I believe I have spent a total of fifteen days in probably, no! most definitely, one of the harshest deserts in the World. The Thar desert opened its arms just short of Sam at the Kanoi sand dunes and well I was overwhelmed by the hospitality, initially. Stars falling every now and then and the universe hinting at a few interesting universal revalations. The sand dunes were illusive, they’ve been keeping secrets for a few million years now.
My slipper was a sad victim to their becoming hostility. In retrospect I would say I witnessed a number of transitions. From warm, colourful and happy to hostile, angry and bitter, I saw it all. But that is another story. What will follow now are the musings of a volunteer at Ragasthan 2012, the first of its kind. A desert festival that was going to be MAD. Also, the volunteer is moi, just so you’d know. 😛
The first few days that accommodated my stay in the desert, I believed only saw a stagnancy of activity from my pool of contributions. Nevertheless, it gave me time to decipher this introduction to the desert. This untouched, unleveled, uninhabited part of the desert, which for the next two weeks I would call home.
The new Home did not bear any semblance to my amateur definition of two weeks in the desert. Numerous notions of varied living conditions had been envisaged and it is fair to say that Ragasthan was modest living. We had beds, we had blankets, we had baths. I saw the sun rise and I saw a couple of them set too. Home was nothing like I had imagined and honestly, it instilled a strange new belief in the words, “Stranger the strange? Awesome.”. There were days when there was absolutely nothing to do and it was as strange as strange could get, but the strangeness of the desert revealed the camel within me and I was happy to just keep at it.
I went from lost nomad child to “Water Girl” in a matter of five days. My time as an explorer was suddenly taken away from me, as a mammoth task emerged right in front of me. WATER. BEER. COKE. It had been conveyed to me that if these three utilities did not begin to make life hell, it will be assumed that I am not working hard enough. Thus, the data was transferred, calculations were made, revisions of the data followed, phone calls to vendors became a daily habit, hygiene was no longer on priority, tractors metamorphosed into spaceships and camels became cruisers that took one to the distant land of the Open Mic and to the even more treacherous, Ammara.
Pre-Ragasthan, pre-Water, my role had constituted not much more than that of a “people watcher”. But with great responsibility came power, and it was a beautiful tryst I had with that power. I walked with a new swagger and there was a purpose to my existence out here in the middle of nowhere. Epiphanies, so many of them came crashing down on me. It has been said that one learns a certain number of truths about oneself when one is placed in a scenario devoid of familiarity. An elaboration of these revelations would require another forum, hence it is best to leave them well, unearthed.
Episodes of delirious characteristics had an unpleasant way of making their presence felt in times of insurmountable stress. Mishaps of varying proportions left one completely out of breath at the end of the day. In reality though, there never was an end to the day. Work had this nasty knack of never ending. The “Crew” would stay up long enough to see one sun rise and would wake up in time for the black to just about disintegrate into red and yellow. Never have I had the privilege to work with a group of people who were so beautifully engrossed in their idea. I met dreamers, poets, writers, artists, all of them neck-deep in the execution of a dream that had followed them for years.
Pole by pole and bamboo to bamboo, Ragasthan rose out of the sand much like Atlantis would if the seas were to recede. Tractors zoomed by in total disregard of traffic rules and the labor had their own unions that deliberated on a variety of agendas. The bustling town that Ragasthan created whirled in chaos as the 14th of November encroached stealthily so.
As I end the first chapter of Ragasthan I would like to thank Mr. Shiladitya Chakraborty A.K.A “Adu” for the beautiful workmanship he has projected in his photographs. Yeah, they’re all his photographs.
So well, Thank You Adu. 🙂
Also, look in here to find more Pre-Ragasthan stories.
“Stranger the Strange? Awesome.”