You know the Thought Experiments. This is the back of the envelope.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Double Take

This post could have come later. No issues there. But it wouldn’t have been the same. And given what this is about, I think it’s only appropriate that it be written and published from where I currently am.

Berth 35, A2, Bhubaneswar Rajdhani.

There’s someone or something out there that’s sitting and taking notes each time you make a wish. That’s the only explanation I can think of for today, this moment and this feeling.

Life has come full circle today.

That I am inexorably in love with Delhi is probably in evidence all over this page. I used to take this train from Delhi to home. Back then, I loved it because it brought me home. It’s taking me home again today, but from Bhubaneswar this time. It could take me to Delhi too, if I wanted it to (and do I!). As someone who instinctively associates several disparate entities with one common thread in her thoughts and imagination, I am beyond thrilled this afternoon, taking one of my favourite trains back to one of my favourite places in the world. There are memories, there is anticipation, there are musings, there is beauty, there is gratitude, and there is belief.

It’s not for no reason that I am a believer, you know. :)

But this post is not just about that. I am sitting by a double window. It’s a golden afternoon, and I’m on board a train speeding through the Orissa countryside. My world has never been so beautiful. This, from someone who is sure she has more than her fair share of blessings to count.

I’d been wishing for a bit of travel for some time now. It’s an inherent need. And not just the regular sort…I wanted to see more of the world I currently live in. That’s why I wouldn’t call the mandate for 10 branch visits a mandate. I’d call it a windfall. Or an answer.:)

So in the last week, I have been to Cuttack, Khurda, Nayagarh, Paradip, Jagatsinghpur, Raipur and Mahasamund. I’ve spent an average of 6 hours on the highway each working day, and spent two of the last four nights on a train. I’ve been in a different district every 4 hours since Monday.

I’ve fallen in love.

I realised that I never gave Orissa – or Chattisgarh, for that matter – a chance. By and large, my job description is not something I’d save for the day the genie pops out of the bottle. It’s not that it isn’t good – it’s just that my job and I are two people trying very hard to work things out between ourselves and finding ourselves not getting anywhere with the effort. But there are things about it that I love, and things about me that it likes back, hopefully. And I love the fact that travel and movement are such an intrinsic part of this profile.

Coming back to never having given my zone (Orissa and Chattisgarh, which I look after for my organization) a fair chance, no, I hadn’t. I allowed my perception of the place to be coloured by my perception of my job – and that was grossly unfair. I’ve seen Orissa as a place that requires manpower at the least convenient places and moments; which probably has more transfer requests and job satisfaction issues, and less retail holidays, than the rest of the country put together; and which is dotted with locations and profiles that are difficult to pitch.

Given my belief that everything in life deserves at least one fair chance – and a second one, if it’s worth it – I cannot believe how I let this pass me by. I feel worse about it because I call myself a traveler…and what traveler lets a chance for discovery and exploration go by just because there is a pre-conceived notion somewhere in her head?

In the last four days – and now, as I travel through the coastal region – I have learnt that this is a beautiful place. I’ve delighted in being in places where the coast is visible in the distance, and there are hills on the other side of the road. I’ve seen coconut palms swaying in the breeze, and I’ve gazed at endless paddy fields, such a fluorescent shade of green that you wonder where on earth the Maker found that perfect hue. I’ve seen rows upon rows of hills, fading from a rocky brown to slate to purple to barely-there blue the farther they get. I’ve seen clear ponds and lakes, where the vegetation on the shore is mirrored perfectly, down to the last blade of grass. I’ve seen water lilies carpeting an entire canal. I’ve seen a little town cradled amidst a cluster of hills...and then I’ve seen a perfect little township sitting neatly by a port, stuck endearingly in a time warp. I’ve spotted random, multi-hued rock formations that I gave fanciful names and shapes to. I’ve seen wild flowers in bloom all along the highway from Khurda to Nayagarh. I’ve seen little temples and shrines by lakes and under banyan trees, every 300 metres. Untouched, quaint, earthy, flawless Orissa.

My apologies, Orissa. I should have given you a chance. And now that I have, you swept me off my feet.

And that’s why it was important to post this now. Here. There can’t be a more perfect setting or time for this. I’m discovering more of Orissa as I head home today.

I am so happy today, I find it hard to contain. Brimming over, bubbling over, spilling over. So happy, it hurts. Life is beautiful. :)

P.S. I nearly went off to Haridwar this morning. Or Belpahar. Neither is a bad idea, of course, but it would have been about a thousand miles or more off course from where I was originally headed. How that happened is a different story. Later. :)