Archive for February, 2010

From Ashes

This is for Dee, the editor I’d like to have, who quite literally showed me the way.

~O~O~O~O~O~

Where do stories come from? she wondered. Her editor had told her that her writing had a quality of finesse in it. But, he said, the spark was missing. She wanted to protest, it had been such an effort to get to here after all. But anticipating just that, he had moved his hand in a wiping gesture, as if trying to clear away a fog around her.

“It’s that madness, that raw energy that used to make one want to read. Bring that back. It’s you. Unleash it in your writing.”

She brooded over it for a long time, all through the book-browsing date and the high tea that followed. Then she decided to take a walk. Taking long walks and watching people and noting down what one saw seemed to be the right things for a writer to do. The sea had always held appeal. But somehow, the effort of crossing the road, dodging bratty rich kids in their oversized cars only to scrounge a garbage pile of people on the other side, for seating space…wasn’t an appealing thought at all.

The city is no place for an artist, she told herself. How was one supposed to be inspired by this relentless struggle? It didn’t even have the elements of drama like a war or a revolution or an uprising, a famine or a flood. It was just everyday, niggling grievances. Who would want to read about those? Who would want to write about those, she retorted inside her head. Then she shook herself. Arguing with oneself is the first step into insanity and she’d be damned if she was going to live up to that pathetic stereotype of a writer-gone-crazy before she was even published.

The girl hopped off the last bogey, the one that she had just managed to jump into as the train pulled out of the station. In one hand she clutched a little notepad and a magenta pen, her chosen colour for the day. She did have one thought that should be captured before it vanished into that abyss of forgotten inspiration. One hand holding down the page, she expertly popped off its lid with her mouth and twirled it around to cap its end with practiced efficiency.  Rapidly she wove a messy magenta web over the ideas that had caused her to almost miss her train.

Mumbai Metaphors

I stood on the opposite side of the road that runs along the seaface. It was the wrong side, not the one that had the seating parapet along its entire length but the junction of the seaface road and the arterial conduit to the station terminus.

I stood under the tree that has survived attempts to build bigger and more buildings, broader roads and wider pedestrian walks. The same gnarled tree that stands on the side of the road like a senior citizen with memories of a slower, more human-paced city but no energy to brave the pace of today.

The sky was just turning that indefinable shade of evening like the colour of the last dregs of black tea in a chipped white saucer. Sepia, the colour of nostalgia, that one extra element that changes the picture of a dirty, overcrowded metropolis to the magical visage of home.

A rare wind was blowing all around me. February in the city picks you up as gently and playfully as the waves and takes you to the edge of the shore of winter. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a swimming pool, only it was filled with moving, insistent air around me instead of water.

When she looked up, she was standing at the threshold of light, surrounded by darkness. The very edge of a station, flowing slowly into light at the other end. A rusty carriage sat on incomplete tracks, a long discarded project of the metropolitan train network and peered at her through unpainted metal bars. On the other side, across the tracks and the other well-lit platform, high over their roofs rose the skeletal inner beams of discarded mills. Like a will being contested over the rotting body of a dead person, the future of the land they stood on was being dueled over, with no thought to the buildings that still were.

Places have memories, don’t they? Memories of lives that have passed, of habits that were housed under these roofs, hidden behind these walls. The paan-stains, the half-buried cigarette butts, sneaky but woeful reminders of escapes, of stolen glee. And then the finality of ashes that came from burning who knows what? Paper? Cloth? Oil? Human beings? There were stories that led to the ashes but there was no way to trace them back. This place had its endings but not all it was in ashes. Everything else was memories that could be traced by anyone who cared to listen, to pick up those strands and imagine where they led. They were stories to be told.

She looked down at her book again, an abrupt swooshing action. The white pages even with their magenta words glared back at her in defiance. Those words meant nothing and in her mind’s eye, she imagined the magenta whorls and lines slide off the pages. Blood, the only thing that would stick. Hold a pen to a nerve and write, he had said. So she turned a page and begun,

Something was burning.

