We got on the road about 8:30 this morning. Once we were out of the town of Jaipur, we were in a rural farming community. We drove by 5 carts with men standing up driving in them with camels pulling the carts. I didn’t get a good photo, maaf kijeeyay – everyone always smiles big in India when I say that, which basically means excuse me. Actually when I say anything in Hindi people become very excited, except nahee – that is the one word every foreigner learns, so it is not special to Indians.

Every few miles we passed a temple. There are lots of temples to lots of different gods, because there are so many gods, in this diverse polytheistic country. There is a real benefit to a polytheistic society where everyone gets to choose their favorite god, and all can have a different favorite, with some people even having more than one favorite over the course of their life. The benefit is tolerance. India has some of the most faithful people in the most faith-based culture I have ever experienced. Perhaps this strong polytheistic faith that respects differences is the reason for this religiously tolerant culture. I have found it fascinating to observe.

These are just a series of photos I took as we whizzed by. I love the colors. Here there is more pink. In Jaipur the women seemed to favor orange clothes.

Do you see the women at about 9 o’clock? They are farming in sarees. I had a hard time getting a photo of this happening. Several times I saw women out in the fields farming in colorful sarees.

There I am in the mirror and there two women are with their faces covered. I was told this is becoming less common, but traditionally this is something married women do when out in public, especially if their father-in-law is around.

We passed through a few small towns, then it was town after town with humongous chunks of marble. There is a lot of marble with the occasional pieces of granite too. I will not bore you too much. I could have over an hour’s worth of film showing this. There were trucks broken down because of carrying the heavy loads. We were told the factory owners are well-off, but the factory workers are poor.

Soon after arriving and negotiating traffic in Udaipur we drove by a mosque that was just letting out. I am posting this photo because of the woman’s outfit. Her face was not covered. Everywhere we have gone in Udaipur Muslim women were wearing this style outfit. The colors and patterns are different though. Their entire dress down to the ground is the same as the women’s capelet – my made-up name for it.

By the time we booked a place in Udaipur there were only two choices, expensive or so cheap (6$) we weren’t willing to risk it. Jim chose the least expensive of the expensive places. When Jim told me we were staying at the Shiv Niwas Palace, I had no idea it was really going to be a palace!

That Palace up ahead is where we stayed. After driving through a guarded gate, we were out of the melee of the town of Udaipur and into a private area called the City Palace Complex. I really wish I wrote fiction instead of nonfiction, so I could use the details of this place in a novel.

Here is Jim in our private courtyard.

Jim took this shot from the courtyard on our balcony.

The view from our room.

There were flocks of green parrots flying around in Udaipur. Here are two. The rest of the flock flew away when I approached.

This is a view of Udaipur. Udaipur used to be forested. Then it was rapidly deforested. Now there are restrictions to limit the rate of deforestation.

When we booked here, it was mandatory that we also attend the Christmas Eve party. Here is a tree being decorated for the party.

We came out into the courtyard of our hotel and there was a band playing bagpipes. Jim dislikes bagpipes, and I like them. They remind me of growing up on Long Island. There used to be monkey grinders in New York City when I grew up too. I suppose I would no longer like those though because I grew up to be a bleeding heart for animals, and you know, because of the “monkey incident”.

Behind the gate that is the king’s royal residence.

Up some stairs and this is a view from another side into the King’s residence.

Here is a Royal Guard. I like the uniform, don’t you?

Then we went down to walk along Lake Pichola.

Here is a view back toward our hotel and other places. Our suite is at the close end on the corner on the top floor obscured by the tree. Are you getting bored with these photos? Sean, in particular, felt conflicted staying in a place like this after our volunteering work. The poverty we have seen has made us take a hard look at consumerism and what really makes people happy. I told Sean to value happiness and take what the world throws at you. It isn’t always this luxurious. It doesn’t always look like a fairy tale castle.

Merry Christmas! I hope your New Year is a happy one.

Ganesh is the God of Luck. I have been so lucky in my life. No wonder Ganesh is my favorite. I am wishing good luck for all of you and for the people of India. This generous, boisterous, lovely country has made us feel so very welcome.

Jim and I went out to eat and Sean had room service. Here is a painting of the current King.

Musicians at dinner.