s get to knowing more about the book-

False Ceilings has a unique way of story-telling. It creates suspense at the very beginning making you more and more curious as you read. To describe the characters, the writer chooses to describe the life story of each character first by dedicating a chapter to each one of them, helping the readers to identify how each person in the novel is expected to behave in various situations. Although it makes you realize who is who, it veils who is who for whom. I kept wondering how these different set of people could be related to one secret covered with a yellow cloth, hidden far away from them. The story impressed me more in the beginning as each character was being revealed in separate chapters, making me wonder if the writer was human to have thought of so much for 200-ish pages. Only when I had almost finished reading 3/4th of the book did I utter a long “ooooh” realizing the relationships of the various characters.

As the various eras are mentioned in the story, the country’s condition and its impact is mentioned too stretching right from the 1930s to the present and beyond – from the country’s independence to Operation Blue Star, from the old ways of life to modern technology.

As you connect with the characters in the story, you also constantly ask yourself what the secret could be. The answer lied in the latter part of the book - as the connections and desires of the characters became apparent; the various characters now became people with normal lives, with normal expectations, with normal relationships - imperfect and difficult.



I don’t want to give much of the book away because I would like other readers to go through the same emotions I did. But I knew, right from the beginning that the last page is going to be the answer for everything. I tried hard not to go for the premature spilling of beans – mostly, because the story was worth reading.


Eventually the reasons of each decision ever taken in any of the generations by any of the characters were revealed, including the heart-rendering secret.

I have loved books with ironical endings - you get what you need only when you don't need it, when every effort put in seems vain, every tear rolled was a waste of emotion, every question asked was nothing but a rhetorical. I loved this one a lot for the story-telling and a lot more for the ending, for it made me whine, it made me angry, it made me sad, it made me talk to my friends about the book although they haven't read the book.

There aren't a lot of books that leave an imprint on you, but this one surely did for me as I kept guessing the secret, I kept wondering what their lives could be like when they knew it.

The ending, thus, was bound to be a disappointment for me – because it meant, that there was nothing more to read about them – no Aaryan behaving in a way I would like to know more about, no revival of Shakuntala’s old and better self, no knowing more about Sunny’s business.

I could spot a few typos in the last few pages as the reader rushes towards the ending – maybe because the editor would too rush for it, I assume. However, it’s a book worth a praise because it’s too well-thought of to be someone’s debut novel. It’s a book worth a read because it has a good plot, written in a unique manner making the reader curious about what would happen next.

But remember to brace yourself before you reach the ending because that one is going to be heart-rending. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Inadequate

A world full of "certainties"
All the plans, all the vanities.
Where black covers the white
Suited in "confidence"- the constant fight.
A million roads I dream to take
One destination, knowing not I turn where.
A green veil covers for two years, some two decades.
But the "plan" awaits, new roads to make.
I pant, I struggle, I do my best
While they say,

"You are, dear, but so inadequate".



Friday, July 22, 2016

'Tis Not A Poem

He says 'tis not poetry what you write.
Where are the stories, where are the rhymes?
Though we look into each other's eyes for hours
From one sunset to another sunrise.
He says 'tis not love if we await another day.
Where are the words you and I didn't say?
He says 'tis not about my daydreams.
He says we don't hold hands very often.
For the world is filled with contemporary poets,
He says mine don't fit this world of substance.
Where does the heart of your poem lie?, he asks.
A poem's not a breeze, long, that doesn't last.
A minute longer that doesn't stay,
'Tis not a poem, 'tis what your feelings say.

