Saturday, November 04, 2006

Travelogue - Bhubaneswar I

Drastic events have happened in the last 2 days. I got lucky and all of a sudden, I am on my way to Bhubaneswar to attend the Xavier Institute of Management (XIM) B-school competition. This is the first time I’ve made such a quick decision on going somewhere out of town in India. So, today I bunked my branding class, hopped on a flight to Kholkata with Nucliomaniac, V and RH. This is the first time I flew Sahara. I was pretty impressed with their service. I didn’t know that Sahara was positioned somewhere between the discount airlines and the premium Jet Airways and Kingfisher. I was pleasantly surprised to see food being brought to me for a 2 hour journey. Heck, this sure doesn’t happen in America. You have to be on a bloody 3 hour flight at least, to be served anything. Food was great, and the desert was even better.

We arrived at Kholkata at about 7.45pm. This is Nucliomaniac’s home town. His driver whisked us back to his place. I was pretty impressed by the roads and the city in general. Not too densely populated when compared to Chennai. The car population on the road was very manageable, and we didn’t have to stop anywhere due to traffic. Of course, Nuclio says that we took the less crowded route from the outskirts to his place. Nevertheless, I can say that it was about 1/4th the car population of the journey from the Chennai airport to my house! So, you do the math.

We passed by the Victoria Memorial which was a huge building built like the Taj Mahal. One thing that struck me as we drove by a lot of the places was that there are hardly any people on the roads!! I can compare Chennai 8 years back to Kholkata today! I can’t imagine this much space and wide areas any more!

Nuclio’s family gave us a warm welcome. We had an awesome Marwadi style dinner. Man oh man.. I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again. I love Marwadi style of cooking. I was reminded of the time back in Colorado two years ago when Rakhi’s grand-mom was visiting us while Akka was pregnant with her. Damn. I shamelessly pigged out on the food. Damn. I need a work out now!
After quick dinner, we were whisked away to the Howrah railway station. Got a chance to see the famous Howrah Bridge and remembered the scene from the movie Yuva.

While at the station, it struck me that there were a lot more lower class people here in Kholkata than in Chennai. V and RH made the same observations. Of course, they are from Bangalore where there are either beggers, or there is the middle/upper class according to them. Kholkata has a major problem of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh according to Nuclio. The West Bengal border with Bangladesh is a very long one and is not a natural border like the Kashmir passes. Hence, I guess it is not easy for the Government to keep strict watch-out for illegal immigrants. According to Nuclio, a lot of the people we saw at the Howrah station belonged to this category.
I get on the train, and I’m now in a different compartment from the other 3 guys since my tickets were booked the last! As I sit here in my compartment, I look around and I realize that it is VERY hard for me to tell the difference between a Bengali and a tam-bram.. especially the ladies (I sure can tell a Gujarati, or Punjabi when I see one!). At least the ladies in this compartment are dressed very similar to Tamilians. All of them are in sarees. I wonder if there was some ancient connection between Bengal and TN. Or did the South Indian brahmin’s migrate from the north centuries ago.
A mental note to myself: look up the origin of the South Indian Iyers and Iyengars. Their skin colour sure don’t match those of the so called Dravidians. Maybe, they aren’t Dravidians at all? Where is my Oxford History of India when I need it!
I’ve also heard that there are more similarities between the Bengalis and South Indians in terms of their love for art, dance, music, poetry and education. A lot of very learned people have come from Bengal over the last century. The food habits I hear are also very similar to Tamilians (except for the fish of course).
Before I boarded, I purchased myself a book to keep me occupied: One Night @ the call center by Chetan Bhagat of the “Five Point Someone” fame.
Tomorrow’s going to be a good day with the competition kicking off. The event we’re taking part in is one of its kind apparently in India. It’s a smaller version of shows like the US reality show “Survivor”. It tests both physical as well as mental capacity to adapt and come successful.
More details later! Now for some good sleep!

Some pics from the journey from Calcutta to Bhubaneswar

1. Nucliomaniac @ the Howrah Station

2. RH, V and Rhapsoder @ Howrah Station

3. Rhapsoder and V with a background perspective view of the railway tracks

4. Sunrise at Orissa

5. V enjoying the sunrise

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Blogger Venkat said...

Even i remember reading somewhere that tam brams are not dravidians. Genetically more towards aryans. Will confirm when i get something concrete ------

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Vijay Iyer said...

Hey Manu, this is Vijay here (ncsu). I think over the years, people have mixed have so much, it doesnt matter any more who came from where. This Aryan-Dravidian concept is a myth and effectively used by British first, followed by North Indians and Dravidian politicians to push their respective agendas.

I dont know how people either theorize, believe, or preach such differences based on external appearances when in fact human genetic material is almost 97-99% close to those of the chimps - such is the power of gene expression that a few thousand chemical strands can make u look different. Doesn't mean you are fundamentally different.

Environment has troubled us (read caste, dsicrimination, reservations etc) more than genes because human mind tries to always look for patterns and exploit for his own good.

Would be interested to see other people's comments.

As for similarities between Bong and Tam ladies - there maybe some, but there is a distinct "bong" feature I find in all my bengali friends. I like them because most of them are warm, genuine, and crazy/wacky in atleast one respect! I haven't met a middle-of-the-road bong yet :-)

Btw, I loved Konkona Sen Sharma pull off Mrs.Iyer with such finesse!

10:17 PM  

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