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January 15, 2015

Beware the Festival Hopper!

Text by Nittal Chandarana

She saunters across the country marking her attendance at every cultural fiesta; beware the festival hopper

I go from one festival to another shopping for merchandise, endorsing fandoms and art alike. I love the familiar look of make-shift stalls and hoard visiting cards collected from artists whose products I cannot afford (stacked up in my wallet to be discarded at the next half-yearly cleaning spree). I have an assortment of entry bands and passes locked away for nostalgia: Comic Con, MAMI, Jaipur Lit Fest delegate pass, Car Expo even. I take particular pride in wearing out my brand-new pair of sneakers (purchased from The Lil Flea, duh) after walking around listlessly under the beautiful hot sun which often makes me wonder why I shower before leaving the house at all. Which makes me a terrible entrant at fashion weeks; those I steer clear of. Prada can’t match up to my patialas. Beware: I’m the festival hopper.

I have selfies with every installation at Kala Ghoda and blurry videos of MAMI panel discussions. I considered purchasing my first surf board after a two-day workshop at the India Surf Festival and can jam with any artist at the music expo (provided the song can be played on chords C G Am F). My room is covered with posters from floor to ceiling with Tibetan peace flags, a shirtless Ryan Gosling ‘Hey Girl’-ing and an alien Ganpati staring on, among a few. Sometimes, I am mistaken to be one of the organisers or volunteers at the fest but I don’t mind. God knows I can help a poor festival fresher find her way across the turbulent maze of events better than any college intern.

I have a whole bunch of friends I made while waiting in line for performances including cosplay geeks who’ve photographed with me. I enjoy paying ridiculous prices at food stalls when breaking for lunch – so much so that I have even begun to treasure Lays in the packet of air. I come from the world’s biggest democracy so I understand the whole ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ phenomenon that is so convenient for the spectators. All they have to do is cast a vote of approval and then be at their obscure best. The invitees come and do their thing; they are the prestigious few (maybe at some fests they outnumber the crowds but so what?), the media is there to cover the spectacle and I trudge along from one venue to the other, passively enjoying the show. Attending these events leaves me with immense fodder for conversation, exposure of the arts and overflowing photo albums. What else is in it for me…I’m still trying to figure out. Maybe I’ll petition for a panel discussion on the afterlife of a festival hopper.

As with everything else, these events have multiplied. Where there was one dance festival, there are many. Where there was one three-week festival, there is a three-month cultural extravaganza. Must be great for business though. Imagine how many medu vadas consumed in the Kochi Muziris locality! I am the provider of a booming business to the locals and an active contributor to the rise and circulation in the economy. By the time you read this, I’ll be clicking selfies with Shashi Tharoor and Anupama Chopra at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Maybe I can convince someone to publish my manuscript and launch it at the festival among all the first-timers. Hey, it could happen. Such culture. Much music. So literature. Excuse me while I apply for leave to make it everywhere. I’m not discerning, like that.

 

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