A floating second on someone's news feed,
No dearth of meanings for those who read,
Not my stories but 'tis what I think,
I say I don't write poems, I just write dreams.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Dance in the Storm

She swirls around the same old swing,
Like leaves that float and fly for a new breeze,
The same park where benches lay adorned,
The same garden of memories, of love and lovelorn...
A gentle drizzle that comes every eve,
Does make her not smile nor blink.
She awaits the rain like a writer embraces metaphors,
A drizzle isn't for the child who dances in the storm.
Of rain that washes away the petrichor it brings,
A downpour of a hail of bullets, and she calls it spring.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Chasing Eternity

How nonchalantly we made promises of a love eternal And in the quest for eternity We forgot how to not forget each other, I had forgotten how it felt like To be in his presence, How he would talk of the faraway stars As we sit under the moonlit sky... I had forgotten his perfume And he had forgotten How my cheeks turn red Every time I caught a glance of him. In the quest for eternity I wrote a million poems, Letters I would not share... We had forgotten how it felt like To live in the "reality" people created. We left things unsaid Like we see in the movies written on ideas created by Shakespeare... I would cut my wrists, Drink wine to remember And recite Bukowski and Plath In the quest for the eternity they derived... But most of the pages life did unfold, Were nothing like the books he read, Or the poems I wrote... Life moved on, One memory after another... We kept forgetting Each moment we thought we'd cherish. Yesterday, I saw him again His picture on my "news feed"... I had forgotten how to love him, So I drop him a "like". He had forgotten how we would talk for hours To forget about reality, So he dropped me a "Hi". From late night talks to facebook chats, From long letters to simple "sup?"s We reduce, we obliviate, The magic of the stars, We forget the love And remember our quest for eternity Turn into a busy day and tiring night..

Thursday, May 19, 2016

My First Swimming Lesson

I found it strange
how men swam in the pool
without seeming to feel
even a tad bit uneasy
about their less than perfect bodies,
hairy,
dark,
with proud paunches
wearing a swimsuit
that was nothing more than a boxer
While I,
Another Imperfect Woman,
Shivered in my suit,
Wondering if more than my contours were visible,
Even though it was dark,
Even though the swimsuit covered
what's "necessary to cover".


My first swimming lesson
And instead of feeling proud
for having dared,
for having tried,
A Million Thoughts
crossed my fearful mind.


The fat belly.
The fat arms.
Hairy armpits.
Sunburns.
Chlorine.
Shape.
Shame.


Thighs too flabby.
Hips too large.
Hold your breath.
Keep your head down.
Pull the suit's edges
Let it cover some more skin.
I need to wax.
I need to look thin.


My first swimming lesson
And before feeling
the fear of water
I felt shame.


And if perfection is the need
only for women.
Oh, I tell you, it's a disease
that brings nothing but shame.


So, as my feet touched the water beneath,
To kill the shame, to feel free
I realized what I really, really need.
I needed not to burn calories,
Nor a little waxing.
All I really needed
Was to not think.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Masks

(Because everyone around us pretends to be someone they are not and, maybe, so do we. 
Maybe the person you truly are is only when you're all by yourself.)



I hope it's you
The face you show me every morning,
For I have torn masks before,
I have detached pretty pink masks from dark red faces,
I have burned those wooden masks so that they can
Reflect the faces they hide.

They don't.

They veil a different anatomy altogether,
A face that only a mother could truly love,
A face that would push me to trauma for a few months,
A face that brings along depression and loneliness.
I have fancied those faces would one day turn white,
Or a lighter shade of grey or blue.

They don't.

They bathe with blood every night I kiss them goodnight.
They have bathed in the blood they stole from someone else alike.
Every time I pull out such masks
Stuck to their skin
Knowing not the thin boundaries
For they have, over the time, erased,
A part of me dies for ever.
I fancy that they would return someday
Digging graves for their fancy masks.

They don’t.

