The thing about young people is we’re always trying, consciously or otherwise—even desperately, to overcome the drab, dastard realities of our time and place. Among other things, against ideas, restrictions, ridiculousness, and at times, even common sense—but the important thing is we try—to come to terms with, or to shape the emerging zeitgeist our way. And the heartening thing amid the general madness is when you find young, bright-eyed comrades trying to do something good. Like Aqseer Sodhi and her Mirrorwork’s’ initiative. So, on the morning of April 12, a bunch of us found ourselves a part of the ‘Damdama Lake Meditation Picnic’ organized by her. None of us were sure as to what exactly we were getting into; and of course, Aqseer had some ideas, but eventually it was more of an impromptu unfolding of currents—and perhaps that was the best thing about it all. Around 9 am, as we turned towards the resort, we spotted two camels wandering across the road. And I knew it’s gonna be alright. Never mind the delays and the long drive. There was a bit of spring rain in the air, and we, the city misfits, arrived to an open landscape with little cliffs, lakes, jungles, and sprawling green flats. Yes, all very cute. But then, as long as you’re bringing good will to something, it usually turns out well. A bunch of off-centre, urban-middle-class folks with an artistic-spiritual bent—and among other things, lots of musical instruments! Two guitars and various forms of percussion—djembe, cajon, rattle, morchang, etc. As things settled down, a couple of us set off to scale the cliffs. After ages, that immediate focus and tentative rush, as you look for footholds up the rocks. And at the top—fruits of breeze and a pulsating sense of peace. And the view—god, the view! Yes, it’s always nice to get out of the city. Meanwhile, people were sprawled on the grass—sketching, meditating, jamming, talking. In the distance, local kids played cricket, as buffaloes swam in the meandering lake. The sun was up, and nearby a group of old men from Dwarka were having a picnic of their own. At that moment, they were digging a hole for an oven. We speculated: They are burying cocaine! No, yaar, they’re gonna cook some meth . . . and so forth. As the afternoon unfolded into a lazy evening, someone arrived with a carful of booze, and we all wandered and made connections. The Dwarka men were ready with a load of pakodas and insisted we join them—resulting in discordant but fun, strangely-making-sense jams, as we tried to keep up with their folk, Hindustani, and Bangla songs. The men left for Dwarka, but the charge continued. The knots had been loosened for the day, and everyone tapped into the running centre of rhythm. Frenetic drum beats engulfed the scene, facilitating cohesion; and then, the songs began. Starting from Dylan, to ragas, to crazy scat crescendos—you forget everything and join in—and the waves takes over. Everyone playing, just playing—like when you play for yourself, when no one’s listening. Focus. Flow like you’ve never flown before and embrace the raptures. Jamming under an open sky—what more could you ask for? Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm! To cap the evening, I dived into the filthy lake. Had to do it, just had to. One of those times when everything calms down into a slow vacuum, you forget yourself and enter a perfect and implicit understanding of your time and place. There could have been no other possibility. In that moment, you had to be there, just there—that’s all. And perhaps that’s what Mirrorwork’s’ is all about. You’d have to ask Aqseer to make sure. But one thing stands: when good people come together into the harmony of a nice, open place, magic can happen.
Marvel was born in the mountains, but for now, he has embraced the city.
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