A breeze of Venice
Definitely, numerous cities in the world are honored by being compared to Italy’s Venice. We have been told having been in the Venice of the Northwest (Brugge, Belgium) and now in the Venice of the East, but neither of us has yet been to real Venice in order to assess whether those comparisons are actually reasonable.
What we can say is that Udaipur is definitely one of the most beautiful and seducing cities in Rajasthan. Situated next to two lakes connected by a river, hosting several palaces, parks and numerous majestic buildings and temples and a splendid mountain scenery around it, Udaipur has everything to make it the perfect place for a romantic getaway.
Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive there in a very romantic mood, as we had some important issues to resolve before heading to the South, one of them being the broken lens of our camera. Supposedly, Udaipur was more equiped with Sony selling facilities than Jodhpur had been, so we came prepared with all the relevant addresses looked up on the Sony webpage and hired a Tuk-Tuk what appeared to be the largest Sony centre in town. In ended up being an even smaller store than the one in Jodhpur, with only a handful digital cameras in the show box and a quite sleepy vendor hanging behind the counter. We showed him our camera, tellig we had a problem with out lens that was not working anymore – without leaking that we let it drop on the floor – what made him taking the camera, switching it on and out three, four times, removing the lens and turning it in all possible directions, just to end up saying: “The problem is inside the lens (big news!), you have to go to the Sony service center, not far from here!” Of course out Tuk-Tuk driver was there inmediately to offer:”I bring you there, no problem, not far, same price!” And when we were inside the Tuk-Tuk started convincing us:”I know shop, big shop specialized camera, not small Sony shop, close your hotel, if want I bring, you look!” After all our experiences with Tuk-Tuk drivers and their strive for comissions, we kindly refused.
At the authorized Sony service centre the same game continued: ten people in a Sony shirt handed around our camera, turned it on and off, removed the lens, turned it in all possible directions, shook their head and ended up saying:”Problem in lens, can not repair lens.” So we asked if there would be any place in Udaipur to get a new lens? One of the ten guys standing around in this service store made a series of phone calls but finally also ended up shaking his head saying:”Sorry, Ma’m, not available.” Would have been too good to be true.
So we took the Tuk-Tuk back to the hotel, when the driver suddenly stopped next to small shop packed with Nikon advertisements:”Here specialized photo shop, old shop, professional shop. You just look, if not have what you need, bring back hotel.” Ok, so for courtesy’s sake, we got in to have a look. “Do you sell Sony E-mount interchangeable lenses?” – “Which one you need?” – “The 16-50 or 18-55mm one.” – “We don’t have on stock. But if you wait for 10-15 minutes we can make it possible for you!” The vendor, which was probably the shop owner, picked up the phone, dialed several numbers, then fetched a Sony prospectus from under the counter, pointing on another Alpha series camera and telling us:”I give you this one lens, E-mount lens!” – “But it is a totally different camera model, are you sure this is going to work with ours?” – “Yes, is working, no worry. You try, when not work, not buy.” And he sent his assistant out the door.
A while later, the assisstant returned, unbuttoned his shirt and unwrapped a black 18-55mm E-mount Sony lens. Naked, without any packaging or other documentation which would reveal its origin. But at least it looked totally unused. We put it on our camera and made some trial shots in several distances – it worked perfectly! Of course, no warranty, no packaging and the price was the same as it would have been an original one. But in the situation we were in and the expectation of having to wander around a chaotic city like Mumbai with all our luggage looking for a stupid camera lens – we honestly preferred the unconventional Indian style purchase option, and haven’t regretted it so far. However this experience again confirmed our impression that Indians are terribly talented for doing business!
Thanks to the Indian style of making business we could then fully enjoy the following day walking around in the streets of the marvelous old city of Udaipur and around the borders of lake Pichola, observing peoples’ everyday life with it and around it in their different professions. One of the most lasting memories we took from watching the numerous street sculptors producing tiny figures of the elephant god Ganesh, – who, again, brings the famous good luck. Under the glistening midday sun they were cowering on a piece of newspaper, fixing a piece of ordinary stone with their feet and tooling it with a log of wood, a spattle and a nail for the precision work.
More generally speaking, Udaipur’s inhabitants seem to appreciate artistic expression very much, as most of the house walls, even in the remoter and narrow side streets, are adorned with colourful paintings, which awards it a very particular style and elegance.