Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February 2011: Saturday in Udaipur

The volunteers arrived in Udaipur and were met by Heera Lal Sharma, our host partner. We were deftly transported down busy highways where the center line is used for "aiming" your vehicle towards your destination, while oncoming traffic jostles for their own space, demonstrating time and time again, that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

We are immersed in the sounds of beeping horns, cows meandering ( they trump any other right-of-way), motorcycles buzzing, camels hauling mountains of hay, people chatting on the side of the road, the heady fragrances of refuse burning, small trucks caring seemingly impossible loads of wrapped "whatever"... You get the picture. Now we arrive in downtown Udaipur; but this Is not your typical downtown in Canada! It's writhing with people; more cows, holy people, business people, tourist people...yes, that's us, reeling amidst sensory overload.

Winding through streets without names, the width of a back alley in Canada. Think of the microscopic view of capillaries pumping red blood cells, and you will be with us. There never has been a "left or right" side of the street, we are all just "there" all of us, trying to reach our respective the shortest path.

We arrive at the Jaiwana Haveli with Heera, disembark, bags deposited onto the sidewalk, "just leave them there, they are perfectly safe" says Yash, one of the owners. They are safe, we are in complete trust mode now. Heera gives us a quick overview of what is to come, understands our looks of exhaustion and amazement, and bids us farewell until tomorrow. Our tomorrow is still your today, because we have crossed the international date-line, and are 13 1/2 hours ahead of Vancouver, and another world away.

We visit the second largest castle in Rajasthan, on the tallest mountain in Udaipur, overlooking a lake that will take your breath away, guarded by the military festooned in brilliant head pieces, and built upon, layer upon layer, by a successive line of Mewarts since the 6th Century. And then there is the food....rice, dhals, curries, Roti, sandwiches deep fried along the busy streets of I dont mean busy in the north American sense, I mean, crowded like the front of a stadium right after a concert, except that here, the concert is still playing; a cacophony of sensory overload, that finally...begins to sink into a new level of "normal", for it truly is Saturday in Udaipur and we have to pinch ourselves to believe that we are here, that it isn't a dream...or perhaps it is.

Cam Grant
DWC Team Leader

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