International Travel

UDAIPUR: LAST STOP IN INDIA (Part 5 in a Series)

Any and all questions about Indian hospitality, service and generosity were permanently cemented at the Jaipur airport prior to the short flight to Udaipur for our final stay in India.  We left the terminal via shuttle on the tarmac for the walk to our Spicejet prop plane.  Once strapped in but prior to departure, I could not find my camera bag containing not one but two cameras.   Good lord, why was the bag NOT on my shoulder as it had been since leaving the hotel??!
The hubby jumped up and alerted the flight attendant to contact the terminal folks so they could search the area where we had been sitting. Outcome?  Found right where I left it, placed on a dedicated shuttle, and returned to me at my seat.  Theft is clearly not an issue among these wonderful folks. 
But pity the poor pilot who hitched a ride on our flight and took the seat next to me. Surely he wasn’t anticipating the slew of questions (are these planes safe?  how long have you been flying? and on and on). Typically needless worry; the flight was short and uneventful.  
The entrance to the Oberoi Udaivilas was by a small hotel tender across Lake Pichola. From quite a distance, evidence of the four-day wedding extravaganza taking place at nearly every venue in the area could be seen in all full spendor. 


Grand entrance to the wedding luncheon
The bride is second from left
Three Jews crash an Indian wedding … appropriately attired; no?
Inside the swag area.  Pedicure anyone?
As talked about in the previous post, we were “invited” to attend as we were just about the only guests in the hotel not there for the wedding. We ventured into the arrival area and the massive tent constructed for the day’s luncheon hosted by the bride.  Beautiful silk bags were being handed out to the female guests, and I was given one in navy. Want the definition of chutzpah?  I asked for a different color — pale grey. No harm; no foul.
There was a separate area for different types of “swag” — everything from colorful bracelets to henna painting to pedicures and mini massages.  It’s hard to describe the detail, but clearly the most colorful and beautiful event imaginable.
I thought this was a tribute to a lost loved one.  Turns out it was for the caterer, indeed alive and well and brought in from Thailand.  A very small corner shown below of the incredible food and dessert spread.
We were told that there could be 60-70 of these weddings from October-May, which is the high season. It is clearly a huge business, what with wedding planners, caterers, decor and you name it.  Get this — for all of you who have wedding plans in the future — the groom’s family paid for all of the guests’ accommodations, buying out every 5-star hotel in the area.  A little background digging by yours truly discovered the father of the groom can well afford it; he is the wealthiest man in Nepal. Travel companion/Aunt Judy Stone dug up this article providing more wedding and guest list details.  Coincidentally, two days later we flew from Delhi to Colombo (capital of Sri Lanka).  Someone pointed out the Prime Minister on the plane a few feet away. But via commercial transport?? Mon dieu!
Flowers and glorious decor inside and outside the tent.
Wedding festivities notwithstanding, we used the two days in Udaipur to relax in a gorgeous setting, although the hubby and Aunt Judy did a half day of sightseeing in the older part of Udaipur City including the palace.  But our fascination with the whole scene was a big part of the experience.  As the hubby says, women love two subjects:  weddings and babies!  Can’t say he’s wrong about that…
Spa pool just out side our room, with the lake  in the background.
A member of the lovely and hospitable staff.
Hotel front
Last night together … in the lobby of the hotel en route to the
Leela Palace for dinner
City Palace viewed across Lake Pichola by day and by night
My final thoughts on 10 pretty incredible days in India:
1) I can’t recommend highly enough andBeyond (in particular our planner Devika Surie) and The Oberoi Hotels for their extraordinary care of us;  
2) We traveled very well with Aunt Judy from NYC!  She may have 10 years on us, but she was game for everything. We had a great time together;  
3) Nearly every time I thanked someone for something in India, I got this response: “Madam, it’s a pleasure.”  The pleasure was all ours …
Next stop for the hubby and me: The Magnificent Maldives.