I didn’t expect to find this woman, sitting as she was, sifting grain on a patio at the Monsoon Palace as if it were an everyday thing. The Indian palace is one of Udaipur’s tourist attractions; no one lives there. If anyone had been bunking on the site, it would be the trio of masons who were assigned to complete the restoration work on the lower level. Yet she looked as if it was her palace, as did the cat curled up on her sari, its white fur stark against the fiery orange fabric.
“May I take your photo?” I asked the woman, pointing to my camera. She nodded and moved to push the cat away. “Oh no, no, it’s very sweet, I would like it in the picture.” I rushed forward to stop her and she just smiled a little and left her companion in place.
More people came out onto the deck, and they walked straight past us and to the white railing. They’d ascended the steep, switchback road to Monsoon Palace for their prize of the view over the city and Lake Pichola, just as I had. Shimmering below a sky of periwinkle blue, it was spectacular, but static. I couldn’t look into the eyes of the view. I wish I’d told the woman how beautiful she was, at her palace.