2014 kickstarted with a series of events down South of the Country and we were pleased to continue our musical sojourns at a city we had been looking forward to visit. Thanks to Khublei and Zubaan, we got the opportunity to share our music on a platform dealing with issues close to our heart.The event was Cultures of Peace, a festival of the northeast, spanning three cities of India – Pune, Mumbai and Guwahati. The festival, a collaboration of Zubaanm The Heinrich Boell Foundation and Khublei, is in it’s third year since conceptualised and produced by Preeti Gill and Mary Therese Kurkulang, the festival directors. The festival aims to bring music, literature, art, dialogue, culture, writings and issues of the North Eastern region to the rest of the country and beyond. We were part of the Pune stop and my, were we in august company?
It was a wonderful two days of enlightenment and sheer pleasure to be educated on issues and to witness heartwarming stories. There is much to be done to build bridges in the different worlds we inhabit and to encourage and support the delicate fabric of life that we are part of. The theme this year was Women Empowerment and the event celebrated the strong women of the country particularly two distinguished Sharmilas. One was the illustrious Sharmila Rege the Phule-Ambedkarite Feminist and Pedagogue and the other lesser known but impactful Irom Sharmila of Manipur who continues well in to her 14th year fast for the repeal of the AFSPA. There were sober moments as women shared horror stories and voices of the North East were allowed a place to be heard. There were the happy moments of laughter too as we once again realised the human folly of taking ourselves too seriously.
There was much to hear and much to see and many books to read as a horde of Literature from the North East were gathered under the same roof along with impressive works of brave and talented women from across the country were displayed. We did pick up our share of books, got them autographed and spread our music too.
Day Two was our performance and we missed most of the day’s proceedings post lunch as we were busy getting ready for our show. After experiencing a bit of traffic blues, we rushed to the venue for our gig and in between, squeezed in a quick interview for Score Magazine with Neel.
Then soon, it was show time at Symbiosis Vishwabhawan. An hour of Li and a Madonna Cover later, we met with friends of Li, new and old and our Pune evening came to an end all too soon followed by a sumptuous dinner and many heartwarming compliments.
Mercy talked a lot on the topics close to our heart. Women’s issues and how they reverberate even in the songs we sing. Come to think of it, half the songs we sing are about women- beautiful odes, lamentations, stories about the wrongs done to them and often parables with women playing central roles.
And then there were the behind the scene moments. There were a great many brothers and sisters in Pune who were most kind to us. Dear Joy Horam was most kind to take us around the city of Pune to show us the sights within a few hours. Thank you very much. We had had a long day and were quite tired by the time we got back to get ready for the evening’s performance but he was most indulgent and accommodating.
Not to mention the luxurious and comfortable accommodation at Pune’s Sun & Sand Hotel where they put us up in the Presidential Suite. Thank you Mary and Team. Hiyohey!