Day 12: Venice of the Far-East (1)

That’s an equivalent of f*ck in Italian. The exact translation may be too graphic and Mom is probably reading the blog, so I won’t explain it. You can ask Giacomo if you want. Meead doesn’t say “bad words” in Arabic. Just in Malaysian, Chinese, Italian, German. I’m considering teaching her one in French.
I was lucky enough to be the first to hop on the bus. I got the front seat which means one thing: more leg space.
“Good morning. Toilet!”

Mom claims that she has trouble waking me up. If I need to be up at 8 am, she starts warming up at 6:30. At 7, her first three attempts failed and she’s making herself coffee. 7:15, she’s making me coffee because she thinks that will wake me up. Half an hour later, she gives up. At 8, I drink a cold coffee.
Anyway, the bus’ co-pilot only had to say three words for me to wake up. He’s loud and efficient.
The “toilet” automatically wins the most horriblest (yes, horriblest) restroom award. I will spare you the description because no one deserves such punishment. Most horriblest. If you’re around Chittorgarh, near a really nice building with a really nice garden and a restroom with red curtains in the back, don’t walk away. Run. I’m serious.
“- So there are a couple of places worth visiting around here. Take tuk-tuks, go, come back, then we go to Udaipur.
– How much for a tuk-tuk?
– 400 per person.”
Giacomo gives me the look. We both get up and head towards the tuk-tuk drivers. Three minutes later, a new fare is set: 80 per person. Ta-da!
The way up
The way up
The palaces and temples are on a hill. I defy gravity as I am sitting in the back seat of the tuk-tuk, watching motorbikes and buses race toward us. Giacomo’s feet can almost touch the ground. Meead, Evvie and Nick are safe inside the tuk-tuk. But the Italian and the Lebanese apparently like to live (sit) on the edge (literally).
Parkour heaven
The first palace is in ruins. It’s a parkour heaven. Everyone’s climbing something, looking for a good camera angle or for a breathtaking view. It’s a maze of pink stones. I find a courtyard, climb up a bit and end up having breakfast (two granola bars and half a bottle of water) while watching the city. My eyes follow a cow between purple and green buildings. Meead finds me and sits next to me. Lia, Justin, Ember and Salavat join us. We test the echo.
It works.
The next place has temples. I find it too early to take off my shoes. Others go inside, others walk around. We find monkeys. Black face, super furry, incredibly long tail. We watch them for a while before we head towards the third place that has more temples. A monkey is guarding the gate. Meead tries to enter but we find out that she has better luck charming Indians than monkeys. This one shows its teeth. An Indian guy saves us and we rush inside. All nineteen of us.
The vicious guardian
The vicious guardian
 I’m keeping my shoes on today – I don’t feel like taking the narrow stairs all the way up inside a “vertical” temple that is way too crowded. Meead, Talal and I climb around, running away from school girls who want to take pictures with us. Lia isn’t so lucky and ends up having a photoshoot session.
The "vertical" temple
The “vertical” temple
The last place was my personal favorite. The flower garden didn’t interest us much but we find a path behind the palace and we sneak in to the lake. Nick tries to take good shots of the place but we keep on photobombing the view. Luckily, no one slips and falls. The water is relatively clean – and I say relatively because our standards dropped ever since we landed in India. Mom, don’t worry, I still carry the hand gel (and use it).
We fall asleep on our way to Jaipur. We’re staying in a hotel, 3.17 people per room. AC and a clean bathroom, we’re in love. We go back out to have lunch. Indian food. I was fearful as first but the meal was tasty. We invade the restaurant – the manager seems to be happy. He takes our orders, not writing a single word on paper, memorizing everything. Don’t ask me how. I just know what chapati, lassie and pav something are.
As exhausted as we were, we walk to the city palace. Not tuk-tuks today. Udaipur and Jaipur are quite different. Jaipur seems to be more spacious and it has more people peeing in the street. As for cow shit, it’s a tie.
I keep myself busy trying to make out a story of all the murals on the way to the palace.
It’s time for sunset and we try to find a good a spot to watch the lake turn pink. The guard tried to shoo us but it doesn’t work. We’re nineteen and he’s just one. Plus, we have Meead. “Five minutes, baiah”
It’s an HD sunset. Some boats circle the white building in the water. Is it a hotel? Is it a palace? Does it matter? You can ask Justin, he’s the one with the guide book. Bats appear out of  nowhere and fly around. We stay there until the sky is no longer pink.
“Guys, do you want to have dinner at US pizza?”
We all look at Giacomo. He taught us that you can’t have US and pizza in the same sentence. It’s unholy.
“You can go if you want. I won’t judge you that much.”
Granola bar for dinner. Writing till 1 am. Eight hours of sleep.
Just what I needed.

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