After a sweaty bus, with almost no space for our backpacks, we find a cheap but nice hotel to set base for a few days in Puri. Contrarily to Bhubaneswar, here there are other Westerners.
The beach is near and we naively think we’ll be able to sunbathe and soak in the water to fight the heat and high humidity, but the truth is that you can’t just get out there with your swimming suit without becoming the focus of attention of the whole beach. Here the local men bathe with their jeans and shirts on, and women with their sarees, so we just sit down on the sand and lift our clothes a liiiitle bit up our ankles (calling some attention anyway, as usual, he.)
It has been a long time since we don’t see the ocean so we can’t help a walk along the shore. There are some small fishing boats on the sand and some stalls grilling fish for vacationers. Everything is nice and even idyllic until a little further we notice some smell… In front of us, a whole canal with literally black water is pouring into the sea which bounces us back immediately. We had been hesitating whether bathing or not so is good we didn’t after all. This is one example of the contrast we usually experience in India, where beautiful feelings are often smashed tragically by upsetting, depressing or unpleasant sights.
The following day we are looking for some espresso coffee and we are pointed to a posh hotel on first line of the beach. Some music can be heard; there is a wedding taking place and a small committee of guests is heading to the hotel while getting drunk and dancing at the rhythm of drums and trumpets. Everyone’s buying from some stalls in front of the hotel.
Then, guests enter the hotel gardens where many decorations, a stage and many chairs are placed. We witness the ceremony from outside. As we know, weddings generally involve some celebration, but boy, in India, they do celebrate them intensively! The event lasts for 3 entire days where the bride and groom have to go through all sorts of smaller ceremonies, rituals and gatherings. They cost a real fortune (much more than what we might spend in Western countries). I have never been to one, but Carlos was 12 years ago for a cousin of his. For all that Shoumei and Carlos told me and for what we’ve seen lately, an Indian wedding is a BIG thing.