Couple of weeks ago I went to my friend Chitto’s wedding in Bhubaneswar. Yes, another man down. Back in Kharagpur, his room number was C-209, mine was C-206. Also attending the wedding were Satwik C-207 and Piyush C-208.
The day after reception, Piyush, Satwik and I drove to Chilka Lake, about 100 Km from Bhubaneswar. Chilka Lake is the second largest lagoon in the world and a globally renowned sanctuary for migratory birds. It is also home to a rich mix of rare species of aquatic life, not to forget the dolphins. Now, none of us are nature lovers per se; we were doing it for the “been there, done that” factor and take back pictures of exotic birds to show off.
The night before the trip, we planned to reach Chilka OTDC (Orissa Tourism) office by 1PM; the next day we were there at 3 PM (don’t ask). At the counter, they told us that we are late and don’t have enough time to go to the place where dolphins are sighted. There was a standard trip of 1.5 hours available which takes to a small island which has a temple but not any colorful birds to speak of. We paid extra money to hire a boat for 3 hours so that we can travel to another island a little farther where some of the Caspian Sea birds migrate.
As we started the journey, a group of sea-gulls started following us. They were white and not that big, but no one debated once I suggested that they must be from Siberia. We hadn’t taken all the trouble only to see good old local birds. Here’s a video of them. I would continue to deny that they are regular Indian birds.
All this while we were guzzling beer and the evening-sun was shining beautifully on the water surface. Below are a some photos. Click on them to enlarge.
Just when we were getting into a dreamy mood, the boat-owner told us that we don’t have enough time left to go the island which was promised to us at the counter, instead he can take us to another place called Cheerihaagu. We didn’t have any option in the middle of water. Satwik told me that Cheerihaagu means bird shit. That place has whitish rocks which look as if birds have covered them with their shit; so much for the exotic experience.
On our way to Cheerihaagu, we sighted a few birds which we all agreed amongst ourselves, must have migrated from Mongolia even though they too were not colorful.
As we continued moving, the photo of the day was clicked:
It evokes so many stories. A lonely being on a lonely island; a somber evening hue; the bird which belongs to the wind, standing on a piece of land amidst an endless sea of water. A further dimension was added once we learnt that this bird is sitting on Cheerihaagu.
On our way back, a fly came and sat on my hand. It was green, blue and black. At last a colorful flying being was sighted and it didn’t matter that it was very much Indian. I honored it by taking a video. At the end of the video you hear the first line of this lovely song in a desi drunk accent.
And so the trip ended. There I was, in one of the most surreal places on the planet, on the verge of a uniquely romantic experience with promises of a million colors and shades, and all I am left with now is memories of bird shit and a house-fly. Déjà vu and Déjà vu, and Déjà vu again.