Step into the landscape cradled with hutments and adorned with cascading mountains on all sides. The scenic beauty of the place gives way to the immense diversity in colour and sounds as a whirlpool of red, yellow, white and black whirs past you, suddenly sparking the image of a hornbill in our head. The initial awe and wonderment in you is replaced by a steady and pulsating image of the tribal dancers in their colourful attires as they bound in an energetic rhythm on the mud and grass, which is their dance floor. The rhythm of the tribal drums guide you towards an empty stage in the end of the ground, where you can visualize the energy that you will be a witness of when bands from all over the country use it as a means of propelling you into the further reaches of your psyche, not unlike the Naga King Chilli, whose intense and rapid flood of pain almost seems pleasurable to the competitors in the hutments as they chew their way to glory. You are at the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, India, where the divine communion between nature and the tribes of the region are celebrated in an eight-day festival of vibrant colours, sounds, textures, tastes and energy.
Picture yourself as an explorer trudging through the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. You traverse through the mountainous landscape, the evening light of a red sun illuminating the grassy fields of bliss in front of you. You walk along the large river, gravitating towards the myriad sounds rising from over the hill. As you pull yourself up the hill, you are welcomed by a huge sea of fans standing around a stage, one where “Tame Impala” is belting out raw energy to the masses. As you immerse yourself in the ocean of colours and voices, amidst the hues and slight aroma of cinnamon whisky, you suddenly come across a large banana walking past you in a drunken stupor. Immediately, the banana is followed by a grey dinosaur with a cigarette in his mouth. Don’t freak out, you have just stumbled upon the Sasquatch! Festival in Gorge, Washington in the wilder part of USA. Keep moving towards the pleasant but powerful tones emanating from the stage.
You trudge slowly through the sand dunes that cover the vast dead-lands of the Sahara desert in Morocco. The dehydration is getting to you as the heat rises to an unbearable degree. The patterns of shadows that the clouds make on the sand seem to bring you closer to a not-so distant reverie, one that you had danced to a long time ago. The morning turns to dusk as you wander close to the pulsating rhythm of electronic energy, almost dead from the perilous journey. As the night draws over on the scintillating vastness of sand and wind, the darkness comes alive with fire, lights and sounds as people gyrate to the mesmerizing beats of the Transahara Festival. You come alive with a renewed energy, not unlike the fire-dancers amidst the pulsating crowd, who mould the flames in accordance to their whims, the music being a guiding force behind the rhythm of movement itself. Soak in the energy and be like the fire, ever-glowing and radiant.
Somewhere in the jungles of Costa Rica, you find yourself being pulled towards some magical force. The shouts of the howler monkeys high up in the trees give you a sense of direction, as if the animals and the trees around you are showing you the way towards something. You hear the faint crashing of waves from the Costa Rican shoreline, which is not too far away from where you are. You suddenly find yourself amidst a score of people moving to a perpetual rhythm that is showering upon them like rainfall. The people appear to be in a trance of blissful of awareness as they walk, talk, laugh and dance in accordance to the perpetual rhythm of the forest. You are at the Envision Festival, where you walk into a tent which is dimly-lit with candles. You are handed a small, spherical drum and you find yourself to be a part of a circle of people, all with similar drums. As the circle starts slowly emanating a rhythm from their instruments, you find yourself almost unconsciously attuning to the energy and the rhythm of the drum circle, as you let it flow through you with the beats of the drums guiding you somewhere else altogether; breathe…
Iceland Airwaves Festival
You pull your fur coat closer to your body as the chill air of the Icelandic fjord (lake) comes crashing into you as you stand at the edge of the bank looking at the majestic snow-capped mountains on the other side of the water body. You see the fumes rising from the water as people crowd around the stage at the edge of the lake, the ground being the water body itself. You remove your coat and strip down to your bare essentials, instinctively jumping into the lava-warmed water amidst the chilling Icelandic cold. You swim up to the floating bar in the middle of the hot spring, as you prepare to grab a drink and relax into the soothing clamour of the musicians on the edge of the water. As night dawns, you slip into awe as the Northern Lights carry you to the place of dreams. Welcome to the Iceland Airwaves festival in the Reyjavik city of Iceland.
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