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.


  1. Hello Suman,

    Certainly poetic.

    How beautifully you weave words, images and the imagination into the glorious masterpiece that is your homeland and your homecoming. The sights, sounds and scents are with us now and what a strange and exotic land this seems to us. Foreigners who have never travelled to this country of huge contrasts, sublime beauty and grinding poverty. And, how we know that we should be seduced by this land of magical mystery but for ever be denied that deeply spiritual contentment you feel on returning home.

    This is such a wonderful post.

    1. Dear Jane and Lance,

      Sorry about the rather prolonged delay of almost a month! Life has been happening way too much over the summer, but I'm resolved to be the good blogger I was once upon a time.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Yes, ours is a country of strange contrasts, which, most of the times, is a little unnerving. 'Sublime' would be, I suppose, the best word to describe the beautiful chaos it is.
      How we'd love to read a blog post by you on India; but of course, before that you must visit us. It'll be pleasure to have adventurers like you!

  2. Dear Suman

    I am speechless and have become lost in the beauty portrayed in both your images and words. Odisha is so rich in colour and I would just love to visit and paint those boats, the vibrant colours of the market and who said Ireland is the greenest country? I think that can be debated.
    Have a glorios week

    1. Dear Helen,

      That is such a huge compliment! Ireland!? Wow. Thank you.
      Yes, Odisha is a very green state since most part of it is either agricultural or is covered in dense forests. I hope you make it to India some day and paint our countryside. It'll be a joy for both you and us.

      Have a wonderful week.

  3. Dear Suman, your words and your pictures are wonderful and so touching. Odisha is a hidden treasure, a jewel that will remain in my heart. Thank you.

    1. I am so glad we made this journey together, my dear. And that's primarily the reason why it was different this time, why I saw my own homeland with a pair of new eyes. It was as if I was seeing everything for the first time - the roads, the paddy fields, the people, and even the beach. So thank you, actually! :-)

  4. Home is always home and will remain so for ever.

    1. Couldn't agree less, dear Friko.
      Have a lovely week. Xx

  5. How utterly beautiful. Lucky guests, lucky you to be in such a place - to come from such a place.

    1. Thank you for that warm compliment, my dear.
      Hope thing's are going well regarding the move. We, too, are on the cusp of another move but I won't be leaving a place as enchanting as the Pondside, so no regrets there. :-)
      Have a lovely week. Hugs.


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