Like most large Indian cities, one of the most outstanding landmarks of Udaipur was the Royal Palace, which houses the royal family of Udaipur and is a popular tourist attraction in the city. It is a truly majestic building, located right on the banks of Lake Pichola, and overlooks the lake and the canal running right through the city. It contains numerous rooms, adorned with lavish paintings and other antique items. The history of the palace and its royal inhabitants is well documented in its descriptions throughout the rooms, and there is even an exhibit dedicated entirely to silver antique items found in the palace. The palace had definitely retained its beauty through the years, and a wedding reception being set up in the courtyards while we were there perfectly displayed how the palace continues to be an attractive place. After the tour of the palace, we were free to explore the bustling streets around the palace, and Nathan and I went to the Jagdish Temple, a nearby Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva that was built in the 17th century, and is well known for its intricate carvings on the outside of the temple. After that, we walked down to the banks of Pichola, where we had a great view of the Jag Mandir, a palace of the royal family located in the middle of the lake, and the Lake Palace, the former summer palace, and now a 5 star hotel which costs over $1,000 dollars for a one night stay. By visiting the city palace as well as the nearby attractions, I was able to truly get a great sense of the city, and I grew to admire Udaipur for its history, fantastic attractions, and it’s cleanliness. I had a great time exploring Udaipur, and I now regard it as one of my favorite cities I’ve seen in India.
Teaching in Jadhol
Our experience teaching the girls at Jadhol was, if nothing else, an interesting experience. For one, we never actually taught them anything. We really just played a bunch of games with them over the course of 4 days and topped it off with a dance party on the final night. With the girls limited English, the games we tried to play had a wide range of success. On the lower end of the success spectrum we tried to teach the girls the Macarana. The speaker wasn’t nearly loud enough, which resulted in us needing Rishi-ji to stand in the middle of the girls awkwardly holding the speaker above his head so the music would reach everyone. We ended up giving up on the Macarana in favor of just trying to initiate an impromptu dance party on day one. Nobody danced. We moved on to Capture the Flag. Capture the Flag was probably our most successful game. The girls were engaged for a full hour to the point where we followed up 3 days of “lessons” with an hour of Capture the Flag. Other successful games included Four Corners, 7-Up, Simon Says, some kind of pattern game, Sharks and Minnows, and various other ice breakers. Overall, it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
My Sisters (“Teaching” addendum)
The relationship between my thoughts and my speech is a rocky one. In short, it’s a lot of second guessing, and it’s very uncomfortable. However, none of this was an issue with Anita and Reeya, because they only spoke around 6 or 7 words of English. Ironically, our almost complete inability to communicate deactivated my second guessing nature, finally allowing me to connect in an abstract way I’ve never really experienced before. It was all very simple. They were visibly excited to see me during the team’s “teaching” sessions, and I was excited to see them. They freed me from jail in Capture the Flag. I tagged them in 7-Up. They discretely helped me out in their game, Goat and Lion. We camped in the same corner in Four Corners, before immediately getting eliminated and spending the rest of the time taking selfies in the incandescent light provided by the sunset. At the dance on the final night, they each grabbed one of my arms and marched me into a room to get Henna, signed off with both of their names. They both hugged me when they left, and I think one of their Dad’s saw that and got annoyed. Can’t be sure, though. Like I said, I didn’t understand a word they said. I did, however, understand when they pointed at me and said “brother” and pointed at themselves and said “sister”. Like I said, it was all very simple. I miss them both, and wish them the best of luck in the future.
Conor and his sisters
My experience with Jhadol and the village life took me by surprise. While planning for that home stay we were told it was difficult in regards to living conditions and amenities. But being an experienced traveler and already 2 months through the current trip I wasn’t expecting to have any struggles. Although my struggles were minor, my results were major. Living the most simplistic lifestyle with these people would make someone like me who lives the complete opposite life in some cases feel bad, but instead I look past the comparison and look more at how they are, rather than what they have. And waking up everyday to see the locals consistently smiling, and when you say hi to your neighbors or people you’ve built a connection with while you’ve been there burst into a smile the only thing it can do is reflect the happiness.
Seeing the local girls happy and smiling and really enjoying our presence made us leaving our comfort zone a little more manageable, especially when you’re trying to communicate and teach with 100 eyes staring at you.
All in all captivating an experience like this is not possible for me to do with words, my summary is they don’t have much but what they do have is a bright community, talented students, and pure hearts. This experience taught me a lot and has lead to many more doors being opened because of it.
Photos of Just Village Things
The construction we had to do was wall plastering. This included mixing sand and cement mix together then carrying it over to the wall where the cement slappers proceeded to throw the cement against the wall and spread. This was a simple job but not an easy one. Some of our home stay family members volunteered to help with it and they showed us true Indian work ethic and skill. They always showed up earlier than expected and never took breaks to stop in the 100 degree heat. This was a very fulfilling job and happy we could help out the school.
