The Sherp spent the weekend camping amidst eclectic music at Nariyal Paani and came back with one helluva experience.
We’ve been craving for a beach festival that caters to our indie spirit for long, and we finally have it in the form that was Nariyal Paani. Featuring a cesspool of delightful underground acts, coupled with the expansive ambience of the sea, and the reposeful vibe of camping, Nariyal Paani was a congenial experience, much enhanced by the lovely people in attendance. Here, we pick the ten best things that had us loving the festival.
1. A beautiful venue at Alibaug
A festival that would have us travel immediately earns brownie points, for we are forever itching to leave the city behind. To have the festival at Alibaug, a much preferred getaway spot for Mumbai-zens is a good idea by itself. But even in Alibaug, Nariyal Paani found recluse in a quaint private beach, tucked away from the island hullabaloo. The venue was expansive, not overwhelmingly so, as it packed in the stage, the food and alcohol markets and the camping zone in a compact area, each separated from the other for comfort but requiring not any effort. The short but rather enjoyable walk from the camping area to the approaching sounds of the stage would feel novel every single time.
2. A stage that screamed indie
Loyal to the music that it played host to, the stage, copiously built with bamboo, bore a rather indie aesthetic that was immensely eye pleasing. Small, but cozy, it was sized just so it could comfortably house each act, even as it was decorated with homely lights and demure designs. None of that big stage eye-blinding lightshow here, something we were very thankful for. Facing the stage were a number of little benches and cushion seats, eager to seat you when you please.
3. The chilling area was true to its word
If we could describe Nariyal Paani’s aesthetic in two words, it would be – unpretentiously modest. With an ode to the ever invigorating coconut water that marks beach lifestyle best, the festival’s design graciously wore the leanings of its theme. Little teepee huts made of bamboo sticks, facing the stage, were hot favourites and almost always occupied, as were the little bamboo tables with cushions near the food area. The camping area had sea-view favouring tree houses as it did many hammocks and beach mats. If there was ever a beach festival that truly did represent its aesthetic, this would be it.
4. The music was well chosen, idyllic and honest to vibe
We went to Nariyal Paani expecting music both soulful and whimsical, not to mention independent. And we got that in Nariyal Paani’s lineup, that included some promising names from India’s underground music scene. The key standouts were Zoya’s violin and bass-fueled spoken-word poetry and music; Prateek Kuhad’s dreamy vocals we’ve grown to obsess over; Ranjit & The Ambassadors’ quixotic tunes; Bellatrix’s synth-based beats; Nicholson’s dreamwave synthpop backed by velveteen vocals; The Ska Vengers’ eclectic tunes and especially Laxmi Bomb’s closing set, which was much quirkier and rather downplayed for the band prone to heavy rhythms. A special shoutout to the rather endearingly crowd-pleasing and talented French reggae act Jahneration; easily our find at the festival.
5. Do what you must, but do not miss the music
Surrounding the stage, to its backside, were the food and alcohol counters, and tiny markets with indigenous brands and resting areas that were well within the music’s earshot. It felt compelling to know that the music travelled across the space without having one to sit themselves right in front of the stage, thus adding to the festival’s laid back spirit. We, in fact, sat ourselves under a coconut tree throughout Bellatrix’s set, and still thoroughly enjoyed the same.
6. Camping under the shade of coconut trees
The decision on Nariyal Paani’s part to allow White Collar Hippie to take charge of the camping village was a particularly good one, for the latter achieved a community-fueled camping experience. Comfortably sized tents were huddled together under coconut trees providing ample shade, surrounding a large foyer where campers could be found socialising and playing games such as Uno, Twister, Jenga and cards. A speaker was generously provided to musicophiles who took turns switching genres. The bathrooms, usually a bother for most campers, were maintained neatly, as one would have volunteers constantly fussing over its cleanliness for our sake. A note of thanks for the morning breakfast, included in the camping experience, which was indulgent and wholesome.
7. A camping area open to all
Keeping faux elitism at bay, Nariyal Paani threw open its camping area to all the festival attendees so even those who were not camping at the festival could get a taste of the experience. The ones not camping made it a point to show up at the camping area for some bonhomie, which they received in ample amounts. The camping was truly a parallel party in full force.
8. Libraries, workshops and hammocks make for the best getaway
At Nariyal Paani, the music was truly an aspect of the experience made whole by activities such as the dreamcatcher workshops, capoiera sessions and the community bonfire. The early morning yoga and volleyball sessions beckoned many a fitness zealot, as some others decided to twist their muscles in the very informative capoiera workshop held by enthusiastic practitioners. One could, of course, climb onto a library built on a treehouse for some frivolous games and light reading, making the festival an all-purpose getaway.
9. Heightened community spirit
The experience at Nariyal Paani was intensified with the many delightful people who attended it, who wasted no time in befriending and meeting others of their kind. Within the span of a few hours, smiles, hellos and hugs were exchanged between all. The festival proudly wore its community-fostering spirit as one would expect of a camping and music festival to. The Sherp came back with the memory of friendly faces and welcoming conversations.
10. Wonderful volunteers making it a homecoming experience
A festival is only as good as the people behind it. Sure, we’ve stressed on the very nice people who attended the festival, but it all came together because of the very friendly volunteers, both at the stages and the campsite. They were eager to indulge every attendee in every aspect of the experience, thereby making sure that almost everyone would walk away with a good time. As we most certainly did. Cheers to the most approachable group of volunteers we’ve come across.