Sunday, December 12, 2010

Strangely comforting paddy fields

Expectations about the weather are rarely correct. Given that it was chilly and drizzling all the three days in Hyderabad, I had expected that brilliant weather to continue in Orissa. It was after all on the same eastern belt and there were rumours of cyclones. But, it was not to be. It was hot and sunny. Very. The sun beat down on my face as I made my way out of the train station in search of a place to stay.

Bhubaneshwar is a clean and well laid out city, atleast the newer parts. It was, however, the older areas of the city I was interested in. And the best way to see it was to walk it. Google Maps in hand, I plotted a course and set off in what was a balmy afternoon, with the determination that I would not return before ten in the night. My first destination was the Bindu Sagar lake in the centre of the old city. And it was all that I expected it to be. The lake surrounded by tiny temples on one side and the really huge Lingaraj temple on the other, with the processions on occasion of Durga Pooja in full swing on its banks, it was a sight to behold. And the street food vendors, selling very delectable dahi vada on its banks, which in my opinion is the best hangover food ever, made it a feast.

As I walked down narrow roads, in which ever direction that pleased me, I noticed the sun had started to dip. It was time to find a way out, and find a nice pub to cool the evening heat. After a couple of hours of walking, I find myself out of the old city and an auto to carry me to newer parts in search of a watering hole. The first place I reached was closed. And no one in sight to tell me whether it would actually open. Very well. I was certain there were other places. I met a similar fate at the next place, but this time there was one whom I could ask about the situation. As it turned out, during Durga Pooja, no alcohol was to be served. But, give up, I couldn't. I just had to persevere to find a place less religiously inclined. After being turned away from five more places, and by then having walked a good five kilometres in the search, I could not head back disappointed. But a moral victory was at hand. So what if I was denied alcohol, no one could deny me a sugar high, and having decided that, I bought five bottles of Sprite and finished them off in one sitting. The result wasn't what I expected.

The next day was a little museum time, where I happened to come upon the most awesome, and I have no other word for this, interpretation of Chamunda in the form of a 13th century sculpture. It so happened that buses to Konark were available right outside the museum, and as I had my bag handy decided to head there. The bus arrived after a small wait, and as was expected, very crowded. I managed to dump my bag in the small pigeon hole in the back and wrestled my way in. The conductor, who noticed that I was obviously not from around there, was very helpful. The journey was was going to be short and the discomfort wasn't very bothersome. Halfway along the route, the bus stopped at a small town called Nimaparha. The stop was for a quite a long time, and both the driver and the conductor got on top to unload the luggage from the roof. In the meanwhile, the bus stated to empty a bit, and quite a few seats became available. I grabbed the one closest to me.

After some time, more people started getting on the bus, and all the empty seats were eventually taken. A few moments before the bus was about to leave, a large group of people got on, and among them was a lady carrying a sleeping two year old kid. As she neared my seat, I looked around frantically to see if any empty seats were present in the bus. There were none. Resigned to my situation, I got up to make way. And in the crowd of people that got on the bus, I was eventually pushed to the back. It was going to be standing all the way to Konark. In the meanwhile, the conductor, who was all this while on the roof loading and unloading luggage got into the bus to issue tickets. He saw me hanging onto the bars at the back of the bus, and shouted above the din, "So many seats became empty and you are still standing?". I was sure a lot of people heard him and turned around to stare at me. And the conductor had this expression on his face that said he thought I was the biggest idiot in the world. I had no desire to shout out my explanation all the way from the back. I smiled and nodded.

With the Sun Temple visited, I heard of a brilliant of a sea food place right on the Chandrabagha beach. This being my birthday, it was something I just couldn't miss. Several plates of various sea fish, all accompanied by rice, and surrounded by the Bay of Bengal. It was a happy birthday to me.


Nanga Fakir said...

Appy budday fatso!

Venu said...

"So many seats became empty and you are still standing?"

So much for chivalry! :P

Unknown said...

Chivalry is dead man. Chivalry is dead.