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“Special” Lassi, Anyone???

INDIA | Monday, 21 January 2008 | Views [4872] | Comments [5]

            After leaving the tigers in Suwai Modhupor we made a trip south to Udaipur via night train.  It was there that we were drugged…but we will get to that later.

            Upon arriving in Udaipur, we checked at the local tourist office, found out where the cool place to stay was, and hopped in an auto rickshaw.  For the bargain price of 32 rupees, our driver drove us to a nice hotel, that is a hotel that if we booked in, he would get a 25 cent commission for.  However, after we ferreted this information out of him, he assured us he would get the same commission everywhere, and that the hotel would charge us that much anyway.  This is the game that the rickshaw drivers play and we are therefore forced to be their pawns, or perhaps their armless foosball men.  Nevertheless, we left our luggage  in the rickshaw and went inside.  Our budget for the hotel was initially only 300 rupees.  Which equals 7.50 or a 1/6th of a Motel 6.  The first hotel had  a nice room for 400, but we weren’t sure that we were ready to up our budget by an entire 1/3, so we went back to our rickshaw and asked him to show us a few more hotels in that price range.  Who was surprised when the next one he took us to was a 3000 rupee hotel?  Not us.  We rolled our eyes and asked him to take us to a “reasonable” hotel.  He took us to another hotel that also had rooms for 400 rupees, but it took us 15 minutes of bargaining to get that, and then we decided we didn’t like the room as much, so we trekked back out to the rickshaw and asked him, with hanging heads, if he could take us back to the first hotel (don’t worry, we were not abusing him, we gave him an 8 rupee tip, which is equal to 25% and our first official tip in India). 

Happily ensconced in our new hotel, with hot water from a shower head, and a flushing toilet – luxury, we quickly fell asleep for a four hour nap.  We woke up around 1 in the afternoon and were absolutely starving, so we headed outside for a walk around the town.  We had planned to find a restaurant that appeared to be clean and tasty, but exploring Udaipur preoccupied us, so it wasn’t until 5:00 that we stumbled across a restaurant. So before that, we walked through windy neighborhood streets and came to one of the four lakes that makes Udaipur “famous” on the guidebook circuit. Because it was a smaller lake and well out of the rainy season, the surface was mostly covered with mossy green specks. A couple people rowing toward the bridge left a very interesting pattern behind them: a line where the canoe cut through the moss, with alternating pock marks on either side where the oars had dipped into the water.

After crossing the lake, we came across a yard full of private school kids on their lunch break, which the boys spent playing cricket.  You may recall our bemusement at the weirdness of rugby compared to American football, the same applies to cricket as compared to baseball.  Rules are difficult to discern, but the boys playing still invited us to join in, despite our insistence that we had no idea how to play.  Rather than join them, we perched on a concrete ledge to view the game.  The ledge unfortunately we later discovered seemed to be second base.  Amid the cricket game, younger children who weren’t playing crowded around us in typical fashion and began interrogating us with the: Where are you from, what’s your name, my name is, how old are you routine.  It doesn’t matter how many times you answer the question, everyone wants to ask it for themselves…as well as shake your hand at least once.  Most of the time, this is where the routine ends, but a couple of these kids really wanted to practice their English.  After determining that we had no pens to give them, the boys started trying to get Andrew to hand them his sunglasses. When Andrew felt one of the boys reaching into his jacket pocket, we decided our position as the children’s cultural enlightenment for the day done.  We started to walk away when the girls approached us.  We have both determined that the girls are the smart ones (Sorry Richard).  They really want to know who you are and where you are from.  They roll their eyes at the silly little boys and overall just seem to be genuinely interested in chatting and less pen-hungry.

Once the girls’ lunch break was over and we were faced with the little hoodlums once again (no doubt skipping class to pick pockets for pens), we walked back across the bridge and remembered that we were starving.  We walked past our hotel and found signs pointing to a “lush garden” restaurant on the lakeside.  We walked through the doorway and decided that the rustic quality of the restaurant and the fact that no one was there didn’t bode well for the place.  So we decided to skip it and turned to go, when the proprietor came through the hall behind us.  He asked if we wanted to have tea, and explained that they weren’t cooking that day.  We briefly glanced at one another and agreed to the tea.  He sat us down at one of two tables that overlooked the lake.  When we asked to wash our hands, he pointed to a trough of standing water.  Feeling that the water was still probably cleaner than the kids hands we had shaken, we dipped in and wiped them off on our dirty pants.  We sat at the table and enjoyed an hour and a half of conversation with Basit.  He studied history, and was excited to tell us about Rajasthan, specifically what lay beyond Udaipur’s typical tourist attractions.  When we got on the topic of food, we told him how much we loved Indian food and that we strongly wished to know how to cook it.  He told us to come back the next day and he would give us a cooking lesson, including a trip to the authentic spice market.  We thought that sounded much better than another day of looking at forts, so we happily agreed and traipsed home to dinner on the roof of our hotel.  (This isn’t special to our hotel, everywhere we ate in Udaipur was on top of a hotel.)  The next day, after sleeping in, we made a circuit over three of the lakes, in fact at one point we ran into Basit and he confirmed our cooking lesson.  That afternoon around 2, we headed over to Basit’s for our Indian cooking lesson, hoping that we would get fed in the process.  He sat us down at our table and asked us what we would like.  Andrew ordered a lime soda and Alex a lassi.  When we proved to be indecisive as to what type of lassi and what type of food, he promised a special lassi and good vegetarian food.  He brought the lassi and lime soda out a little while later.  The lassi is normally a combination of yogurt, sugar, and fruit.  The lime soda was simply sparkling water with lime juice (alleged) and a glass ¼ full of sugar.  This lassi looked different than the ones we had previously had, it appeared to have chunks of cinnamon and a mysterious fruit.  Alex drank half of it before giving the rest to Andrew.  When Basit rejoined us, the lime drink and lassi had been finished off, he sat two steaming bowls of food in front of us and two bread plates.  He asked whether we liked the lassi and Andrew replied that it was good and asked what kind of fruit was in it.  Basit replied that it was a special lassi, he said it was fruit and sugar, and I put marijuana in it. 

