I went for my very first camp this weekend. Yes, I am 20 and this was my first camp. And it was a completely new experience for me. Of course with the years that have gone by I have somehow made my own assumptions of what camping would be like and I have been meaning to go for one as long as I can remember. Only when I did go camping did I realise that the picture in my head was far from the real deal. The picture stood nowhere close to how heavenly camping really is. It’s like the picture in my head was that of a McChicken burger and the real deal was Chicken Maharaja Burger.
The camp that I went for was called Verse Voyage and it was hosted by The Poetry Club (TPC), Mumbai, in collaboration with White Collar Hippe at Uttan. It was a poetry workshop amidst nature. People like me get sentimental when surrounded by nature. I’m not kidding. If you ever see me next to the sea, don’t speak to me unless you don’t mind contemplating your existence, the earth and why people still prefer pineapple pizza.
Verse Voyage began on November 26 (Saturday). We arrived at around 7:30 a.m. I vividly remember entering the place and saying “Is this really happening? OMG pinch me!” My life is a series of awkward moments following with people gazing at me with worry.
The breakfast took me by surprise with its deliciousness. I always imagined camp food would be bad but it was so good that I had to convince myself that it’s okay to cease the regular diet as I loaded my plate with seconds . Sometimes, even the tummy needs a break, okay?
After the breakfast, TPC commenced their workshop. Their workshop was aimed at helping people write poetry. The entire workshop was a beautiful experience. When you’re a poet, you never quite admit it because of the response you might get from people. It could either be “Oh abhi rulayaga” or “Oh, you write? Write about me!’’ It doesn’t work that way and TPC’s workshop made me feel that it was okay to be the way I am. That it’s okay to write about everything and anything I feel. That these things I feel are not abnormal or weird because I was surrounded by amazing people who were going through similar things. I felt a sense of belonging and I couldn’t be more grateful to be present amongst everyone there.
The poetry workshops went on for a while with breaks to devour within the more amazing food. At around 5:30 pm, we set off to witness the sunset. We walked and walked till the seashore. The steep roads and the “Listen, hold me before I slip and die,’’ went hand in hand. Melodrama is what makes me, well, me. After all the sweating and gasping for breath, we finally reached the seashore and the view that lay in front of me can’t be explained in words. So here is a picture for you. What an exquisite experience it was to sit there watching the sun go down and listen to the soothing waves. Nature by itself can be therapeutic and only if you give it a chance.
At around 7 p.m., I looked up at the sky and the sky was lit up with stars. I live in a suburban Mumbai. Thanks to the pollution, I’m lucky if I can see even one star in the sky. But that evening, it was like I could see the entire galaxy. There were stars clustered together, there were two tiny stars sticking up together like twins, there were big stars and if I haven’t made this clear enough already, I f**king love stars.
We returned to our camp, looking forward to grab barbecued chicken and mushrooms that were mouth-wateringly awesome. At this point, I wish I had the vocabulary of all those chefs in MasterChef Australia because “These mushrooms are trippy AF” was not enough to express this culinary delight.
It was a barbecue and band night. Timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We sat in front of the bands that performed. Like right in front. We had the best view. Suck on that, Global Citizen India! All those wounds caused by the Coldplay concert were healed thanks to Spud In The Box and Mojo Bombay.
Mojo Bombay started off with their cover of ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay and they had me from right that second. It was like an “I’m yours” moment. I laughed and cried while I sang along with the crowd there. They played tons of their original songs as well that took me by awe. Their Hindi song ‘Shaam Bin’ was the perfect song for that evening.
After them came Spud In The Box. I had heard of them earlier tons of times, listened to few of their songs here and there but not for once sat down and paid much attention to them and when they got onto that stage it only made me question why I hadn’t. They owned that stage with every single one of their songs. Their songs pretty much captured the mood and atmosphere of the night. With the stars aligned above us, and the wind blowing, they sang various songs from their latest album ‘Lead Feet Paper Shoes’, which were the highlight of my night. I remember going up to them and saying, “I’m really trying very hard to control my fangirl, but you guys were so f**king good.” And that was the least creepiest thing I said to them that evening. I am not that subtle.
The night got better when the bonfire was set up. We feasted on marshmallows dipped in Nutella. And as the smoke from the fire blew away, so did my diet. All of us sat together and played games and got to know each other. I met some awesome people at this camp. At 3 a.m. in the morning, we sat around the fire discussing why we were on the earth and whether the mediocre living is worth it all. Among the seriousness and hilarity of all that went down that night, I felt at home. I wish I didn’t sound so cliché but having a star-studded sky above my head, surrounded by people who make you laugh until you’re gasping for breath while holding marshmallows in your hand is the ideal getaway. And I cannot be more thankful to TPC and White Collar Hippie for arranging this camping experience. And of course my mother for allowing me to have this experience.
The next morning, we went for a boat ride. The camp came to an end with the last poetry workshop, where all the 12 members present spoke about how overjoyed they were that they came for the camp.
When you’re out there, in nature, you realise that there is more to life than what we call living life. Disconnection from the world is sometimes exactly what you need and camping really refreshes you.
Saturday night at a club filled with 100 sweaty people? I’ll pass. Give me a hammock and Rumi and I’ll never leave.