Monday, June 23, 2008

Life-o-logue: Pustiye Holmie! (After this, the Hills aren't Hollow anymore!)

"Poekhalee!!" (Come on!) - The burly lead singer of the rock-n-roll band screamed into the mike and the drummer hit it hard! The band made a big hit on the Earth stage and the revellers were swinging all they can!

Hollow Hills was an experience I'd cherish for a long time. Right from the night before the journey, when I sat up all night to cook my trade-mark chicken curry n the crossover-parathas! Now that I think of it, I wasn't as anxious with even my CA results, as I was with my culinary experiments! It was great, btw! For an amateur cook, I sure got quite a few requests for my recipes!

When we got on to the train on 12th June, we had no idea how to reach Pustiye Holmie! I remarked in freshly learnt Russian - "Here begins the Russkaya Preklucheniya!" (the Russian Adventure) And adventure it was! We were hitch-hiking in the the middle of nowhere, and a kindly lady forced her husband to stop the car, mistakenly seeing 'babes-in-the-wood' in a couple of 28 yr olds! Boy, was she amused carrying a brown-skinned guy in the backseat!

We got off at MalayaRaslovets - the place where they fought the mighty Napoleon! The monuments and the churches we passed would make the visit worth it, had we gone back. But we didn't, but we didn't go forward either! Atleast for a couple of hours, we went into an abandoned expanse of grassy meadows, pine forests and a Rocket Launch facility in the middle of nowhere! Ears straining to catch music of an elusive camp, eyes feasting on the vast greenery, we discovered that the map we got was for last year's site of the music festival, and we are 120 km North West of the right direction!! The taxi driver, yeah we gave up on hiking for a while, laughed and so did the shy Farmer's son who we stopped to ask for directions, but hey, I saw the most amazing stretch of countryside I've ever seen outside movies!

The festival was the fun part of the adventure, though! The river bisecting the campground and thousands of enthusiasts dotting the spot, the hills were alive with music! The five stages, named after the five elements of nature, erected for musicians, which were surprisingly low-key in day time btw, came alive at nights with hip-shaking life and reverberating beats of all genres of music! I even saw a small group of tabla-players there making fusion-like noises! African drums made apperances, so did fire eaters in the ptich dark night! Would you believe it if I told it was fun?

It wasn't all music n dance though. Daytime was quiet and lazy - the way I like it best! Lying in the grass for hours under a leaf-shaped umbrella, staring at the luke-warm sun, the true blue sky, the passing clouds and an occasional para-glider.... I felt like I'd come to the right place! Music from a band squatting nearby was wafting across and an occasional scream of a diver touching the cold river water pierced the air! I was humming to myself, those song lines from the movie - Life in a Metro!

Jab mile thodi fursat....

Khud se karle mohabbat!

(When you find a little time, Go ahead, fall in love with yourself!)

If this isn't poetry of nature, celebrated by children of flowers, I got on to the wrong train!

The CouchSurfers camp we made with the Hospitality club guys was as alive as it could get! Some of us were first timers, whereas the rest live this life and work for a change, once in a while! We had all nationalities and all ages, but we spoke one language, to employ the cliche! The food we shared, the songs ppl sang, that little russian folk game of 'choosing a partner', that we played, and the ugly painted faces we got ourselves.... the russian painter remarked to me that mine was 'the first black face' she's painting! Well, I didn't take an offence to the word 'black' as much as I did to the small foot she painted on my left cheek, with my friends making inferences from it!

And the cool part was, most of the festival had Indian motifs, ganesha pics, bead necklaces and Om T-shirts! There was a Yoga camp too and the Yoga instructor chided me for not participating in the Yoga, despite being an Indian!! A girl turned around in a queue, looked at me with reverence and said 'I believe that God sent you to me!'. She was thinking of getting a tattoo in Hindi and wanted my help! Pity I couldn't help her though! God sent her the wrong type of Indian!!

The hitch back was an event too, with us making unsuccesful strategies to get rides! We tried to hitch rides on both sides of the road, hoping we'd get somewhere atleast - out of this 'nowhere'!! We ended up paying our all way back to big bad Moscow, but it was quite a journey too, with those silly games we played to keep ourselves alive! A new guy goin the same way joined the group enroute, and I suspect that he branded us 'totally crazy!' after the knee-tapping game!

For me, any journey out of Moscow was an adventure in itself, given my laziness. Add to that the hikes, the wrong turns, the sights and the people, I had my Russkaya Prekluchenia after all!! I was the only Indian in the camp, someone said maybe the first Indian at the annual Hollow Hills festival ever! I don't know about that, but yeah, I was the first Indian to take a ride in that Russian Lady's car for sure!! If anything, the look on her face is enough to call this an adventure!!

(For friends who are wondering what all this cacophony is about, it was a 3 day trip out of moscow I made to an open air music festival in the middle of a forest surrounded by hills. We hitch hiked a bit, lived in tents, cooked food over bonfire and didn't take bath all through! So I'm a bit excited about it!)

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