Took the overnight open-air sleeper from Mumbai to Udaipur -- it was $9, and it was nuts. I've never been startled awake so often by such pungent odors or blaring horns. However, barreling through the Indian countryside and pulling into over-crowded train stations in what appeared to be near-desolate towns was pretty incredible.
Udaipur, in south Rajasthan, is a beautiful, idyllic (but touristy) city. The buildings are white and the people are colorful. Blue lakes and green hills surround the city. It feels like pure India, stuck in an age before the boom -- as such, a number of movies (and parts of Octopussy and The Darjeeling Limited) have been filmed here.
It's also a very sleepy city, especially after Mumbai. The people are all content with a slower pace and proud of "the most beautiful city in India."
Spent some time with some of the younger professional set -- the owner of the only Honda motorcycle dealership, the chef/owner of a popular new vegan restaurant -- it's always best to see a city through locals' eyes, but driving around through old Indian streets in a new VW blasting American dubstep makes for a pretty interesting contrast.
The highway from Manali to Leh closes in three weeks, so I need to keep moving. Next stop: Agra!