The NH7 Weekender thing hit Delhi recently and, according to some, it was the happiest festival experience of their lives ™, while others were left a tad disappointed. I wouldn’t know, because I missed it. You see, I thought I was being all anti-establishment by not going despite the potential availability of a free pass courtesy my music hack credentials. The fact that the venue was like three thousand kilometres away may have played a part too, because I hate hate HATE driving and Delhi auto-drivers come third in most rogues-and-scum-of-the-earth lists (after Bangalore and Chennai). Also the small matter that the event technically wasn’t in Delhi but in a faraway make-believe land called Greater Noida. Ultimately, though, these all happen to be quite fickle excuses. What matters is that I didn’t go.
And while a large number of people would regret certain decisions based on common consensus and better sense, I, on the other hand, happen to live in an alternate reality where I can do no wrong – in complete denial, so to speak. So, in order to validate my absence from a festival franchise that was admittedly a blast last year in Pune, here’s a list of all the things that really suck about festivals in general.
1. There’s Work the Next Day
Fine, I work from home (which really means ‘unemployed’) so this one doesn’t apply to me. But often, other people are forced to drain out the festivities of the previous night from their blood stream and head to work the next day. Large-scale festivals tend to work entirely on the premise of extreme highs, so it’s a real dampener when you can’t carry forward that adrenaline to the next day in front of your unimpressed colleagues.
2. The Travel
I may have already covered this above, but one can’t stress on the travel aspect enough. It’s a bitch travelling to isolated destinations in the uncivilized outskirts of the city to reach the glorious getaway that is the Festival. Plus you can always get lost – in fact, one reason I didn’t go this year was because I was scared one missed turn might lead me to the Taj Mahal. And last year, I remember all of Pune had these little cutesy signs on road dividers directing traffic to the festival. This time, apparently, those signs were conspicuously absent. Although unconfirmed reports do suggest that the citizens of Delhi may have raped those signs to oblivion. (Or eaten them like tandoori chicken. Or battered the signs in a road rage incident; I don’t know which stereotype to whip out.)
3. It’s a Dust Bowl Out There
Big festival means gigantic grounds spread over acres of land. Thousands of feet trampling across thousands of feet of land can only mean shit loads of dust. And the thing is, sure, we all (except Dave Metallica Mustaine) know that India’s got its fair share of dusty terrains, but spending long periods of time in that mess can be taxing. You see, all that dust inevitably hits your nose the worst. It nestles inside your nasal cavity, making it practically impossible to breath. So you’re forced to breathe through the mouth. Which means inhaling all that dust orally too. Y’know?
4. The People
The hallmark of a good festival is the number of people that attend it. So the more the merrier. But then again, I live in Bombay. And I won’t lie; I have travelled in the local trains over four times. So the novelty of swathes of people huddled together for a grand event has sort of worn off for me. It’s not very appealing at the best of times, but when there’s a loud metal band playing, then the prospect frightens me.
On top of that, there’s also the problem of all those goddamn lines. I have to stop referencing South Park in everything I write, but there’s this one episode where Cartman (the fat fuck for the uninitiated) buys himself an amusement park and doesn’t allow anyone to enter, only because he’s that fucking sick of standing in queues and waiting. I feel you, brother, because that’s one of the most harrowing bits about any large congregation. Although, to be fair, Indians have found an innovative little way of bypassing this predicament by ignoring the very concept of lines and queues and simply barging through. We’re not the land of zero and IIT engineers for nothing.
5. The Casual Acquaintances
OK, I’ll be honest. I’m very popular. Like really. I know like literally hundreds of people. But then I don’t want to meet all of them; they haven’t earned that right just yet. Unfortunately, at a festival, especially a big one where the marketing team’s done its job right, the whole world will show up. So inevitably, you end up bumping into loads of acquaintances, which leads to a lot of idle chit chat and small talk and awkward sideways glances. It’s fun on Day One, just about bearable on Day Two, but by Day Three, god help me…
And god forbid that there’s a stage for electronic music. It’s a little known fact that in olden times, people would sign up for these Lonely Hearts Club meetings. They would all converge at some club playing dhik-chik music, get free day-glo sticks as a club membership perk, and then their socially awkward nature would eliminate the need for all sensible conversation. They could simply pretend to be deep in conversation because of the sheer volume, without actually saying anything worthwhile. And pretend to dance without actually dancing. That’s where the cult grew from. And my, how it grew.
6. The Monies
Festivals are shit expensive, let’s be honest here. The entry charge, while heavily subsidized apparently, is still a sizable hit for most. But understandable. But then, once you’re inside, you’re basically at their mercy – the big bad corporate evil world that will consume you; it will chew you up and spit you out and you won’t even realize. They set the prices, they decide what to sell, they decide where to sell it. You, on the other hand, just buy it.
And then you get drunk on vodka cocktails and out comes the debit card. The horror.
7. The Music
Again, festivals are often about the overall experience as such, and not about individual music acts. And if you do listen to a variety of live acts constantly over a period of two or three days, you’re bound to be left a little underwhelmed because, hello and welcome to the real world, they can’t all blow you away, and they really shouldn’t. So there’s often the possibility that you’re left wondering about the quality of independent music around – but you shouldn’t, because, often, it’s just the sheer overload that’s frustrating.
Nevertheless, I think I’ll head for this Lost Festival thing I read about some months ago. If I can find it anywhere, hyok.
Photography by Kuntal Mukherjee
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