Odisha and the end

My friends from Kolkata took me on a few day trip to enjoy Orissa (or Odisha as it’s now known). We started in Puri, and stayed in a government run tourist lodge on the beach. I could sit and watch the waves all day, and enjoyed watching the sun rise on the eastern shore. Unfortunately, one single female can’t possibly want to enjoy time by herself on the beach, and soon a group of teenaged boys appeared to keep me company. I had slightly better luck when accompanied by my friend Samata, but even then we were attended to by vendors and beggars. Sigh.

It’s hard to make the “selfie pout” and not laugh at the same time!

The group of us went to Jaganath temple, although foreigners aren’t allowed in. Just as well for me, as simply looking at the crowds going inside brought on feelings of claustrophobia. I was quite happy to admire it from outside.

We also visited the UNESCO world heritage site of Konark temple. Built in the mid 13th century, Konark was a temple erected for Surya, the Sun god. The temple has many stone carvings on the walls depicting family life and erotic couplings that rival Kajuraho and the Kama Sutra. Sadly it was filled in with stone in 1903 for “preservation”, and even now many of the stone wall carvings are being replaced by flat stones purportedly for the same reason. It does seem like some censorship might be behind this, but I can’t say for certain.

After Puri we headed inland to Bubaneshwar. On the way we visited the site of the battle of Kalinga (the former Odissan kingdom). In 260 BCE, the Mauryan emperor Ashok waged a great battle against the Kalinga people. He won at great cost, and when he saw the massive carnage of the war he had waged, pledged to live a peaceful life and converted to Buddhism. He created a great deal of helpful programs and rules of tolerance which modern leaders could learn from today.

Our last historical visit was to the Pushpagiri ruins. There were sites of Buddhist monasteries from the 6th through 12th centuries and may have served as Buddhist universities of sorts. Now, being ruins, they are remains of the great structures battling the destructive forces of both nature and mankind. However, they were peaceful and interesting places to visit, and reminders of the Buddha’s words that “all conditioned things are impermanent”.

And thus is this trip to India. Five months in India seemed like such a long time before I came, and now it is drawing to a close, gone in a flash. India has been both exhilarating and exasperating. She has reminded me that control is an illusion, and has taught me other lessons as well. I’ve seen, heard, tasted, learned, and experienced so much that it may take another few months to process. But I’m very grateful for the experience and will continue to carry India in my heart.

So with that I’ll leave a humorous list:

Ten signs you might have been in India for too long:

  • It’s perfectly normal to find you’re covered in dust at the end of the day.
  • Instead of being surprised when people ask to take a selfie with you, you start posing with them, or charging them ten rupees.
  • You not only know how to use a dipper and bucket, but also prefer it to a shower.
  • You think it’s perfectly reasonable that cows, goats, dogs, or monkeys should be walking down the road or on train platforms.
  • You have an inexplicable urge to use an ATM if the queue is short.
  • You’re able to hold your place for a train seat or line among fifty others pushing and shoving for the same.
  • You ask the chai wallah to give you more sugar because the chai isn’t sweet enough.
  • You bargain better than the locals for a good price.
  • You no longer think your life is going to come to an abrupt end every time you get in a rickshaw or try to cross the street.
  • And the number one reason: you can’t wait to return to your home country, yet you’re already planning where you’ll go the next time you come back.

Author: mettatsunami

In 2009 I was working full time in medicine, and living a life that was alienated from what I truly valued. While volunteering with a local hospice, I began to wonder: "What would I do differently if I had six months to live?". This began the impetus to change direction. While it has been a case of two steps forward, one step back in many ways, there has still been slow movement in the direction of a more authentic life. Since the pivotal decision to change direction, I have been a Buddhist nun, returned to lay life, changed Buddhist schools, returned to medicine part time, and then full time, quit again, traveled extensively, trained in yoga, spent time in several Buddhist monasteries, and am in the process of how to live according with Buddhist and yogic practice and values, and how to streamline this life into something worthwhile. In the Theravadan Buddhist practice, one of the daily reflections is "Has my practice born fruit with freedom or insight, so that at the end of my life, I need not feel ashamed when questioned by my spiritual companions?". That is my practice. My goal in this blog is to share the journey along the way.

13 thoughts on “Odisha and the end”

  1. “Control is an illusion.” Yup. That was the lesson that India offered me. Unfortunately, I find it very hard to remember in the relative comfort of my American life. I hope the remainder of your trip is as rich with experiences as your time in India. Happy trails!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “…or charging them ten rupees” hahah! Happy new year dearest Khemiyā – it’s been so delightful following your journey through Incredible India. May your adventures continue to unfold in beautiful ways…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too, Donna! I’ll be in PA in three more days. Woohoo! Time to dig those layers of warm clothes out of storage! I’ll be around for a month – maybe we’ll be able to meet somewhere.


    1. Thanks Sharon. While I love hiking here, I had or took very few opportunities to go hiking alone in India, I’m sad to say. Fear of being a woman alone in the wilderness of a country that does not always look kindly on women doing so held me back. Where did you live and work? It sounds like a great adventure (not to mention blog post).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I at the time took a two year position in Korea. I usually went hiking with a local or another person from work. I think from what I hear about India you would be better off exploring with others. I loved working in another country. Spent my spare time exploring when I could. I wish I could have done the same sort of thing 2-3 years in another place or two. I assume you are Buddhist? A Korean friend took me to what I believe was a celebration at a temple in Seoul of Buddha’s birthday. We were there to B watch the ceremony and it was televised on TV.

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      2. Sounds like a great opportunity for exploring, and an interesting ceremony to observe. Although I was brought up in a Christian tradition, I converted to Buddhism about twelve years ago. The Buddha’s birthday (although celebrated on different days depending on the country), is usually a great opportunity to see unique and joyful celebrations in Asian countries.

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