rohan chakravarty © 2017
During the day, most of its 60,000 residents either work on rice or coffee plantations, or go treasure hunting for bits of gold and sapphire in rivers and mountains that surround this modest town. But its at night that Manakara truly comes alive—and the 7-odd karaoke bars spread across town burst into life. Singing here and across most of Madagascar—starts at a young age and is deeply entwined with Malagasy culture. So, young mothers with their babies pack into the small bars, jostling for space with lone teenagers mouthing words and stealing an occasional drink. The bars themselves are perfumed with the smell of sweat mingling with smoke, and alcohol. Cheap Chinese LED lights flash in the corners, large white screens accompanied by an out-dated 90’s old computer. In dark crevasses, extra chairs are piled up waiting for more patrons. Elsewhere, groups of friends catch up over, as a cascade of music, ranging from Mariah Carey to local Malagasy, Nothing is left unsung.