My flight to Udaipur was delayed one hour, so I arrived at dusk to hugs from my friends Nirmal and Pushker. By the time I checked in at the Mewar Haveli, it was dark. Udaipur on an average day is beautiful, but at night it’s ridiculous.
I checked into the Mewar Haveli Hotel. The nighttime view of the island from the dining room is crazy beautiful.
Nirmal had a surprise for me. He had bought an old hotel on the island last summer — the Island Tower — and was fixing it up. The Tower has a rooftop restaurant where we would meet after I was settled in my room. Pushker and I started to walk over there. The streets are uneven, and I made a misstep and went down like a load of bricks right in front of a shopkeeper just after taking this shot. So embarrassing! Pushker promptly packed me into a tuk tuk, and we rode the rest of the way.
Right now the Island Tower is a backpacker hotel. It doesn’t have an elevator, and the stairway doesn’t have rails on the side where you’d fall off the edge. On the top two floors, there’s no handrail even on the wall side. There are four stories, and the restaurant is on the roof. Going up the stairs was scary, given that I have an ankle that sometimes twinges and my balance isn’t as good as it used to be, but the guys stayed very close both in front of and behind me and offered hands and shoulders to balance on. They took great care of me!
The view from the rooftop restaurant was spectacular! City Palace, on the far right, was a golden, glowing nighttime jewel.
I met some of their friends who were hanging out at the restaurant. Rafiq was the most interesting. I wondered why I was the only female there. Nirmal was married, but I doubted all of the other guys were. Why weren’t any of them out on dates? Why hadn’t any of them brought a girlfriend here?
“Hey, guys, how come there are no chicks here? Where are the chicks?”
“Not easy meeting chicks in India,” Rafiq replied. “They stay home at night with their families.”
Being a foreign woman has its advantages. I have my own money, and I have friends in Udaipur to escort me around at night. I’m nearly retirement age, so I’m not under the watchful eye of anyone. I’m free to come and go as I please. We talked, laughed, drank, smoked and swore until nearly midnight, unlike the village where everyone went to sleep early. My Udaipur friends were my party dudes.
Unlike several other places I’d stayed in India, the Mewar reception desk stayed open late. Even after it closed, there was someone who slept in the alcove who could be awakened by the doorbell. So I was free to stay out with my party dudes as late as I wanted.