I mean it!! If ever there was an Oliver Twist 'in reverse' it would be me right now. My new mantra is 'take back the curry, sir and remove all traces of its stench!!' No offence meant here but lofty plans to go on a cookery course over here might just be shelved.
Anyways the last days in Rajasthan flew by and before my jaded memory fails entirely, here a few sightseeing highlights. We visited the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodphur which was built in the late 1920s with the 'main' purpose to create 1,000s of jobs during a period of drought and famine. It is believed that many of the workers' ancestors had been recruited to build the likes of Fatephur Sikri - tragically no change in life conditions for your average Mr Patel then.
The then king loved us 'Britishers' and had basically rocked up to a firm of London architects commissioning them to build this palace - a lucky (if not surreal) card or what for the recipient. The place smacks of ego... and with the garishly 'best'/'most expensive' of everything including stunning pieces of art deco which were obviously de rigueur at the time. Again no offence meant here but I am not a monarchist and India is meant to be a republic now ...
Next stop was the 15th Century Ranakpur Jain temple carved from milky marble. I have never seen anything quite like it in the flesh, a forest of nearly 2,000 pillars and, yes, they are of course all hand-carved differently.
Udaipur was the strategic last stop to prepare us for a calmer period here in Kerala (down south - check out the map in the first blog entry). Considerably cleaner than it's Rajasthani sister cities, there is less jarring music, tooting, hassle for business, no farting camels or decorated elephants in the street - ok, the occasional gormless holy cow block but you can't have it all. The city palace (how many has that totted up to now!?) is apparently the largest in the state and literally spews up balconies, towers and cupolas. It is quite impossible to take in every room which tries to out-do the other.
When we arrived in Kerala so did the unusually bad weather - still humid but raining. Fort Kochin is reasonably interesting and 14 beds later (!) we are staying put for a while. I say that but we have changed accommodation 3 times since arriving (long story). It is proving difficult to remember hotel room numbers and not get out of bed wall-side. Anyway backwater trips and the beach seem very appealing weather notwithstanding.
In the words of my father in law, you either love India or hate it. To be totally honest I have had moments of both in equal measure. It is truly a place I will never forget and no point in tempting fate by wondering what more lies in store. Guess you might have to carry on reading for the next instalment!