I have named this post “Mumbai” and not “The Mumbai IndiBlogger Meet” for a very good reason. This post explains it.
I believe what we experienced in that magnificent hall in the Hotel Sea Princess was not just bloggers and blogging. When we first looked around the full room, we could see every colour in the visible spectrum! There were kurtas, sarees, head gear, and rings which were absolutely dazzling. There were people from Pune, Ahmedabad, Mizoram and even a travel blogger who was actually traveling!
I got the best seat in the house but I nervously took stage. I scanned the crowd quickly – Naveen Bachwani sitting through his second Mumbai blogger Meet helped me calm my nerves, as did Hemal Shah and myself jumping around like excited chickens. Every emotion we experienced or you thought you may have seen were real and present. I remember mentioning “It’s great to be here” about 500 times. I stopped when someone pointed it out and will that slim shady please stand up?
The Cabbie Story (Aug 13, 2010: 11:00 PM)
After arriving in Mumbai, I took a prepaid cab to Goregaon west to meet with IndiBlogger Meet organizer Vineet Rajan (Whom, I dare say is definitely taking a dump as we speak). The cab driver promptly noticed that my hair was frizzy (High humidity??) and that I was sleep walking. He took me straight to a tea shop, got me some tea (he paid, I forgot), dropped me off home, asked for less than the MRP. Things can’t possibly go wrong with a start like that!
Here’s what we had to do, start from Goregaon West, go to the venue, go out for lunch, pick up T-shirts (Big Rock facility) , pick up Posters (Goregaon West), head back to the venue, put them all up, head back home and after that we died and woke up the next day.
The Night Before (Aug 14, 2010):
The traffic endured during the earlier part of the day seemed to have no bearing on our spirits at all, apart from being a tad tired. Vineet Rajan gave us a huge surprise by buying all of us beer! And not cough syrup like the last time. We still drank the cough syrup for old time’s sakes… Ok you got me… We finished all the cough syrup with Oliver Renie Twist, asking if he can have some more. The 5 line Email explaining the debate to Gul Panag started work at 11:00 PM and got completed by 6:00 AM. We were not very sure if we should be proud of ourselves.
The Late Dawn:
After a couple of hours of power naps it was GO time! Frantic activity ensued at home. There were beds all over, undies both old and new flying in the air, Vineet clanging on a tin to wake the dead, Iron Maiden’s new album (The Final Frontier) in the background and it was just what we needed.
The Drive (Independence Day: 10:30 AM):
Dead calm and contemplative thinking … Slight sounds of breathing… oooh is that a Monginis???
Karthik got down to business, getting to know the sponsors. I remember him speaking only to the women. I jotted “loose moral Karthik” in my little green book. Everything suddenly looked in its place – which was unnerving because if history had taught us anything, we always goof up somewhere! The wi-fi gave us a scare as it always did, but Sea Princess came to the fore and nailed the issue. Our registrations were up, the hoardings in place, the live screen setup, Karthik still talking to women, Edin starting his usher duties, Rashmi on fire, my palm getting sweaty again, it was all happening!
The Stage (Independence Day: 14:30 PM):
“This… is… Mumba..i!!!” I finished the Meet intro and headed onto my favourite part, introducing the IndiBlogger.in team. Karthik took the stage after that and gave the sponsors a well articulated if-I-screw-this-up-all-hell-breaks-loose intro. I think he had the most nerve wracking job, thanks to some who would point out obvious mistakes and we love making the mistakes seem obvious!
Next up was the Hotel Sea Princess; I think it’s safe to say that they owned the stage, literally. With Sea Princess goodies hidden under several chairs, the bloggers had a ball. Our entire team was in agreement that the Sea Princess management and crew was the most professional and courteous outfit we’ve experienced at any venue so far.
HP Imaging and printing division was next and they did not have the luxury of the preparation time that the other partners had. It was a last minute dash and they just wanted to be there. Armed with only a presentation, Ajay bravely took the stage. Commendable! I almost wet myself when I addressed the blogging community for the first time and Renie gave me a million instructions that I didn’t remember because I was scared stiff. Look out for some exciting online stuff from HP print, these guys are serious!
Big Rock had slightly orangy class written all over them! They were a pleasant surprise. A lot of bloggers have sung their praises. I second that and raise that!
Gul Panag was next, and since we do not allow non-IndiBloggers in, she had to register. Anwin did his best to help her out and I said “Gul, why don’t you sit”, “I can stand!” she retorted. She also mentioned that she bites. The debate session was like every other debate… It ended with a debate and then everyone started debating whether the debate was debatable. But Gul was poised and very professional; I will have you know that she didn’t pick up a single phone call when she was there! **Respect**. That renders us manner-less yokels.
Jet Airways did us an immense favour by getting the entire team over to the blogger meet. The handling of a meet of such magnitude would be otherwise impossible! On the way back home, I had a fever, a cough and a sore throat. Another good samaritan Jet stewardess gave me a calpol (probably her personal tab) and a nice warm bedsheet. She asked me “Why did you drink that ice cold Pepsi, if you were unwell?” Well… I just couldn’t help it.
The Exclusive Soch Lo screening came on during the second half and I missed it! I don’t think I would have understood much anyway. The cabbie had this to say about my Hindi “Arey Bhaiya, Aapka Hindi bahuth Kamzhore hai!” I think it’s great that start ups and new initiatives want to interact with bloggers. And all of them put the same effort, time and money into it. Talk about getting serious with blogging!
