We saw this sign just as we entered the NH7 grounds at Amanora Park in Pune, and this set the mood for the three days to come. We (my brother Nitin, Mansi and I) were filled with excitement and a childish enthusiasm as we got off the bus in Pune at around 11 in the morning on November 2. We hopped on to an auto and headed to Koregaon Park for a lovely breakfast at Sheesha Café, nestled cozily inside ABC Farms.
Good banter and great food later, we asked our way to the Pune station and a nearby locality called Somwar Peth, where we found a seedy motel to stay in. It was called “Tourist Hotel” and did it’s best to drive away tourists. But, since we were on a budget, we decided to crash here (after bargaining the already dirt cheap price). Surprisingly, the room was big and airy, and the three of us fell down in a heap on the bed and didn’t move for a long time. The lack of sleep as a result of waking up at 5 in the morning after a late night out, and the heat of the city, coupled with the three-hour bus ride from Mumbai had left us all exhausted. We rested for a while and around 3.30 in the afternoon, we freshened up and headed out to attend Day 1 of NH7 in Amanora Park.
Easier said than done.
Not one single auto driver knew or had heard of Amanora Park. We quickly became restless and just as we were about to slap the next guy silly, I remembered a few landmarks around Amanora and we got an auto guy to pick us up. We reached the venue, which was, to our dismay, quite a long ride from our motel. Passes were picked up at the counter and excitement was on an all-time-high as we made our way to the security check. The three of us felt sexually violated as we passed the security check – muscled men and women almost strip-searched us and confiscated anything that remotely resembled a threat. They took away our cigarettes and they searched through every hole, nook and crevice of our bodies, our clothes, our shoes and even our wallets. I saw a big carton lying there which was overflowing with contraband such as cigarette packets, condoms, strips of tablets, water bottles, knives, blades, Swiss army knives and other things I don’t even know.
So, after what seemed like eternity, we exited the security booths with as little dignity as we could muster, and made our way into the arena. This year, NH7 boasted of eight stages and nearly eighty bands performing over the three days. We weren’t disappointed one bit.
We stood and swayed to the soulful music of the Dewarists, we head-banged and raised our finger-horns to the Gods of metal, we laughed at the childish innocence of college bands at the Bindass stage, we totally ignored the trance station and the dubstep stage, we screamed at the antics of non-commercial bands on the Other Stage and we totally pigged out at the food stalls. I also bought three t-shirts, all of which were too small for me.
The highlight of the second day was the search for an alternate motel, closer to the venue. This was partially because of the circus we were a part of, at almost midnight on Day 1, when we were trying to catch an auto back to Somwar Peth. Ridiculous auto drivers who thought overcharging was a way of life and the three of us, laughing at them while controlling the urge to slap their teeth off. Mansi and I packed up our bags after Nitin left in the morning to hang out with an old friend, checked out of the Tourist Hotel and roamed around the streets of Pune in an auto (which was driven by a man who looked hauntingly similar to Dobby the House Elf). After almost three hours of searching, we found Hotel Jayashree, nestled right on the border post of Pune and Solapur, which according to everyone we asked, was barely three kilometers from Amanora. It turned out to be closer to seven, but what the heck.
This was a much better hotel, and was run by a Kannada-speaking man. I immediately launched into conversation with him in my native tongue and he gave us a very nice room and made sure we had hot chai and a very tasty lunch. We hired a cab for the day and left the hotel around 4PM to head over to the venue.
The music was okay-ish on the second day and we spent more time in the flea markets and the food bazaars than at the stages. We did catch Kryptos performing at the rock arena and we head-banged like mad people.
Once the evening was over, we met up with a friend of mine and went to Hard Rock Café. We were quickly disappointed with the crowd of young kids yelling and screaming at the beats of Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi, and we finished up our drinks quickly and left. We had a very dissatisfying dinner at the railway canteen and headed back to our hotel.
We did a little bit of sightseeing – if you can call it that, on the third day. We visited the Shivaji Fort, saw how bad it was and ditched the idea of going inside. Instead, we roamed around the streets searching for a nail clipper – I had this craving to cip my nails and I bought a clipper and stood in a corner of the footpath and clipped my nails, while Mansi and Nitin shook their heads in disgust. They might have rolled their eyes too, but I didn’t notice.
Day 3 at NH7 was perhaps the best – we saw Karnivool live in concert! And just before Karnivool took the stage, we were blown away by the performance of Indus Creed. Mansi, not normally a rock fan, was swaying and banging her head to the music and was giddy as a school kid at the end. The performance by Karnivool was something to remember. The last live concert I had attended was for Metallica, and this of course, did not match up to it, but it had its own merits. Nitin was totally over the moon and had stationed himself in the Bacardi Rock Arena for all three days, managed to catch 2 drumsticks that the artists from Thermal & A Quarter and Kryptos threw at the crowd, and was walking on clouds by the time we left.
We took a cab back to Mumbai on Sunday (November 4) and reached home quite late, around three in the morning. We entered the house, weary and looking forward to our warm beds, only to discover my creepy flat-mate sleeping with his girlfriend on our bed, in my room – something for which he got an earful from me the next morning (he isn’t talking to me currently, which suits me fine, as long as he dicks around in his own bloody room on his own bloody bed).
All in all, it was a fascinating three days of music, fun, food and randomness. Can’t wait for the next one!