22nd November 2001
It doesn't take an exceptionally bright mind to think of drought and starvation deaths when western Orissa is mentioned. I journeyed eastward not to enhance my knowledge about the objective reality of backwardness or poverty but to be at home.
After days of exams and one day of hectic shopping the 24 hours on the train were the beginning of a well deserved break.
Sambalpur is bigger than an average district headquarters but minus the trappings of a truly 'urban' area. The infrastructure is far from good. The roads, drainage, sanitation, power all remind one of a resource rich state with poor people.
Home made Golgappas apart, the highlights of the trip were the visit to Ghanteswari temple near Hirakud dam, Sambaleswari temple after whom the town is named and the scooter ride to Chichinda, Abijita's anscestral village. I hope to go back for aunty's chai...
- 13th March 2002
The Great Indian Journey I could call it I guess-a mass huddled together and moving- ....home? The last time I went to Sambalpur I never dreamed I'd take this circuitous route the next time I travelled. Thanks to the VHP and other psychopaths that Hinduism has produced in the recent years and their scheduled yatra everybody insisted I don't make the journey alone. So here I am hurtling to Cuttack from where Lipi and I will take a bus to Sambalpur. Am looking forward to seeing new places and meeting better people than the kurta clad, neta looking bloke, seated next to me.
14th March 2002.
The 2nd day of the train journey was better than I ever imagined. There was a small( well make that medium sized) explosion of emotion when Mr X - the I am oppressed person-felt that the city dwellers were walking all over him. Geetu, Vinayan and I fought back quite well and after the space issue was settled, we all maintained a stony silence....till they got down at Tata Nagar. Lipi's parents were perfect hosts-uncle came to the station and aunty made yummy breakfast. The first leg of the journey successfully over I'm going to Cuttack to take a bus to Sambalpur. Lipis is not coming because she has an exam to write. I do hope I make it in time.
15th March 2002.
I made it in time for the 8.30 bus because the driver was kind enough to stop the bus, which was leaving the bus stand, for me. With the accompaniment of "Chaka Dola" songs the luxury bus with push back seats wound its way through Denkanal and Angul to Sambalpur. People were accommodating and nice. Women travelled by themselves and not knowing Odiya didn't matter much.
'Amartya' had lights streaming down and loads of buas and mausis were already there. It was after all the first wedding in the family!!Abijita looked like herself in her brown suit. She came running down the stairs...SHE is Actually getting MARRIED!!!
The mehndi didi came by 5.00 and Abijita began her bridal metamorphosis. There was a puja where turmeric and vermillion and rice were liberally sprinkled on her.
16th March 2002
Wedding day dawned and there were lots of things to be done. Decorating the reception area ws left to the cousins. Geetu, Vinayan and I joined in. Abijita looked lovely in her green sari, every bit the beautiful bride...The wedding finally began at around 11 in the night. As in north Indian marriages, the baraat arrived , were welcomed and fed and the groom was seated in the pandaal. After rounds of puja, chanting mantras and pouring ghee into the fire by the bride and the groom individually, they both finally sat together. The main ceremony in an Odiya wedding is kanyadaan after which the palms of the bride and groom are tied with a thread( literally bound for life!!!) . All the members of the family pour water from a conch on 'the united palms' and bless the couple. I was totally unprepared for the tears and to some extent loud crying by the sisters, aunts and cousins that accompanied the 'panigrahan' ceremony. It was my first experience attending a wedding north of the Vindhyas. Never had I witnessed the" bidaai tears" either that flowed freely as the couple were leaving for the groom's home at Rourkela. Subrat seemed as concerned and helpless as I felt. I think I am going to like him and that they are going to be happy together. It was time for us to leave too. I left wishing Abijita and Subrat a life time of togetherness.