Upon arrival at the palace we take a quick tour – it is so beautiful, especially the paintings and the mirror rooms –but then we don’t have much time to linger on, we have to hide little Easter eggs in Samode Bagh for the children to find. Dheeraj, Gajju, Geeti and I dive into the daunting task of concealing them in a very large garden in only ten minutes. We are still finishing up as the kids come in shouting, “Go! Go!” It is hilarious and so much fun.
Being American, I am the only person who has ever hunted for eggs, or celebrated Easter for that matter, so I am quickly designated the “speech giver”. I tell the children that Easter is a festival Christians celebrate to signify the end of winter and the birth of spring, the eggs being a symbol of rebirth. I also say that they will collect all the eggs in one place and then share them equally among themselves, thus avoiding the possibility that someone could be left without any. And off they are, doing pretty well and finding the majority of eggs intact in spite of the heat I was worried about. There is a chipmunk flying away with an egg, the bird has played too.
After the children have finished the hunt, we sit down to a lovely lunch of paneer and dal, followed by gulabjamun, my favourite Indian dessert, and butterscotch ice cream, my colleague’s favourite. The chef, so considerate and respectful, has come to see the children and stopped by all their tables to ask them how they liked the food and if they were happy, just the way he would with any important guest. The children are thrilled, but never overexcited, they are actually so well mannered that we can all just relax and share a lovely lunch together.
Dulcis in fundo, so sweet at the end, we see a troupe of professional Rajasthani folk dancers arrive followed by a magical puppet show. We all join in the celebration and by the time we are ready to go, we all have stars in our eyes. I know that my words hardly do the day justice, but I guess I can just use one to sum it all up: unforgettable.
November to February