After five nights in Udaipur we finally took our leave, heading east to the small, old city of Bundi. On the way we stopped off in a city called Chittor for a couple hours, which is famous for its massive fort complex, and a popular stop for tourists who are lucky enough to find themselves in completely the middle of nowhere in Southern Rajasthan.
There once was an old fort in Chittor
Time and weather had faded its glitter
Great views wherever we turned
But in the end what we learned
Two pigeons, one hole, gets quite bitter
I always find it intriguing how music can imprint itself in your mind as part of a larger memory, either triggering an image when you hear it or coming to mind when you see a similar scene, like the way people my age hear Dire Straits and immediately think of parachute pants and clumsy hand jobs. Anyway, I had a surreal moment as we were winding our way down the rugged hairpin “highway” between Chittor and Bundi, busily admiring the varied, expansive view of a long shallow valley in the background and several mangy dogs wrestling in a pile of sawdust front and centre as I listened to Saving Abel crooning “The Sex is Good” on our iPod. Now, frankly, I’m a little worried about how awkward things might get the next time I visit the auction mart.
We enjoyed the impressive ruins of Chittor in spite of the crushing drain of the midday sun and eagerly unorganized tour groups, the a couple hours later we found ourselves sighing with relief upon arrival in the quiet “off the beaten track” town of Bundi. Well, there are certainly more than a couple tracks on the old Bundi path these days, but still not so much to completely detract from its old world charm. Basically all the hotels, restaurants and internet cafes are clustered closely together like a jogger’s nipple hair so if you are bold – or bored – enough to venture even 20 metres off into the great unknown you’ll suddenly find yourself in a completely different world, a world of blue cement homes, wooden donkey carts, hand pumped water, fried chapattis and unapologetically public sewage systems.
Beneath a palace of marble and gold
The city of blue glows in the night
Centuries of stories wait to be told
While holy cows gorge on trash under the light
Horns echo loud among stone havelis
Reflections shine vibrant off placid lakes
Many mustaches but few large bellies
Suggest a noticeable absence of steaks
Majestic battlements stand test of time
To guard both village and medieval forts
Views at sunset are completely sublime
Despite scents of syphilitic consorts
Silver anklet chimes echo off stone floors
Intricate carvings decorate the walls
And while ancient life thrives behind oak doors
Red-arsed monkeys do weird things to their balls.
Once upon a time, in a quiet, somewhat shabby, little city far from the convenient bus routes of the 21st century, there lived an honest, hard-working people who were true to their traditional values and treasured the simple things in life. These people went about their days peaceful and relaxed, fully content to subsist, breed and shit perilously close to the streets. Then one day, unannounced and most certainly uninvited, a large and vicious troop of monkeys arrived, shattering the town’s serenity and spreading fear among the timid townspeople. Repugnantly fierce, pinched faces overshadowed only by their alarming dexterity, ferocious temperament and hideously red asses, these were monkeys out of your worst nightmare, like Wizard of Oz, or the Every Which Way but Loose series. Night after night, morning after morning, these unruly, insidious creatures wreaked havoc throughout the town – stealing food, destroying stereo equipment and easily upsetting skittish white guests by simulating echoing orgasms on noisy tin roofs. Eventually the people had enough, though, and they all gathered together to discuss ways to eradicate this scourge on their town and take back the peaceful life they and their fathers before them, and their fathers before that, and a number of arrogant racists from London before that, had worked so hard to create. And, lo and behold, just a few months later, for the people were kind of busy, and easily distracted, and the World Cup of Cricket was on and stuff, the shrewd townspeople agreed upon a cunning solution. So the next morning when the monkeys showed up, primed and ready to spread chaos and anarchy as they were wont to do, they suddenly pulled up short, angry and incredulous like a Chinese man getting shafted on the Double Quinella at Marquis Downs. There stood, right before their beady red eyes, a vast number of half-finished partitions of loosely tied bamboo fencing, boldly symbolic barriers that incontrovertibly served notice to these cruel and selfish primates that, from now on, their robbing, pillaging and terrorizing was going to be just slightest bit less convenient.
Moral of the story:
It takes more than a repulsive red growth on your rectum to be welcome at dinner.
After Bundi we were off on the night train to big ol’ Delhi, where we planned to take a couple days to briefly bask in the familiar – drink beer with some friends we’d met last year in Nicaragua, pick up Laynni’s parents at the airport and help them get over their jet lag using trickery and dares and, last but not least, thoroughly punish our bowels with some big ol’ American fast food. Check, check and match.
Now just a few more ancient Rajasthani proverbs:
A cow eating garbage still moos.
If a horn is worth honking at all, it is worth honking a lot.
Is a dank corner still dank if no one pisses in it?
Cricket is just badminton with helmets and long pants.
Good rice is proven by today’s palate – judging curry must wait on the morrow’s privy.
Some of you may wonder why it is that I’m always the one writing these blogs (especially when you come across poetry) and Laynni only chimes in every now and then with some random smartass comment. Well, while in the process of writing an earlier entry I asked her for help coming up with a word to describe hair that always stays perfect no matter what you do to it. After much intense deliberation, leg slapping and pursing of lips, what she came up with was…. “ruff proof”. So that’s why.