If you flew halfway round the globe, you would normally expect to see things quite different from what you are accustomed to seeing. Not any longer. Last summer, after a bruising semester, when I huffed and puffed my way to Burla, a deep feeling of relief had taken over. Until I ran headlong into CNN, MTV, and Co, that is. The morning after I'd reached home, I was lying on my bed, pondering whether the mosquitoes lying on my bed were dead from overfeeding the night before, or whether they were lying down like me, too lazy to get up, when my six-year old cousin, Shweta, tugged at my shirt sleeves. "Shoop! Shoop!" she said. I smiled sheepishly at her, not sure I heard her right, and then, when she repeated her words, I told her, "Hoop! Hoop!", not sure of what else to say. She said, "Dada, did you see Shoop Shoop last night?" "No!" I assured her, my mind racing, trying to figure out what on earth she meant by that. "Not really," I finally said. "I didn't have time last night. Given a chance again, I'll not only see it, but also hold it in my arms, and lift it up." I was feeling very pleased with myself, because I had remembered that she had a kitten she called by a vaguely similar name. "Oh Dada, you don't know anything! What I'm telling you is, did you see `Shoop, Shoop' by Whitney Houston last night on MTV? Oh, it was so good!" As she ran off, I sat upright on my bed and blinked a few times. Later on, during my stay, Shweta made sure I learnt a few things: (1) I'm not much good at things, (2) `Hold Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me' is not a madman ranting, but is instead a song from "Batman Forever," (3) `Couture Barbie' is the latest Barbie doll in shops, and (4) "kicks" is a slang for shoes.
Needless to say, I packed my bags and fled Burla as soon as I could get hold of my travel agent in Delhi. The fact remains, however, that no matter whether you fly in from London or from Houston, or whether you curl up into your bed in Cuttack or in Sambalpur, there's no escaping from MTV, CNN, blue jeans and the NBA. Things have changed a lot, though I'm sure you will fare better than I did.
In this article, Dr Ashok Swain presents a delightful contrast between the Bhubaneswar of yore, and the futuristic city of today. It is a matter of great pleasure that Dr Swain, while residing in faraway Sweden, finds it worth his while to read, and contribute actively to, Ornet. While I was quite sore at Sweden's recent 5-0 thrashing of India in a Davis Cup match, I realized that Dr Swain had nothing to do with it personally, and that I shouldn't hold it against him.
The review is by Asish "Monty" Mohanty of the University of Minnesota. His spirit of cooperation and ready help is sincerely appreciated.
Hope you enjoy the article.
Amitabh Mishra April 26, 1996
Name: , Ph.D. Profession: Assistant Professor Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University Box 514, S-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden Visits: Gamla Torget 3 Phone +46 (0)18-187653(off); +46(0)18-246036(res) Fax: +46(0)18-69 51 02 E-mail: (Internet) Ashok.Swain@pcr.uu.se (or firstname.lastname@example.org) Married recently to Ranjula K. Bali-Swain. Parents : Late Baikunth Nath Swain, Kadambini Swain, Plot No. 154, VIP Area, Nayapalli, Bhubaneswar. Three Younger Sisters, Rajshree, Rita and Nibedita, all are married and settled in Orissa. Education: Primary Schooling: Raja Vikram Dev Vidyalaya, Patalda, Puri High School: Astarang High School, Puri 1980-1982: Intermediate (IA): S.C.S. College, Puri 1982-1984: B.A. (Pol. Sc. Honours): Ravenshaw College, Cuttack 1984-1985: Admitted in M.A. (Pol. Sc.): Vani Vihar, Bhubaneswar 1985-1987: M.A. (Pol. Sc.): Delhi University, Delhi 1987-1988: M.Phil. (International Politics), SIS, J.N.U., New Delhi 1989-1991: Ph.D. (International Politics), SIS, J.N.U., New Delhi 1991: Courses on International Conflict Studies, Dept. of Peace & Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden. 1992 onwards: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Peace & Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden Specialization: Environmental Conflicts, Water Issues, Population Migration. Recently written a book on the Ganges Water Dispute and Population Migration from Bangladesh: The title of the Book "The Environmental Trap." Hobby: Traveling.
We have had a house in Bhubaneswar for very long time but I have never stayed there for more than a month at a stretch. Because of education and job, I have been always a guest in my own home. I left for Delhi in 1985 and then my periods of stay in Bhubaneswar got considerably reduced. I moved to Sweden in 1991 and the same situation continued. Till 1994, I was only able to have the luxury of staying in the lovely city not for more than a week in a year. Due to both personal and professional reasons, I have traveled several times (seven times to be exact) to Bhubaneswar from December 1994 and have spent considerable time there. After a two months' trip, I came back to my workplace in Sweden in the last week of March and now, the time has come to pack up my bags again. I am leaving for Bhubaneswar on 13 April for one more month of stay in Bhubaneswar. These frequent trips and long stay in Bhubaneswar have helped me to find many noticeable changes in my favorite city.