Food & Fiction, Housewives & Health, Causes & Gripes, All At BlogCamp Mumbai 2010

We concluded the first Mumbai BlogCamp of 2010 on Saturday, 20 Feb 2010. First of all, thank you and congratulations are due to Gaurav, Adil, Arushi and their team at ACM for setting up a great venue for us. My backbencher-at-college days of yore had not prepared me for the spanking new campus, the soft cushioned chairs in an airconditioned room complete with whiteboard, podium and projector. Boy, colleges sure have changed!

BlogCamp really began for me about a week ago when I wrote a post announcing it. After that I got swept away in the thrill of helping organize the event. At last count, the night before the event, 189 people had registered. Fewer people than that actually showed up. The good thing was that several of them were newcomers, first-timers to BlogCamp. I say this is good because the purpose of a BlogCamp is certainly to widen the community and interact with various people whose only common point is that they blog. We had a wonderfully diverse bunch.

The familiar faces were the other unorganizers Netra (but of course, it’s not social media if it’s not Netra), Neeraj (who set up the BlogCamp website), Annkur (responsible for getting us the venue) and Moksh (whose superb compering peppered jokes, glossed over bloopers and held the day together). Hardik made a surprise entry at 10 in the morning reminding me of the other person without whom it’s never going to really feel like BlogCamp. He brought a Microsoft sponsorship :-) with him. The event’s blogging partner was Indiblogger while Harish & Nirav brought in media coverage with BlogAdda.

I had the reluctant privilege of opening the BlogCamp with my talk on ‘Blogging for Writers’. The idea for this really came from Novelrace but I’m afraid I erred when I put it at the very end (hoping to build up to the grande finale) and I ended up having to rush through the last bits.

Satish and Ranjeet did a brief interlude talking about their pet project, The Sapling Project. Their talk was unscheduled but short, brief and it touched a chord in all of us. Perfect.

This was followed by Sanjukta (whom I have only ever twittered with, never met before) speaking about the ‘Bell Bajao’ campaign on social media. She talked about breaking the stereotype of a social worker being a jhola-toting, bearded, impoverished man, which provoked much laughter. Her talk was to set a tone for the rest of BlogCamp. It has to be a sign of the community maturing that we’re moving on from talking about money-making ideas to cause-related initiatives.

The last BlogCamp touched on how we feel about our families having access to our blogs. This event added a different perspective to that notion. The third speaker was the Hobbitt (a.k.a. Jaya), the housewife blogger. She talked about how she got into blogging, what it was like to be the only one of her peer circle in this activity, what she wrote about, her personal highs (getting a comment from tarladalal.com on one of her cooking posts) and lows (being trolled). I found her talk surprisingly smooth and relaxed, considering how little experience she had with public speaking. The content was not new to me but I was proud to be able to say, “Whooooopeee, that’s my mum there!!” :-)

Meetu, Pune’s celebrity blogger stepped in for another brief interlude to tell us about Dr.Major Ritu Biyani’s drive against breast cancer. She took all of 5 minutes and galvanized what could become the next social media-for-a-cause case study.

Shaun Tassavur took us through a description of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a blown-up picture of which had all of us shrieking,

Change the slide!!!

Annkur, jumping in the spirit of things took us through a series of exercises that supposedly check the onset of the syndrome and help combat it.

Kalyan concluded the morning sessions with his talk on the ‘Food Blogerazi’. This was one that I tremendously enjoyed. I’ve been a reader of Kalyan’s blog for a good while and it was refreshing to hear about a passion so different from my own and yet expressed with the same enthusiasm as I bring to my own. I particularly liked Kalyan’s observation that blogging need not be seen as a revenue-generator in itself but could be a facilitator of other means to that end like a book deal, for example.

Lunch was pav-bhaji served up downstairs and delicious in a way that only college canteens manage to be. No, I’m not being sarcastic, don’t you remember what fueled those adrenalin-ridden teenage years? I however passed up this golden opportunity at nostalgia when Hardik ordered a bunch of us out with,

Vada-pav! Gurgaon mein vada-pav nahin milta hain!

So our lunch hour was spent at the stalls opposite Mithibai college, munching vadapavs and Chinese dosas.

