Kalinga. Now called Odisha (Orissa).\n\nThe poorest state in India financially. Yet, among the richest states culturally.\nEvery Indian has heard of Orissa through its arts \u2013 either the dance, the woven saris, the metalwork, the tribal wall paintings, the pipli patchwork, the pattachitra or the palm leaf paintings \u2013 each an art form that is ancient, developed and gorgeous (except the pipli patchwork that does not appeal to me).\nHave dreamt of coming to Orissa for many years. And am here finally \u2013 beckoned to the place by a tribal festival.\nSome irresponsible photographers with no moral conscience portrayed the women here in a bad light and so photography is disallowed. The strictness with which this is enforced even in the festival is very heartening but it is also a major disappointment.\nBut there are unexpected surprises \u2013 like ancient temples in the midst of the city, ancient palm leaf manuscripts dug out from the trunks of an old shop, a little-known museum that has a fantastic collection of ancient stone artefacts and more.\n***\nAbove all \u2013 the most striking view is that of the common people. Families whose members are\u00a0 well integrated across generations and completely involved in each other\u2019s lives are a delight to watch. Old wrinkled bent grandmas join the family outing supported by their sons and grandsons.\u00a0 The outing is a special occasion and even in the lower middle class income segment, the women and children have dressed up well with full \u2018shringar\u2019 to join the crowds at the Mela on Sunday evening. Young people are all seen with their families, talking, laughing and completely engaged in each other without any\u00a0\u00a0 \u2018I don\u2019t belong here\u2019 misfit sentiment\u00a0 or the haughty\u00a0 \u2018I\u2019d rather be somewhere else\u2019 attitude. Everyone is homogenously one with each other. Everyone is exactly where they want to be \u2013 enjoying the Sunday evening with people they are settled with. The pace is slow and relaxed as people soak in the sights and examine all the objects available for sale. Even with noisy children creating a ruckus as their fathers try to rein them in, and mothers look on gently, there is a sense of peace. No one \u2013 neither the urban folk who have come to visit nor the tribal folk who live hard lives \u2013 seems unhappy or disturbed or engrossed in unsolvable problems.\n***\nUrban folk seem to have a sense of innate respect for the tribal folk. The urbanites ask questions about the roots and herbs in a tone of reverence that one might use with a wise man. They walk about the\u00a0 staged tribal village homes and study every aspect with\u00a0 interest.\u00a0 This respect and reverence surprises me. For, in my urban world, or in other states that I have visited, most people only see the financial & developmental status of the tribals and judge them to be \u2018lesser\u2019 mortals. In that world, tribals are seen as a group that \u2018needs help / development / financial aid / support / education\u2019.\u00a0 Whereas here, in Bhubaneswar, tribals are being seen as exactly the opposite : a source of learning, a source of wisdom and a group to be respected. Very refreshing!\n***\nDinner is an absolute delight with vegetables tasting like they used to when I was a child. Having grown up vegetarian I have had enough of veggies and am no fan of this food group. And so, when I found myself enjoying the great flavours of cauliflower and lady fingers and brinjals I surprised myself! After two days of relishing simple meals I began to look forward to dinner and too often I caught myself thinking about what I would eat at meal time! Craving for vegetables???!!\u00a0\u00a0 Here in Mumbai I am back to eating the fantastic tasty dinners that my dear maid cooks for me, and though she is a fantastic cook, the raw vegetables themselves lack flavor. Maybe the locals in Orissa farm differently. Maybe their land is different.\u00a0 As I have my morning cup of tea, I am wondering when I will get my next dose of\u00a0 flavorful Odisha vegetables!!\n***\n\nMore about my travels in Orissa to follow in the articles to be published in Feb:\nIrresponsible Photography\nTribal Life of Orissa \u2013 a tribute!\nAll-consuming Tribal Dances\nFashionable Pandaas (pundits / temple priests)\nAncient Palm leaf manuscripts\nThe Magnificent artefacts of the State Museum of Orissa\nIn the presence of the Past \u2013 Ancient Caves\nA journey to the Past : The Science of Epigraphy\nA walk through the market in Bhubaneshwar\nStreet Shrine Art of Orissa\nPainted Legends \u2013 Pattachitras\u00a0 of Orissa\nInteresting nuggets about Odisha\nWoven Art of Orissa\nTemple Erotica\nA drive through Cuttack\njm\njan 2013\nThe post Kalinga Diaries appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.