At the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival

There are many skeptics of destiny,  yet, when life plays out, you sometimes wonder if it knows what’s coming…long before you do. In revisiting my past, my own city in ways I was once familiar with, am I really falling in love with Mumbai all over again, or am I paying homage before life changes forever?

Years after I turned from frequent festival-goer to recluse, I revisit the Kala Ghoda Arts festival in Mumbai, haven for art, sculpture, poetry, music and curios. Friday evening crowds throng the festival, Rampart Row is bustling with portrayals of justice and imbalance, triumph and troubles…and the food stalls and sari hawkers make brisk business. Cross Maidan is thrown open too, sounds of the tabla and the violin and a slow rendition of Mast Kalandar fill the air…

I am incredulous at how accessible art has become. Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is bustling, so many more people, so many diverse faces, so many young children…I want to romantically presume many office-goers skipped their 7pm train to catch a glimpse of the festivities. Yet, even as I hear fathers and sons talk colours and kaleidoscopes, comedy and percussion, I am saddened at how accessible art has become. In pursuit of the perfect selfie, the ultimate camera phone shot, we tend to lose the essence of the art on display…

At the end Rampart Row is a massacre of litter, and broken installation art and I wonder if art should be free? If art shouldn’t be priced, or encased or if we can simply learn to love without ruining it?

I try so hard to recreate the same wonder that Kala Ghoda once left me with, but I come away wanting. Maybe it is age, maybe it is over-familiarity or maybe it is just goodbye.



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