            At this we looked at each other in slight shock and laughed nervously.  Basit left us to enjoy our lunch, (which was absolutely the worst Indian food we had ever eaten.)  We were so shocked that we didn’t even get angry at first.  We simply sat there quietly stunned.  One might think we were angry about being drugged, aside from that, it was really the thought about what a “Special” lassi might cost us that preoccupied our minds.  (It’s a 1.75 for those that are curious).  You may also wonder why we continued eating food that 1) did not taste good, and 2) was from a man that had just drugged us….but if you are wondering that, you should know that Alex’s parents always insisted she clean her plate, and her dad reinforced the idea that if you are going to pay for something, you better get your moneys worth J !  Really, we only finished of one of the dishes, the other was really pretty awful and even Andrew’s hunger couldn’t drive him to eat it.  We did shy away from the bread we thought might be the one that was cooked on cow patties. 

            So after all that, we bet you are wondering how the lesson went?  Turns out, Basit thought that a lesson meant writing down the recipe.  We weren’t too disappointed though, because we already know how to make bad Indian food, and we didn’t need a hands on course to learn it.  We did get a trip to the spice market though.  On the way back from the spice market, Basit bought us tea and offered to take us on a trip to the outer villages the next day on his motorcycle.  (It’s not odd for three people to ride a motorcycle here, in fact it seems to be the family car).  After we agreed, he said that we could pay for the petrol and perhaps throw in a gift for him if he was a “good” driver.  By this time, the day had taken its toll on us, and we wearily agreed before saying goodbye.  It was only later in our hotel room that we decided we needed some time alone, and we didn’t want to guess what a good driver costs.  So Andrew trekked down to Basits and left him a note telling him that we were cancelling for the next day.  It was with a sigh of relief and a little bit of guilt that we spent the rest of our night.  Whenever we felt too guilty though we reminded ourselves that not only had he drugged us, but he charged us for it too!  Share the love man….

            The next day was free of Basit so we were able to do the touristy City Palace, look at a million miniature paintings and eat French fries.  Altogether a fine day.  We even stopped by Basits that night to tell him goodbye (and maybe get another special lassi J), but his restaurant was closed.  With that, we packed our bags and caught a bus to Jodhpur.  The second largest city in the state of Rajasthan. Oh, and next time we blog, we will have been on a 3 day camel safari...

 

Tags: I should have known better!

Comments

1

A. YOU LEFT YOUR LUGGAGE OUT IN A RICKSHAW AND WENT INSIDE!!!!

B. The girls were pretending to be smart. In truth they want you to get them tickets to Hannah Montana and update them on news about Brittany Spears.

C. It is the sitar music that makes you crave the pot laced Lassi. Listen to less sitar music you hippies. I am working on a song called don't bogart the yogurt but you two are too young (and high) to get it so I will just entertain myself.

D. I don't know if Spanky is going to even let Steve near you guys!

  Richard Jan 22, 2008 2:30 AM

2

When you guys get over the munchies post some more stuff!

Annie sure got quiet when the ganja topic came up.
Suspiciously quiet.

  Rrrricardo Jan 23, 2008 10:30 AM

3

shannon it's a good thing you don't want to go into politics or be a cheif justice, with your drug history now you would not win. but you would be telling the truth when you reply "i never inhaled". ok now i will tell you, you need to be a little more selective about who you take food and drink from. this should teach you to ask at all eating places if there are any special added ingrediants. and with service like that if it had hit you before the ffod you probally would have eaten everything on the menu and raved about how good it is. but i will tell you i have restricted the girls from reading this blog so both of your reputations are preserved. richard i am afraid that when they come back there will be drastic changes, i am afraid they will be homeless, drug seeking hitchhiking bums, we need to get ready for an intervention. shannon gayle says she forgot to tell you that some of her familylives in india so maybe your restaraunt guy is her uncle? love you mom

  mardi Jan 26, 2008 3:54 AM

4

Oh Mardi these two heads have to stay at your castle from now on.
I have enough problems with my next door neighbor checking my yard plants all the time.
No way I am bringing in Andrew and Alex with all their tye died shirts and hemp smell and groovy stories about camel rides.

And again, isn't it curious how quiet Annie is? She is probably trying out new Lassi recipes right now.

  Richard Jan 26, 2008 7:06 AM

5

Hello Travellers,

Many years ago we used to meet a man called Basit who ran a "lush restaurant" beside the lake in Udaipur. Would you send me some photographs of him and his family? Would just be interesting to see it it's the same man :-). I am very much shocked of what happened to you there. But it's years ago now that I have been there so maybe everything changed a lot...

Would be very kind,

Thanks,
LovingIndia

  LovingIndia Mar 24, 2008 8:30 AM

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