I pack my bags and make my way up the hill to Ananda’s village near by. I arrive to find no festival only a few men conspicuously standing around an old wooden cart in complete darkness. This certainly doesn’t feel like any festival I’ve ever been to before, I keep my mind and eyes open.
A voice calls my name and Ananda’s white eyes and smile pop out of the darkness. He welcomes me and asks if I drink. I say sure, he then continues to say that alcohol is actually not allowed to be sold on this holy day but of course the opportunity to make money has simply moved the bottle shop out behind the trees.
He disappears into the darkness only to return with 3 small 200ml cartons of rum 10 minutes later. We mix our drinks with cola and I’m introduced to some of his friends before going home to the wife and kids. Strangely enough I’m feeling unwelcoming vibes from one of his friends, he is keeping distance from me the entire time and does not seem to look at me with the same friendly eyes as Ananda. I try to find an equilibrium of understanding by showing interest in him but the subconscious distant feelings remain the same.
We say goodbye to his friends and Ananda shows me his humble home, wife and daughter. He gives a special introduction to his son and uncle who are also here for the festival weekend. The home is a one-roomed concrete box with half a wall dividing the kitchen from the living room/dining room/bedroom. They do not have a toilet and he says if I needed to “go make business” he would show me but normally he would go at sunrise. I decide to wait for when it’s customary.
We share another delicious fresh made dinner, beautifully made and presented by his wife. Through conversation I learn that Ananda has had a life changing friendship with a Dutch artist who moved to live in the area more than 25 years ago. They became good friends and even after the Dutchman returned to the Netherlands in his older years, they maintained written contact. The Dutchman helped Ananda and his family survive for many years in times of difficult need. He is very proud to show and tell me the stories of this man. I think this past interaction partly enabled Ananda to have the trust in letting me stay with him and his family. After dinner we go out to meet with his friend who gave me strange vibes to finish the rest of the drinks and to see Ananda’s newly given government land.