Dom Joly: Hell is other people being oh so calm. Omm....

Share
Related Topics

Everyone has a personal vision of hell. I used to think that it was something along the lines of being stuck in a lift with (insert your bête noire here) for an indeterminate period of time while experimental jazz was played on a loop through crackly speakers.

Last week I not only became aware of what my personal hell actually was, but was right in the middle of it. I was back in New York doing some filming. For reasons I can't go into right now, I had to infiltrate myself into the Yoga On The Lawn event that was happening in Central Park. This was an attempt to set the world record for the biggest yoga session by getting 10,000 people to sit on free yoga mats in the Great Lawn area and be led through a one-hour lesson.

More than 13,000 people turned up. Who knew so many people in New York did this sort of thing? In the old days, this kind of West Coast hippy stuff would have been an anathema for a New Yorker. But since 9/11, the Big Apple has become the Big Softie.

I snuck in through a gap in the fence and took up my position 10 rows from the front, dressed in fluorescent yellow leg-warmers, orange headband and uber-baggy pants. I was attempting to look ridiculous but actually blended in far too much. In hindsight I should have worn a pinstripe suit.

I awaited the start of the lesson but, while 13,000 vegans drifted in, we were forced to listen to some warm-up acts. If you had to imagine the kind of noise terror used by Special Ops to disorientate a hostage situation, you wouldn't be far off.

First was a band that called themselves Thirteen Clouds. A couple of hippies sat on the stage tapping Indian drums, while a pale, unhealthy-looking singer played a kind of table accordion and screamed into his mike in what sounded like considerable pain.

I couldn't make out particular words, but the Chinese lady sat next to me told me that she thought he was singing in tongues. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" she asked with a huge smile on her wan face. I turned away and tried to will myself out of this situation but my shakra was not strong enough.

A poet now appeared at the microphone – not just a normal poet, but a physical poet. He writhed and emoted some nonsense about his father not liking him while jumping up and down and smiling beatifically. I looked around me for someone with a concealed handgun. New York is not what it once was: everybody appeared unarmed and I was unable to act.

Back on stage, a huge white man now appeared with an enormous Afro. He looked like one of the Freak Brothers. His "skill" was as a human beat-box, but he also appeared to be schizophrenic, as a weird falsetto voice would often suddenly appear out of nowhere in the middle of his hideous cacophony. Using a machine he looped himself, making beats while screaming the word "Yoga!" He then replayed it over and over again. I wanted to stand up and shout to the nearest policeman that I had a bomb and that he must arrest me now, but there was nobody to tell.

Finally, the yoga was due to start. But a woman came on stage and announced that there was a storm coming and that, unless the crowd could make the clouds move with their collective minds, the event was going to be cancelled by the parks police.

Everyone did their best, but nature had clearly had enough. The heavens opened and 12,999 yogis ran for the nearest falafel joint. I headed for the nearest bar.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there