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Escape to Revelry

A culture festival at Naukuchiatal is not just about the 15 bands performing by the lake. There’s photography, pottery and yoga too. Nivriti Butalia reports

india Updated: May 14, 2010 23:18 IST
Hindustan Times

At a little past 10 pm on Wednesday night, Mama Tochhwang, the man behind the Potheads initiative, (organisers of the festival), got on stage at the South Delhi pub Turquoise Cottage — took the mic, welcomed everyone, and introduced Escape as "a getaway for musicians and artists and for people who like music and art".

People clapped. Some hooted, and everyone waited for a band to get on and start. This was the preview of the Escape Festival and Mama the man said 'getaway' because Naukuchiatal isn't exactly sweaty Delhi. It's the hilly, lakeside retreat in Uttaranchal where the festival is taking place. 'Music and art', they insist, but their fliers are less art, more MTV — "Three days. Fifteen bands. One pristine lake. Enough reasons to Escape."

Happening next weekend — May 21-23 — the festival has 15 bands performing, yes. But besides escaping to Naukuchiatal for the love of music, there's also a little something planned for the art-lover, the tarot card-enthusiast, the amateur-photographer, the tattoo-hopeful, and even a lesson or two in clay modelling for the aspiring potter.

The diminutive, grey-haired artist Narendra Pal Singh says he can convince anyone to pick up a paintbrush in a matter of minutes. Such is his faith in the power of conviction – his own, of course. If you meet him by the lake, ask him about the importance of colours in everyday life, the interplay of blue and white in your wardrobe or of the yellow and green in your lunch thali. The man can talk about anything to do with colours and lines, rang aur rekhain.

Especially interesting are Camelia Suman's spray paintings. His brother-in-law Biswajeet Das, is also a painter and going by his subjects, he likes horses, but isn't restricted to just them. In keeping with the theme of a music festival, Shivani Kohli, contemporary artist as she calls herself, has among her works, a painting named Bob Marley that does, yes, look like Bob.

Besides the photography of 20-year-old Shiv Ahuja — he's interested in experimenting with mixed media, there will be interactions with Kamal Kansara, the man credited with black and white shots of the 40-plus still-hot, socialite, Firoze Gujral, as also shots of the Naukuch landscape, peppered with bands.

As far as aspiring potters are concerned, Delhi based husband-wife, Ambar and Monica Agnihotri will teach you a thing or two about shape and glaze, and maybe how to do a Demi Moore in Ghost. Ambar and Monica bonded over ceramics (they met at a pottery class — Delhi Blue Pottery) back in the 90s. Ambar, easily 6 foot tall, teaches the children. "He's good with kids," says wifey, while she, Monica, takes lessons for the adults.

Pottery and painting apart, there's also a dose of wellness in store for you. Nitin Kaul, HR person and workshop conductor, will hold a session called 'conversations with myself'. Attending the 'conversation' might not be a bad idea, especially if Kaul delivers and finds ways for you to, well, 'unshackle yourself from chains of fear.'

If the fear still doesn't go away, a tarot card reading might show you the light. Manasi Raina, consultant, therapist, trainer, and user of phrase by-the-grace-of-god, will be more than happy to lead you on to a spiritual path.

Plus, there is Kundalini Yoga by Ajit Singh. For the uninitiated, Kundalini Yoga is an old system of exercises and meditation that promote good health, happiness and awareness.

To be further reductive, breathe in, breathe out, be calm, go escape.

First Published: May 14, 2010 23:13 IST