31.07.2014 29 °C
Gondal was originally a hundred square mile state, comprising of four towns and more than 175 villages, Gondal today is just a small town and all it has to show for it's stately history is a nineteenth century Riverside Palace, which was once the residence of the Gondal Yuvraj (Crown Prince) and the Orchard Palace, which is the hotel we are staying in, which is in the palace estate. We have stayed in a few palaces in the last few weeks and this one may be the best. The hotel houses a collection of vintage and classic cars (post 1910) a royal rail carriage, which smells of moth balls and some horse-drawn carriages.
The hotel seems to be exclusively run by this couple; one seems to do most of the work and the other seems to do very little, but look pretty. By way of a change, we are the only guests in the hotel and if we order food, they have to get it from the palace. Natalie and I joke that the hotel is actually closed and these two young men have broken in and are pretending to be the owners. We have set up a whole scenario around them and of their antics and it makes us laugh, especially as they keep filling the roles we have set for them. The worker at the moment is setting the table and the other is preening himself at the desk.
This morning (although Natalie and I are absolutely full of cold, and Bill is at the fever stage) we went to a 'factory' that made homeopathic medicine. We were shown around and it was really very interesting. We were shown the different stages and we now realise why homeopathic medicines are so expensive as some take years to make. The ingredients in some of the remedies were rather strange, there were metals in many of them (thus, they were unable to export to the UK) and in one room there was an awful smell of ammonia (Bill left very quickly) and we found out the main ingredient was cow urine! We met the doctor, who owned the business, which was set up by his grandfather and we had a long chat with him. After the pharmacy we went to the Royal Palace, we were all pretty unimpressed, especially as we were been shown around by a moody teenager, who spent the whole time texting his friends and even asked to take a picture of us, which he then sent to his friends. Inside the palace is a small Muslim temple and there was a family worshipping there and when Bill passed them, they offered him a drink, people are so nice.
The best part of the day was going to a Khadi cotton factory, where the ladies were sat at their looms making cotton material. The noise in the room, was soo loud and nobody had any ear protectors on. The ladies (there were some young girls in there, who looked like they should be at school), were all happy to see us. We have more or less seen the whole process of cotton production in recent weeks. Gujarat, has cotton growing in the fields, we saw the cotton been put onto reels, today we saw the ladies make the white material and in Surat at the fabric market, we saw hundreds of buyers, buying the white material, so they could print their designs. It made me feel very humble, watching all their hard work, especially as we had just purchased a shirt for the equivalent of four pounds. The shop attached to the factory was excellent and we soon had armfuls of purchases.
After a good snooze this afternoon, we are ready for invalid food....soup and French fries, strangely enough our illness has not stopped us drinking beer. One of the hotel 'owners' just told us that we have brought them luck, as it has been raining all afternoon; everywhere we go Bill and I seem to bring monsoon rains, we think we should hire ourselves out.