Sunday Picnic

Corey writes:

This past Sunday, Gina forced me out of my normal rut (playing video games) to go on adventure to the Upper Kolab dam, which is a big hydroelectric dam about 15 km from Koraput town. While dams aren’t normally our style of tourism, our interest was piqued by an endorsement on (our favorite local news site that has had pictures of us on more than a few occasions) and also the fact that the chief minister of Orissa was there two weeks ago to inaugurate a children’s park. Also, Gina’s boss and his wife visited last week and said it was a beautiful park.

Part of the fun of little adventures like this starts in the planning stage. We had agreed to pack a picnic lunch, so we got to brainstorm a special menu. And like with everything else, it’s not as simple as hopping in your car and barking your destination to your GPS. We had to ask our friends about how far away it was, was it possible to take a rickshaw, how much should we pay for a rickshaw, etc. In the end our preparation paid off: we got a rickshaw to take us there and back and wait for 3 hours for us, all for about $10.

We started off in the rickshaw and arrived at the dam about 30 minutes later. It was a breathtaking site in itself.

We spent the first 30 minutes just wandering around the park, which is broken up into about four levels down the embankment of the dam. We could have taken a motor boat tour of the reservoir or rented a paddle boat. We chose to be lazy and do neither.

We made our way down to the bottom of the park, just exploring, and came across the nice new children’s playground that was inaugurated by the chief minister. It was a better quality than many playgrounds in the U.S., especially because it was all brightly painted steel and gravel. No wussy plastic or “safety chips”. The place was deserted so Gina and I let our inner children out and monkeyed around.

Next we wandered on up the path and found another amazing surprise. A brand new “science park”, again with about 30 brightly painted steel stations that each demonstrated some property of physics. Gina and I really enjoyed this as well. We spun around on centrifugal force wheels, rolled balls through steel mazes, and bounced springs. While we enjoyed it, we also noted that it was a pity because we don’t think very many people are going to benefit from the exhibit: all the signs are in English! This is a paradox that we’ve noticed many other places in India. Using English in your signage demonstrates a level of class and sophistication but also reduces the number of people that can read your sign. English is OK for bath soap ads, but not for communicating scientific ideas.

After we had our fill of science, we found a shady spot to relax and broke out the lunch spread. I made something I’m going to call breakfast salad. It started out as potato salad but then we addd canned ham (thanks Mom & Dad) and hard-boiled eggs. I also made a fruit salad: frozen grapes, mango slices, banana slices, cashews, and yogurt. I also picked up a few snacks like potato chips and Oreos. We topped it all off with a bottle of wine (thanks again M & D) that I’d dumped into an Aquafina bottle so as not to attract attention.

We gobbled down the feast and I slept while Gina read. Around four o’clock the storm that had been threatening all afternoon actually started to drop rain on us, just as we packed up and headed home. It was a great Sunday.