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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Manipur Team At Fifth India Surf Festival



           9TH NOV. 2016: On 8th November, 2016 the Prime Minister of India declared demonetization of 500 and 1,000 currencies and ATM's won't work for few days. People went haywire the next day and the day we were to leave for the 5th India Surf Festival at Ramachandi Beach, Odisha. Like the rest Boris Nongthomba and I went to search and collect valid currencies. We were able to collect a reasonable amount of valid cash along with a short pre - trip shopping at Paona Bazar. Few shops were accepting the old notes still while all the non - Manipuri owner shops remain shut.

          The Manipur Wing of Longboard Crew India reported at Tulihal International Airport, Imphal at 2:00 pm on 9th November, 2016. As we checked in one by one the airline's ground staff told us that Pilot Longjam, one of our team member missed his flight and his flight was scheduled for 11:30 am. For the first time we found that he was booked at a different flight while the rest of us in one. For a moment and we all decided to take Mr. Longjam to the surf festival by any possible means. We pulled in a reasonable amount of money from each member and asked him to catch a flight directly to Bhubaneswar the next day. After check - in we had a group photo without him and boarded the flight from Imphal for Kolkata. Later we Whatsapp our friends at ISF that Pilot missed his flight. And Nikhil Bhosale, one of the members of LCI Mumbai wrote the best line of the trip, "Pilot missed the flight. Who was flying the plane?”.

          Landed at Kolkata in the late afternoon, took cab and headed straight for the bus station for Bhubaneshwar. While we waited for the bus we had tea and snacks at a road side food stall. After a while we shifted to another stall for dinner and boarded the bus. Hardly anyone slept during the journey as we didn't want to miss the view from the bus, the street lamps were burning.


           10TH NOV. 2016: Reached Bhubaneshwor at dawn on 10th November. Mithun, our favorite driver during the entire stay at Odisha picked us from the bus station. The morning sun already left the horizon and we start heading for our camp. As we asked Mithum took us to a road side tea stall named Manoranjan Betel Shop. The hot tea was energizing and excitement was racing high. We put on our favorite music and headed straight for Rangers Adventure Foundation, the camp where the entire crew of ISF put up.  We didn't know when the red and foggy morning sun that was following us all the way from Bhubaneshwar lost itself. The actual festival venue Ramachandi Beach is around 13 km. from the Rangers.

          Gayaltsen Wangdi welcomed and introduced us to all the members at the camp including Mr. Sanjay Samantray, founder of India Surf Festival. Sanjay briefed us about the house rules and the day's schedule followed by a briefing about the festival.

          After lunch and as a task for the day the Manipur Team went to the venue of the India Surf Festival for the first time and set up the longboarding ramp that has just arrived. Later we work our hands in setting up the tents for the visitors as well as the participants.

          It was dark as we reach back to Rangers. We set out to a lagoon near the camp and wash off our dirt in the open water. After dinner and we set around the bonfire. It was the welcome goodnight at the 5th India Surf Festival.

          11TH NOV. 2016: All woke up late on 11th November and the LCI Mumbai Wing just arrived at the camp at around 11:00 am. Along with came Pilot Longjam whom we left at Imphal missing his flight and the LCI Manipur Wing was complete. He reached Bhubaneshwar airport at 12:50 am until he went to the train station to join in with the Mumbai Team for the pickup.

          There was a 13 km. longboard push race till the venue from Rangers Adventure Foundation, the camp. This turn out to be the first longboard push race in India. Today, we shift our stay at the festival venue. Apart from the two tents we brought with us we were allotted two more tents. The Manipur Team were involved in most of the festival set ups where we could land our hands on. Completing the Baba Tower, the dome shaped projection mapping installation at Lotus Resort, more tents and the sacred bonfire place till 11:30 pm. Dinner was made available at the venue.


          12TH NOV. 2016: The 5th India Surf Festival began on 12th November, 2016 with a casual start off event at the main stage around 10:00 am. All teams had arrived and crowd have started gathering in. Various surfing and longboarding events were held. No shops were permitted inside the festival venue nor were available nearby. If you need anything you may either get it by yourself or get it through someone. For the Longbard Crew India it was all access to anything we needed.

          For the LCI Team, we were a bunch of likeminded people on the other side. Apart from the usual longboarding the entire team members had a great taste for music too. It was always a late night party daily near our tents with a guitar and infinite singers. From today set our tent at the camping area of the venue. No bonfires were allowed at the camp site. At night there was our tent, our guitar and our songs until we get tired and doze off under the open moonlit sky. There was no power supply at the camp site. This was to make the festival more organic.


