Hello folks!! (better than dear diary or dear blog), since my existence on the planet Earth for more than two decades ( come on!! u don’t expect me to write in years do u?) I haven’t had a chance to see even a wee bit of the thing that covers 71% of Earth’s surface i.e. oceans. A friend of mine found this quite shocking and unbelievable. What is there to be so shocked and astounded? As it is I’m not much of the travelling or the touring kind and I have always stayed at land locked places. People just tend to overreact at what one has done and what one hasn’t. One day a time will come….with the Earth gaining popularity just like “India Shining” and getting increasing hits from aliens just like Google search hits on Britney Spears…when people will be like :”oh my god! you haven’t seen an alien yet?”
Anyway….so I decided to go on a trip to see the ocean in this Diwali vacation with my parents. Destination Puri was selected and a four day trip was chalked out. In the train to Puri, during the whole journey our tickets were not checked by the authorities…..We may have as well travelled ticketless…would have saved some bucks….but being good dutiful citizens we did our part. The scenery was pretty much alike to that en route Kolkatta (my homeland)….All small ponds, coconut trees, ponds full of lotus plants……Unlike the barren and dusty route when one goes towards Pune/Nagpur….
As the train sped towards Cuttack, we crossed the 2,250 m long bridge built on the river Mahanadi. It was awesome.
As like all cautious Bongs, my parents had got their home made packed dinner while I’d decided to try the cuisine offered by Indian Railways….and I’m glad to report that I.R. has improved a lot….food was edible and in fact somewhat delicious….So much that my unexperimental and “no risks” father decided to leave the Bong tradition and eat in train hereon….But old habits die hard…in return journey he still got dinner packed from our cottage restaurant and again we had delicious food served by I.R. …better than before as this time we were in air conditioned coach and again Father’s vow was renewed.
The Sun temple was really grand…such a huge structure made of stone…so much creativity and hard work. Its surrounding gardens were extremely beautiful. Huge elephants and other creatures made of stone were there. There were many “guides” who pestered to hire them to show around and tell story. Some foreigners had hired them. We, Indians, knew better. I took many snaps and bought a lot of souvenirs from outside stalls.
The food shops outside the site don’t serve tasty food. But we drank very tasty coconut juice and ate pulp. Then we returned to our hotel and had our lunch. Our “international” hotel served very tasty food and a lot of it in cheap prices so I was happy. After our afternoon nap, we went to the main beach of Puri; “Sworgodwar” meaning gateway to heaven. Here the beach was very crowded and all the prominent hotels were on the road adjacent to the beach. It was already sunset when we went, so couldn’t enjoy much. There was a large market too but as we were tired from our day trip, we just did window shopping. We planned to come back the next day in early evening. From there we went around a trip around the town. Visited a Buddha temple where stone sculptures were kept for sale. Exquisite work but very costly.
The next day the same rented car came to take us to Chilka Lake. Chilka Lake is a brackish water coastal lake . It is the largest coastal lake in India. The driver told us Chilka is famous for its crabs. We were tempted to eat crabs and had decided to buy from there. The fun part of Chilka visit consisted of boating ; the activity of which both my Dad and I were afraid. So we just roamed a little , took snaps and sat in the adjoining park while eating chips and feeding crumbs to crows.
While coming back, I’d to undergo the torture of listening to Himesh’s songs which our driver had put on. Also Dad bought 3 crabs weighing one kilo and gave them to the hotel chef to prepare for us. I was looking forward to my dinner that night more than i usually did. When the crab dish came I could find only two crab bodies. Supposedly our hotel chef couldn’t resist and kept one for himself. I admit I was grumpy as I am not at all generous in matter of food.
In evening we went to Sworgodwar and enjoyed a lot. Even Dad went to wet his feet in the waves crashing on the shore. There was a foreigner couple bathing intimately and thus were the centre of attraction. At the beach there were local people selling “pearls” and “stones” collected from sea at prices of Rs 5-25!!!! There were camels for giving ride and chairs were available on rent at the rate of Rs 10 per hour to sit and enjoy. We “rented” chairs as the beach was quite dirty and because Mom saw a camel doing shit and the owner covering it up with sand.
Then we bought some snacks from the Mongini’s outlet and sat by the “Marine drive” to enjoy. After that we went shopping and I bought knick knacks, dress material and gift items for colleagues back home. Beautiful idols made of stone and coral were available. Came back to hotel. After dinner we went for a night walk on the beach. Unlike my parents, I didn’t dare to sit on the sand as all crabs , big and small were climbing out in night.
Next day was our last day in Puri. All of us went for early morning walk on beach. The ocean at each time of day has different sights and different effects. The morning chill, the fog, the boats going out to earn livelihood…..whereas in night the darkness, the sound of waves crashing in the silence of night, boats returning home, a feeling as if we’re standing at the edge of the world. Dad and Mom went for some last minute shopping. In late afternoon, Dad and I went for our last view of the Bay of Bengal, to take in the vastness of the elements of earth before we left for station.
After giving suitable tips to the boys who worked as waiters, we left for station. Next day we reached our home with the memories of a wonderful trip.