Maybe it is fitting that along with a new year we are experiencing a new India, an India that we love and feel safe in. Maybe we were bound to have to go the hard yards before settling down. Either way, I can safely say that our appreciation of this country, and it's people, has greatened completely.
Yesterday we took a 10-hour bus ride through landscape that was continually changing. For the first time, we saw elephants. Wild elephants, free to roam the fields, majestic and giant, not even realizing how big they really are. We were able to smile at naked babies dancing in fields while mothers collected grains, and let the wind of the desert dunes and rocky cliffs breeze our faces. We talked of the old year, of our strengths, and what we expect from the new. For the entire 10 hours, not one of us was bored, sick, or unsatisfied.
We arrived in Udiapur at 8pm on New Year's eve, and were immediately enthralled at the bazaar- and shop-lined streets we passed on our way to our hotel. We were instantly rejuvinated at the bright lights and cleanliness, and the friendliest people we have met so far. And we hadn't even unlocked the treasure of Udaipur yet...
Udaipur is the fairy tale city, and is not wrongly named. If I could imagine what Monacco looked like, I think it would be like this. There are two castles on the lake (the only bodies of water in this Indian state) that were so spectacularly lit that night that we lost our breath looking at them. Along both sides of the banks of the riverlake are beatifully built Taj-looking domed hotels, hotel after hotel after hotel, each draped with a different color of Christmas-style lights. And our hotel, as all others, afforded beautiful rooftop views of it all. This is where we spent the last few hours of our year, dancing, drinking, and eating under the stars, along the bright river, with amazing travelers from all over the world, whose stories, collectively, could fill hundreds and hundreds of pages.
Now we're ready to tackle India for 6 more days. We are anticipating that the first six of 2009, as well as the many that will follow will really be super.
Maybe it is fitting for it to be that way.
Namaste, and happy new year.