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Day Seventeen - Udaipur and Miss Pussy Galore

Udaipur was famous and fabulous long before but it was captured forever on film when Roger Moore's Bond swam across the lake in his taxonomical crocodile suit and invaded the floating palace lair of Honour Blackman's Pussy Galore and waking in our room didn't feel that far removed from such opulence.

We were slow to rose and had green tea and read making the most of our silent surrounds. Al and Emma went to organise train tickets from Jaisalmer through to Jaipur and then the Taj Mahal in Agra.

That allowed us time to nip out and try and change some cash. We started with nearby forex's and rather bizarrely in one a chap suggested I might like a bespoke suit made whilst in India. He pulled out his phone to show me his wares and the first picture was of our neighbour's father being fitted! Burrough Green seemed far away but what a small world it is.

Where India's Transport Minister was to be congratulated the Finance Minister is to be castigated. Attempting to fast-track a cash based society into one reliant on plastic is not best achieved by restricting available currency. It was bound to have begative consequences and aside from the pains of our continued pursuit of cash we were repeatedly hearing stories of a huge down turn in tourist spending. If we can't get the cash out we can't leave it behind. It had become a recurrent theme but at least the cash points were now letting us draw £50 a time without crippling interest rates.

With the monetary policy of the worlds most populated country corrected and fifty quid each in our pockets we set about spending it. We found a cafe serving italian coffee on the edge of the lake just to the side of the main palace. Honeyed toast and cappuccinos as the boats passed by and their wakes splashed our feet.

Al and Emma had been enjoying a similar experience on the opposite side of the water. We met up with them to explore the palace. We knew we were in India when above the horse mounting block stood the elephant mounting block. A few more steps required for that one. Inside there were suits of armour for horses that had helmets with metal trunks! War-time technology in an age where the cavalry's adversaries were elephants trained to pick horses up and kill them. Apparently the elephants mistook the armoured horses for little elephants and the war became slightly more even. Elephants were quite the weapon, and when you consider that a fort's weakest point is its door you could understand why the door looked like an upright bed of nails, nails replaced with spear heads so that an elephant wasn't able to force them open. Outside Laura bought a pair of silk pyjamas as we bade farewell to our guide and went for lunch.

Lunch was a very tasty aloo paratha and sauce provided by a father and son combo from a wheeled cart on the road.

After lunch we saw the Maharajah's private car collection the highlight being a 1920 Model 20 Rolls Royce in blue that had won at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concour's D'Elegance in California. This was a fact lost on me until Al explained that there is no higher award in the world of classic cars. It was a beauty even to the untrained eye and when we offered to take it for a spin and get rid of the cobwebs our offer was politely declined.

We had an ice cold beer as we reflected on the cars we'd just seen and it was around then that Emma had an epiphany. After two careful hours of meticulous train time-table planning and ticket purchasing she and Al would be overnighting into Agra and leaving later that same day. Admirable efficiency until she read aloud from her guide book, "The Taj Mahal is open everyday to the public, except Fridays." "What day are you going Em?" Oops.

Dinner was one of the best yet if a little awkward to start. It was flipping cold so we suggested to the waiter that we would stay if we could light one of his fire baskets; he obliged, after a fair pause, and sat it at the end of our table, about two feet up wind of us. Coughing and suffering from smoke inhalation we found a more suitable location for our blazing basket whereby our dinner would be visible and our eyebrows would remain intact. We set about tucking into a feast.

Tomorrow we would be back to reality. But not before Laura had bought that tiger.

Posted by ibeamish 12:52 Archived in India

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