A 7th birthday fit for a prince

Trip Start Dec 29, 2010
Trip End Dec 05, 2011

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Saturday, October 8, 2011

A long drive to Nagaur had us immediately asking: what are we doing here?  It was a pretty dirty hectic town with a wonderful fort in it, but really nothing else.  Then it dawned on us that this was the place that the travel agents tried to take out of the agenda at the last minute due to management issues:  we had decided to leave it in to save even more driving, but perhaps it had been a mistake?  The fort, whilst stunning, was completely mis-managed which caused some frustration.  But anyway, we had arrived and this was to be the scene of Jamie's birthday, so we vowed to make the best of it.

And Jamie really could not have had a better birthday.  He did all the kinds of things that he loves, and really that’s all that matters.  Zach was almost even more excited than Jamie, wanting to plan everything, right down to where to put the presents out, how to do the treasure hunt etc etc.  He really was fantastic and a very sweet little brother today, not at all bothered that he didn’t have a present to open as well.

So the day started early with presents being opened in our bedroom, particularly exciting as it meant new toys to play with, something not to be underestimated on this trip, as they have learnt to survive with only 1 small bag of lego, a couple of guns and a few star wars figures.  Jamie was delighted that he got what he wanted:  lego fire engine stuff, a star wars transformer and a couple of travel games.

After breakfast we dragged everyone unwillingly round the fort for a short tour before having a team cricket match in the grounds of the fort.  The temperatures must have been up into the mid '40s and all the British wilted which was a bit of a shame as Manjeet, Babu and Monu could have played for hours.  We made a hasty retreat to the pool, then had some much needed chill-out time in the shade while the children played with their new toys. Brad and Georgie even managed to watch the England Rugby team get booted out of the Rugby world cup at the hands of the French. Although they only got to watch the second half as it took Brad over an hour to work out how to get live TV to play over the internet in India. I am sure it was much easier than he made it look.

The afternoon was spent flying kites, Indian style, helped by Manjeet and one of the hotel staff.  The kites are made of tissue paper, and, with a certain technique, can be made to fly unbelievably high.  Jamie had a bit of knack to it, and almost used up his whole string, which apparently was 1,500m long!

Next was a treasure hunt devised by Brad which was fun, and involved ‘treasure’ such as kitkats, milky bars and tic tacs.  All 6 of us partook in a vain attempt to get a bite of the much-craved-for chocolate! 

Then on to the evening where we had arranged to have a candlelight dinner in the Chamber of Lights part of the old fort.  Given that we were the only guests, we had bought ourselves Indian clothes to wear in Udaipur.  Georgie and I had a lot of fun getting dressed up in our saris – 3 women who normally sweep up in the hotel helped us to get ready, much to their hilarity as we put on our cropped tops backwards, and exclaimed at the weight and heat of the material.

Finally we were all ready and had a big photo shoot in the middle of the haveli before heading for dinner.  The children absolutely loved dressing up – almost as much as me – and Benjamin just adored wearing his little princes hat.   Jamie and him looked like proper little Maharajas.  Zach didn’t want a hat, nor to be a prince, so he was the karate kid instead.  Brad also looked dashing in his turban tied in the style of a maharaja.

The Chamber of Lights looked absolutely stunning, lit by hundreds of little traditional oil and wick lights placed in the walls of the building.  It was an area that was traditionally saved for special occasions and therefore seemed a fitting place to celebrate Jamie’s special day.

Dinner was a very child-friendly roast lamb (or goat?!), potatoes, pasta and a good Mexican chicken, and I think we all welcomed the change of menu from the usual Indian fare.   A birthday cake was produced, complete with candles and ‘Jamie’ written on the front, so we all enjoyed a delicious piece of chocolate cake as well.

Next was the grand finale to a wonderful evening:  fireworks in the main courtyard of the fort.  The setting was truly sensational, and was where Liz Hurley celebrated part of her Indian wedding, which we thought was rubbish until we checked it on Google.  Either way it was breathtakingly beautiful.  We were treated like royalty as we sat on chairs and watched some amazing fireworks light the sky and the buildings surrounding us.   A moment that I will never forget and a birthday that I am sure will stick in Jamie’s mind as truly magical.

Sadly the children were tired after all the excitement so the evening ended rather promptly.  I continued to potter around in my sari….it was like my wedding day, I just did not want to take it off, despite the 6m of material plus underskirt being swelteringly hot.  I will have to invent an excuse to put it on again some day (maybe an Indian-themed party in Notgrove?!) although I’m not sure I will ever be able to put work out how to put it on properly every again.
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