Wave after wave lashes the shore.
With a monotonous predictability that only Nature can guarantee.
Gazing vacantly at the infinite.
The humbling expanse of the Bay of Bengal.
My feet sink into the sand as a giant wave sweeps ashore.
I momentarily lose balance.
A pair of cacophonous seagulls circle above.
Fighting over fish, perhaps, I chuckle. Primitive instincts.
The wave retreats.
Leaving cryptic patterns on the wet sand.
As another wave crashes against the ancient boulders.
Erasing the old patterns and drawing new ones.
The sun has long set.
Twilight has painted a canvas of a myriad reds and purples.
Lubdhok (Sirius) dazzles, a pinprick of a diamond, many many light years away.
Darkness comes. On hushed tiptoes.
Venus is visible now in all her pristine glory.
The enthusiastic coastguards blow their whistles, the harsh shrillness punctuating the serene stillness that has descended, enthusiastically waving at the few of us still on the beach, goading us to start leaving.
A pair of sand crabs chase each other silly.
I start walking.
Following a pair of footsteps etched on the drenched sand.
Whose footsteps are these ? I wonder. Where do they lead to ? And why do I follow ?
I don’t know. I hear myself whisper.
But I do follow. I submit. And keep following.
Like an iron nail yielding to the colossal force of an invisible magnet.
I have never quite been able to comprehend why Puri has held such a fascinating place in my heart.
Is it, I have often mused, the magnetic charm of the Lord ? The imposing ancient temple, the stunning architecture, the awe-inspiring ambience of the holy precincts ?
Whatever it is, Puri continues to beckon me even to this day.
To return to the Lord.
The narrow alleys.
The delectable prasadam and the to-die-for chhana pora.
And on this auspicious occasion of RathaYatra, as the Lord leaves his abode for an annual retreat to his aunt’s place and millions throng to get just a fleeting glimpse of Him and touch the sacred rope of his vehicle, I offer Him Rasabali, one of His favourite desserts.
Rasabali. Chhana caressed with oodles of love, fried in ghee over a lazy languorous flame and soaked in reduced milk.
Decadence indeed, but if not today when ?