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old and beautiful

Udaipur is like an aging woman of exquisite beauty.

To the outsider she seems divorced from reality, her present funded by alimony drawn from an eventful past. Now her days are spent in lazy hope. She is longing for change while still working her old charms to survive.

The historic town grapples with problems that most emerging conurbations in India are privy to; coming to terms with nascent modernity in the midst of royal palaces and countless temples. Water needs to be managed. Electricity needs to be continuous. Traffic needs to be organised. Garbage needs to be collected. Cows need to be moved out of the now busy streets.

Yet it is these cows, dung, garbage and crowded lanes that attract riches which will ultimately sponsor the city’s development. It visibly delights tourists to see monuments decorated by filth and neglect. And they, like me go back and blog about it. The romance of going to a place where poverty squats by the roadside, guides try to bait you in broken English, flies buzz around little sweet shops, where Srinathji was born and where Maharana Ranjit Singh kept his 1600 wives.

People are tired of this make believe royalty. Royalty in no way defines the everyday reality of this place. The vicious circle is so clearly defined in Udaipur now, it screams at you. It will be a while before the fog clears and catharsis happens. A while before the old woman decides if she wants to age gracefully or invest in botox.

Meanwhile shopping is fun and cheap. Bags/shoes/earrings for 150. I think I’ll be heading there again soon.

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