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Day #12: White City


On our train to Udaipur, we finally traveled in a class with air conditioning. And the difference was enormous. In fact, for just Rs.200 more per person you would notice a huge difference in the type of Indians that was in our cabin. They would look less but smile more. The clothes were more delicate but the outfits were simpler. No need for big accessories or for talking loudly.

This is when we met Priyanka and her mother. They are two Indian women from the Brahmin cast that were sitting just in front of us. The connection was immediate. I couldn’t help but look at them: the way they meditated so peacefully, the way they would exchange looks and smiles with us, the energy they emanated. It was mutual. You could see they were interested too. After four hours on the train, Priyanka finally started the conversation. They told us they were coming back from a three day seminar with their guru: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar JI. I was instantly hooked. I wanted to know more about this guru they talked so passionately about and that had clearly left them in a expanded state. Priyanka has impeccable English so the conversation went on easily.

It was only a matter of time before they invited us to have lunch at their place while in Udaipur for the humble occasion of Sradah. Sradah is an Hindu celebration that goes on for 14 days and that is meant to honor and remember the departed loved ones. It’s a series of rituals to help them achieve peace. And by the sound of it, inviting someone to their place and offering food was part of the tradition. We felt deeply honoured and couldn’t help but accept to meet them two days later at their home.

The city of Udaipur was a pleasant surprise. We felt the center was more calm mostly because of its narrow streets and the fact that it has a big lake just next to it makes it much more beautiful and breezy. We visited once again the beautiful palace from the old maharajas, went for a boat ride at sunset and had dinner with a Portuguese couple we coincidentally also met in the train to Udaipur. The day was great but the best was yet to come.

As agreed, we met Priyanka and her family for lunch the next day. We were a bit shy at first, not sure how to act, what to say or where to sit but it was only a matter of minutes before Priyanka was making us comfortable in her funny and bossy way :) Antonio quickly gained roots in the kitchen where various dishes were being cooked and I was starting the conversation with Priyanka’s brother and cousin that also joined for the celebration.

We all had lunch together sitting on the floor, as they usually do. You could see the effort they had put into making us happy: so much food, no chilli for me and the house was impeccably clean! We were so grateful to be part of this celebration and get to live this day authentically with Indians and as Indians! Antonio even went for his first bite using his hands but Priyanka funnily scolded him and told him to eat with the spoon :) The food was delicious, it was a feast of flavours and textures. We could barely roll to the side and spent the rest of the afternoon in Priyanka’s room finding more about her, her family and their traditions while sharing a bit of our own. Priyanka also made me try a whole Indian outfit. She was so enthusiastic to share her customs with me that she took me to her sari closet to choose the perfect outfit and accessories so we would take some pictures afterwards. It felt like an afternoon as kids playing dolls and it made me wonder whether all Indians have this naive, playful and kind way of being. It felt like they had no rules on how they should act and were just being their playful inner child.

We have no words for the demonstration of love, openness and gratitude we witnessed that day. From being invited to their home, to sharing their meal and clothes, to having Priyanka show us around the city in the afternoon. She even wanted me to take her sari with me but I couldn’t accept. It was too much and I felt taking it in my backpack for a year would be a waste of this special gift.

We are still not sure what connected us together but thanks to this family we had our first glimpse at what having Indian friends is and what we would like more of our trip to become.

Priyanka left us at the bus station that evening and we left to Jodhpur with a happy heart.

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