Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Earth, my dearest

"Earth, my dearest, oh believe me, you no longer need your springtimes to win me over...Unspeakably, I have belonged to you, from the flush."

~ Rilke

Yesterday was Earth Day. So thought would let her know. Albeit a little late. 

Here's to her beautiful blue-green curves! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tales of home and homecoming

"I let it go. It's like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home."

~ Joanne Harris

Last month, somewhere between the joy of basking in the elusiveness of a tropical spring and the sinking realization that it was almost summer, the river did bring me back home. There couldn't be a more befitting sequel to my search of home, my Bosphorus of the previous post. It all started with a trip home, with friends who had come from the exotic Mediterranean to see my state, Odisha. And the sights and smells that were once so familiar and so much a part of who I am today, came rushing back to me and how. 
Despite the initial moments of foreignness, I refused to succumb to the touristy trap of continuously being taken as the 'outsider' by the presumptuous guides and vendors. All the time, I was acutely aware of being armed with a certain pride, one that comes with the prior knowledge of one's homeland. Also, seeing it anew, after more than a decade and half, with people who did not belong to those places gave it a fresh coat of perspective. The scenes that once upon a time coloured the canvas of our childhood, had gradually, over the years, faded into the banalities of adulthood. But the fact that they were still somewhere inside me, the significant details, while answering the curiosity of our friends was no less than heroic. The exquisitely-carved dancing girls of Konark, the roadside display of vibrant colours and mirrors shimmering in the hot sun, the crimson dusk framed by groves of coconut trees - little by little, it all came back to me. Or perhaps, I went back to it.   

The lush green paddy fields. A melange of various greens; roadside poetry at its best. The Sun Temple at Konark, a world heritage site popular for its Kalinga architecture. Where Tagore had once claimed "the language of stone surpasses the language of men". The glimpses of a reluctant spring on a red cotton tree. On the ground, roadside swamps blanketed with beautiful water hyacinths and the cacophonous croak of frogs. The centuries-old Udayagiri caves which were built as monasteries for the 'arhats' (Jain monks) during the rule of King Kharavela. The Shanti Stupa at Dhauli, that magical place that offers one the perfect sanctuary away from the bustle of the capital city nearby. Blessed by Buddha, and an important site in the history of the Kalinga empire, an overwhelming serenity veils the place. Pipli, the little village known for its popular mirror-applique work. A visit to the Bay of Bengal sea mouth at Chilika Lake, the brackish wetland that's home to the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins, scurrying red crabs, and more than a hundred species of migratory birds that visit every year during the winters. A refreshing drink of tender-coconut water, the perfect cure for a hot, sticky day. Rowing back to the shore amid the soporific ripple of the waves and a breathtaking setting sun. Surely, homecoming couldn't be more picturesque. Or poetic.

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