Treading through whistling woods…

It was a balmy morning of late January when winter was bidding adieu at the beaches of Odisha. When I opened the window of my third floor room I got enthralled with the scenic beauty of a lush green ambience wet with the pearls of morning dew. I was in a modern village of Toshali Sands Resort, the 30 year old ethnic beach resort at the Konark marine drive. Immediately I pumped in gallons of oxygen to flush out toxics from both of my lungs by sitting at the balcony chair and rejuvenated myself with the aroma of enticing nature. Actually, a soothing ayurvedic massage last evening at the resort spa has opened my skin pores to breathe in life again. I became more greedy, I wanted for more, lots of invigorating mystical experience on the lap of mother nature free from the cacophony of cities.

With the adrenaline urge to testify the capacity of my asthmatic lungs, I took up the challenge to walk a stretch of 2 kms to the pristine Balighai beach through the narrow road of Balukhanda Forest Reserve laden with cashew nut trees with a rare sight of the deer. At first, I thought, why not to walk around the jogging track covering the vast resort premise including several lawns, dedicated areas for luxurious villas & independent cottages , swimming pool, coconut groves and organic farm for cultivating vegetables & fruits for residing guests. To my surprise, I found myself following the swarm of marching ducks parading with proper discipline to the resort pond for their bath. I was appalled with the gracious greetings garnished with beaming smile of the gardeners & staffs in their morning shift. My expectations were mounting high to exploit the opportunity to its best as the coming days of hectic schedules was unnerving me. I want to be completely relaxed in the serenity of Toshali Sands.

After strolling around resort premise, I moved out to follow the long narrow strip through the woods of Balukhanda. I was told that this country path will lead me to the pristine Balighai beach, but for me it seems a never ending path with its twists & turns. Across both the side of the stretch lies a vast forest area with loads of cashew nut trees & bushes of unknown plants behind which a young deer was peeping at me. I was appalled by his innocent look. But he ran away after few seconds. The entire area was filled with a mystical symphony ‘an orchaestra of mother nature’ with its unique melody of the chirping of birds combined with the soothing noise of the wind adoring the leaves and the thunderous roar of the distant tides. I started filling my pockets with the cashew nuts scattered around. Suddenly, I noticed somebody is approaching me in that lonely tract. I found him a middle aged man in his late fifties but highly energetic and fit to walk double my speed. He was perfectly dressed with his branded jogging shoes, T-shirt & shorts for this morning walk to the beach. It seems he was chronic walker with an ardent desire to remain fit forever. I somehow felt pity about my health as with half of his age I hardly walk half a kilometre with ease. I thought it is wise to seek some health tips from this gentleman and started to follow him. With great difficulty, at last I match his walking though sometime I have to literally run to him. His name was Harihar and he said without a good health it is impossible to live a happy life. As per his view, we must take a break between our busy schedules and get disconnected from everybody to explore the Self in the lap of Mother Nature. Meanwhile I clicked some pictures of Mr. Harihar and told him this long stretch between Balukhand Forest reminds me the famous lines of Robert Frost “Woods are lovely dark & deep and I have promises to keep…”. Treading through this whistling wood was indeed an unforgettable moment in my life. At last we both reached the Balighai beach, so serene, so pristine. Morning rays of Sun has just kissed the golden sands. The mild breeze started touching my inner chords to calm the restlessness and anxiety. I stretched both of my hands, as much as I can, embracing the vastness in front of me and gazed upon the fine line, the eternal union of the sky & the sea at the horizon. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to experience the bliss of His (God) presence around me in every sand granules, in the rhythm of every tide and the whisper of the wind. Never experienced such an inner peace and happiness though I was alone there. A sense of gratitude poured within me and I thanked God for creating this beautiful planet to nourish & heal all of us. We all are the offspring of the Mother Nature, despite that we have been cruel with her and disturbing the delicate balance only to harm ourselves ultimately. We can find solutions to our entire problem at the beauty of Nature only, not in the rush & noise of the cities full with man-made hazards.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Harihar completed his jogging on the beach and told me he saw a dead Olive Redley turtle just a few meters away, perhaps injured last night by a fishing boat. It was disturbing for me as I was seeking & enjoying the beauty of life since morning. I ran immediately to see the giant creature whom I have till now seen only in pictures. I could not believe my eyes, so big can be a turtle. With her big eyes open she was lying down with an eternal silence. No sign of injury or trace of blood, as if the turtle was alive. Her ordeal across seven seas to lay eggs in the coast of Odisha to give birth to life has met a tragic end. Hope to live and create lives never end whatever may be the circumstances. I had a rendezvous with both life & death the same day. Thank you God for arranging a date with the ultimate truth. I am now motivated to live life BIG till I sign off.

While returning I developed a camaraderie with Mr. Harihar. We discussed a lot on wide range of issues with a special interest on how to develop the community through sustainable tourism and create an awareness on conserving our mother nature. Once we reached the resort gate, we both headed for Phulpatna Ethnic Restaurant. I was feeling very hungry. At the restaurant, I was fortunate to have juices & salad of freshly plucked fruits and vegetables from the home grown organic farm of the resort. The way the resort staff was dealing with the man who has been my jogging partner till then, I found that I spent my morning with Harihar Patra – the Director –Marketing of Toshali Sands Resort whose name is Harihar Patra . It was indeed a ‘good’ morning for me with a good company of learned person, a beautiful green resort, a whistling wood, a pristine beach but alas a tragic death of a beautiful creature named Olive Redley Turtle.

(An experience penned by Sameer Kumar Das, Delhi-based PR Consultant)