To orientate is easy. To get lost is easier.

This new place is not new, since I belong to it. And yet, it is strange and unfamiliar, because the only few years I spent in this region were at a time when I was drunk with teenage and didn’t have time to look around and see and observe the peculiarities of the place (except the ones I could laugh at).

This post is just to orientate you about my surroundings. So that when you imagine me sitting at this computer and typing out thousands of words in the near future (hopefully), you can visualise better. To be perfectly honest, though, the post that was due today is still incomplete. So, in a way, I am cheating and giving you a cheap substitute. But what the heck, I am pregnant. And I can take liberties. No?

We live in a small village pretending to be a suburb of a larger village-y place called Durg. The soil is dark brown, the sun is hot, the skies are full of the sun. For as long as I can remember, people’s leanings towards the mountains, oceans, cooler climates has been one of my numerous pet peeves. But now, when I sit down to describe this place to you, I struggle for the right words to emphasise its beauty. Beauty there is, mind you. But not quite the kind everyone can appreciate. No refreshing breeze, no snow-capped mountains, no lush green meadows. And yet, when I step out the in scorching heat, even though the last thing on my mind is staying out for more than is necessary, I feel a sense of cleansing. It’s like the dryness, the harsh sun have together incinerated everything that could be toxic. Evidence? The simple, sun-baked people, the resilient plants and flowers and trees, the baying dogs and mooing cows. The beautiful birds that tentatively approach my still-growing garden every morning. My still-growing garden. There is life here, after all. And in spite of the all-powerful sun and its wrath.

Here are some pictures for you.

From my dining room window.
This is how the world beyond my tiny front garden looks like. The fields beyond lay barren; the farmers wait for eager buyers of real estate. Surely they’ll bring more money than farming would…
These huts belong to settlers from Bihar, an adjacent state. People from Bihar often leave their homes to seek prospects outside. And normally they succeed because they are efficient and hardworking. And don’t ask for much.
My favourite view is this collection of mahua trees right in front of my house.
The picture before this was taken when one of the trees was shedding its leaves to make room for these beautiful flowers.
Have a closer look. In the forests about here, these flowers are so popular with antelopes, that they come seeking them from afar. And mmm their heady fragrance is intoxicating.
The road behind my home is constant reminder of slow, easy life. Here are some of the common traffic elements.

Since our residential colony doesn’t really have a name, we give reference of this shop (currently closed, for it’s early in the morning, as you can see in the picture (the woman’s sweeping the steps — something that’s done first thing at day break)) whenever we have visitors.
I took my family along for a photography walk early one morning to take pictures of a pond nearby. The time of the day was not quite the best one, because not many people reach the water that early. My interest was in the huge buffalo groups that come every day to bathe there, but I later came to know that they don’t come before 11:00 am. Maybe I’ll show you bathing buffaloes some other time.
Try to make do with bathing people, won’t you?
I sneaked in just get tiny peek.
B was sure this one would throw his bucket at me.
Usually, the village ponds are lined with as many banyan trees as possible. This particular one just has one tree. But it’s sufficient. I am a big fan of banyan-shade. The cool breeze underneath these trees is so soothing.
People make shrines to gods I know nothing of. These people are not native to this area, that much I know.
I am told they are all settlers from Bihar and Orissa. And what better place to make a shack than a water body?
This region is full of such man-made ponds. The kings and landlords of yore encouraged people to dig up and make ponds. How do they get filled? Well, the underground water level keeps them just short of parching in the harshest of summer, and a good monsoon replenishes the lost water, which lasts the rest of the year. Cool, I think.
Less water means more chance for yummy fish for this one.
On our way back, we saw the shack of our milkman. He claims to only mix water with the buffalo milk when there’s a dire shortage of cow’s milk. At other times, it’s freshly milked buffalo elixir mixed with that of a cow.
We saw some more brooming women as we walked on.
But these langurs had eyes only for our dogs — Moti and Bulu. Apparently even animals notice outsiders.
Like this little bird, who comes to my garden whenever he can.
There isn’t much there yet. But with time, I am sure we’ll rig up something.
This is how most of the garden looked 3 weeks back. Now the soil’s all settled, grass tufts have almost covered the area, and the roses you see are settling in. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post pictures of a better-looking place — a one that defies the sun like the rest of the living beings here — soon.
And hopefully, fresh breeze will keep refreshing us in this new home.

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22 thoughts on “To orientate is easy. To get lost is easier.”

  1. Wow. I just don’t have many words that can describe what you’ve shown us, Priya. Your world is so different from mine, yet people still do the same things to get ready for the day. And you’re ability to see and capture beauty all around you will be a marvelous gift to your child. It has been a marvelous gift to your readers for sure.