Every morning I wait
While I see prettier masks, coloured yellow and peach,
Hiding the red, the dark grey and the green.
I hope it's you
As I touch your face,
My fingers searching for boundaries made.
I fail to find the thin lines on your face,
I hope they are wrinkles of the man I date.
You steal a kiss and I check if it's blood on your lips,

I can't find signs of your mask, so I wear one instead.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Collecting Thorns

Jesse-James Black Photography

Tears not wept out from a long, long time
When days turn into meaningless nights.
She shall smile some other day,
Some other time.
Each word she writes holds a story within-
She shall make you read it some other day,
Some other time.
With a million stories so hard to tell,
Poems so hard to narrate,
She shall write it with each tear she drops,
But another day,
Another time.
She picks up thorns
The way you collect coins,
Found on a happy day
On an empty street.
She has made her own museum now
Of thorns that didn't pinch her skin,
But yet made her bleed.
Some day she shall spend those thorns,
Like you'd spend yours
On some crowded river-side
On a weekend away from home.
But she'd save those like you save your coins,
To let them loose only when she'd weep for the first time,
On some other day,
Some other time....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Burning Bridges

Source: Levo.com

I set them on fire,
The pillars of withered leaves
Like promises long broken.
The bridge collapses
On a sea of grief.
I set them on fire
Like there was no yesterday
Looking at this morning
With remorse and a hidden pain.
Ages have elapsed
Like a strand of hair
That loses its identity over time,
Turning pallid painlessly.
I set them on fire-
The long tresses you so loved once,
Touching my neck,
And down my spine,
Once or twice, a gentle peck.
I have burnt bridges,
More times than I have lit a cigar
Or held you in my arms.
Today I pin them down,
I collect the ashes-
Another bridge to build
With grey pillars of
Infidelity and torture.
Love, they call it
While I prepare for it to kindle.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Umbrella Story

The thing about promises is that they can be broken. I was almost on the verge of breaking a promise before I sat to write this saviour blog-post of mine.

Courtesy: LinkedIn

The promise or the goal was that I’d ignore the negativity around me and write about the positive things, the little acts of kindness, love and hope on my blog this year. Two and a half months have elapsed and I haven’t written a word. In my defense, I was busy writing hatke marketing-related articles for Marketing Buzzar (You can find them here).

So like I promised in the month of January that I will write about people who help me restore my faith on humanity in this world of today, the person I pick today to write about is Suruchi Gupta, a fellow student at MDI, and her “The Umbrella” incident.

It so happened that we, the members of the Counseling Cell of MDI Gurgaon, were at a meeting discussing future plans for the college and also, our individual career paths when one of our seniors mentioned that on one of the days when we were in the first term and it was raining heavily, he had asked Suruchi, without knowing her then, for an umbrella and she, without hesitation, had offered him hers.

For most of my readers it might not seem that big a deal; it wasn’t a big deal for all the listeners in the meeting too. But for someone like I, who had once begged for an umbrella from a colleague, whom I had known, who didn’t even need it at that time but had refused without any reason comprehensible by me, it is a big deal. It is a big deal because we seldom find people willing to help others without any personal gains for themselves. It is a big deal because such simple acts of kindness are all that brings a smile to the faces of the one who needs it the most. It is a big deal because I wasn’t a direct “beneficiary” or protagonist in this incident, so this incident helps me believe that there are good things happening to other people worth appreciating. It is a big deal because, like the Professor in the Counseling Cell said, a few years hence we may not remember people we meet by their names, their “CV points” or their CGPAs, but what would we definitely remember is the umbrella and the one who offered it altruistically.

In the end, what matters is what we have done for people we know nothing about or who can do nothing for us in return.

Happy Practicing Kindness :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Four Year Old Blog Goals 2016

It's been thirteen long days since I wished my family a happy new year while forgetting to wish my blog the same. Nor did I celebrate its fourth birthday on 26th December 2015.

Often a times, I feel like one of those ruthless mothers who do not know how to take care of one's child or those fair weather friends who refuse to acknowledge their friends in need. So when I am all busy and preoccupied, my poor blog is out of my mind.

The reason might not entirely be the way I presented it to be for I did wait for something great to happen so that I could feel the pages of my dear blog with some food for thought. But sometimes great things happen every day or they do not at all, so that you do not get a chance to fathom it. 

Studying in a B school implies very less time for old friends and old habits. Blogging does take a back seat. But when every term I get to read so much about human behaviour, blogging seldom leaves my mind.

I come across so many people every day - each one carrying a wee difference than the others, unique in their own way. Some are those who always talk behind your back, some would always try to tell you how you're living your life the wrong way. I, however, would like to write about the good ones.

