Living in Bhubaneswar, the Land of Temples
It has been more than two years since I packed my bags and took a flight to move to India. Living and studying in India has become a pivotal, life-changing experience for me. It has opened my eyes and broadened my perspective of the world we live in. I want to share my experiences of living in India, and my life in this small city.
Getting to Know Bhubaneswar
Odisha is an eastern state of India, sandwiched between West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. It is known for its tribal population and has a long-standing history in the Hindu culture of the country. Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state, is where I live and go to college.
The region is known as one of the hottest places in India, with summer highs going well above 40 degrees centigrade, though it stays hot and humid for most of the year. Moreover, winter lows never plummet below 10˚C. Except for the occasional downpour and the monsoon rains, the weather remains unforgiving in this region.
Note: At the time of this writing, the region is experiencing a devastating hit from the cyclone Fani. The city has taken a majorly crippling blow in this storm and reels in the sweltering summer heat. Innumerable trees have been uprooted, and agriculture has been severely affected, skyrocketing different prices. It looks like it will take more than a month for the region to return to normal.
Kind and Genuine People
While the weather is harsh, the people make up for it with their genuine and friendly attitude. They have similar attitudes and attributes as their neighbors and tend to indulge in similar cultures and etiquette. Due to the high proportion of tribal people in the region, the people tend to be more conservative and bound to age-old customs and traditions, which can be observed in their day to day lives.
Food in this region is a fusion of north and south Indian food. Everything from the famed Punjabi Chole Bhature (a fried bread made with refined wheat flour, and chickpea Masala) to the luscious south Indian Dosas (a thin crispy bread, made of rice batter, with assorted fillings). The hostels offer various Indian dishes as well as continental meals, which is restricted to the extent of bread, jam and boiled eggs. Nevertheless, while the quality of all meals isn’t the best, you cannot complain; it is above average hostel food.
The City of Temples
Bhubaneswar is an up-and-coming city, and it is designated to be developed as a smart city by the government of India. However, there isn’t much to do for leisure around the city. If you are interested in Hindu history and the architecture of temples, Bhubaneswar is the right place for you. With more than two thousand temples, it should come as no surprise that this city is known as the City of Temples. However, besides the temple visiting, there is little else to do.
There is a zoo, a museum, and a handful of movie theaters where you can enjoy Hindi and English movies. There are also a couple of amusement parks where you can have fun with family or friends. You could also drive down to the seaside town of Puri, and enjoy a day of frolicking at the beach and zooming down the marine drive.
On top of that, the square around the main college campus boasts numerous restaurants, cafés and street-food joints where students can grab a bite to eat, and just hang out and relax with their friends. The on-campus sports complexes also provide relief from the daily monotony of the overloaded student life, with facilities such as gymnasiums, swimming pools, basketball and volleyball courts as well as tennis and cricket grounds.
The Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology
Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology is the brainchild of the renown local humanitarian and philanthropist Dr. Achyuta Samanta. The institute, deemed to be university, consists of over fifteen vast campuses and houses upwards of 25,000 students. In addition to providing education and producing academic research, the university, along with the rest of the Kalinga enterprise plays a crucial role in driving the local economy forward, and supports thousands of local employees, and businesses.
In comparison to the general educational landscape of India, KIIT provides above average education and facilities for its students. There still is a very bureaucratic style of teaching, in my opinion, focused more or establishing rules and order in the learning environment. As well intended as that may be, it leads to an authority-subordinate relationship between professors and students, rather than students viewing their lecturers as equals, and hence more approachable. Hopefully, this traditional mindset is altered in time, leading to even higher standards of education in the coming years.
KIIT is a powerhouse with comprehensive opportunities catering to every aspect of the student life, and it keeps on growing day by day. Furthermore, there are various avenues for students to learn, develop themselves and explore further career opportunities, ranging from the Business Tech Incubation Complex to the Student Activity Center. On the other hand, the various cafeterias, walking grounds, gardens and outdoor parks bring everything together, providing a place of peace and relaxation with friends after a laborious day on campus.
As I sit in the balcony of my room and type away, I am pondering the upcoming semester, my project as well as the industrial training that will be required. Being here has had its ups and downs, but it has truly been a blessing studying in India. It has given me an opportunity to explore other cultures, widen my perspectives and reach a new level of understanding regarding the world around me.
I am not the same man as I was walking out of the arrival terminal of the local airport that rainy September morning, and I will leave as an even better person. There is a part of this temple-sprinkled Bhubaneswar, of India, inside me, and it will stay that way forever.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Mohamed Leen Abdulla