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February 5, 2009 - Udaipur, India

Written by GingerBlossom Published in

This is maybe the 6th or 7th year in a row that I've come to Udaipur and I've never seen it so bereft of tourists. Someplace I'd heard that tourism in India is down 65% from the same time last January. Part of it may be the economy, most of the people who mention it blame it on the terrorist attack in Mumbai.

I'm once again at my favorite roof top restaurant, having just seen a spectacular sunset. Usually one has to jockey for a sunset table, or share one with a newly met friend(s). Now I'm the only one besides staff in the whole place.

Another busy day, but I promised myself that I'd quit at 6 pm so that I'm not staring at email at 11, like I was last night. The same staff is at the hotel as last year, except Munna was missing the day that I checked in. I saw him this morning, wild eyed and agitated. He'd literally just gotten off of his motorbike after a 5 hour ride back from a family celebration out in the wilds of Rajastan. He said that at 6 am a very large tiger had run across the road in front of the bike. He had a friend on the back with him, and they were all scared, both humans and the tiger. This was the first time in his life that he's seen a tiger in the wild.

I'm quite content to see the flying monkeys. Just before I got to the restaurant, the commuter monkeys were flying over-head, jumping across the street from a roof top on one side, to the trees across the road. One big bugger almost didn't make it, and I had branches showering down on me - fortunately no monkeys in the shower -

Traffic jams are an hourly occurance in Udaipur as well - the streets are so narrow that two cows chatting tete a tete can shut off traffic from both directions until they decide to carry the conversation elsewhere.

Just when I got back to the hotel, a sunburned Englishman, looking like Laurence of Arabia, pulled up on a Royal Endfield motorcycle loaded with gear for a solo trans-Indian odessy. My travels are marshmallow fluff and bon bons compared to his.