Gone is 2015 so I will keep the previous year's stories aside. During the process, I would also try my best to put thoughts of those people aside who could not bring any smile to my face. 

So although I am bad at making promises and worse at making new year resolutions, I do make innocuous statements of hope,

So, this is how I plan to make my new year work for me:

I shall write about the good people in my life, the objective of which would be to spread happiness, so that my readers and I focus on the kinder side of the world. Sometimes writing about good people may imply writing about new people - well, let's see how this one turns up. 

I shall also try my best to lose, and my fingers tremble as I type this owing to my fear of commitment, some weight so that I do not have to face the health issues I faced last year (and still facing). Now I think it's too early to define "some" but a healthy BMI is where my target would be.

Also, I shall keep adding more hopeful statements to my plan-
because change is what we all should seek, constantly.

Friday, December 25, 2015

My Murderer’s “Second Chance”

A tribute to the Nirbhayas of this world, to those who did not get justice, to Jyoti
#IndiaFailsNirbhaya

They were my sisters-
Those two poor daughters of an Indian village,
Clad in what they call decent clothing for women,
Found one morbid morning,
Dead and hanging from the branches of the tree,
The same tree around which you and I had played once.

Yesterday I saw my mother, with tears in her eyes,
When she said she saw no hope
Of justice in this nation where once I lived.

“Avenge my death,” I had once said to my friends,
To the people who once loved me;
Maybe they still do
And fate must have silenced them.
Maybe the sticks they were beaten with
While protesting against what was wrong,
Have put lashes on their hearts, and locks on their mouths.

The same juvenile lad who had once
Watched me writhing in pain,
Probably, with a smile on his face, as I moaned,
I heard he is now going to start working soon.
And have a “career”, I heard them telling him.

He who then used that deadly rod
Is now going to use needles and scissors, they say.

Strange is fate that it gives second chances.
I, however, was destined to die.
A “career” I too had dreamt of -
A dream that ended with my life.

Tomorrow, who knows, the tailor boy
May stitch and earn,
Or he might get a “second chance”
To rape, kill and burn.

But the dead will stay dead, buried and quiet,
My sisters – they will wriggle in pain and cry.

It’s not about one boy or one death,
It’s about a thousand crimes and only a hundred reported.

Tomorrow, when young children would walk the streets with heads held high,
Who’d save their dreams, when the rapists would, this way, thrive?


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cities

So that was it,
Stepping on broken pieces of glass, bare feet till your toes too bleed,
Splinters that pierce the skin, that flow within you like blood, never to be found again...
Where darkness ended, another night began...
And that was the way things were for them
When they lived in different cities...

Five years later when they were united
They expected the world to turn all rosy,
The pain to go away
And happiness to stay.
So when they met, they made promises to keep.
To live in the same city.
But that was the way things were in that city.
They now live in different families

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beyond the Hilltop

Where does the serpentine road lead?
To the hill's top and beyond.
A tiny hut resides at the end of the road,
The road ends where people do not go.
There rests in peace my muse and love
Within a coffin made of soil and leaves.
Sometimes, she sits atop the mountains people do not see,
Touching the clouds, she smiles in glee.
And when the wars will end and birds will sing.
She will turn the serpentine road around,
For a new world to lead.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Exploring the City of Lakes - Udaipur


I like solitude, to be left alone for a date with my thoughts. It’s beautiful the way you do not feel lonely even though you know not a single person in the place you are in, in the city you are in.
Although I have travelled alone before, gone to places all by myself, I’d never be entirely alone- I’d meet friends in the city or along the journey. This time I decided to make my comfort zone a little wider, to add one more escapade to it- a solo trip of four days and three nights to Udaipur, a must-visit city for tourists in the state of Rajasthan, India.