The Bloggers (Timeless):
Every blogger was brilliant. What you see online is a result of that brilliance. Many events have come, faded and disappeared without a trace. Mumbai bloggers, you made this meet TIMELESS.
The IndiBlogger.in Team (Independence Day, 2007 – Till death do us part)
(This part’s written by Renie)
In no particular order:
|Naveen Roy (aka “shit happens!”)
The man who was there at the beginning, and the man we hope will be there at the end. Commitments of an extraordinary nature have kept him from IndiBlogger for a while now; but we’ll never forget that he’s the one who taught us what blogging was all about in the first place! Only recently realized that Saturdays are just as bad as Mondays.
|Anwin Joselyn (aka “The Fish Molester”)
The man who once said – “blogging is the next big thing in India” and started the whole conversation which led to IndiBlogger.in being what it is today. He’s the guy behind the scenes, the one who puts ideas in people’s heads before sitting back to watch what unfolds. He only recently realized that the handlebars on his Royal Enfield were the most atrocious things Bangalore has ever seen.
|Diana (aka the Gate-Keeper)
Our super strict moderator. Everything on IndiBlogger, right from the forum to IndiRank to IndiVine, hinges on what she does; she religiously moderates over a hundred blogs everyday to see if it complies with all our guidelines. She still hasn’t realized how much power she has in her hands. Let’s hope she never does.
Our event manager who has nothing to say on twitter ’cause she’s too good for the rest of the world. She’s the one who makes the very, very detailed lists on Google docs before every blogger meet, ensuring everybody gets their jobs done on time. She even calls bloggers to make sure they land up on time! Without her, #indimum would have been a lost cause. She only just realized that fish tend to die without food, even if you talk to them everyday.
|Anoop Johnson (aka “Where’s my drink?”)
I’ve known him for far too long to say anything that can be publicly said – expect that he has a nose like a bloodhound and the memory of an elephant. He knows what’s going wrong, long before it becomes apparent to everyone else; and he can recall embarrassing stories about your childhood you blocked out a long time ago. He only recently realized that you never, ever walk out into the middle of a party leaving your pants behind.
You never know what’s going on behind those glasses. He can juggle multiple clients, women and a million other woes in one hand while drinking rum with the other. Reliable as a rock and accepts no praise. Still hasn’t realized that those Nunchucks he carries around everywhere will never be used except in his fantasies.
Always out to prove himself – BG’s the one who will quietly do his thing and lo-and-behold, a few trips later, the job is done; He’s handled the media coverage of IndiBlogger since our very first blogger meet, and the results speak for themselves. Still hasn’t realized that there are some things you just should not roll on an airplane!
|Vineet (aka “Pappu Pager” and “Sir-Craps-A-Lot”)
Vineet was the blogger who made our Pune Blogger Meet possible. The video he made, dedicated to the blogger in all of us, speaks for the passion he has for blogging and IndiBlogger. He now represents IndiBlogger in Mumbai. His offer letter was a bottle of whiskey at Bangalore – and thanks to him, we’ve been able to pull off this great meet at Mumbai. He still hasn’t figured out how to get the point across in 50,000 words or less.
|Rashmi Devaprasath (aka “Goms”)
The queen of logistics. If it was not for her (and her OCD) , we would have been running around like headless chickens all through the blogger meet. We really didn’t have much to do except for manual labor, which she graciously allowed us to do. She calls bloggers and tells them what shoes to wear to a blogger meet, and she’s still wondering how many threads there are on the carpet at Sea Princess.
|Edin Joselyn (aka “Eddie”)
The man who once said “Blogging is boring” – and he’s been paying for it ever since. This newbie blogger is patient, persistent and provides our development team with good Single Malt like a good little soldier. Watch out for him ’cause he’s an upcoming star in the IndiBlogger ranks. Only just realized that Gul probably remembers him as “Coffee Boy”!
The one who is very, very picky about whom she follows on twitter, Shilpa is that little extra ingredient that’s needed at every event. Sharp as a tack, yet insane as a cuckoo clock, she keeps things ticking away with the sound of her voice. She only just realized that there is at least one person in this world who doesn’t want to be hugged by a Shilpa.
|Nandita Thomas (aka Nanny)
The good sport; the go-to person when you need something done, no matter how crazy it is. She would watch the proceedings behind those half-closed eyes and yet know what’s going on better than most of us. #indimum was her first blogger meet, and we hope it’s not her last. Only just realized that airplanes tend to take off even if you’re not on it.
The one you cannot photograph without a smile on her face; this may have been her first blogger meet but you wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t told you so. She can say something that makes you feel good about yourself; 5 minutes later you’ll realize that she was kicking your sorry behind. She only just realized that we all do something other than drinking!
|A personal note
I shut down my first venture in 2004 when I realized that I could do very little by myself. Three years later, I realized that everything I was looking for has been prancing around in front of me for more than 20 years. It’s a rare occurrence when you can make a “startup” work – it’s a 1000 times more valuable when you can achieve it with people you’ve known since you learnt how to ride a bicycle.
A chill goes down my spine as it dawns on me that I would never have had the opportunity to write on the IndiBlogger.in official blog for three years had it not been for bloggers across India. You kept us alive during the recession and we are just thankful to be around…
To More Blogger Meets!
Photo Credits – Thanks to Firoze Shakir for letting us use his pictures, and to Gul for capturing this one of the team.
More thanks to all the bloggers who blogged about the meet – you can see all the reviews on the Mumbai Blogger Meet page.