day thirteen: tapering on valentines

Yoga on the rooftop right after sunrise. The sun still glowing bright orange low in the sky. The morning prayers echoing over loud speakers throughout the town (I have a recording). Everything else still asleep but starting to wake up. Ready to become alive.

But I’m headed for a crash. In order to save myself, I decided to taper today. Like an athlete preparing for the big event. Rest my mind, my muscles, my camera.

It is Valentine’s Day, which means I have officially broken my curse. For the past three years, I have been in the midst of ending relationships. Not to say that they have been bad Valentine’s Days per se, but just not your standard roses and chocolates kind of moments. But, this year, my valentine is this amazing country and this year of self-discovery. March 2012 to March 2013, the year I took to focus on me. I decided to give myself the best Valentine’s gift of all, time to rest.

I know you’re probably thinking, Sara’s past few blogs have been about rest, and you’re right. I am exhausted. But today was perfect. I might have missed out on some interesting people, exciting scenes, and must-buy purchases, but I can always come back to Udaipur. I would rather take a day to recover that run myself into the ground.

So I lounged in the sunshine.

Sitting on the hotel’s perfect resting setup, I opened shop. Laptop. External hard drive. iPhone. iPod. My mobile office.

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Oh you thought I meant that I actually rested today? As in do nothing? Insert big belly laugh here. There was definitely play breaks throughout the day to catch up with someone who makes me smile and someone else who needed me to help her find her smile, but in general, I cleaned up the inbox and knocked out some deadlines.

And then it was time to say good bye to Udaipur, the city of lakes (man-made lakes), and our nice hotel keeper, Taakt aka Eddie. He was just so adorable. I still cannot get over it. As we were getting ready to go…

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Him: When you come back, you stay free. Or you want to stay at Lake Palace [really expensive hotel in the middle of the lake]? I take you there.

Me: Oh, you know someone there [in India, everyone knows someone who knows someone who does whatever you’re looking for]?

Him: Well no…

Me: How can I stay there then?

Him: Just close your eyes, and I’ll make this place there.

Hmmm. He speaks my language. Just use your imagination. I understand. I understand oh too well.

I close my eyes.

When I open them, we are at the airport. I managed to fit all my purchases thus far into the bags I brought. Success. I don’t know how much longer that will last. Some of you might end up with very small, foldable something or others as souvenirs. Or printed photographs upon my return. Or stories. I will give you all my imagination just as Eddie gave me his.

Close your eyes.

When you open them, we will be in Mumbai.

A city. A real city. With a skyline along the Arabian Sea. Couples getting their smooch on along the seashore. Hundreds of them. Is this normal? Oh yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.

We sit in traffic in our “cool cab” (one with AC) but without the AC on. We start and stop, stuck in the bumper to bumper traffic. I think our driver needed a lesson from my dad: too many jackrabbit starts and stops are bad for the engine.

I did not expect such a massive city. I don’t know what I expected, but I was blown away. So much happening! Weddings (see photo below, yes that is for a wedding!), warnings, lights, so much.

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Teresa taught me a necessary word for Mumbai, sumundar, or ocean. I think I can remember that one.

An hour or so later (due to traffic), we finally arrive at our hotel, the Regent Hotel, a block from the water. We all hit the sack and sleep like babies. Valentine’s Day dreams of what is to come.

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