I'm from Odisha, from Cuttack to be specific. Cuttack, apart from its rich 1000 year old history, filigree, un-chartable lanes, Dahibara and ruins, is approx. 100kms from the coast line and thank God for that, as it perfectly fits the '10 hour' window. What is the "10 hour" window? While growing up we had these spots, these places of escapade. Places we could run off to by morning and be back home before dusk without raising any alarms. Well not quite run but have those ultimate teen aged bike rides to the beach with friends. In the wind and sun, soar like the migrant bird in a foreign land and spree. Ok, it was more like leave on time and be on time, to be back on time, but you get the point. Puri, Konark and Chilika our own personal unwinding spots, the latter is the one which would make sense of the "migrant bird" metaphor.
Yes, I'm going to speak about a trip to Chilika, during the winter, which by the way is the perfect time, if you want to maximise your tour/trip with the favourable temperature, dolphins and migratory bird sightings. But as i said I've been there numerous times, throughout the year, while i was growing up. Yet some how visiting it after a decade had a different feel. The transport, the companions and the waist size all did seem to have(actually had) changed over this decade. The way one's nostalgia kicks in, is not by the very obvious changes but by the realisation of the very subtle changes that one was usually oblivious to at the point of the original memory. Everything was more comfortable, easier and accessible this time, the "10 hour" window did not apply. And still believe it or not, i actually was unhappy about it, inspite of better co-travellers, transport(arguably) and a wholesome breakfast in Bhubaneshwar.
Once you reach Chilika, you have the option of the OTDC speedboats or the motor operated vintage private boats. What you choose would definitely impact your experience, so at the cost of sounding like the Oracle, 'Choose Wisely'. If 'time, safety and check-listing spots' are your constraints, the speedboats. If you enjoy lethargy, can handle the frequent wobble and want to experience the poignancy of the lake, the latter. I picked my route (they charge you for the number of spots) found my boat and boatmen, who in turn found the fuel and within 20 mins we were in 'nowhere'. You know what i chose from the title of the post and i was instantly glad as i had always been. I was in Chilika.
I was in Chilika and the muse found me like the sun did the water. Its a place where the soul floats on the much romanticised sunsets. A place that reminds you of the essence of an impasse. One contemplates and is able to view the past while envisioning the future on a hovering present that defies gravity. Of course we were lucky to have the dolphins follow us for an hour and then terns and gulls at Kalijai also the migratory ones near Nalban, but the boat ride, the sun and the lake, Chilika as a whole is my, creme de la creme.