Broke: A travel guide to ZFM

[ Nyato Mosing ]
Flashback to 2018: My very first time experiencing the Ziro Festival of Music (ZFM) after years of thinking about it. With hyped anticipation and excitement level, I finally gathered my allowance and struck out one of the many items from my to-do list.
Fast forward to 2019: This year I had other plans, and it had to be the other way round. I had noted down some valuable tips from my last trip, and that helped me officially pronounce myself as a second-time goer.
As the month of September started to approach, there was no surprise that it was going to take a whole lot of sacrifice to land myself in the most talked-about fest in the state, yet again.
Now, as I write this piece, I’m not going to bore you or even bother writing down the same old history lesson repeatedly penned down by every other writer with their re-mastered vocabulary. Keeping away with known facts, I would rather scribble down some lesser-known hacks – ones which I call ‘Jugaadpanti in Ziro’, since the hefty chunk of Gandhijis the festival passes require, excluding other expenses, is what worries a large portion of festival goers.
No matter how complex a situation, there remains a solution hidden. Surviving four days in an overpriced territory is a massive challenge, especially for all the broke music followers and adventure seekers. And the secret formula can, to some extent, be unethical and may come with some risks.
I eventually did notice some of the visitors breaking in without passes, or, to be precise, without the trademark festival bands, even after the introduction of the new and improved scanning system involving wristbands. That right there struck my curiosity. I mean, that was jugaadpanti of a whole new level.
So I asked around, and there was this band of four brothers. They had purchased two passes and one member of this legendary group wisely said, “First, we strap on the band loose over our wrists. Two of us go in while the others wait patiently. After some time, one of us exits the entry gate with an extra band, and the rest is history.”
It was easy to decipher what the history was in this case. With all due respect to the security section and the fest organizers, if that’s how you decide to stick to high ticketing, I myself might end up adopting one of these highly classified tricks, along with my friends.
However, travelling on a budget doesn’t always have to be sneaky. I made the best of my situation, and as a local I drove around some tourists to Ziro, which sorted out the issue of managing fuel for my car. I was also hired by the campsite owner of ‘Wanderer’s Camp’ and that pretty much helped me with my budget constraints and accommodation for four days this year. A little ingenuity can take you a long way.
I have a few more tips and tricks up my sleeve to survive the expenses of a festival, but I should probably save them for whatever’s coming next. The festival season has just begun!