Skip to content

Navarangpur fever

4 November 2010

And so we took the comfy night train to Koraput in the southern part of Orissa. When we opened our eyes in the early morning the train was passing through scenery of lush green hills and bushy valleys under a grey rainy sky, -almost like a sort of rougher red-earthed Ireland- such nice views to wake up to. We didn’t stay long in Koraput, only to drop off some excess bagage at a hotel and have our selfmade fruit curd breakfast with yummy flowery sweet jungle banana’s (as sold by the tribal women folk on the street) and fresh guava’s (from the garden of Bijaya’s family in Balangir, yumm) -and swapping some 1,5 GB of Sambalpuri music & my own global sounds on USB sticks with a friendly hotel employee in the meantime-. We were on our way to the small city of Navarangpur (or known as Naurangpur of Nabarangpur) some 70 km’s away from Koraput on the *tribal highway* as people call it. On Monday the Mondei tribal folk festival would start -almost as if it were a playfull trick in the name- and we really wanted to check this unknown festival out.


It took us 3 hours to reach Navarangpur with 2 different buses, both crammed as could be and driving on bumpy roads that went from small hills infested with monkeys into open cultivated landscapes. Navrangpur is one of those Indian small cities just like you have allover India, stretched alongside a main road which actually is the highway for all traffic passing through. Our hotel room is looks right onto this busy road, opposite to a Jaganath temple and a loud raffle stand who love using their distorted echoing megaphone all day long to draw people for lottery tickets or play booming Bollywood songs. Not quiet at all, but hey that’s India for ya!

The festival promised to be interested; every year about 100.000 people visit it and just like any folk festival in India; it’s free in for all. The setup looked almost the same as the Pushkar Camel festival that I did 3 years ago and I guess this is the typical setup for any folk festival here; bamboo fences for guiding people into their respective area's -VIP section, Press section and a section for all the rest if you managed to get in on time -or sneak in at good moments, which I learned-. There were some nice folk dances in Sambalpuri style but more special were the tribal dances and music from the region or other parts of Orissa. The best ones being those with heavy drumming in bizarre patterns, way off the 3/4 variety and with additional instruments such as horns, one stringed lutes and sometimes hypnotizing canonized chanting. I recorded quite some of the tribal performances as the programme went on till late every night, starting from 21h to 2am -which is quite the late party by Indian terms-. The only possible way I could do it was to stand next to the screeching speakers on bamboo poles and set the recording level very low while my ears took in all the distorted volume. Anywhere else would have been too difficult to handle with the many folks wanting to talk to you, just cos you are more special to them than the tribal performance. Or to avoid being put in the front with the VIP’s by the police chief, such as happened to me on the last night, which meant I was stuck with big shots all wanting to talk to me and show off their status, not fun for trying to enjoy a festival -and recording-.

Funny to say, but we were actualy the only tourists (or white folks) in town, even with this special festival going on! Ofcourse guides like Lonely Planet/Roguh Guide/Routards etc do not cover this festival nor the Nav area, so the obvious guide-following travelers just won't get to places like this. Unless you show some interest in local culture and rely on the Orissa tourist office, which is what we did to find out about this tribal festival and the one next week in the remote Malkangiri hills. This means you get to see things in local settings without the rotten blasphemy of tourism, which is great about it! Something genuine off the beaten track by local recommendation is always better than following the guided Indian experience on western autopilot mode, it really is.

Ness has been sick with fever since the day we arrived here. Not much festival joy for her and she has been stuck in our spacious AC hotelroom these past few days. Luckily threre's a TV to pass the time away and all musical performances of the festival were being shown live on a local channel so she didn't have to miss too much, except the personal experience. This afternoon she still had some fever so we got a doctor, better safe than sorry! Very affermative action from his side and he first sent a lab analyst with me to take some blood and check which was causing the fever; malaria, dengue, viral infection? In half an hour we had the results and the doctor came to check Ness. Thankfully, it seems just a viral infection from the changing weather and Ness got some easter egged antibiotics.

Enough words for now, here some more recent pics.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 November 2010 15:55

    All the best to Ness for a quick recovery.
    It must be hard to be stuck in a hotel room, while there’s so much out there to discover and enjoy !
    Take those meds and get well soon.


    • 10 November 2010 17:58

      hey henri, bedankt voor de beterschapswensen… ben gelukkig weer beter en kan eindelijk weer gaan genieten van de reis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: