Above: The Eponymous Man before the Burning
My daughter Jahnavi is at the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert. Its quite a scene: 50,000 people, gallons of sun-block, wild, colourful, artistic installations, alternative philosophies, and, as the name suggests, a burning man in the centre and at the climax of it all.
As a father, I never really wanted to mention the words ‘desert’ and ‘daughter’ in the same sentence. Specially a redheaded girl in baking daytime temperatures of 115 degrees. I’d heard about this festival years ago – sort of a mudless Glastonbury without the bands – and I thought it to be a wild gathering of all the alternative types from all over America. Sort of Mad Max meets Easy Rider meets Alice in Wonderland.
But these days ‘alternative philosophy’ has become mainstream and, like Glastonbury, a lot of well-heeled weekend hippies go along to the event. The Hare Krishnas have a small camp every year and set up a temple, hold fire sacrifices (appropriately) and even a Chariot Procession. This year the devotees are part of a bigger ‘village’ and are doing most of the catering for around 2,000 people. Its what we do, after all, and people like what we do.
So I’m happy that she’s going to be preaching the message of Krishna through food, chanting and speaking with other festival-goers, but still a bit apprehensive about the white, powdery sands of the desert, the scorpions and poisonous spiders, and, of course, that burning man.
People doing their artistic thing in the Nevada desert