Rann of Kutch had been on my bucket-list for way too long. So it was only natural for me to jump about when an ex-colleague a friend of mine pinged me about a free music festival at Rann. (free, free, free…)
Partner in crime: Rakesh Bharadwaj. Digital planner & servicing. Singer. Horrible photo-takeouter.
Rakesh and I met at NH7 (another music festival) about 4 years back. We’ve been indulging in gigs, food (hello, elastics), conversations and travels ever since.
First Stop: Bhuj
Being the queen of last-minute finalisations, I prayed to the tatkal/IRCTC gods to be merciful. I guess it was my lucky day – I managed to score the tickets and we were off to Bhuj in an overnight train from Bandra Terminus.
Next stop: Rann
We reached Bhuj just post noon and the heat was already sweltering. Luckily, we found another couple heading to ITV and shared the two hours long, roasting auto journey with them.
Into The Void
The first thing that we noticed was, indeed, the void. Since we arrived at the second day of the festival, we thought that the place would be packed. But the brightly hued venue looked deserted. These expectations, I tell you.
Our best guess was that the sweltering afternoon sun had sent all campers in hiding. And rightly so – I had already started to turn pink!
#BeenThereTip – make sure you ask the organisers about the sanitation facilities beforehand, and plan accordingly. I was brave enough to have a bath on the first day. And that was it, for the next three days.
Magically, the place transformed as soon as the sun went down. The barren land, beautifully lit up by quirky installation, were a wonderful sight to our sore, thirsty eyes. A small crowd had gathered around the stage, and happy faces had finally started to float around.
Oh, another thing, it was in Gujarat, right. It’s a dry state, right? Means no patiyalas, right? Right.
We spent the evening in and out of our tents, grooving to some indie tunes, stuffing our mouths with some typical festival food (was busy eating, so no pictures, sorry!) and drinking litres after litres of …water.
Unexpectedly, by the time the night was ripe, my initial excitement had turned into a dull state of meh. Maybe it was the harsh sun earlier or the scanty crowd or the lack of happy liquids *ahem*, I was just not getting the feels.
But, hold, behold! The festival, with the thumbs-up of the Border Security Force, organized a surprise trip to the white desert, in the middle of the full-moon night. Say whaaaat?! my excitement did a dramatic punar-janam. We left for the desert sometime post 12, after much coordination and a few head-counts.
We reached the checkpoint, hardly 10 minutes after and were told that we’d have to do a bit of the journey on foot. Say, about 3-4 kilometres. Hmm. Though we were barely able to keep our eyes open (trust me, I love my sleep), we fought it with the carrot of ‘wont ever do this otherwise’.
Ah well, as it turned out, it was easily a 6-7 km walk one-way. The wind was cold, the land barren, and our legs achy. We were a good 100 +, slowly inching towards the desert, often thinking should we go back or go on. But we went on. And you know what? It was So. Damn. Worth. It.
I was walking, mentally cribbing about all this physical activity in the middle of the night, when I wanderingly looked up – it was all white! The full moon illuminated the desert in a soft, sensuous glow. It was white as far as the eye could see. It took my breath away. Slowly, the murmurs of the crowed faded away, as if everyone yearned the glowing silence. We were there, to witness all its glory. All together. All alone. It was something out of a fairy-tale. With faint music drifting in the air, the dreamlike glow, and the moon shining it’s brightest, I was left dumbfounded and wide-eyed. I sat at a bench, staring at nothingness, for what seemed a century. I can still see it if I close my eyes.
#BeenThereTip please don’t compromise on your footwear. Like a fool, I chose dressy walking shoes over the sports one. And ended up taking them off ‘cuz they started to hurt a bit too much while the night walk. Yup, walked an easy 7-8kms in socks on gravel-ish, cold path. And that, my friend, was quite a pain.
It was post 5 by the time we retired, and spent the next day in a laze. Our legs were super-achy and we were dehydrated to the t. I thought I’d get blisters from all the walking the previous night (my socks were torn, by the end of it), but miraculously, it was all good. When the guilt of wasting our day got too much to bear, we crawled out of our tents and decided it was best to stay inside – it was scorching!
#BeenThereTip the mornings are usually dedicated to sound checks and there is nothing much to do. If you are one of those who get easily bored, make sure you carry a book, a diary, or games, or a painting kit – whatever floats your boat.
The evening again came to the rescue and the music soothed our slightly sunburned souls. The nip in the air and the melodies to go with it lifted our spirits and we settled in to a happy-tired-chill daze. The weekend was coming to an end. Sigh.
We caught the train back and spent most of the journey sleeping. In the brief times that I was up, I found myself going back to our tent, the colourful vibe, the pretty lights, the music and that magical night at the white desert.
Now that I write this post, I feel that this trip wasn’t about the music, the camping, or even that tick on my bucket list. This journey was about experiencing the occasional bittersweet beauty of the unexpected.
Until next time.
Read up on the detailed technicalities (cost, transportation etc), it might help you plan your trip better.