For the first time I can say that I have come to place that I have not liked one bit. There has not been a single experience at Cuttack that made my stop here worthwhile. To start with, it is a congested city. Bhubaneshwar is heaven in comparison. There is a constant crowd of people and traffic on every road. Roads are narrow and lined with stalls. There are no proper bus stops. There is a bus station named Badambadi but it is quite small for a major city. Many buses stop along the main road instead of going into Badambadi. The general squalor of Indian cities finds expression at Cuttack.
Yesterday I arrived late at Cuttack and I am not to blame. I left Konark early enough but the bus from Bhubaneshwar would not leave until the conductor had packed it like a can of sardines. There are no timings. Private buses leave for their destinations when they please. As for government buses, I am yet to see one. So after an hour of crawling on four wheels on the roads of Bhubaneshwar and endless minutes of waiting, we were finally off to Cuttack. The bus, by now packed to impossible limits, deoxygenated and overflowing, speeds dangerously, honking all the way to Cuttack.
Buses are simply to transport people and goods from place to place. It is not a service in the strict sense of the word. Everyone wants to make a quick buck in India. There is no real service or even a sense of it. Politeness and courtesy are not understood because there is no behaviour that gives meaning to them. India is about survival. Uglier is private profit and greed.
I found it difficult to find accommodation at Cuttack because I arrived so late. It was past seven. Rooms were either not available or too expensive. After checking at many places, I finally found a room at Mini Lodge on Haripur Road. It was at a ridiculous price of Rs. 50. It was not a room I liked but good enough for one night.
This morning I walked to Qadam-E-Rasool Masjid. Somewhere I read that this has interesting architecture. I guess something was missing in me or in the mosque. Either way, I had wasted my time. It was a neighbourhood mosque, small and simple. Nothing in its architecture interested me. I walked the streets of Cuttack. I picked a random place from the city map (Chandi Mandir) and hired a rickshaw to reach it. Along the way, I sampled the sights and sounds of Cuttack. Congestion is the word that most comes to my mind. Too many people living in small spaces. Not enough green space. No open skies and clean air. When I reached Chandi Mandir, I had nothing particular to do. I was not even interested to step into the temple. I just walked back to the hotel, packed and left for Badambadi.