          13TH NOV. 2016: While the Day - 2 of the festival is in progress Pilot Longjam, Appa Lairenmayum and I decided to take a tour of the historic Sun Temple of Konark. To get a public transport at that stretch of the highway was one in a hundred chance. All vehicles were either reserved or full. After a wait for half an hour we were lucky to get a lift from one of the festival goer who drove us to Konark. We went for a street shopping and later head for the temple. The irony was we were denied entry ticket at the ticket counter saying that we were foreigners.  Even though we explained that we are from Manipur, a north eastern state of India no one listened. We all smiled instead. Later we approach an elderly who is among the queue and requested him to get extra tickets for three of us, he agreed. Yes, we took a tour of the famous Sun Temple of Konark. Memories of school days sprang before us while we use to learn and by-heart about this stone structure.

          I bought some decorative lanterns, had my hair cut at a barber shop and some sweets to take the memories home. It was such as delightful experience to travel back to the festival venue at a crowded local bus. The bus was so crowded that you don't have another spot to change your foot inside. Like always the night went on with songs from all ages, totally humble and high.


          14TH NOV. 2016: After breakfast everyone jumped into the sea. Boris Nongthomba remain busy with surfing events. Found that he injured his finger to broken glass while cleaning up the beach. He was taken to a clinic and the medications. It was the final day of the festival and we were well stock of supplies for the night.

          Various programs were held in the evening. There were music bands, DJ and visual shows. Among the shows we from Manipur Wing of Long Board Crew India presented a contemporary musical dance named “Starts the End” along with a couple of Manipuri cover songs. We all felt proud to present something of Manipur to the entire crowd at India Surf Festival. It was a bright feeling as our friends at ISF came forward to cheer and support us. I was there after six years of off stage since my Scribble Link Purgatory days, but this time as a percussionist. Khaba Maimom was on vocal, Pilot Longjam on classical guitar and Appa Lairenmayum on electronic piano. The band was a product of the daily bonfire jamming session since the day we reach Odisha. Ruben Wahengbam, the silent dude in our team remain lost in his own world, he was the coolest of all. After longboarding and if not around he can only be found near the DJ at Baba Tower.

          It was quite a memorable moment to have almost all the campers at ISF turn up and join us to our side of the camping area daily. We talked, laugh, sang, scream and stayed awake until all is tired and faded for bit of a sleep. The day never ends until 3:30 to 4:00 am. We never had a better team than our awesome brother and sisters from LCI Mumbai wing during the entire festival. Those daily supplies at the camp wouldn’t be possible without them and the vehicle they brought with. With them we never ran out of songs and guitar players. They are the ones who always set the table right.

          The 5th India Surf Festival was truly a gathering of likeminded souls to make new friends and relationships. It was to celebrate the spirit of freedom and peace away from the crowds. Collecting shells at the beach, making sand art, facing the waves, sun bath, hiking among the trees, walk on the beach, floating yoga or a morning walk on the open road you can always start a new hobby daily. Foremost was Sanjay Samantray’s vision to shift the world towards environmental friendly and organic life styles.

          Ramachandi Beach was the meeting of vast open salty sea with fresh still water lagoons, a place of both sand and trees. Weather was at its best during the time of year. The changing of tides or the changing of lights the festival was a perfect blend of equilibrium joy.

          The 5th India Surf Festival was an event in our lives to make new friends. With visitors and participants from England, Russia, Argentina, Austria, Philippines and India to name a few it was truly an international event.

          The LCI Manipur Wing was Appa Lairenmayum, Boris Nongthomba, Khaba Maimom, Lukhendro Keisham , Pilot Longjam and Ruben Wahengbam.

- The LCI Manipur Wing participated all longboarding events and displayed their tricks to the vositors.

- The team helped in setting and dismantling the festival set ups  including any possible task they could land a hand.

- Entertained the nights with guitar, piano and songs from all sorts of pieces daily till 3:30 to 4:00 am. Turns out that they were the only team where all members can play guitar. With LCI Mumbai Wing they had the best and the biggest after event party daily.

- Presented a contemporary musical dance and performed as a band on stage. Thanks to the programme conductor for giving them a slot.

- Treated the entire campers at Rangers Adventure Foundation with a taste of Manipuri chicken at dinner.

         Thank you India Surf Festival for inviting us to the festival. We also thank Woodium, who did the flight tickets from Imphal to Kolkata and to Imphal again for the entire six members of LCI Manipur Wing.


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