“Sair kar duniya ke gafil, zindagani phir kahan….
zindagani gar rahi to, naujawani phir kahan!”
I was first to arrive Ziro and probably the last one to write a blog about it, that too after skipping a couple of blogs (worth 5 months) because this one needs to go up.
After ZFM2014 was such an delightful experience and one that took me a lot of time to nurse the hangover that followed. I craved to return, I dreamed of people celebrating a time of their life, rice beer and that puppy who wouldn’t stop biting my shoes.
Finally the day arrived and we started a 36 hour long train journey to Guwahati followed by a 16 hour journey to Ziro. As you descend from Assam to any North Eastern state the landscape starts to change in a very unique fashion, clouds come on Earth to welcome you, roads become poorer and the weather becomes unpredictable.
It took us 3 days to set up the campsite and then the guests started to arrive. Ziro for me, this year, was different than last year. My number was up on the website and I would receive calls on daily basis enquiring about food, stay, camps followed by a number of stupid queries asking dates from ZFM16 and if there are wild animals in proximity.
And then it rained.
Ziro Festival is never complete without rain. The festival visit is incomplete without getting drenched in rain with mud all over your clothes followed by skidding in mud a couple of times. The day festival began guests starting arriving amidst of heavy rain. Every now and then someone would arrive shivering, finally relaxing in their tents after a tiring journey or simply relieving themselves with a plate of maggi and a cup of tea.
We received more than 300 guests on first day of the festival among which about 200 arrived in middle of the night. There was a landslide in Naharlagaun that stopped a number of people from traveling further.
There is a fashion in which a lot of people arrive at campsite. They are tired and they are confused so they vent their anger or frustration on the first person they would see. In this case it’s me, a year of experience has made me used to this. The same annoyed ones will end up becoming your best friends in 3 days.
Ziro welcomes everyone, solo travelers, friends coming from far-away places to meet after a long long time, love struck couples and friends looking to escape city life for 3 days. Also not to forget the pretty faces who seem to have arrived from some fairyland.
The actual celebrations start on 2nd day of the festival. This year Barmer Boys stole the show then they made everyone dance on their desi tunes. People screamed like a bunch of cry teenagers and were left in awe with their performance. Somehow no other band was able to match the insanity after that.
At night the campsite used to become a party venue, or to be precise an after party venue. People in small groups would gather, sit near bonfire and dance around. Ziro is where life is celebrated, in 3 days strangers end up becoming friends. You would meet Pinaz, Nishchay and Ram dancing on No Diggity’s tunes, Changam making random friends, Abhishek simply sitting next to everyone with his camera, Kitu and Priyanka’s lovely smile, Jeffy telling his travel stories and Utthaya with his instructions and feedback for ZFM16, and me just being me. People here bring their real selves here, away from the life where the world might judge their crazy side. The insanity is something that connects everyone here. Otherwise who has time and patience to travel this far to listen to some indie bands and stare back at the rice fields?
The love I have received in Ziro is unmatchable, probably because here everyone is a traveler. You arrive wondering and leave in tears, there are moments and stories hidden in every face and corner. 3 days that change your perspective towards life, it changes you as a person, inspires you and leaves you wanting for more. You wonder if you’ll be able to return here next year and still you make a promise to visit whenever possible.
Every year I am first to arrive, it’s a routine to welcome everyone and then bid them good bye. Sometimes I wonder how it makes sense. You make something, cherish it and then one day it is gone. I don’t even know if I am going to see these faces again or will they stay in my stories. But I believe that the true beauty of things is not in their existence but cherishing them even after the time has gone.
How to reach Ziro
By Bus – Buses are available from Guwahati to Tezpur and Tezpur to Ziro It takes 24 hours to reach Ziro.
One can find buses from Itanagar as well that takes around 6 hours to reach.
Taxi – Private taxi is available from Nahgarlagaun and Guwahati stations. Shared cabs runs regularly from Itanagar or Naharlagaun.
By Train – There are regular trains to Guwahati from all major stations of the country. One can take bus, taxi straight to Ziro or take a train to Naharlagaun to continue their further journey.
1. Train /Flight to Guwahati > Private Cab to Ziro
2. Train to Naharlagaun from Delhi (twice in a week) > Private / Shared cab to Ziro
PS: Remember to book your cab in advance as weather is very unreliable and may result in unavailability of the same due to landslides or rainfall.