I am blessed with many lovely running friends (some of them are of the cyber variety, friends-I-have-yet-to-meet-in-person) who generously share their running photos here in the blog.
So, yes, it is wrong to have favourites (I’m a mother, remember, so kinda know how to balance things) and I love every one of you guest bloggers equally.
BUT…My UK-based ex-Delhi running gal Kathakoli Dasgupta is my current absolutely favourite contributor.
Katha writes so well, is so expressive, has an eye for the beautiful and the unusual, and is a generous contributor here.
This post, combing Orissa and the south of England is a classic Katha gem 🙂
Read and enjoy 🙂
A few months back in British summer, Dave & I travelled around Devon & Cornwall. I ran almost everyday, several times along the beach in Bude where we spent 3 nights, but I didn’t get a chance to do a blog for Christine. So when I got an opportunity this morning to run along the beach in Puri, Odisha, I thought to combine the two.
My Bude blog was going to be mostly about wave surfers and how exiting it was to watch them ride the waves. I remember feeling child-like glee seeing them paddle far into the sea, working their way back to the beach on waves.
I had stopped my run on many occasions to appreciate their skill and later on spent hours just watching them.
But two nights in Puri makes my first experience in Cornwall, ummm, slightly dull in comparison. The beach in Puri is vibrant, animated, noisy and colourful—not serene and secluded, not until past midnight anyway.
It is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Bengalis. My mum and dad, like many others, came here on their honeymoon 50 years back. But I never got an opportunity to explore this tourist hotspot until now.
I spent the weekend here with 18 members of our family. Yes, 18.
Did I mention I have once again forgotten what space and privacy means—every space is shared space and even your bowel movement is public news.
This winter picnic/weekend getaway is an annual family event funded by the legacy that my Dad’s Uncle & Aunty (Kutti Kaku & Kakima) left behind. They wanted us to remember them with a smile on our faces, not mourn their passing.
All those who can, participate.
Sometimes over 40 members of our huge family have been able to attend!
And it was at one of these large get togethers that Dave was able to meet most of my family before we tied the knot.
(Editor: awwwwww, I had NO idea 🙂 🙂 )
Coming back to Puri, our hotel was located at a prime spot—just across from the beach and our sea facing rooms (shared with members of the family) made it easy to enjoy the scenes and scenery even from indoors.
The golden beach in Puri was crowded no doubt, but it was clean, which was a pleasant surprise.
Even though it’s supposedly winter, the temperature was a balmy (read, hot!) 26 degrees, and the sea breeze in the evening was beautiful and soothing. Very different to the cold, often wet, weather we got in Bude in what was apparently British summer.
The lack of surf boards didn’t stop many from attempting to ride the waves, though my excitement at Puri beach mainly came from peddlers and hawkers selling a variety of wares and services. Foods (the assortment—even first thing in the morning when I ran—is mind boggling, very unlike the pasties that we ended up eating for brunch everyday due to a lack of choice in the Cornish town), tea, coffee, coconut water, gift items (all things shell, Jagannath temple mementos, and other knick-knacks), beach hats, swim shorts, sunglasses, fresh fish and crabs (catch of the day, that you can buy raw from fishermen to cook at home or from vendors who will fry them for you), camel rides, hired tyre tubes to float, opportunity to get your photos clicked (a profession dying owing to mobile phones)…
Then there’s of course things you expect to see and hear only in India—blaring music from a marriage procession along the promenade (twice in two days), newly weds dressed in all their finery enjoying their moment, cows sitting comfortably on the sand, stray dogs finding opportune spots by street food stalls, especially the fish counters—I even saw one dig a deep hole in the sand as a cool spot for an afternoon nap. There’s room for everyone and everything.
Would I go back to Cornwall? I guess not. Made evident by the fact that both Dave and I discussed (and soon after, booked) warm beaches in Portugal even as we enjoyed the scenery from the view point in Bude.
Puri? Yes, but next time round geared for a proper swim, a good night’s sleep to enjoy the magnificent sunrise—and enough baggage allowance to shop until I drop!
Now, isn’t that the most wonderful read? Combining Puri & Bude – cold grey English seas and warm Indian waves. I love Katha’s eye for detail and she is brilliant at bringing to life the colourful chaos of Inda. Having said “chaos” – and here I speak as someone who plogs (picks up the trash) on every run that I do here in Delhi – the Puri beach looks amazingly clean.
Dearest friend, thank you once again for such a smashing blog post and, as ever, #keeprunning and #keepinspiring