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11/25/2011

Orissa or India and her pious tradition… 2

At breakfast, the room of the restaurant is empty, as well as the plates. We feel like asking for the moon when we ask for toasts. We decide to give up, leave and buy biscuits somewhere. Well, yes, except that the car will be 30 minutes late. The guy at the reception sends us back to breakfast where by magic food has appeared! We stuff ourselves with parathas and potatoes!

 

We then visit the Sun Temple of Konark, a massive charriot with 24 giant wheels. An enormous stone temple which dates from the 11th century, partly renovated, full of erotic sculptures from the tantric period (soon a post on this).

Small digression on one of the Indian paradoxes: they worship penises (the lingam of Shiva), a lot of temples are adorned of sculptures with sexual character but the smallest hint of a tit on TV and the image is blurred and the sex is a huge taboo. A heritage of the English according to my Indian friends; in my opinion it started changing well well before the British time, and the Arab invasions starting in the 8th century also played a part - and I am not the only one to think that! see here). And here are the Indians somehow stuck between thousands year old tradition and “modernity”. Just saying…

 

The complex of the temple was superb, not only the architecture (see here: A) but the gardens, and we enjoyed it big time in spite of the heat and the Indians who stopped us every 30 seconds (I do not exaggerate) to take a picture of/with us. A little annoying after some time…

 

Small stop at the beach on the way back. Virgin beach as soon as one moves away a little. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and quiet beach that I have seen in India.

 

De Konark, Orissa - Nov 2011

 

 

Lunch at 3:30 in the only open restaurant. “Open all the day”. The waiter brings us the menu and lets us lose ourselves in it. And then at the time of the order (some 10 minutes later), there is only “fried rice”. Normal. And a chai? No? Good… He finally takes his fingers out of his a.. to prepare me a tea!!

 

After that it is superb! There is an incredible crowd on the beach. The tradition in this auspicious day (Kartik Purnima) is to send small boats to the sea, in commemoration of the close relatives who left in this day to Java, Sumatra, Bali (from where the name of Bali Yatra or Boita Bandana). Many people come to the beach for that, including tribal Indians, the old women not wearing a blouse under their saris etc. What a piety!

A superb experience thus, especially with the puja (ceremony) on the beach at 18:30 where the Hindus get purified by fire. Many people took pictures of us but it was only fair as we did the same!

 

11/23/2011

Orissa or India and her pious tradition… 1

I recently did a mini-break in Orissa.

 

Orissa, and more precisely Puri, is there:

Map Orissa Puri.jpg

 

 

Immediate question when I speak about this trip (to Indians and others): “But why there?? Why Orissa??“

I was looking for a place to visit with my friends, with a big time constraint – which doesn’t really help in India.

 

I had posed a first option on Bundi, in Rajasthan. Super pastoral. But that implied one night of train + one hour of car to go there and 3 hours of train + a plane to return. And then while doing some research I found out that we would miss the local festival by only a few days. But that we could attend the festival of Puri, in Orissa. It is a sacred city in India and there is a festival! No need to say no more. And it is also easily accessible by plane and not too expensive. Done!!

 

We arrive at the mini airport of Bhubaneshwar. How nice to be able to walk from the plane to the terminal!! We find a car without a problem for Puri (one and half hour from there). It is dark outside and we can’t see anything. On the other hand our ears take load. Loud Indian music and the driver is hooked to the horn. Never seen (or rather heard) that. Really. And surprisingly our 2 other drivers during the trip, same thing!!

 

We arrive at the hotel. I succeeded in taking the last one on the beach, so far from the other hotels that the driver believed it did not exist! There is no roof, the 4th floor is in construction and obviously the work has been stopped. The restaurant is in the basement, “nicely” decorated with plastic flowers. There is no one… Guys constantly pass half naked (apparently the restaurant is between the staff quarters and the shower). The roasted fish is good but the chicken is not well unfrozen. I have to point it out. Answer of the waiter - which honestly did not express anything (the absolute vacuum): “it is the AC”. Good Lord. The food is not cooked and he talks to me about the AC! Good luck…

 

The night goes by, with crackers and other backfires…

11/05/2011

5 years ago…

 …I arrived in India…

 Here are 2 dialogues quite typical when non-Indian people ask me for how long I have been in India. The 1st one is usually with a non-Indian who 1. has never been in India, 2. visited India on holidays and 3. has just arrived in India. And the 2nd is with a non-Indian person who has had some brush with India…

 

-          5 years?? You must be in love with India no?

-          Euh… No. I don’t adore her, I don’t hate her, I have just found a (small) place here.

 

-          5 years?? How did you do it?? (meaning, how are you still holding on?)

-          Euh… I have found a professional and affective balance here. And after 5 years of introspection – I spend a lot of my time with myself! – I think I may have even found some kind of inner balance!!

To celebrate, I decided to select a picture of every place I have been to during my personal trips. It took me a lot of time but gave me the opportunity to kind of travel there a second time and moreover to realise that I have seen some out-of-this-world things!! Maybe it is also why I have been staying ;)

So here is my patchwork (there is an album (see on the right) where the detail of the places where the pictures were taken is mentioned); there are pictures that meant something to me, not necessarily very touristic and none has been photoshoped:

http://www.indiansamourai.com/album/india-in-100-pics/

 

inde,album,photos,anniversaire

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

 

inde,album,photos,anniversaire

Places I have visited out of personal interest...