Wednesday, August 30, 2017

La Tomatina Experience



'La Tomatina' is a tomato fight festival that takes place every year on the last Wednesday of August in Spain, only for an hour (11am to 12 noon). For the first time, when I read about this unique festival, I dreamt of playing with tomatoes. For the second time, when I saw this experience in 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' movie, my nascent dream kicked this experience to the top of my bucket list. I moved to Europe in 2015 and I knew that it is just a matter of time before I live my dream. While planning to attend 'La Tomatina' festival, I was skeptical whether I should club this with my crazy solo trips.

Whom should I play with?
Do I really enjoy playing alone?
                    
All those doubts took a back seat as my strong desire to attend the festival triumphed. I reached the venue in Bunol (Spain) and forced my way through the crowd. I managed to get near the pole position where the tomato trucks start. While the road was covered with a sea of crazy souls, the houses along the road were covered with long plastic covers hanging from the second floor. Being pushed in all the directions amidst 20,000 people, I could only see the glaring sun through my tomatina goggles. Villagers watching the festival from the top of their buildings occasionally sprinkled water.

As the first truck of tomatoes started coming towards us, the crowd went berserk and threw the glasses with bear, in the air. We were pushed towards the walls to make the way for the truck. As the truck passed by, a few people on the truck threw tomatoes on us. I caught a couple of tomatoes and started staring at the crowd. Various groups started playing with their friends by crushing tomatoes against each other. I got the tomatoes in my hands but I was puzzled thinking why did I come alone all the way to Spain and suffer this embarrassment.

Now, a second truck of tomatoes went past through me. I saw the crowd enjoying by lifting their girl friends on their shoulders or crushing the tomatoes on their friends' faces. I rested hands on my waist and cursed my decision to come alone. A heavy smack on my head jolted me and I found a few tomatoes crushed against my head. When I turned around, a beautiful girl was laughing at me. I was polite and tried to explain her that she mistook my identity. She banged a few more tomatoes on my head. Enraged by this, I tried to crush a couple of tomatoes against her face. Meanwhile, another guy smacked a few tomatoes against my face. I left the girl and started chasing the guy. Another person came from behind and crushed a few more tomatoes on my head. I completely lost track of what was happening around me. Am I the "Bond 007" targeted by enemies in this festival?

As my thoughts disappeared, a third truck of tomatoes went past us. As soon as I got the tomatoes in my hand, I squeezed those and smacked against the heads and faces of the people surrounding me. Others took their turn to paint me red with the juice of ripe tomatoes. Eventually, we formed into two groups and started squashing tomatoes at each other. In five to ten minutes, I have a big group of friends and foes to fight with tomatoes. I raised my decibel levels and made my presence felt while playing with tomatoes. The more you shout, the more you get hit with tomatoes. I simply loved it! What followed was "Madness"! All I remember was that a few more trucks passed by and we shouted, jumped and danced in the tomato juice. When I posed for a photo, all my friends joined me and jumped on top of me. Fortunately, my bones are strong enough. All of us slept on the road and even went for a swim in the tomato juice.


A formal introduction and a customary photo session followed in the tomato swimming pools. A witty Australian friend started kidding "I squashed whatever came to my hand". My biggest embarrassment took a node dive and turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences to cherish.

Please find the album for this experience at:

https://www.facebook.com/jayanth.suravarapu/media_set?set=a.10154026213267865.1073741867.597222864&type=3