Bhav Yatra in Bhubaneshwar
Before I begin sharing about Bhubaneshwar, I wish to mention a special person – Hariji, who has been an integral part of the yatra and helped arrange for our visits to Vizag, Bhubaneshwar and Jharkhand. Hariji was concerned about us being on the highway in unknown spaces with no reference so he arranged for our meeting and stays at schools in Vijaynagaram. At Bhubaneshwar, he had arranged for our stay at the Jindal steel guest house and we were to visit their steel plants at Jajpur, Kalinganagar and share about what we do. With deep gratitude to Hariji who connected us with yet another world of experiences.
So we headed out from Vijaynagaram to Bhubaneshwar on NH-5 to cover a distance of almost 450 kms. This part of the yatra was somewhat structured and it was good once in a while to enjoy the flow within that structure. The road was beautiful and as we were driving I was thinking about all the beautiful roads that I had driven on and my heart was filled with a sense of pride for our country that is vast with manifold landscapes soothing the eye. Mother nature has been very kind to give us 12 months of sunshine and perfect seasons. Everything was gliding with us on that road. As we approached lunch time, we stopped by at Chilika lake. It is known as the queen of natural beauty with the expanse of blue water on one side and the evergreen hills on the other side. As it was off season, we had the luxury of the lake to ourselves for a good amount of time. We shared a prayer with the queen before leaving.
We reached Bhubaneshwar and were hosted at the Jindal guesthouse that offered a very luxurious stay. The following day, to our surprise, Jindal Steel sends a car for us to travel to Kalingnagar. We were informed that the road was not good and moreover, the area was influenced by naxalites and so they thought it was safer for us to travel in a local vehicle. So our car got some rest for those two days. After a 3-hour drive through villages and mining areas, we reached the huge gates of Jindal steel. This feeling of corporation, people in suits, blue collar and white collar, took me down the memory lane to companies I worked with and all the learning I have gathered. I was shaken out of my comfort zone of yatra to suddenly come to awareness and adjust to this old experience coming and meeting me in a new way!
My mind was alerted to the questions coming from the CSR head, who was our point of contact and the co-ordinator for all the activities we had planned. Before even I knew, I was in a conference room discussing Bhav yatra! Initially it was difficult to explain what “moved by love” meant as the CSR team would go back to asking about how we sustain and if “MBL” would pay us for volunteering!? I tried to explain to the best of my ability and then decided to demonstrate. Of course we had to work with constraints of “no financial implications to the company”.
That evening, ViR’s kabir appeared to help me as he started singing at the company club house and as he explained Bhav Yatra through songs, everything seemed to ease out. At the end of the satsang, those around opened up and discussed service in a new light. The next day looked very promising.
We visited a school cum hostel for girls that Jindal runs as a part of CSR initiative. ViR sang and I shared about the yatra with the girls. They were so fascinated and wished to join the yatra. In that moment I thought if there was a genie, I would ask to fulfill their wish to fly out as free birds, and also felt a little sad that girls in our country get so little chance to explore their own lives or even to travel on their own. I wondered why we were so conservative. Before we could leave, it started raining and everyone became happy that we will get some more time together. They invited me to stay in their hostel that night but it was out of the rule book so couldn’t do it. That experience will surely stay for a longer while and the urge to do something for women empowerment grew stronger.
Later, we were shown around the factory. The huge machines, the hot furnaces and strong hands toiling around brought us to the steel reality of their lives. There was just noise of machines, extreme heat of boiling iron and mechanized humans working around. As an outsider I was excited to see the factory but as I observed everything I got an eerie feeling that this place was void of joy and heartfelt compassion. I felt helpless as we could not carry heart pins inside otherwise we could’ve been able to bring a smile on someone’s face.
Well, we left with deep gratitude for what life had offered us. We did come up with an idea of sharing good thoughts with everyone who would join for lunch at the company canteen. So we took some chart paper and sketch pens and CSR team joined us to write good quotes and hand it out at every table. We also managed to put a little décor on every table. CSR team was holding back as they were not yet able to fathom what we were going to achieve. The best part was all of us tried; we shared, smiled and served every possible guest till the end of the lunch hour. Somewhere I considered the option of doing this more often at such places and try and do a little bhav raising!!
The CSR team had also organized a meeting with all their social workers in and around the area who worked in the field of rural health and education. The team shared some of the problems they faced when they offered health solutions. Illiteracy is wide spread to the extent that these villagers are not even able to reason between good and bad for themselves. It seemed like development is far away unless miraculous awareness campaigns are organized. It was ironical to see a campus that is ultra-modern and the moment you step out, you meet people who struggle for basic amenities. We could just hope and pray that things will turn around for better as we were driven back to Bhubaneshwar. The memories and truths of steel city remain.
The following day, we planned to visit Jagannath Puri and Konark temples. We were very skeptical about visiting Jagannath Puri as we had heard that the priests harass the pilgrims and on our way there were herds of people on a walking pilgrimage to the place. This guaranteed that we would face a long queue. The mind tricks you in to becoming stressful and we were thinking if our decision to visit during the pilgrim months was a wise one. However, we were immediately proved wrong as we entered the premises. No priests harassed us and we glided our way in front of the deity without much fuss or long queue. After about half an hour of prayer, we left for Konark.
The Konark temple has been built in the form of a giant ornamented chariot of the Sun god. Today the temple stands as a ruined structure with most of the idols broken. The archeological survey of India has salvaged some part of it to be displayed in the museum. The ruins denote the end of Kalinga architecture.
Our trip to Orissa ended here and we opened a new chapter in the yatra as we drove towards West Bengal.