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Festive rendezvous


Festivals may just be that perfect setting for a romance or rekindling old fires. 

A friend of mine returned from Bandhavgarh lamenting that it's easier to spot a good tiger than a good man. I let out a sigh. But it was not a smug-married sighing at a singleton. It was the sigh of someone who knows that the clichê 'looking for love in the wrong places' still holds true. All it needs is some math, really. After all, meeting potential mates is a function of probability. The newer the environs, the more people you meet, and the better the chances of meeting someone interesting. 

Festivals make for a great setting for romance since they transport us from the clichês of daily life into a world that still has a bit of us, through our passions - like music, dance, art, water-sport or wildlife. Right now, it's raining festivals. There's the Sula fest, the India Bike week, the India Art fair, the Kala Ghoda festival, the Mud rush, the India Surfing festival and the recently concluded Jaipur Literary Festival, to name a few. Name your poison, and there seems to be a festival that goes with it.

At worst, it's a weekend out, and at best, you just might meet someone. Two years ago, Aditi Rungachary, an advertising professional, was just looking for a good weekend out with friends when she set off to Sula. Little did she know that the day would end on a bright note. After enjoying a night out at Sula Fest, she came back to a call that surprised her. "Hey I am in your hotel and though I don't drink wine, I've come just to see you, " said Tanmai Naik, a longtime admirer who she had till then, taken rather lightly. "Didn't I tell you he fancies you a lot?! " exclaimed her girlfriend, who was convinced that this was the start of something special. Though it was 2 am, Tanmai convinced Aditi to a night of conversation over a bottle of wine. The next day, he accompanied her to the fest and as they say, the rest is history. The chilled-out ambience worked as the perfect backdrop for their budding romance, as Aditi and Tanmai discovered their passion for the same kind of music and fast cars. Tanmai introduced her to many of his friends and discovered that she was evidently comfortable and at-home with his world. It was no surprise then that they chose to hang out together throughout the rest of the Fest, even driving back together.
Says Moon Chatterjee, a regular volunteer at JLF: "There is a common agenda of books and readings and discussions that brings people together at the JLF. "

If you are a biker or like bikers, the possibility is endless this weekend. The India Bike Week, the largest congregation of Bikers in India, from Riders to Scramblers, Cruisers to Superbikers will bring together about 8, 000 fans including some of India's biggest biking celebs to Goa. The festival is spread over five acres of hilltop overlooking the sea at Vagator, the perfect backdrop to hangout and experience some festival nirvana. Says Martin da Costa, CEO of 70 EMG, the organisers: "We're working with the hundreds of bike clubs in India, as well as international bikers, brands, customizers, bike and accessory manufacturers, and musicians. "

Then there is Mud Rush on February 9 in Kolad, Maharashtra (two hours from Mumbai /Pune), India's first obstacle seven-km race followed by a sundown party at the venue featuring international DJs.
Sometimes work-related fests make you look at people very differently. Like Valroy Miranda and Natasha Shirali, advertising executives, part of the same marketing team at Reliance ADAG who didn't think much of each other until their team was bundled off on a bus off to the Goa Fest. At the fest, they exchanged notes at the seminars, debated work that was up for awards. They enjoyed the banter and wondered why they never chit-chatted work or otherwise before! The casual atmosphere at the fest, being among peers, and colleagues - but not in an 'formal office party' environment helped them break the ice.

From there on the vibe of the fest worked for them...the fact that it was Goa, both liked music and dance helped. As Val says, "I discovered so much about Natasha through that weekend, the fact that she was extremely fun-loving, kind and funny and smart at what she does. " When they returned, things had changed. Their friendship soon developed into love and they figured that this was a match meant for a lifetime. Even today, Goa Fest remains a warm memory in their hearts, for having got them together, in the most natural manner possible.

But for most people, going for a fest may not be such a spontaneous thing to do. Savita Nair, advertising professional, started Face-to-Face with her friend Vinifer Gandhi just to shake people off this inertia. Face-to-Face is a facebook group that gets random strangers to meet once a month at an informal seaface gathering which then progresses to conversation over dinner and drinks, "If you don't step out of your comfort zone, what are the chances that you will meet someone interesting?" The group now meets locally, but Nair plans weekend getaways to festivals and concerts when they reach critical mass. After all, crushing grapes with strangers or going surfing or sailing may not be such a bad thing. And you never know what you will find. "If nothing else, you can just make some really good friends, " she adds.

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