Someone once told me, nothing connects hearts and souls unknown to each other the same way music does. Who said that is not important, what important is that I have felt this throughout my life to wherever I have traveled to.
A few months back I got an invitation to attend Ziro festival of music and I said yes. I have never been to North East, the last time I tried visiting I was stuck in a 2 day blockade in Guwahati that didn’t seem to end and finally I gave up and returned to the plains with a broken heart. So when I got an invitation to visit a place that is not even found on most of the maps in a state that many North Indians think is a part of some other country.
My journey started from Mumbai in a train that took 52 hours to reach Guwahati followed by another 20 hour journey from Guwahati to Ziro passing through rice fields amidst of heavy rain on the way and later getting stuck in a blockade by local driver that we escaped with help of local police only to find out that there is a landslide and we are stuck at the Assam-Arunachal border for the night. We had to spend the night at a guest house with a greedy caretaker who mistook us for some police officials and gave us the room.
We started next morning and as we reached Ziro slowly it felt like clouds have descended on the Earth to welcome us. It was a long and tiring ride but it was all gone thanks to these views.
We arrived in Ziro in the afternoon passing through broken roads, lush green rice fields and clouds lurking behind the mountains. The festival venue was so muddy that a truck got its tires stuck and then fell down on the road, meanwhile and we had a campsite to prepare.
Honestly I have no idea about the contemporary music, I like to hear stuff but I don’t follow bands and singers on the hardcore level like some of the people I met here did. For me the most amazing part about ZFM14 was the crowd. Travelers who have come here from every part of the country. Everyone had a story to tell and experiences to share. I would hear them discussing about their favorite genre of music and the discussion would slowly progress from music to any random topic, one after another.
We were hosted by a kind Arunachali family for our lunch and dinner, what they charged us for food is totally a different thing. What matters is how happy and sweet they were to the guests, even when in the morning we would drop by in their house in huge numbers and they would serve each one of us with a kind smile on their face. The family was made of 6 sisters who belonged to the Apatani community, two mischievous kids and a little dog named Hippo who used to jump and bite everyone as his teeth were growing out.
As the festival progressed the people I met and the bands I came across continued to find a place in the corner of my mind and heart. A few bands like Ganesh Talkies, Lakshmi Bomb, Supersonics and Madboy/Mink were simply amazing. I think one of the best and worst parts of live performances is that there is no repeat button for your favorite songs but then it’s totally a different experience to listen them live in front of your eyes.
4 days passed as if it was just yesterday I was thinking about the unknown sitting at Dadar station waiting for my train. As the festival ended people started to leave a lot with tears in their eyes because they didn’t wish to part from the friends they made here. I don’t think I have heard so many thank yous and received so many hugs from so many people ever in my life. I have been on the road for more than three years and such experiences count for a lifetime. These are the moments to cherish and something that one can look forward to.
I can count a few of the most memorable moments from the trip in no particular order.
This little dog
Some hilarious moments that happened like someone dropping their cellphone in toilet tent hole and someone drunk enough to fall and taking out an entire toilet tent.
The bonfires, the conversations and the sunrise shall be missed till the time we meet again.