Beginning with the transportation from Gurgaon/Delhi to Udaipur- I luckily got flight tickets cheaper than that of train. I booked the tickets only a week before my departure date; train fare was somewhere around 1700 INR while airfare was around 1500 INR. (However, the return tickets cost me a fortune so I still suggest taking a bus or a train for those who have the time and patience/)

I expected Day #1 to be an uneventful one for the fact that I landed at the Maharana Pratap Airport at around 3:00pm and had promised my parents that I’d not be roaming around after sunset, being ensnared by the I-am-a-girl-and-hence-vulnerable mentality. The airport is around 20kms away from the city, and pre-paid taxis are available at the airport to be taken to the city with a fixed fare of 670 INR for Non-AC and 750 INR for AC. The taxi journey to the city comprised of gaping at the beauty of the majestic hills around. As informed by the driver, the city was once surrounded by walls, the remnants of which I saw while entering the city from the airport.  It took me around 40 minutes to reach the hotel I booked for myself – The Archi at Sukhadia Circle.

 


The hotel was quite good with service being the best part of it. The location was quite safe for solo female tourists like me and is a good locality to choose for one’s stay in Udaipur.



Sukhadia circle had some sort of a mini fair going on with children playing in those tiny merry-go-rounds and a chain of mobile stores selling all sorts of street foods – from pani puri to barf ki chuski.
The evening of Day #1 was spent searching for the famous boiled egg ki bhurji which I had read about, from many tour-advising sites. I chose to walk to Chetak Circle, the happening centre of the city with people everywhere, buying items ranging from sweets to home decorative – a distance of around 2kms from Sukhadia Circle.

There were mobile stores standing just opposite to Chetak Cinema Hall that no longer operates, selling boiled egg ki bhurji that looked more like a thick curry garnished with egg that was first boiled and then crushed, served with eight slices of bread on tiny plates made of steel.



Looking at the meal, I knew dinner was so not on the cards for day # 1; and somehow, that was going to be the case for the next two days.

While returning from Chetak Circle to Sukhadia Circle I boarded one of those autos that carried around 10-11 passengers, taking only INR 10 from each. (Don’t forget to ask the driver where the auto is going because there are around three- four different destinations and routes for such autos from the same place of origination.)

Day #2 began with an ambitious checklist of places to visit but ended with the understanding of the age-old debate between quantity and quality; I chose the latter.

A taxi took me to Sajjangarh Biological Park, a drive of around 5-7kms from my place of stay. The entry tickets to the park cost around 30-40 INR per adult, and for the tour three options were available – walking, taking a golf cart that charged 50 INR per head per ride and cycling that charged a fare of 20 INR per cycle per hour. I chose convenience and hence, the golf cart ride of 90 minutes or so. Since, I was alone I had to wait a little till the golf cart driver got a sufficient number of people (6-8) to take on a tour.

The tour reminded me of Vivek sir who had taken me on a trip to Rajaji National Park, earlier this year when he explained the features of various exotic birds and introduced me to new plants as well. Needless to say, at Sajjangarh Biological Park, I had to metaphorically poke the driver to get information out of him about the animals there. This place is for those who are enthralled by looking at animals. The only delightful scene for me was a Cheetah which came out of its cave to greet us by ceaselessly walking to and fro. When asked if it was a sign of irritation, the driver claimed that the big cat has been a dweller of that place since birth and it enjoys attention. “When the viewers will leave, it will again go back to its cave and sit there idly,” the driver added.

The entry gate to reach the Sajjangarh Palace is just adjacent to that of the Biological Park. The entry fee was of INR 50; private cars were charged somewhere around 200 INR whereas taking their jeep cost 90 INR per head, to and fro.

The Sajjangarh Palace is also called the Monsoon Palace, the reason for the same being the fact that it gets hidden by clouds during monsoon, as told by the guards, and the fact that it was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1884 to watch the monsoon clouds. The journey from the main entry gate to the top of the Bansdara Peak of Aravalli Hill Range, where the palace is located, consists of a narrow serpentine road where drivers need the skill to maintain a range of speed that isn’t too low to move uphill or too high to crash with the vehicles coming downhill. The view of the palace is a treat to the eyes once the 5km long journey to the top of the hill is covered. The hilltop allows you to get a proper view of the city at the front, the mountains surrounding its back, along with the two famous lakes – Fateh Sagar Lake to the left and Pichola Lake to the right.



