June 04, 2014

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#TBT: Bundi: Losing Motion & Madame Is Coming


I have had quite a journey these last five years traveling and curating for The Loaded Trunk. In the early years my blogs were often written with more detail about the journey and often in collaboration with my sometime fellow traveler and daughter. As the online business grew it became more difficult to come up with creative and engaging topics to write about. People often live by sound bites so I have changed the tone to go with the flow. After reading and giggling at some of these older posts, I will be posting an occasional #TBT.

After picking up our tailor made kurtis (traditional women's tops) in Udaipur, we got back on the road for the journey to Bundi, a small haven in-between bustling Udaipur and Jaipur. Along the road to Bundi we stopped at the impressive fort town of Chittorgarh, home to the largest of the many Rajput forts and shares temples with those of the Muslim, Jain, and Hindu faiths. After a whirlwind tour of the top, as we were naturally running behind (Indian style), we headed for the last bit of our journey to Bundi. Unfortunately, the lovely toll road (which is really just a nicely paved road with all sorts of traffic coming from all angles) ended about 60 kilometres from Bundi and so that last portion was traveled along a one lane, poorly paved road through unlit villages and rock mines.


Needless to say, we arrived in Bundi past 9 pm to our highly recommended women-run guesthouse. We entered a jammed packed Fellini-esque living room scene with numerous family members and apparent boarders to find that there was no water and banging on pipes throughout the very dark interior. The term 'haveli' (which in most cases means renovated mansions) really meant run-down, dirty old house. We fled as quickly as possible, in the dark, with both our driver Raj and the owner of the guesthouse running behind us asking us whether we had lost motion. "Madame, have you lost motion? We will fix water very soon. No problem". To 'lose one's motion' in India means to have 'diarrhea'. While madame (me) and my daughter Ryan did not lose our motion, we certainly weren't staying.
We eventually ended up at a lovely rooftop room in the Kasera Paradise where we were duly treated to a beer and a Masala Omelet. Little did we know what was awaiting us in the morning.

Wall paintings in our room in Bundi

As one becomes more comfortable with India, one becomes excited at small comforts provided: the fact that this hotel actually had toilet paper and warmer-than-lukewarm water was incredible. The fact that we had to beat off monkeys with a monkey-stick at breakfast was not such a highlight. We soon found out that the sleepy town of Bundi was a haven for monkeys: both Gibbons and the naughty Macaques. The former are generally quite harmless and afraid of people, however due to close quarters the latter have shown the peaceful Gibbons a few of the many tricks up their sleeves. Therefore, we rambled around town with monkey sticks (really just bamboo scraps found along the road) in tow and a high-pitched scream when necessary.

Roni becoming quite adept with the monkey stick

Apart from monkey mayhem, Bundi was simply lovely and had a yet untouched feeling about it. The small fort and palace overlooking the town was in quite good condition, considering that most monuments in India are rather rundown, and the 'Maharani's Quarters' were simply breathtaking. Maharani means 'queen' and in her quarters were allowed only women, eunuchs, or the Maharaja (her husband, the king). The palace was covered from floor to ceiling in magnificently preserved miniatures of women bathing, putting on makeup, dancing, playing music, and generally enjoying themselves. All this was presented to us by the extremely enthusiastic 'keeper of the keys' (the palace's security guard) who opened locked rooms and pointed out details we would surely have missed. The fact that Roni is so close to the Indian name Rani (again, meaning queen) delighted the 'keeper of the keys' to no end which perhaps ensured our special treatment.

This blog post was originally posted in January 2010.

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