Zombies, Zombies Everywhere… Are You Scared of Them?

It is not that New Jersey lacks a place in the Guinness Book of World Records… no, not at all. The tallest sand castle… the most wooden train whistles blown at once… fastest time for carving 1 ton of Halloween pumpkins… largest group Stop, Drop & Roll demonstration, whatever that is…. New Jerseyans hold plenty of world records. But the one that was lost… the one that slipped through, that was the most precious of them all! Yes, I’m talking about the one for the Largest Gathering of Zombies!

In October 2013, the Zombie Walk at Asbury Park boardwalk wrested the honour from the Twin Cities, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, with 9,295 zombies parading and partying till late. But alas, Asbury Park and New Jersey lost this year on October 12, when Minneapolis assembled 15,458 zombies! Come October 2015, it will be an interesting contest to watch. Of course, my money is on the Garden State! 🙂

A Zombie Walk is an organized gathering of people who dress up as and pretend to be the ‘living dead’ or zombies. Usually, there is a parade where they get to flaunt their clever costumes and the fantastic makeup. And boy, is some of that makeup inspired!

The general idea is to create a sense of horror and revulsion, often providing clues to how they met their ends.

Looking at some of the getups, I was really wondering how it was achieved and how much time was spent in the effort.

And blood… copious amounts of blood poured liberally all over. Often, free blood is advertised and distributed by the organizers to ensure that the lack thereof doesn’t make the gore any less scary!

The lurching, stumbling, groping way a zombie is supposed to walk, with eyes skywards and arms extended, must definitely have originated with the zombie themed movies.

And how some of them keep in character throughout the walk is amazing! But then, there are others who cannot resist the temptation to smile for the camera, forgetting that it is totally un-zombie like behaviour! 🙂

Initially small zombie gatherings used to take place in the flash mob or improve style, mostly spur of the moment affairs.The first official zombie walk was in Toronto, in 2003. A small group of people, intent upon saving Halloween from commercialism and putting horror back in Halloween, dressed themselves up as the walking dead and shuffled through unsuspecting neighbourhoods.

It became an annual affair, growing in size every year, with zombies in their thousands participating in the recent years.

From Toronto, it spread to other cities. Currently most major cities, all over the world, have organised Zombie Walks, with the spirit of competition growing as well.

In addition to run of the mill zombies, some participants represent characters from history or fiction.

She must be the youngest participant this year!

The Asbury Park Boardwalk where the annual New Jersey Zombie Walk takes place.

The parade along the boardwalk.

And maybe I haven’t seen enough zombie movies, I’m yet to understand why they hanker after ‘brains’!



21 Oct 2014

Worldpride Toronto…I’m Impressed!

June 29, 2014. Never expected the day to turn into such a big party. It was an experience of a lifetime. A celebration of life, love, and liberty as I have never seen before. Yes, I am talking of the final pride march, the concluding event at the ten-day Worldpride festival that took place in the last week of June in Toronto. As an ally and supporter, standing by the railings, cheering on, I felt truly proud. It was a spectacle of openness, doing what you like, and not caring a damn. Strong emphasis on the last point.


This was the event I have been waiting for since I heard of its popularity from my friends who had attended the pride parade the previous years. But the parade this year exceeded even their expectations. Way grander and bigger with a huge audience. And not just the marchers but the spectators were also an interesting crowd. I was walking around in open-mouthed wonder most of the time.


It was sheer excitement to see people, most exotically dressed in all imaginable costumes, performing for us. The drag queens looked drop-dead gorgeous. There was representation from human rights groups, affiliated with the Worldpride ideologies, as well as major Canadian for-profit organizations. I must admit though, the corporates do not make good entertainment material. It was slightly boring to watch them. Not so much the other groups who put in some thought into their costumes and exhibits in order to provide the most appealing display of their group’s mission and values.


The LGBT communities from different universities and sports clubs also put up a great show. It was interesting to note the firm statement put forth by communities originating in restrictive cultures like the (gaysi) The Gayi Desi and the Ismaili Queers. It was the spirit of solidarity that bound us all. Our cultural backgrounds, faiths, opinions, and orientation mattered no more. What mattered was that we were all there personifying unity in diversity and most importantly, having fun.


The authorities including the politicians and the police were there in tow providing their support. An estimated 12,000 people marched in the parade while more than a million supporters (I think!) grooved to the music played on the vans and vehicles carrying the floats and the people. The parade spanned across downtown Toronto, culminating at Yonge-Dundas Square, the most popular entertainment spot, for a musical evening of some great rock and pop music. This has been the best event I have attended in Toronto till date.

01 Jul 2014

Toronto Khalsa Day Parade: A Truly Multicultural Experience!

That was precisely how I felt when I entered Nathan Philips Square, the huge atrium surrounding Toronto City Hall to watch the 29th Khalsa Day Parade. The parade is organized by the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwaras Council (OSGC) every year to celebrate Vaisakhi, the New Year in the Sikh community.
It is an expression of solidarity within the Canadian Sikh community, who invite everybody to come out and share the day with them. Around 85,000-100,000 people were estimated to have attended the event. Beginning at Exhibition Place at 1 pm, the parade reached Toronto City Hall via Lakeshore Blvd. Marching to drumbeats, the procession included school bands and carriages with posters of Sikh history and culture, intermingled with Canadian culture. Following them were spectators in their thousands, some of them singing in the true spirit of participation.
Delving into history, we find that Sikhism, as a religion, originated in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent in the 15th century. Toronto boasts of one of the largest Sikh communities in the world next to Surrey in Vancouver. ‘Khalsa’ is the name ascribed to the Sikh community. Canadian Sikhs form 1.4% of the population in Canada and 28% among the South Asians, according to Wikipedia, our everyday resort for facts of these kinds. Giving these a once-over, we can now move to the more interesting part, the food.
I was amazed by the awesome variety of free food available at the event. There were at least 20 food stalls serving different types of Indian food and beverage. And it was all for free! The whole day! Also, did I mention that it was extremely tasty?!! Frankly speaking, we were doing the rounds of the food counters most of the time, pigging out on savory and sweet stuff, drinking tea, smoothies, juice, etc. Even in the procession, volunteers were distributing pizza and juice.
Actually, I saw people making up doggie bags to take food home. What was best about this was that there were people from different cultures from all corners of the world. Everybody was welcome to the delicious food. People were there lining up, ready to snack on the readymade food. Well, that was another thing, the huge line-ups! The food stalls were overcrowded and there was some shoving and pushing. But it was all in good spirit!
Many top politicians and dignitaries also graced the occasion to pay their respects to the huge gathering. And probably to remind us to vote for them! Some of them stood out, donning traditional Indian clothing. This added a touch of novelty to the event, in the minds of people like me. There were also small-time fun activities for kids such as face painting and games. All in all, it was a day well-spent!

06 May 2014