A retired scientist from Germany, an English teacher from Korea, and school students from the UK — the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival has been drawing crowd from all over.
“I was in Mumbai last year to attend the international film festival and that’s when I saw this big, colourful event,” said Hans Lengerke, 69, a retired biomedical scientist from Germany. “But by then it was time for me to go back and I could not attend it. So this year, when I planned my trip to India, I made sure I do it in such a way that I could catch the festival, for a few days at least.”
Lengerke made the most of those few days. Dressed in formal trousers and shirt, a jhola slung over one shoulder, he seemed to be everywhere you looked in Kala Ghoda, popping in at literary panel discussions, concerts, workshops and dance events.
“I have quite enjoyed the literature section of the festival. Although it wasn’t possible to catch all the events I wanted to, I enjoyed myself at whatever I could attend,” said Lengerke, who first came to India in 1975 for a fellowship and has returned regularly ever since, sometimes as a tourist, other times for academic purposes.
There were many youngsters and even teenagers in attendance too, who seemed intrigued by the buzz of the festival. At one point, a Korean tourist and a student from England were moving from one installation to other together, posing and taking pictures of each other.
Korean English teacher Yoogeon Chung, 33, on her first-ever visit to Mumbai, said she didn’t know about the festival but chanced upon it after she landed in Mumbai three days ago.
“I have come here every day ever since then,” she said. “It’s so very interesting to see so many interesting things in one place. I love how colourful and vibrant the entire space is. I particularly liked the installations, especially one made with small mirrors.”
While some discovered the festival upon their arrival, others had it strongly recommended by friends and colleagues back home. “We landed in Mumbai yesterday and the first thing we did in terms of exploring the city was come to this festival. Our teacher had told us about the festival and that’s why we made it a point to catch it,” said Matt Stoddart, 17, a high-school student from England who is in Mumbai with a group of friends.