Shree Ganeshay Namah:…
Am I the last participant to write the post on the Indiblogger’s Indimum? I hope not.
Well, I did post first part of my report within 48 hours of the meet but that was in my mother tongue.
Here it is in the language most of my hum-surfers would prefer to read.
Incidentally, today is the World Gujarati Language Day and I am writing in English!
15th August was the red letter day for the Indian bloggers. We, more than 200 of us, met at the famous Hotel Sea Princess at the upmarket suburb of Juhu in Mumbai. I have my nostalgia connected with this venue which dates back to almost two and a half decades. It’s a grand place and the organizers were lucky to get the Gujarati owners of this prestigious premises to be the host of this event.
Indimum was deceptively informal. Deceptively- because it had some serious discussion in spite of the light hearted atmosphere carefully created by the team of Indiblogger. And Informal- the moment you register your email on the laptop at the reception counter a cute assistant would politely ask for your hand and put a rubber stamp impression on the back of your palm. One would associate this ‘ceremony’ with an entry in a disco or a night club! At a meet like this, one would expect an id card in a plastic cover to be worn round your neck. Like a trainee in a BPO.
The Regal Room, where the meet was held, had a desk of one of the sponsors- Big Rock. They were taking our photograph on their digital camera, promising to turn it in to a caricature! I asked them seriously about people like me whose face already looked like a caricature. They smiled looking at me, so did I, looking at the lens. I shall be posting it when I get it. You can compare it with my photograph.
While looking around for a comfortable seat (that is a seat which would be in the range of the photographers) I saw a huge white screen announcing the names of the participants who are arriving. When my name flashed I felt like the Jille-Ilahi from Mughal-e-Azam, nothing short of Ba-adab, Ba-Mulahija, Hoshiyaar…
Indiblogger team was upbeat in spite of long hours of work and travel. Well, they were air-lifted by Jet Airways, one of the sponsors. Immediately after the few witty introductory remarks the stage was taken over by the sponsors which was, err… a bit early. The Sea Princess representative, Ms. Gundecha was brief and precise. She took only 45 seconds. There was another sponsor HP- the printer-scannerwalas. Their representative was smart and boring.
Then came the Big Rock guy who smelled the atmosphere and delivered some intelligent chuckles, but forgot to say what they sell: rocks? pebbles? music? After I went home, I searched for their site and discovered they sell domain names! Their discount price for dot in is just Rs. 99 instead of Rs. 649, wow! They also supply server space and website design tools. All of us were given a coupon for buying dot in for free from Big Rock. I was excited and started registering a fancy domain for 5 years thinking that I will shell out remaining Rs. 99 x 4 from my pocket. But there comes the catch- if you want it for 5 years it is Rs. 649 x 5! Anyway, I still plan to register with them, not at the discount price, and also thinking of buying some web designing tools, if nobody is going to caution me against it.
Now comes the most enjoyable part of the meet- self introduction or 29 seconds of fame, as one of the team members put it. All the bloggers tried hard to push their urls with dots and dashes into everyone’s ears. Nobody could remember a single one. Realizing this I got smart and instead of wasting the precious 29 seconds given to me I didn’t utter my url at all. I plugged it (twice!) through Twitter timeline which was shown live on that Mughlai screen. I introduced myself as a Gujarati, as the ex-editor of Mid-Day’s language edition and as a reluctant blogger who is blogging because of the lack of any professional work at this juncture of the career. The audience applauded me thunderously. Even after a week I still wonder what did they like- me being a Gujarati, being an ex-Mid-Day man or being an unemployed blogger!
I felt inferior of myself when someone announced that he has been blogging for 6 years! I am just a 15 months old novice. I loved it when witty bloggers started introducing themselves. A girl narrated a Robert Ludlum like plot as her life story and got big applause when she ended it by revealing that her blog is about her short stories! Another guy quipped about how he used to write on love, life and philosophy- until he got dumped by his girl- and switched to subjects like programming and software solutions! Both of them got the prize for the best self-intro along with three others.
The self-introduction was a nice ice breaker. I could put names to so many faces in the room. Besides I met some of my Faceboook friends in person, like Jaydip Parikh, for the first time. Jaydip came all the way from Ahmedabad with Dipali Thakkar. There were bloggers from Pune, Chennai, Delhi and of course, Bangalore. Mohan Nellore came from Bangalore. He is the winner of Rs. 30,000 prize in a bloggers competition sponsored by Appolo Hospital. I met Mohan Nellore a very popular blogger during the tea-break, asked him about the subject of his winning entry and he narrated the whole story. In a nutshell, it was about the importance of regular check-ups and early diagnosis. That explains.
Just before the break all of us were given a big blank card to wear on our backs. At first I felt like a child in a birthday party but soon my hesitation vanished. Some bloggers-turned-friends came forward and wrote messages on my back. They wished me well as a ‘gujju’, the word I dislike. Neither can I appreciate Mallu , Panju, Ghati, Pauwala etc. Just as Amitabh Bachchan insists on not calling Hindi film industry Bollywood. Nobody listens to him. Nobody listens to me either. That makes us equal!Someone even wished me a quick recovery from my bekaari! Thanks!
After the break a Big Rock babe played quiz game with us- what is the full form of dot tv (no, not television), which is the oldest domain name… the quiz was quite peppy and more peppy was the girl whom everybody was eying. Some brave guys, even girls, showered compliments for her looks and haircut through the live Twitter stream.
Gul Panag (don’t ask Gul who?) was the moderator of the discussion that followed the quiz. The subject of course was blogging. Gul has independent views and was bold enough to express her mind frankly. She raised the point of vested interests of large media houses. That ignited me enough to jump in. I pointed out that sometimes even a lone blogger can take media barons head on. Amitabh Bachhan has confronted Times of India, Mumbai Mirror, Mid-Day etc. whenever he is misquoted by them. Clarification posts on his blog become news for the Indian press the next day.
At the start of the meet I had noticed a man dressed like a sapera (snake charmer, for the colonial minds) clicking away hundreds of photographs. I wondered whether I had met him somewhere. During the break he approached me and asked the same question! Finally, he could remember that we met during my Mid-Day days through one reporter. He is Firoze Shakir, fashion designer and a well known amateur lens man. I thank him for all his Flicker photo-links ( the 3 blurred photos on this post are mine, don’t blame Firoze).
The captive audience of Indimum was shown trailer of the forthcoming Hindi film ‘ Soch Lo’. I won’t watch the film.
Looking forward to another Indimum- to meet all the friends and make some new.
Thanks Team Indiblogger for inspiring me to start a blog for my non-Gujarati friends. As they say in English – Waise bhi abhi kuchh kaam-vaam to hai nahi!
P.S.: Enjoy some more photos by Phiroze Shakir
2. Right Focus
3. Smile please
And here is the list of top 5 posts more interesting than mine (DON’T READ THEM):
1. The best one.