I knew that the trip would be fun, but I never thought it could be so amazing. It took me on a ride and turned my world around. I could go on for hours, but I’ll try to keep it concise.
Starting off from here at 7:30 am, we all try to sleep early, but everyone ends up being awake post 2:30 am. En route, between chatter and attempted singing, we stop to eat breakfast, which would turn out to be one of many :) A few plates of sabudana vada, idli wada sambhar, chai and coffee later we’re on our way again. With DJ Blackberry in the house, we continue blissfully on, till the tummies are hungry again, and breakfast no. two has to happen. If you didn’t know it was there, you would miss the place completely. A little joint on the roadside, now surrounded by the commotion of construction and all the extras that go with it, known for its misal pav, a typical breakfast food in the region. The delightful combination of usal, sev, chiwda, farsan, onions, corriander and the spicy kick from the tarri eaten with pav had our tongues tingling but yearning for more. Finishing off the morning with an ultra sweet cream roll in chai, and we’re well on our way to Nashik with no more pit-stops.
After figuring out accommodation at the simple and affordable Hill Side Resort, we relax over a round with the hookah, before heading over to the YORK Live Festival, the reason for this trip. Some of us are able to negotiate a deal to get in to the venue, while the rest of us have free passes (courtesy Mumbai Boss)!
While the venue is relatively empty when we get there, people are lounging around, grabbing a bite to eat, enjoying their wine in the afternoon sun, browsing at the bazaar, and generally mingling till the music gets underway. The cool breeze and sprawling vineywards are a refreshing change from the closed spaces of Mumbai. Billowing flags add a fun splash of colour to the lush green against the blue of the Gangapur Dam.
After filling our tummies sufficiently, we venture up to the tasting room only to be awed to silence by the panorama view of the landscape. Beauty like this always humbles me and makes me grateful for all the things that are good in my life. For brief moments, it allows me to forget the madness, so that I’m at peace with myself.
While the last few sound checks wrap up, we take a tour of the winery, learning about the kinds of wines produced at YORK, and the different techniques they use for the same. An interesting tour indeed, where we also learn that the name YORK was derived from the names of the children of owner Lilo Gurnani-Yogita, Ravi and Kailash, what a fun fact! Back in the tasting room we are able to sample the YORK wines and decide for ourselves which one we liked. We’re house divided between the Chenin Blanc and the Carbernet Sauvigon Reserve.
The sun begins to disappear, and people are now silly with giggles after an afternoon of wine tasting as they settle on the grass. Some stretch out and grab a quick snooze, or admire their bazaar shopping, while others huddle over their bottles of wine, trying to identify the spices and aromas in every sip. We pick up a two bottles and troop down to the lawn to settle down as fleeting notes of Alisha Pais’ soulful voice being to permeate the space.
Seven-member Mumbai-based band Something Relevant takes the stage as the opening act. An infusion of pop, funk, and jazz makes for real feel-good music. Upbeat and catchy, songs like Working Man, In the Kitchen, Groovy Sense of Timing, Love Me Like You Do Me and a wacky number Barbeque Mosquitoes transport me back to the streets of New Orleans where Dixieland music plays on every corner. We laugh out loud to the crazy lyrics, and hoot voraciously to show our support. Feet tapping and bodies swaying we leap upwhen the last few songs are belted out especially Sealed, Signed, Delivered with Rachel Varghese and Tanya Well’s classical taranas in Do Your Thing. The music makes me LOL, and so thrilled am I with the beats that I’m dancing all over the place.
Mr. Woodnote from Australia, musician extraodinaire comes on next, with his fantastic beat boxing, an electronic saxophone, magic of the loop station, and the powerful voice of Eva Lazarus, turning the festival into a party. Somehow we’re dancing salsa to this incredible music what I’ve never heard before. We’re drawing some cheers ourselves as we enjoy the music and the joy of dancing :)
We take a breather as Ayush Shrestha sings some simple and melodious acoustic tracks providing a calming break before the sensational ShriLectic takes over. His unique self-made bass played with a violin bow or tapped like a drum, and able percussion by Vivek Rajahopalan and vocals by Nandini Srikar blend acoustic, electronic and computing sound to create mystical music on the stage.
As with happens often, the music touches me, but in a way like never before. I look to the sky and shed tears for music, for life, for joy, and for you Dids. I know you are sharing every moment of my life from up there, because I feel your presence around me all the time.
The phenomenon global music of Karsh Kale follows, who takes to the tabla and drums in this final act of the evening. Even while he collaborates with the likes of Warren Mendonsa, Johan Pais, Ajay Prasanna, Jayant Luthra, and Vidhi Sharma on stage, he remains central to the act, those around him enhancing the music that resonates. I’m transfixed as he plays the tabla, the feeling of standing in a rumbling thunderstorm overwhelms me. I feel a special privilege of holding his jacket for a few minutes. Though am not the types to be star-struck, I must admit I feel pretty gooey-eyed about the whole incident.
I look around and see people swaying, smiling, happy, touched by the music. I think to myself, what a perfect place to be–the YORK Live Festival celebrating all the good things in life.
We get back back to our little cubby hole after a which bite at Bobby’s restaurant, only to wait for an hour for someone to get mattresses for us to crash. We sit out in the cold, chatting, connecting and sharing stories that bring us closer.
We wake up for a rushed start, heading out to eat at all Vicky’s favourite spots in Nashik before they run out of food. First stop is Hotel Tushar for the real misal pav. Hungry we are we wait 10 minutes for a table, and then dive into the food as soon as it gets on the table. Unfortunately, it takes me a little longer to get started, as I’m stunned by a shower of misal as Abhi get a mouthful of too hot to handle, literally. Post the impromptu bath of hot food, I get around to food finally, and it is well devoured around the table as we relish every bite. Even before we head out, we are already discussing the next round of breakfast, and stop for mirchi and moong dal bhajiyas which I skip and instead allow myself to indulge in angoor rabdi. Absolutely delicchhh! I can’t understand why I’ve never had it before. Stop three is now for some fresh ganne ka juice. Though I resist at first, I give in and believe me there are no regrets! I do believe that I will be a bit weary to venture out to find it on my own, unless someone recommends a place. Just when I thought we were done, Vicky announces that we just have to try to sabudana tikias at this one place. Groan! My stomach is going to curse me, but nonetheless, in the spirit of adventure we have a nibble and it’s quite scrumptious.
Four rounds of breakfast happily tucked away, we go back to the room, where some doze, while other proceed to lie around for a while in an attempt to combat the onslaught of food we’ve just encountered. The view from the room is pleasing to the eye and the cool breeze is intoxicating, making us giddy with laughter.
We’re a silly bunch by the time we’re ready to leave, and soon we’re on our way back to Mumbai. As randomly as most other things on the trip, conversation about visiting a gurudwara comes up and we get to pull up outside a mannat ka gurudwara and step inside for a few minutes. It’s as though it was just meant to be at the time, and it’s a beautiful feeling. The drive is ridiculously beautiful and thinking about how gorgeous it will look in the monsoons gives me goosebumps. Hopefully we will explore soon :)
A great trip, with some great new friends and the potential sign of good things to come soon :) The song that comes to mind “Oh very happy in my heart, dil dance maare”