The celebration of India’s national day was finished at Peace Restaurant, one of the most popular dining places for tourists in Puri. We were five at the table, Kaare, Shiva, the fisherman Santos, his friend and me. With plenty of food and beer for us, it all cost 165 NOK, the prices for food and lodging in India is unbelievable.
In Sagar Saikate we booked two rooms, which cost us about 65 NOK a day. We have chosen to get to Delhi by plane, it takes about two hours instead of close to three days by train. The tickets cost about 400 NOK each.
Shiva to joined the celebration has guided us and been our scooter taxi driver in Puri. He has amongst others driven us to the Sun temple Kornack, which is one of the main attractions in the area. People of all religions can visit this temple, so it also attracts most of the Westerners here. We skipped a trip to the inside of the temple walls, but walked around the temple and viewed it from the outside. It was rather like a tourist attraction, people walking in groups inside the temple front yard. The temple is from about 1200, and is now being restored.
He has also showed us the Jagannath temple in the centre of Puri, where only Hindus may enter, to this temple a continuous flow of Hindus from all over India comes for their pilgrimage. I read in a newspaper that the revolutionary Baba Rambev recently said the temple should be opened for people of all religions, but he faced major opposition from the temple priests. Baba Ramdev has also started a movement to turn India free of corruption within 2020, but it is uncertain if he will succeed with that. Once again he is on a tour, which will cover half of India. He gathers large groups of people and spread his message. Perhaps it is good with some “baba vibes” in Indian politics. Just about all the younger politicians come from politician families, politic positions are inherited in the world’s largest democracy – India.
Our guide and helper Shiva is 27 years old, he is getting married soon. His father and mother have found the woman he will share his life with. He has only met her five times, they have only spoken together, they have not have physical contact. When they are getting married on the 4th of February, they have to wait four days before they can sleep together. He is looking more forward to this night than the wedding. He talks warmly about his parents and he likes the women they have found for him. This is our tradition and I trust my parent’s experience, they have probably chosen the right one. If I did not like her, I would not have been forced to marry her. Now he is on the verge of learning to love his woman, not by lust or desire, but by tradition. He is a fine and reflective young man, with one foot in the modern world, the other in an ancient tradition. When I call Shiva, he always have a cool Western ringtone. I unfortunately forgot to ask about the names of the songs, it was some of the best I have heard in a long time. No problem, he is on Facebook. When he and his future wife get children, he will raise them to choose their life partner themselves, he says. I have attended school, education will slowly but surely change this traditions. His wife comes with dowry, her father must equip the newly married with TV, fridge, furniture and other things they need to get a good start in the married life. The girl’s family must also pay for the wedding, and they do not go easy on things in India. Shiva said he belongs to caste number two, below the Brahman caste, which is the uppermost caste in India. They have had the upper hand for thousands of years, a position they not so gladly will let go of. For the first years the newly married will live at his parents. When Shiva is working, his wife will be with his mother, and do the daily chores together. Here are two families who really cooperate to make a new couple and a new family, the generations are weaved together. Shiva is a very sympathetic, pleasant young man, and he is raised well. He often mention that he loves and respect his parents, and praise the home he grew up in.
The dining place I have visited the most during my stay in Puri is called Raju’s, it is located just around the corner from where we live. I have taken photos of the menu with prices and all, here one get to know the level of prices in the unbelievable India. Raju runs the place with his wife, some helpers, and his somewhat lazy, young son. Here one gets traditional Indian food. In Puri we eat a lot of fish, fresh fish straight from the sea. One day Kaare bought a tree kilo tuna fish from the fishermen at the beach. Raju served a lovely masala tuna meal, yummy. Chicken dishes are also available, but lamb in curry is rarely eaten in Puri. Anyways, the food here is lovely. I often eat fruit salad with yogurt for breakfast, a perfect way to start the day. The various omelets are also exquisite. At Raju’s there is food for any taste
Our friend Thomas lives well of his basic pension at less than â‚¬ 500 in Puri. In Germany everything below â‚¬ 700 is considered as being below the poverty level. The sparsely pension covers his trip there and back from Berlin, and long periods in Puri. He spends about 10 000 rupiahs a month for food and lodging and everything else he needs, about 1300 NOK. He is an active Aikido master, and live a healthy life for being a pensioner. The best season in Puri is from the second half of November to March. Then the temperatures are comfortable for us Westerners.
Puri is behind me now, we are already in Delhi, we are in Old Delhi. We ended up at Hotel Haram with friendly Muslims in the reception. After two nights here, we are on the plane homeward. I allow myself to summarize the blog when I am back home, so a follow-up will be posted within some days.
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