Thursday, 21 October 2010

My Experience at Nami Island, NAMBOOK 010

I heard a lot about Nami Island before going there. Even at home, months before going, I was very excited. I attended a book festival NAMBOOK 010 there. When we arrived at the banks of the Bukhan River, a breathtaking view awaited us. I was awed by the beauty of the river and I could almost predict what wonders lay ahead of me. Finally we boarded the ferry and after five minutes, we were delivered on the Island. Tall furs and pine trees were there and the whole Island was bustling with activity. I could see loads of people and some cyclists flew past us.

This very day, we had a grand opening ceremony. Many important people such as Mr. Kang etc. gave speeches and little children danced and performed Korean traditional music for us. Books were hanging on the ceiling of the open theatre. After that there was a rice cake ceremony and all of us formed a chain by holding onto it. The rice cake is a long noodle like string which is obviously edible. Thus after everyone had a portion of the string in their hand, the string was broken and we ate it. The peace story books along with two galleries were also inaugurated that day. In the evening, workshops were organized for us. I learnt how to make paper from the stalk of rice and barks of trees. We also decorated photo frames with fallen pine cones, twigs, acorns etc.

The next day, we conducted a workshop on Takli at the India Stall. Many schoolchildren attended our workshop. They were fascinated to know about Gandhi and what he preached although they were familiar with his name. The children grasped the mechanism of Takli quite easily and enjoyed themselves. Their teacher also learnt how to work with the Takli. We tied rakhi to the men and put bindis on the foreheads of the women. People were fascinated by the henna on my hands. Many of them came asking for it later also! “Indian tattoo’ is how they described it. I had a henna cone with me. Many people including men eagerly got it put including Mr Ali Boozari of Iran and Mr Fred Minn. After this event was over, we went for an Island tour. The Song Museum was impressive and I was amazed at the level of cleanliness. We also visited the tomb of General Nami. We also came across a lane where upside down umbrellas were hanging from the trees. At night, Mr. Kang conducted a workshop in which everyone was welcome. We had full freedom to draw anywhere and everywhere. All kinds of imaginative art material was available and we could stay as long as we wanted to (even the whole night). No restrictions were put on us.

On the last day of our stay there, we presented a story from Panchatantra and also put up a dance. The school children were impressed with our lehngas and the style of dancing. (The same way, we also were truly impressed with the Korean traditional clothes (hanbok), their songs and their dance which we later saw at the Korea House.) Mr. Kang liked our dance so much that we had to perform it thrice for the audience. Soon after that, we had to unwillingly say goodbye to the Island as we boarded the ferry which would take us back to the mainland.

Now I’ll tell you more about the Island. The island is very peaceful. Probably that’s why NAMBOOK 010 was conducted over there. In addition to that the theme this time was Peace Story. It’s the serenity of the place which attracts so many tourists, indigenous and foreign to the Island. It’s a place where culture, peace, art, tradition all blend together. It nurtures creativity. When one is on the Island it’s as if all your problems amount to nothing. Your mind is free. You can think anything, draw anything or do whatever. Apart from this, the place is covered with books. In our rooms also, books adorned the walls and the bookshelves. Almost everything is wooden and that is wood which comes from fallen trees. One feels as if he is one with nature and you also feel that it is your duty to protect the environment. The Island has adopted many eco friendly strategies. The animals roam around without fear. I saw many big squirrels, an ostrich, a peacock, ducks etc. amongst others. You can also borrow cycles from the island and go on an island tour on wheels. Night time at the Island is no less. As you stroll on the Island at night, even without any lights you feel fearless. Everything is so calm that the spooky ghost shadows of trees don’t appear to be scary at all. The island holds a surprise for you in every nook and cranny.

The whole d├ęcor of the island is amazing. Nami is like heaven itself. Although our stay at Nami was very short, I would cherish all the memories of that place. Maybe life would take me there again. NAMIIII…SUM!!!(That’s how you raise a toast to Nami in Korean).

-Harshika Jain

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