01 January 2009

January 1, 2009

On our return from Udaipur (the “City of Lakes,” an apt name in city in an otherwise arid State), I reflected on the difference between a trip and a journey. Over the course of my life I’ve taken many trips and a few accompanying excursions. But until I experienced six hours of typical Indian traffic (note to self: that International Drivers Permit was a waste), crossing the Aravalli Range at night (breathtaking, in more ways than one), riding through kilometers of roads under destruction, er, construction, I had never fully appreciated the distinction. A trip, a typically American activity, is something we plan and we control. A journey, much like life generally, is made of our decisions, of course, but much more of events over which we have no power. (Which does not mean that no one’s in charge of them.) We had chosen to go to Udaipur because that city was the closest with an airport from which our younger daughter Lisa could leave on the next leg of her round-the-world “what I did on Christmas vacation” adventure. But we were driven by Rewant Ram, without whose driving and navigation skills I am confident we would never have made it. Really. Life’s like that too. Faith and fear comingled. Kind of un-American, especially for a former transactional lawyer, but it’s good to be stripped of our veneer of control, at least once in a while.

The tourist aspects of Udaipur were great. We visited the City Palace of the Maharanda (not to be confused with a maharajah: A maharanda is a king who never submitted to vassalage to the Mughals or British; a maharajah did.). We rode a boat past his Summer Palace (now a five star hotel) and got off at his Pleasure Palace, the Jag Mandir (currently available for parties of hundreds; we didn’t inquire about the cost). We saw his Monsoon Palace far up on a nearby mountain but didn’t drive to visit. Walks about other beautiful and historic sites were enjoyable but seeing Lisa off to Delhi was a sad parting. Interestingly, our drive back to the NLU felt like a homecoming even though we’ve been here only a week. It was good to see our housekeeper cum cook Sravan again and to enjoy another of his wonderful home-cooked (and largely home-grown) meals. In bed at 9:30 on New Year’s Eve. Pitiful, you say? I can only respond that after our arduous journey, it was late as we could last.

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