A small pond with blooming blue water lilies greeted the visitors about to enter the palace while I could spot a gray Langur sitting on a tree, watching the strangers patiently.

I am not a fan of Rajput Architecture so the hilltop view is what captivated me the most along with the feeling of freedom you get when you stand alone in one of those Jharokas, letting the soft breeze play with your hair and dupatta. It was, I considered, one of the best places to be, lost in one’s own train of thoughts while admiring the creation of the nature, questioning one’s own purpose of existence.

 


After the wonderful time spent at the Palace, the driver dropped me back to the main gate from where I got an auto which dropped me to the main road, a ride of INR 30. Another auto, shared with around 10 other people, took me to Fateh Sagar Lake, charging INR 10.

Two Red Wattled Lapwings spotted near Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur

Tourists visit Fateh Sagar Lake to take boat or jetty rides and visit the islands of this artificial lake. The museum in front of the lake was what held my interest as I proceeded to pay it a visit. They say you need a vehicle to take inside Maharana Pratap Memorial and so I took an auto with me. An auto driver charges from 50 – 100 INR depending on your negotiation skills. The entry tickets cost 50 INR for the visitor and 25 INR for the auto. Larger vehicles would be charged more.  
My suggestion would be to either take a personal vehicle or choose to walk since there is a lot to learn from in this place. My auto driver eventually got tired of waiting and complained about the time I was taking, making me feel guilty. There are seven spots and they begin with the statue of Maharana Pratap on his horse, Chetak, built at the top of Moti Magri.


A stall near it makes you wear traditional Rajasthani attire to be clicked which made me all excited and eager to try the attire. I could hardly move my arms properly once I was dressed by the men there.


The hilltop gives a good view of the lake; the Monsoon Palace too can be spotted sitting proudly on the Aravalli hill range.


The next spots, in order, are Hakim Khan Statue, Bhamashah Statue, Veer Bhawan, Bhiluraja Park, Sunet Park and Jhalaman Park. I chose to skip the parks as I had no intention of getting photographs and it was getting late already. The best place was to visit Veer Bhawan that gave you a glimpse of history including the battle of Haldighati.

My takeaway – one of the biggest sacrifice, in history, of a mother, Panna Dhai, the maid of the then prince Udai Singh, when she, in order to protect her master when he was about to be attacked by his Uncle Banbeer, placed her own son Chandan, who was Udai Singh’s playmate, on the prince’s bed. The uncle mistakenly killed Panna Dhai’s son while another maid carried Udai Singh in a basket of vegetables to a safe place.

The next place I visited worth mentioning is a store named Crystal Forest. It stands right in front of the staircase leading to O’zen café at Jagdish Chowk, near the City Palace Campus. From outside it was just like any other store, which I entered to buy a souvenir for my parents. I bought a small wooden owl, the chest of which doubled up as a cage holding another small wooden owl inside.


As I struck up a conversation with the store owner, Ajay Mehta, I realized the immense potential the person has. He is passionate about studying as much as he can about precious gems and minerals, has a good collection of stones from different places and makes well-crafted designs himself creating beautiful earrings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces and anklets using shells and gems. He showed me an oyster shell that had pearls of various sizes and shapes on it and explained how different kinds of pearls are used for different functions. He even makes jewellery out of the customer’s self-made designs.



If you are one of those interested in ordering a design or making a purchase, please drop a mail to sanhitabaruah@gmail.com.

Day #2 ended with a sumptuous meal at the famous-among-tourists O’zen café that provides a pleasant ambience and western cuisine. The popular café also shows the James Bond movie Octopussy in the evening, and I was the only Indian sitting there sipping mohito and relishing burger and salad.

