Saturday, January 08, 2005

Day 11 - Bhubaneshwar to Bhadrak

I have had a disturbed nights' sleep - courtesy misquito bites on my leg. I had slept in my cycling dress itself - would have been better if I had my socks on too!

The rules of the Dharmashala say that the gates open at 4:30 AM - so I wake up at 4:00. I finish my daily ablutions and am all set. The door is showing no signs of opening. So I end up utilizing the time to update my diary.

A quick visit to the Lingaraj Mandir (it is still quite dark) is enough to convince me that I have had enough mandir-seeing! The Lingaraj Mandir looks much bigger than it really is - and this is supposedly due to its architecture. I quickly return to the Dharamshala and vacate my room - time to move on.

Near the Dharamshala I see a board detailing the many temples of Bhubaneshwar. This is a list of over 30 temples. No wonder Bhubaneshwar is called the City of Temples.

The weather is becoming colder as I move eastward.

Cuttack is my next target. I hope to see the Barabati Fort (it is on the banks of a river). The going to Cuttack is smooth on NH5, which has morphed into a four lane highway again. But not for long; after some time, I start facing a steady opposing wind, and this is sapping my energy. I have passed by a village which has atleast 10-15 shops selling only sweets! Rosagullas in large aluminium vessels, which would be twice the size of our normal buckets! And more than three suck vessels in every shop! I am tempted enough to relish a few. The wind has ensured that I reach Cuttack a tired man.

After a few misdirections, I reach Barabati fort. This turns out to be a big disappointment - because there is nothing to see there! Where is the fort ? - I am still wondering. But I meet two helpful fellows there - ond one of them I had met yesterday on the way to Konark. They tell me that there is really nothing to see in Cuttack;it is only the former capital of Orissa. Nothing more, nothing less! Next I enquire whether there is anything interesting for a momento. It turns out that Cuttack is known for its feligri. A feligri is a silver item made of silver wire. I buy one from Mangalabagh, one of the markets. I have also eaten a crappy breakfast by this time. Time to get out of Cuttack - why did I come here anyway?

I am planning to end todays ride at Bhadrak - about 100kms away from Cuttack. By the time I am out of Cuttack, I am very tired. I stop for tea - this is primarily an excuse to get some rest! The opposing wind has strengthened. My condition is now miserable - the right knee is starting to hurt a bit. (The hamstring pain has luckily vanished, since when I remember not.) An hour later, I stop again at a dhaba. I drink two cups of tea and doze off without realizing it myself! And when I wake up, my condition is no better - it is only my will which keeps me on the road.

When the going is tough, the tough get going, yes, but surely even the tough must have some technique ? And here is a technique for you to use, if you face a similar position -- it might work for you, though I guarantee nothing. When facing such a situation, what I try to do is imagine either one of my happiest moments, or I visualize a person who I picture would be happy to see me do what I am finding difficult to do. The resulting happiness is generally enough to make me try that much more - and I feel not the pain at that time. My guess is that finally it all boils down to one's will, but to awaken the will one really does need somethig... (there is a similarity between this technique and Patronus Charm, as described in Harry Potter II.)

I need to replenish my energy, so, at 1:15, I stop for lunch at a dhaba. Food has become bland after I entered Orissa. After lunch, my motto is slow and steady finishes the race!

On the way, I try my hand at bird photograph, but without success. When I see a bird in a nice place, I try to stop, with every intention of getting a snap. But by the time I stop my cycle, dismount, pull out my camera and aim my shot, the bird decides to fly away! Needless to say, I am frustrated after a few tries. I am slowly beginning to appreciate that it needs a lot of patience. And patience implies time - which is in short supply. Sunrise is typically at 6:00 and sunset at 5:15, which means that I have less time for easy cycling.

I get exhausted again at 4:45. Luckily for me, I have a packet of dates in my bag. The entire lot vanishes in no time! I make a tea stop just before light fades away. I devour a few malpuris (a sweet) and singadas (small samosas) as well. The villagers there are surprised that I am not scared of cycling alone in the dark.

After the snack break, it is time to turn on the light and resume cycling. Nearing Bhadrak, I stop at a tea stop. There are four guys at the shop - the owner and three customers. And surprise, they are not communicative at all. I feel a bit uneasy and ask them what they do - they don't reply. So I ask the owner whether they do farming - he replies in the affirmative. But I hear one of the three say something in oriya. What it is, I don't understand, but I construct it to mean he hasn't heard of dakus. You can imagine how scared I would be. I also decide that it is prudent not to take out either my cellphone or my camera. I quickly pay my bill and depart without saying goodbye...

It is 7:20 PM by the time I reach Bhadrak - it is a district headquarters. I settle into Yashoda Lodge, which now displaces Kumari Lodge(Vizag) as the best lodge for my trip. It also costs 200 bucks a day. After sometime, I go to Kalinga Internet Center(airconditioned!), with every intention of updating my blogs - but it is full. I shop around for apples. Some thick rotis and bland subji at the hotel, and I am very upset. To compound my woes, I face low-voltage blues at my room -- the tubelight refuses to light up. The lodge manager tries for sometime and the lights come on, to my relief. The water in the lodge is very cold, but that doesn't prevent me from taking a bath. There is an excellent rug to keep the cold away while I sleep, which happens no sooner than 10!

All in all, this undoubtedly has been the worst day of the trip !

Today at a glance:

Time Odometer Place/Purpose
6:10 AM 10879.4 Dharamshala @ Bhubaneshwar
7:00 10886.9 Reunion with NH5
7:10-7:25 10888.9 Mini breakfast
8:25 10902.5 Cuttack
9:05 10909.5 Barabati "Fort"
9:15-9:30 10911.0 Breakfast
10:10 10913.1 Filigri time
11:20-11:45 10926.3 Tea-cum-sleep @ dhaba
1:15-1:50 10945.7 Lunch
2:05 10948.9 Chandikhole
3:00-3:20 10962.2 Tea
4:45-4:55 10979.1 Exhausted, eat dates!
5:05-5:30 10981.8 Tea stop
6:25 10994.5 Tariquepur
7:20 11004.7 Bhadrak

For tomorrow, I am thinking of reaching Baripada - no sightseeing is in the pipeline. There are many places to see around Balasore, which is on the way to Baripada, but nothing very near. Baripada is a tribal area, and was in the news a long time ago for the Dara Singh episode. (Those who remember it would disagree about the "long". I only defence I have, as the saying goes, is public memory is short!)

So tomorrow must also be equally boring... sigh!


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