Wow! What a party, so cool that it was all for youth international! The last night of our village home stay in Jhadol we were treated with a full on dance party that all the locals were invited to. To be in that moment was something else. All the girls showing us foreigners how to really bust a move in the Indian style was the coolest part. All around it was an amazing way to conclude our experience in Jhadol, and for me personally it was truly something I’ll never forget. The Indian dance music was so interesting and really fun to dance to. The students already had prepared group dances to some of the songs. Those were really fun to follow and mess around with, so happy to have had such an awesome moment created for our team and I’m really going to miss our friends in Jhadol.
Home stay Experiences
Eve and Sophie
We had the loveliest time in our Jadhol home stay. There were 5 children in our family, so something was always happenin! We had two younger brothers–one of whom was crazy!!–and three kind sisters. On top of the five in our family, handfuls of random neighborhood kids were running around the yard at all times. We spent a good majority of the time playing or napping under their majestic tree (biggest in the village!) We helped make chapati and ate dinner together each night. Afterwards, we would all sleep out under the stars. In the morning, we helped with chores—our favorite had to be sweeping the goat poop off of the tree. This home stay was an amazing experience that we will cherish forever.
Sophie and eve with the fam
Tom and Conor
Conor and I had an amazing home stay experience. We were in the home of a middle aged couple, who’s children had moved out. Our home stay father was the village leader, and our home stay Mom was an extremely hard worker and amazing chef. Although communication with them was admittedly difficult, we were able to get by with a few phrases.
But we mostly communicated through the universal language of hand motions. Every day, in the mornings, one could find us hard at work with the family, sweeping, feeding their four buffalo, and perhaps our favorite job, moving gravel from the fields to a pile by the house (we never found out what the gravel was being used for). At nights, Conor and I ate as many chapattis as we could handle, probably depleting the family of their flour stores. Overall, our experience proved to be very humbling and enlightening, and the couple was full of kindness and humor. This home stay experience really proved to me that language does not need to be present for a fantastic relationship to form.
I was in a family of 5, including a mother Nekki bai, father Devi la, two daughters Lela, and Puja, and one rascal son Shiva. Devi la was actually away working in China so I never got to meet him but it did not take away from my experience at all. All of the children were under 10 years old so there was always a lot of chaos. My mornings started with Shiva running around our porch/sleeping area pantless after taking his ritual morning shit. Then chores started, and this included sweeping the goat poop off the porch, giving water to the cow, and picking local berries called maouwa. Sometimes Shiva would help me with the sweeping, usually without his pants still. The berry picking was most pleasant. Lela, Puja, and Shiva would all pitch in and as we walked and picked the berries that had fallen from the trees we would trade off on singing songs. The nights were filled with games and singing before dinner. After diner we would all climb or crawl into our beds. I usually played with the goats a little before bed as I was sleeping right next to them. Then we all slowly dosed off watching the star filled sky and listening as life in the village came to rest.
Charlie carrying water with host brother
Alex and Trevor
The entire stay in Jhadol was by far the most impactful on me. My family was so nice to me and made my time there incredible. It was eye opening to experience such simple living conditions and have the internal results that I felt. This home stay was extremely humbling and allowed me to reflect heavily on the life I live back in the United States. I will never forget this time in my life and will always use it to push me through the adversities that I face in my life. Thank you so much Jhadol for showing me so much fun, love and reality. I will be forever grateful for the moments I have shared with you.
Our final day in Udaipur began with a trip to the renowned batik factory. Thanks to Rishi-ji and Kiran-ji who had the connection, we were able to meet with the famous artists behind the batik art. Batik is a 2500 year old Indian art technique that uses wax and dye. The wax conserves the color of the cloth beneath it and the dye colors in the rest, displaying the intricate designs.
After learning the history of the art, we were given the opportunity to try our hand at it. We all sat around together on the floor and sketched out a simple design on construction paper and then copied it onto cloth squares. Next, we shifted to the wax trays and began to trace over our designs with the hot wax. Once it hardened we took it over to the dying station and dipped it in to reveal our final products. Everyone’s turned out beautifully! We all had a splendid time learning about and creating our own batiks. We got to keep our artworks and will be bringing a piece of Udaipur’s culture back home with us.
Our last day in Udaipur our guide, Rishi-ji, treated our group to a boat ride. We rode out on the Pichola lake and watched the sunset over both the royal palaces. The boat took us deeper into the city and past the summer palace that sits on the water. After we docked the boat were led to an outdoor courtyard. Outside the gates we said our final goodbyes to Rishi-ji and Kiran-ji. After lots of hugs and promises to see each other again we entered the courtyard where we spent the night watching traditional Rajasthani puppetry, dance, and music. This included a Bahavi dance, where a dancer balanced 12 bowls on her head while balancing on different objects and moving around. The costumes were stunning and the dancers never missed a beat.
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Alex thinking about his future rap career