Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Burning Man

5 days at Burning man was a mind blowing experience. It was all that I had imagined it to be and more.

This was my first trip and I had read and heard all about it; but the reality could not be more different, the scale is just beyond imagination. For me, it was a celebration of life, relentless spirit of humanity to push the limits of human potential and a radical form of self expression. Sure, the people get there for various reasons - some for drugs, some for all night partying, some for the wilderness that becomes a city for a week. For me, it was the whole concept of a city that was born out of nothing and disappears into nothing, like life itself, that attracted me to Burning Man in the first place - the only thing that comes alive in the middle is sheer creativity, from kinetic race cars, mutant vehicles to sculptures that defy imagination. In the backdrop of the Black Rock Desert, under the dark night sky, the temporary city never sleeps. To the wee hours of morning, the music, dance and shows continue. With weary legs and groggy eyes, the campers return to their tents only to sleep for an hour or two before returning to the infinite theme camps that adorn the playa. The temple at the Playa is an outstanding experience, the burners write with marker pens on the wooden structure the tales from their hearts, a heart rending emotional and spiritual experience.

We built a shade structure from scratch which turned out to be a humongous project for our skill set, but it still withstood the ruthless sand storms. The self reliance in the harsh climate of the desert is no joke and the spirit of Burning Man does not allow any commerce on the playa. Instead the burners trade things, help each other out - it is a social experiment at one level. The strict rules imposed on the playa is to preserve the fragile ecosystem of the desert.

After 5 days, when I left the Playa, I couldn't help wonder; was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I return? Probably. But I don't know when. There is too much to prepare just for five days; but there are no regrets - it was a thing of beauty.

[edited later]

At dinner table recently, this discussion came up - how green is BM? It is not green or anything getting to burning man and all the preparation you have to do. In fact, that is one of the discussions we had while driving up there. But given the nature of the different elements involved in it, they have tried to make it as eco friendly as possible. It is very unique to get the different elements blended in as well as it has at burning man, art, music, self expression and reliance, extreme nature, no-commerce environment and 50000 people who build a temporary neighborhood and share the values of being good neighbours for a week. if you take any of these elements away, burning man won't be the same. I came back with a sense of awe - the whole experience of construction and destruction, while not green necessarily, symbolizes the life itself - in fact, its origins belong to some budhist ideals i believe. the ability to burn something that you worked dearly for symbolizes the detachment one should feel for everything that surrounds you, with the fire what burns down is more than the physical elements in it, but the desire, ego, pride, and all that. Well, there are infinite ways to look at something like this - the simplest way to look at it is that BM is a celebration of life and its beauty. At the end of it, it is an experience that fills your heart with joy, one should experience (burn!) it to know it.


Anonymous said...

Yes, it was an incredible experience for me too. nice blog!


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