Bundi

Eat your heart out and move aside Jodhpur. Bundi really is quite blue!

I arrived at 3am and sat in the bus station surrounded by homeless people sleeping. Occasionally one would wake up, squint their eyes, decide the site of a white guy sat reading a book at that hour was too unusual and fall back to sleep. It was silent. Who needs the desert?

Eventually I gained the strength to wonder the streets. I found the lake and sat watching another wonderful sunset. I looked around me and remembered a conversation I had had with a Canadian doctor in Jodhpur. He had explained the looks and expressions he had received when he went out jogging one morning. I agreed that personal fitness seemed unheard of in India. Well maybe that is the case in the rest of India but Bundi has obviously been visited by some form of sports guru. Everywhere I looked people were doing stretches! On the slide, the ghats, on steps and seats, all ages and both sexes were stretching. By far the strangest site was seeing an elderly lady, dressed modestly including a coat and head scarf, doing star jumpes. There were tons of people doing each stretch and exercise entirely wrong. I am happy not to be a doctor in Bundi. The shortness of the exercises (averaging around three minutes), the time in the morning (6am) along with the sheer numbers of people (50 or so in an hour!) made for a very disorientating start to the day.

I spent the first day hanging after two hour sleep. I drank chai, chatted to fellow travelers and marveled at Bundi’s kite wars. We wondered if they made the kites themselves or were there really kite shops? The day was relaxing and uneventful. I slept undisturbed for fifteen hours!

The next day I visited the Palace. The building is strikingly sat, perilously on the side of the hill. Its design is such that Peter Jackson could easily have filmed Lord of the Rings here. Some people like pristine and lovingly refurbished buildings. This palace would not be for them. Decaying and unloved it sits much as when its last inhabitants left. You wonder from room to room marvelling at untouched history. Paintings, centuries old, crumbled before my eyes. Standing on one of the royal balconies I looked out on the sea of blue. I felt like a King. With no information boards, this was site seeing at its most primative. To me it was thrilling. From so little it was amazing how easily history can come alive.

I wondered down into the old town and got lost in a chorus of hellos and namastes. People were even friendlier here. I came across a kite shop. Or to be more precise kite street. For references sake it’s next to jar and bowl street, just after duvet street. I love how in India one man (I crossed out person because clearly in India it would be a man) will come up with an idea and then every other shop will copy him and sell exactly the same thing. No more was this shown than in Jodhpur where four different stalls, along a main road, in a very poor area, sold inflatable animals, meant for swimming pools! The entrepreneurial brain is lacking for majority India. That said at night it makes navigation easy and is a clear reason why they don’t bother with street names.

In the evening I met a couple of Londoners (one who was born and brought up in Edmonton!) who I had previously met on the road. This happens a lot as everyone broadly follows the same route. We went walking around the streets and came across the wedding party that had earlier awoken me from my slumber. The older than normal groom sat authoritatively upon his horse. There were two karts at the front and back of the procession. With large speakers that blasted out different types of music. In the middle was a spotlight shining on the crowd and two marching bands each one playing different tunes and battling to be heard against the speakers. Essentially it all boiled down to creating as much noise as possible. The women walked at the back. Hundreds of men danced madly in the middle. At various points we were grabbed and pulled into the near mosh pit, much to the delight of the crowd. Large fire works were lit sending the crowd running back for cover. Then the speakers and band would start again and so would the dancing. It was highly entertaining.

For my final day I wondered a few km to where Rudyard Kipling wrote part of Kim. By the small palace was a huge lake. Surrounded by hills it was beautiful and yet typically Indian. A large array of bird life lived in amongst the litter that sat around the inner parts of the lake. Any attempts to get to the waters edge were near impossible. It’s a common problem with India that so many of it’s charms are in no way accessible for tourism.

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