The Place to Be

As always we’re up as early as possible and after breakfast Elin, Sara, Ulrika, Ricard and me walk downtown to see the palace. We pass by the beautiful Betwa river where the locals are bathing and doing their laundry. Soon there are a few kids running along with us and Elin is soon holding hands with three of them. They absolutely melt her heart and she stops to buy them chips which she carefully explains that they have to share.

The palace is the only thing in town that costs money to see but we decline the offer of a guide. The palace is really nice and you have a great view of Orchha from up there. The doorways are really low though and I bang my head so hard in one of them that I see stars. Ricard is having problems with his camera screen and tries to show Sara who just doesn’t get it. When Ricard is turning the camera sideways the screen goes dark he insists… I recognize the problem and as soon as I start laughing Ricard also realizes the problem, the screen is polarized and so are his sunglasses. And when he turns the screen they cancel out all light instead of only half of it! =D

We come across a couple of mangy puppies playing in the yard as well, it’s sad to see really, but what can you do? They sure are cute though. A police car pulls up on the courtyard and I seize the opportunity to ask what the little antenna in the middle of the hood is for. Apparently they put the flag there when on escort service. Moving on to the other palace we get an impromptu guide as the ticket man starts telling us about the different rooms in there. The thing about this palace are the bedrooms of the Maharani (Queens) which are covered with wall paintings and such. Except for one, which is where they ugly Maharani lived the guy explains, which has no decorations at all.

The gals are off to surf the Internets and Ricard and I end up at another barber. This time it’s not quite as good but definitely not bad, and when the shave is done they wonder if we want back massage as well! Of course we do and are given a very thorough head, back and arm massage right there in the barber chair. 250 rupees each we pay (~40 sek) and one of the guys is asking if we’ll come to his shop now. Now, if this weren’t Orchha we probably wouldn’t have come with him, but this town is different than the others and after a bit of walking we suddenly find ourselves in another barber shop! He asks us to sit and explains that now I am to be given another massage from a very famous man. Okay, I’m not one to say no to a massage and the guy starts kneading while Ricard takes the opportunity to write some diary notes. 40 minutes later the guy is finally done with more or less the same thing that I just got, and we get ready to leave. Asking what it costs lends the answer that since the shop isn’t open yet and because we are the very first customers we can pay whatever we like. So I pay the guy 100 rupees and we’re on our way again.

I want to squeeze in a dip in the river as well before going back to the hotel so we clamber out among the rocks in the middle of the river and I hop in after finding a relatively safe spot where the current isn’t so bad and where there are plenty of things to hold on to. The water is fabulous and probably somewhere around 25 degrees. I just lie there floating and when a dragonfly lands on the tip of my nose the bliss is complete.

We walk along the riverside to get to the hotel and come across a couple of fishermen, they haven’t gotten anything though and we continue on until we happen upon the temples that are right next to our hotel. There’s also a Sadhu there (holy man) and we go say hello to him, he’s not very talkative though so we head back to the hotel.

The others are found at the pool and I join them briefly after booking an hour of Ayurvedic massage. It starts almost right away so I lend my laptop to Ricard while I go indulge myself for the third time today. The massage is more or less just like Swedish massage as far as I can tell, the oils are probably different though. The guy does a decent job even though he clearly only has a very rudimentary understanding of where the different muscles are. He also pushes straight down at my spine rather hard at one point which is a definite no-no when massaging. We trade a few tricks though and in the end it’s a rather good massage.

Back out at the pool I take the opportunity to write some postcards. Lars has found a yoga class that takes place at 8 in the morning and me and Sister Karlsson decide to join. Done with the postcards I get the laptop back from Ricard and I push up some blogs before we gather to go downtown again for dinner.

A rumor has been going around that Sunil is fixing a dinner at a restaurant to which almost everyone else are going. So we find Sunil and end up at a rooftop where a couple of tables have been placed. The guy taking our orders is making a big deal of that they have chicken on the menu tonight and it’s not until next morning we realize why this is so as Maria tells us that the entire village is vegetarian and that a chicken being smuggled in is a rare event.

We all order vegetarian meals however and get a round of beers and chips while waiting for the others to join as we’ve come a bit early. The others show up and soon the dinner is in full swing. After a while Sunil comes up to me and wonders if I want some chillies with my food since I said I wanted it spicy. I agree and get five green chillies on a plate. That’s a challenge if I ever saw one and I actually manage to eat them all (well, actually Ricard eats one of them, but they’re all gone in the end).

Loose in mind and body we stumble back to the hotel for an afterparty out on the patio with turkish pepper shot and Swedish Djungelvrål for Monto to try (his name actually is Monto, Monty was just something he said so that we would remember it more easily). As the afterparty is winding down, Monto is nervous to go back to the bus as his father is probably already sleeping. So he gets to sleep on the floor of our tent.

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