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Saturday, 6 January 2018

Kalinga Diaries – Part II: Getting there with a small detour

Our flight on Dec 28th is at 8.20 am from the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru. Quite a reasonable time of day; but I wake at the unearthly hour of 3.00 am with this sense of incompleteness. Because it is the date to submit the last story of 2017 for the South Africa writer’s group and I have not gotten a single word written, and have no clue of what to write.

The past few days have been a blur with exams in college, corrections, preparing notes, local temple visits, and packing for the tour. Somehow, in that groggy state, within an hour, I cook up a tale and submit it on the short stories site, wondering what the writers there will make of it.

That task completed, it's time to get ready for our journey. Armed with baggage that includes food for breakfast and lunch to be consumed en route (idli, chutney powder, chapatis and tomato gojju), we leave home at 6.30 am, assuming a travel time of an hour, and leaving us close to an hour to complete the formalities at the airport.

Speeding along the airport road...
mist is hiding the skyscrapers in the distance

Time flies the fastest when you need it the most.

Although the Uber driver gets us to the airport in 35 minutes flat, there is a huge crowd at the check-in, baggage drop and the security check counters. We rush through and only after we fall into our seats do I realize that we are the last people to board.

Thank God!

For getting us there in time; but also for not letting me realize that bit about being last to board – because if I had, I’d have cringed inwardly at being late. And people who travel with me have learned to detect this, and it irritates them no end, and then, there’s such a surge of adrenaline (on both sides) that any existing dopamine ** is washed away 😉😉

Also, because we’ve been so busy just getting across, I have not had the time to get anxious. Ah…if only such blissful ignorance would envelop me in other areas of life, how much easier it would be!!

I notice quite a few people nonchalantly walking in with just a small bag they stow in the overhead bin. Lesser the baggage, (of maya?) easier the journey (to moksha?), I think….

We land in Hyderabad on time, at 9.30 am. The onward flight to Bhubaneshwar is only at 2.10 pm, so we have planned a quick visit to the Balaji temple at Chilkur, which Google Maps tells us is just about 40 minutes away from the airport. I have first read about this temple in a book by Sri. V.S. Karunakaran titled “The Lord….at your call.” A recounting of anecdotes on Vishnu Sahasranamam, this book extolls the wonders people experience by praying at the Chilkur temple, that has grown famous as the “Visa Temple.”

The book that inspired the Chilkur Balaji temple visit

No archana tickets, no special darshans, no hundi….and yet, thousands of people flock to this 500-year old Balaji temple that is reputed to be a granter of wishes of anyone who prays there. You can guess the reason for the “Visa Temple” tag – people visit this temple, do 11 pradakshinas in the small temple courtyard, and pray their quest for a visa is fulfilled. When that happens, they go back, and complete 108 pradakshinas. Please note, I'm saying “when” not “if”…such is the power of this deity….

As we deplane, hubby asks one of the airport staff about how long it would take us to get to Chilkur and back. After all, human experience may have more real-life value than Google Maps. That chap scares us by saying it is very difficult, because there will be a lot of traffic, and it is not advisable to risk missing the onward flight, but “the decision of course, is yours.”

When we’ve set our minds on visiting a temple, we’re not so easy to deflect. Walking a little further, we encounter a car rental stall and ask them the same question. That guy says, “200 percent sure you can go there and get back in time.” A corner of my mind wonders – is he saying it only so he can get business from us? But the price this guy quotes is astronomical, and so, we walk a little further outside the airport. The price reduces by 100 rupees.

Finally we get to where the local cabs are parked, even further away from the airport and manage to strike a bargain for a reasonable price with one guy who promises to get us back well in time. Of course, he does warn us, saying, “It all depends on how fast you finish your darshan and get back.”

Maybe he assumes we are going to do the 108 pradakshinas. But we aren’t. For those who adopt the principle of ‘Sharanagati’ or surrender to Lord Narayana, there are no wishes to ask….you spend your life trying to learn to accept everything as His wish……

What happened at Chilkur…..wait for tomorrow’s post!!

** Just in case you didn’t get it --- Hint: Research associates adrenaline with stress and fight/flight syndrome; dopamine is linked with love and affection

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