♣ Getting UP CLOSE & PERSONAL! ♠

Call it a fortune, or the conspiracy of geography. It is my pleasure to introduce you to a state which is placed beautifully by natureSprawling amidst the beauty of different states like Andhra, Telangana, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal on one side, and the Bay of Bengal on the other , #Odisha is influenced by it all yet, has managed to maintain its own uniqueness contributing to the creation of #Incredible India, a.k.a #अतुल्य भारत

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As an Oriya bred in Delhi, I have had the best of both worlds. Every summer, during the holidays, I would embark with my family on the 1743 kilometres long train journey. I cherished those 24 (sometimes 28) hours of train time because we all got to be together, play games, fall asleep while looking out of the window at the passing scenery.

Now, Delhi is hot but Odisha in summers is sweltering! I’d spend most of my time at both sets of grandparents’ house, and bond with my roots. I would speak Oriya (which I normally don’t, even at home), eat typical Oriya food, see Oriya T.V. shows; it made me realise, over the years, that

Odisha is a World unto itself.

It has unique biodiversity with unique traditions, delicious & authentic food, and sweet people.

With every annual trip, I saw a different, more advanced state. In 2012, I shifted to Cuttack from Delhi. I lived there for 2 years, and in those 2 years, I saw the place blossom and boom – in terms of cinema, culture, fashion, communication, infrastructure, and innovation!

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I witnessed Odisha winters for the first time in 2012. The cruel summer is made up by the amazingly soothing winter. It is quite cold early in the morning and after sundown, but during the day, it was pleasantly cool with a bright sun as opposed to the dull, cloudy, foggy winters of Delhi. All you would want to do is to be out on an adventure and explore the endless opportunities of your city.

If you ever plan to visit Odisha, winter is the time to go in.
If you like, you can even witness snowfall if you head out to some of the hill stations of Odisha.

My experiences of weather were myriad as I even witnessed #cyclone Phailin in 2013! You can watch as many videos as you want but there is nothing like the real thing. Preparations began in earnest 3-4 days before the cyclone was to hit shore – people stocked up on rations, fortified their walls and roofs.

My house had a huge garden with a variety of trees and since 2 days they were all being tied up to each other and to stakes pushed deep into the ground so that they do not get uprooted.

Cuttack is well away from the coast but when the cyclone hit the coast, Cuttack witnessed rain and winds that were ferocious – going on for 2 days straight! The wind speed went up to 260 km/h! I have never, ever heard thunder like that again either!

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*It was one of the  biggest storms, second only to the 1999 Odisha Cyclone*

I stayed up all night, listening to the torrential rain and roaring wind. It was quite ethereal.

Another grand event of Odisha is the #Rath Yatra at Puri. For some reason, I never saw the annual event before, even when I lived in Cuttack, not even on T.V. In 2015 though, I went home after finishing my 1st year of college and was drawn to the enigmatic event. It is believed by many that you witness or visit the temple only when Lord Jagannath calls to you!

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 Having spent 2 years in Odisha, my ears had become more adept at discerning the typical Oriya dialect. As I listened to the intriguing commentary in a lilting tone and watched the fascinating traditions, I realised the richness of our culture, the tremendous power of faith, the legacy of Lord Jagannath and the influence it has on the citizenry and the culture.

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The story of the Lord is an enrapturing one! Perhaps, I’d tell it you some other day…

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