    1. Isn’t it strange that in spite of the underlying similarities, we tend to scorn each other because a few underlying differences? Human animals are the strangest beings, wouldn’t you say?!

  2. Oh thank you Priya, I needed a Priya fix today! I’ve been so busy I haven’t had an opporutnity to read much of anything, but I’ve been wondering how you are feeling as time goes on. This was a lovely trip to your home. It is amazing how, if we look with open eyes and mind, we see beauty in things that are don’t exhibit “classic beauty.” I feel that way about where I live too. In town there are many trees (non native) so it is a fairly pretty burgh. But the hills outside of town are rather barren looking, beautifully green for a week or two in the spring, then fading to straw yellow for the rest of the year. But I’ve come to love how the light and shadows move across those hills, creating stunning art every morning and evening.

    1. I can imagine the play of light amongst these trees. Will it be possible for you to post some pictures? I’d love to see them!

      If I knew what Priya fix was, I’d arrange so that you’d get it whenever you needed it, Linda!

  3. So different, and yet so much the same. Farmers here, too, are selling their land to real estate developers, making a nice profit rather than sinking deeper into debt. We often have too much breeze and not enough sun. The flowers and birds you find with your camera are beautiful, as always. But can you explain how the buffalo know when it’s 11 a.m.?

    1. Hmm. That’s a difficult question to provide an answer to. You’d either have to apprentice with the buffalo bather, or have my quality of charm to understand it. Buffaloes are pretty shy creatures, and they don’t easily share their secrets. Will it suffice if I told you they come whenever it is time?

      🙂

      1. Well, thank you. But let the picture not fool you. It was taken almost two years back. Now I look happy and puffy. Not always in that order.

  4. Oh thank you, Priya. Thank you for sharing your surroundings with us. I will see these pictures from here on out – while reading the words you’ve tapped out through your computer. And yes, there is beauty.

    1. Thank you for the appreciation, Lenore. It is always good to know that you liked what you saw here during your visit. Your opinion matters.

  5. Priya it was as if, you were giving me the glimpse of my hometown with these pictures & your words. Although I am not sure if I could ever describe the beauty of my place just as you did. Beautiful post. Let me say thank you to you, as since last one year I have not visited my place; so thank you for this beautiful journey. 🙂

    1. Home is irreplaceable, is it not, Arindam? I am happy this post took you back there. This place is close to Odisha. Whereabouts are you from?

      1. This place is close to Odisha; is it really!( I am glad that, you wrote Odisha instead of Orissa). I am from north zone of Orissa, although I spent most of my young days in Bhubaneswar.

      2. I am yet to visit Odisha. Konark is on my list. But more than that, it is the forest areas there. I hope I’ll be able to manage that someday.

      3. You want to visit the forest area. Then let me tell you, I belong to that part of Orissa. 🙂 Our home is just few Kms away from those area. During my schooldays, me & my friends used to go there for picnic by cycling during new year time. But you can visit those places during winter only. The best time is November, as the gate to deep forest opens during that time of the year. So if you will visit during that time, then the probability of saying hello to a tiger or elephant gang is on higher side as they are not prepare for the crowd. 🙂 But for that you have to take the permission much before.

  6. Did you go to school here? Were will you have the baby? In this villag-y town or will you go to the nearest big city? Clearly I am in a terribly practical mood now, ha, ha.. Still, the buffalo -cow milk elixir is the best. The pond I must say looks really clean despite settlements encroaching.

    1. This is in the outskirts of a village-y town, Aparna. So, effectively, it is a village. Thankfully, it is 3 km away from the best hospital in the region with extremely competitive antenatal, postnatal care. I went to school in a town adjacent to this one. These are twin towns — one a refreshingly ‘primitive’ one, the other, satisfactorily ‘modern’ one.

      I’d have felt terribly ‘practical’ too if all I saw was pictures. 🙂 Thank you for the concern!

  7. I love this post so much I wanted to click the Like button twice but rotten WP wouldn’t let me. Shame on them! No one can take us on a walk of their neighborhood as you do Priya. Thank you so much. And you even included people bathing! Glad B was wrong and you didn’t get spotted by the bathers 🙂

    I loved the picture with the big sun over the water that you labelled “sun rise” and underneath: “Try to make do with bathing people, won’t you?”

    1. Every time I pass the bathing buffaloes, I think of you and that I promised you I’d post some pictures. I am sure I’ll be able to, someday!

      This neighbourhood isn’t something I and B (or in fact anyone I know) have dreamt of living in, but we’re getting by. And I am sure it’ll teach us, enrich us by and by in its own way.

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