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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").



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   antacids and bad pizza and beer
Wednesday, January 1 2020

location: room 308, Karohi Haveli, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

This morning at breakfast in the rooftop dining area I showed restraint and only got myself one or two double espressos.
This was the last full day of the VegVoyages tour, and it was a completely unscheduled day for us to do as we wanted in Udaipur. It would've been fun to have a few other such days sprinkled into the schedule, though I suppose that could've chosen not to do a whole day of events had I wanted to. The only problem with doing that would've been Gretchen, who would've said something like, "we're probably never going to be in India again, so why would you just want to spend the day at the hotel (or palace or haveli)?" In any case, at least I had today, and Gretchen didn't find anything wrong with my decision to stay in our beautiful room in the haveli while she and her sister-and-law and nephew went across the Daiji Bridge on a mission to buy paintings, colored photographs, jewelry, and textile arts. I spent my downtime mostly writing things you may have already read and going through my photographs. At some point I started drinking vodka; I still had some I'd bottled in 100 mL travel containers back in Hurley before the trip.
When I next saw Gretchen, she had a bunch of things she'd bought, including a mounted print whose matting was going to have to be cut down in order to fit in her backpack. She reported that our nephew had found pizza at one of the food places they'd visited, which would be exciting for any teenager, particularly one who hadn't seen pizza in nearly two weeks. Gretchen had a samosa with one her trademark single-bites taken out of it, and that would be my lunch today. Eventually Gretchen went downstairs to get an hour-long massage that would only cost $25. After hearing about how our friend Kirstin got a happy ending with her massage at Mayatulum Resort (where we stayed in February, 2017), Gretchen was wondering if she'd be able to get such a massage here in India. Sadly, that wasn't to be.

By this evening I was suffering from pretty bad acid reflux, probably exacerbated by an ambien I'd taken to get to sleep last night. I'd exhausted my supply of antacids, but fortunately Gretchen's mother had a whole bottle of Tums.
For dinner, Gretchen and I got together with her parents, sister-in-law, and nephew and we walked to a nearby restaurant called Millets of Mewar. In keeping with the general funkiness of all things Indian, its dining room was at the top of a steep staircase, completely inaccessible to the handicapped (and only barely accessible to people with multiple joint replacements). The food on the menu was diverse and included things like pizza. And nearly everything could be made vegan. My nephew still hadn't had enough pizza, so he ordered one, as did I and Gretchen's mother. Gretchen's father wanted beer, so we ordered a big 750 mL bottle of Kingfisher "ultra," which turned out, unfortunately, to be a super-light diet beer. To me it tasted not too different from seltzer. It was a fun meal, but the pizza was nearly as terrible as the beer. At the end of the meal, Gretchen had a long chat with the staff running the cashier about things like veganism and her new book of poetry featuring fictional characters in a fictional prison.
Happily, nobody ordered dessert, but given all the people who like dessert in our contingent, this only meant we'd be venturing further afield to find something sinfully sweet to eat. You already know how I feel about the seeking of sweet food when I've just eaten a meal. These situations make me irritable and impatient, feelings I have to spend a lot of energy suppressing. We set out towards the place Gretchen and the others had been this afternoon, somewhere in the warren of streets across the Daiji Bridge. On the way there, we passed the temple where the cows and street dogs hang out. An old woman in the temple saw us slowly strolling past and said (in good English) that I was "very white." I agreed, saying, "yes; you can really tell when I dance."
The other side of the Daiji Bridge appeared blocked; a stone archway over the walkway was being repaired, and various poles had been put in place to secure stones (or whatever) until the mortar or glue had set. Seeing this, I immediately assumed some detour had been provided, since that's how things would be done in the United States (where I developed all of my muscle memory for such scenarios). But upon seeing the behavior of the locals approaching us, I realized there was no such detour. When they got to the archway, they just picked their way through it, stepping over and ducking under the various leaning poles and then continuing onto the bridge. They were young, so this was easy. But Gretchen's mother would have more difficulty given her titanium hip and knee. Despite those limitations, we managed to get her through. Perhaps more dangerous were the streets beyond the bridge. For some reason some in our contingent insisted on walking two-abreast despite all the zipping motorcycles and tuk-tuks. This seemed suicidal to me, and definitely not a reasonable risk to undertake in the pursuit of chocolate cake when one has already eaten a meal. We ended up at a small bakery with two dogs slumbering on its stoop, one step above the street. (At Animal Aid we'd seen what can come of sleeping at the edge of or in the street.) This being India, the inside of the bakery smelled more like sewage than freshly-baked muffins, but this was the place Gretchen and the others had decided to return to earlier today, partly due to the presence of Hebrew writing on the signage. They ended up buying a small chocolate cake. At that point Gretchen and her sister-in-law ran off somewhere to maybe buy more art (though it was dark and I don't know what would've been open), leaving the rest of us to pick our way through the various obstacles, spectacles, and dangers back to the haveli.


A common species of large predatory bird that flies over Udaipur. Click to enlarge.


Our room in the haveli.


Cat on a tin roof as seen from our haveli. I only saw three or four cats the whole time we were in India. As in Latin America, dogs force them to live on roofs and other dog-free places. I saw another one creeping around the Phool Mahal nervously.


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