I think, everybody will agree with me that the looks of the Bhubaneswar has changed very much in the 1990s. Go to BJB College, the cycle parking area is empty - it is insulting for any collegians to ride a cycle. I still vividly remember how proud I was when I got my first Hero cycle while I was doing my graduation at Ravenshaw. However, the college campus is flooded these days with sleek Hero Hondas. Parents are considered to be incompetent (I am using relatively nice vocabulary here) if they fail to provide their kids with these fast machines. This trend has no gender bias - you will get the same feeling if you happen to pass by Rama Devi College. A number of Sunnys and Vespas everywhere. Last July, I really got a pleasant shock. I was driving a Maruti from our old house in Unit-6 to my friend's place in BJB Nagar. While I was passing the AG Square, a fiat tried to overtake me, blowing its horn like anything. I got really annoyed and did not move to my left to give the space for that car to pass me. It further annoyed the driver and the sound of the horn became more piercing. The chase continued till the Cuttack Road crossing and finally I had to swallow my pride. The fiat overtook me and parked just in front of my car. A young girl's face came out from the driver's window and looked at me with a victorious smile before speeding away. I am really unable to describe my feelings that time. But, one thing I was sure of was that I was shocked and for a minute or two, I could not believe that this thing could happen in Bhubaneswar.
Fashionable jeans and sports shoes are now days very common - in spite of a hostile climate. Cable TV is in every house. One month back, a new cable company promised me to provide nearly twenty channels-more than what we get in ordinary cable offers in Sweden. The salesman of that cable company tried to sell his offer by saying that this new company is being run by Bansidhar Panda's daughter-in-law. It was in his effort to inspire my confidence but the day before I had read about the major financial crisis in IMFA. The young generation has lost its interest in readings magazines and newspapers. Watching Doordarshan has become too old fashioned. Video and computer games have now swept the youth. My seven years old nephew has recently got his video game from his parents. Honestly speaking, I still do not know how to play that instrument. Gone are the days, when we were running to the field in the afternoon to play - now all the fun is in front of that idiot box.
The marketplace has changed, too. Number of fashionable stores. Many new shopping centres. A boom of the Jewellery shops. Who says Oriyas are poor? Have you ever gone to these stores during the marriage season? New restaurants have opened up. I saw an ad of a new restaurant offering candle lit dinners. We have many candle lit dinners at our home, thanks to very kind gestures of the late OSEB. But, no longer is it free. The roads are illuminated very nicely - if you fly in or out of Bhubaneswar in the evening times, it can offer an excellent view. But, the roads are no longer safe. Everybody knows in Bhubaneswar that do not drive your motor bike after 9 in the evening - not only you have the chance of losing the bike, you may lose one of your hands, too. There are many wide roads - number of one-way traffic lights. New residential areas have come up. The Nayapalli area is the new VIP area. All the attention is there. The old VIP area, Saheed Nagar is now dead. The roads are terrible-no lights. In the rainy season, you may have to swim in many places. How the times have changed!
The story of Bhubaneswar cannot be completed without discussing its main constituent: bureaucracy. Everybody knows they are inefficient. A single visit to the Secretariat or Heads of the Departments (Naa Mahala) will give you ample evidence of this. But, they have also become very corrupt. Corrupt to the core. All the materialistic revolution which has come to city may be directly responsible for this Hawalisation of Oriya bureaucracy. It is impossible to talk to a clerk or a peon without putting money in his pocket. It is worse in the case of higher ups. I have many experiences: Let me tell you the latest one. Two weeks back, I went to the Bureau of Statistics of the Orissa Government which is in the Naa Mahala. I needed some of their publications for research purposes. After many inquiries, I managed to get their exact location. It is in the 5th floor. The lift was not working-I have to do the upward jogging. But it was not that smooth either - the steps were crowded as it was being used by our sincere bureaucrats for playing cards. Anyway, I managed to reach my destination and to my surprise the selling guy was on his chair. He had the books, he had the keys, I was there in the official selling hours. But, he refused to sell me the books which I wanted. The reason he gave me was that the officer who is supposed to sign the receipt book is not there-so come tomorrow. I had to leave in that same evening flight - I had no other way out. When I told him that I do not need receipts, he gave me the books with a smile. Though I could not get these money reimbursed from my project, I managed to get the thing done in my favorite city which has changed so much in these last few years.
The ever changing face of Bhubaneshwar catches many of us off guard especially when we go there for visits. The author does a nice job of revealing the trendy changes that are "afflicting" the city. It is interesting to see how fast the technology has affected the younger generation. Certainly that is no fault of the younger generation (including myself) to want such wanton luxuries, but the author also made me think whether the younger generation really appreciates what they already have. We all have such impulsive desires in ourselves. I really got a laugh in the incident where the author describes his "chase". I was hoping the author would have impulsively stuck out his tongue at the young girl. :-)
The author also point out the so called "Western" changes such as blue jeans, sneakers, & cable which has duly affected the population. From this point on it seems like the change is not rally within the city but with the culture of the people of Bhubaneshwar. We as a society have become more amiable or receptive to change as evidenced by the change in the people of Bhubaneshwar. Change has its good and bad sides but we all must be prepared for it. We pleasantly see that the face of Bhubaneshwar has changed but we see amusingly that some people have not changed like the petty bureaucrat.
The article was written with a pleasant tone with the intention of neither disproving or approving of the change which is excellent. The author vividly describes the clash of the old world vs. the new. Personally, I am still confused of whether or not the change is too rapid or too slow. Perhaps the author can briefly give us his opinion of whether the change in Bhubaneshwar is proper.
Your comments are always welcome...
Ride back to Home Page...