On Day #3 I shifted to another hotel for some “royal treatment” as mentioned on the website explaining the heavy moment charged. The hotel is named Raj Kesar Regency, at Shikarbadi Road, and has a beautiful interior. However, the location isn’t good enough for tourists to stay as it is situated in the outskirts of the city. No availability of private autos and unavailability of cabs there just support my previous claim. I took a shared auto, charging 10 INR per head, which took me some 4-5kms to a bus stand where I left it to take a private auto to Bagore ki Haveli.

I absolutely loved Bagore ki Haveli; its museum had a very good display of items used in the ancient times along with a lot of information about the living style of the Kings and Queens of the eighteenth century. From the world’s largest pagdi to the ancient “pub” where all the gambling, drinking and Hookah smoking happened, the palace is worth a couple of hours of your time. It also has a room for puppets depicting the various position-holders of a kingdom and a museum depicting the royal wedding.

I was lucky to have visited the palace when an exhibition was going on by a married couple from Ahmedabad.




The wife, Dhruti displayed beautiful paintings made on a handmade paper derived from the bark of the Argali (in Nepalese) or Theyshing (in Sikkimese) tree, brought from Sikkim.



Her husband, Mayank Ghedia, an architect by profession but a nature photographer and artist by heart displayed pictures taken using various glass objects and a torch light that created beautiful illusions reflecting spiritual experience. Mere words can’t explain the extent to which I was mesmerized by his creations. The photographs I liked the most are named ‘Bride’ and ‘Wings of Joy’and, respecting my budget and his art as well, I bought a stack of his photographs that came in smaller sizes than the ones on display. I consider myself a fan already, and I am eager to attend his exhibition in Delhi when he conducts one. Drop me a mail for more details, pictures and explanations.

Half a day was spent admiring the various facets of  Bagore ki Haveli and the view of the Lake Palace, which is a palace built on a small island in Lake Pichola, that could be enjoyed from the Haveli. I headed through the narrow byelanes, looking at stores selling beautiful kurtas and bags, to the City Palace, expecting the best experience of my visit to Udaipur. To my utter dismay it was a holiday and hence, the palace was crowded as much as a metro station is during rush hours. I could not muster the courage to get in the queue and have a look at its museum amidst perspiring people, so I decided to have my lunch in the complex, instead. The only restaurant in the complex was the famous and highly-priced Palki Khana. As shocking and disappointing as it seems, even the restaurant was crowded with people paying around 800 INR for a coffee or so.



I decided to go see the other places and then move to the exit. One of the guards frowned at me for paying 100 INR (entry fee is 250 INR for adults and 100 INR for students) to enter the complex but not visit the museum. I meekly explained that I was saving the museum for another less-crowded day. Before exiting I had a good look at the part of the palace where the present king lives and of the hotel-turned-palaces nearby; none had a vacant table at the restaurants.


One of the gates led me to Dudh Talai where I had a ride on a camel’s back. The scariest part for me was climbing the iron ladder to reach the tall camel’s back and then position myself, while still holding on to the ladder, in a way, to be seated comfortably, as if it was a motorbike. The 10 minutes ride was literally bumpy but fun to experience.

The next thing to do was to reach the top of the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park to buy tickets for a ropeway ride to the temple of Karani Mata. People had to wait for around an hour owing to the rush of tourists eager for the ride. A restaurant there caters to the people waiting for their turn, serving delicious chhole bhature and pouring extra milk in the tea when “special tea” was ordered, as told by one of the tourists there. I didn’t have to wait for long as I was a solo traveler and, hence, was accommodated with a family of five. The sight of the city around from the temple was amazing; sunset from the top of a hill is a sight to savour.



Day #4 began with the announcement that my flight was “preponed”, leaving me no time to make any more plans for the day. A quick look-around of the sweet shops in one of the markets accompanied by purchasing of the delicious rabri ke laddu, made of fried thickened and sweetened milk, was my last activity before leaving for the airport.


 As I returned to my hostel at Gurgaon that evening, the taste of the laddu was what brought a smile to my face as I reminisced the wonderful time spent in the City of Lakes, Udaipur.