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What I didn't realise was that my guidebook is utterly useless when it comes to the reality of Mt Abu; it turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip.
I did indeed spend my first two days doing next to nothing, just writing letters, resting my aching toe (following my injury in Palitana), eating copious in my room, a bonus in a room costing Rs150 a night), and I revelled in the holiday atmosphere. ' he said, and unable to think of a reason I followed him up to the roof.
Sufficiently off the tourist trail to be almost totally free of westerners, it is instead a haven for Indian tourists.
Mt Abu is the honeymoon capital of Rajasthan, itself one of the most romantic states in India, and as a result it's fascinating to someone whose concept of marriage is totally different to the Indian one. Surrounding a small lake, just the right size for intimate boat rides at sunset, Mt Abu manages to combine a pleasantly cool temperature with a complete tourist set-up; ice cream stalls stand side by side with shops peddling sarees and Kashmiri trinkets, cute parks sit alongside piers hiring pedal-boats, and luxury hotels rub shoulders with cheap guest houses, all vying for a lucrative slice of the honeymoon market.
Divorce is almost totally unheard of in India, but it forms a staple ingredient in hundreds of western soap operas, along with infidelity and the scourge of .Among Indian tourists, the universal reaction to the news that I am travelling alone is one of amazement, as if what I'm doing is slightly sacrilegious; this attitude is similar to the stereotypical Chinese and Japanese tourist, and in a similar way Indians always take tours with others instead of going it alone, they always take a guide at the attractions rather than getting a book and doing it at their own pace, and they even manage to take their honeymoons in huge groups. but then again, in India the concept of sex before marriage is total anathema, so the whole marriage thing is another world to start with.It's a successful world though, if you throw away your preconceptions of what a marriage actually is.Generally Indian marriages last until one of the parties dies, because the marriage starts from nothing – an arrangement for social and business reasons, not love – and develops from there.And the vast majority of marriages develop into successful ones. Most marriages here work because the patriarchal society makes it so; the man is in charge, and he gets his way, end of story.
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And they're a funny bunch; no matter how long I travel round this country, I can't get my head round the Indians on holiday.