I’m rather afraid that the morning’s highs and that roadside banquet in the sun rather lent a drowsy air to the rest of the afternoon. The first speaker post-lunch, Akshay Surve, was already letting himself in for trouble already when he took that slot. It might have helped if he had kept it to the requisite 20minutes but most of us were too woozy to argue when he persisted with a,

Wait, this is important!!

I understand that he was quite passionate about his cause but since most of his talk went right over my head, I think he quite lost any benefit that could have been derived. We’ve had quite a bit to say about avoiding outright marketing spiels and tech talk (and we tried our very best to keep all that out this time). I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for this but I have to say it. Championing a cause is just as much of hardsell as marketing teeshirts or books or movie tickets online is. No one doubts the significance of the cause, or indeed the propagator’s belief in it. But at the end of the day it is an advertisement and you do your audience a disservice by forcing it down their throats, even as they protest.

I’m sorry to say this …. but your fervour turned me against you rather than for your cause. You may be doing something noble but BlogCamp is not the forum for you to crusade your cause. If it is a new idea, take it to Startup Saturday. If it involves technology, drop into BarCamp.

This incident rather turned the mood of BlogCamp around, forcing Pragni to take up the mic and voice a protest. She asked,

What is the real purpose of BlogCamp? Is it to share our views on where we see this phenomenon going and how it affects each of us personally? Or is to push a personal agenda?

A pertinent question, I think. Only as one of the unorganizers, I must hasten to add that it is not exactly within our control to restrict the actual event. The essence of BlogCamp is lost if a small group of people decide to dictate who can or cannot speak. At the end I think it boils down to the responsibility lying with each member of the community to speak up but also respect the feelings of the rest of the community.

The second half of the event was considerably salvaged by the other speakers. From 16-yr-old Farrhad’s talk on Corporate Blogging to Monish speaking about the legal issues surrounding slander on the blogosphere to Monik sharing his experiences to 11-yr-old Raj who talked about his blogs on cookery (!) and gaming, the young ‘uns quite saved the day! One of the last talks was by Sunoj about meeting his now-wife through blogging.

Moksh concluded the event with a random pop quiz (Who fell off the chair? What was the URL of the food blogger? What’s Ideasmith’s real name?) and giving out teeshirts and caps. Hmm…so to take stock. We heard a housewife and three minors. We heard about fiction-writing, food critiquing, social causes, health issues, finding love online, legal issues and corporate blogging. We also had a great lunch, a BlogCamp argument and some great sessions. If you think this was fun, it serves you right! Get to BlogCamp next time and be a part of it!

Pictures of the event can be seen here: Ranjeet, Preshit The twitter coverage of the event can be found under #blcm and for posterity, here’s a specimen of tweets:

@Lol_Bot RT –>@monikkinom giving a session blogging now, he has his english exams in school this monday #lol #blcm

@imasoom Freedom of expression as a limit #blcm, Debate between@manan and @mihirlakhani continues :) #blcm

@Netra @fundacause – Chandni speaking on social media for social change #blcm @ideasmithy @sanjukta Someone ran away with my pepsi at #blcm

@shirrin_k Listening to @ideasmithy @mihirlakhani talk behind me rather than the speaker upfront…shhh..quiet guys…:D #blcm

@si0007 Hardik from Microsoft speaking on Windows live writer using the much loved and hated MS live essential suite. #blcm

@gameboyzone Attended [IndiBlogger] Blog Camp and it was good to connect with the best of bloggers in Mumbai. Food was good. Overall 3/5 for it. #blcm

@nehabagoria #blcm sessions on bloggin tricks,personal bloggers’ experiences,NGO support,bellbajaon,project sampling,filmkar-short film on slum were nice

@_nwaz great so this is what it feels in a #BLCM wanted to voice my views on bdutt issue but well just sat to hear instead:)

@bombaylives I think everyone forgot to Thank the Caterer for the Amazing Pav Bhaji :)

Others who have written about this event:

Jaya: Blogcamp Mumbai-Mukesh Patel School of Tech.Mgmt & Eng

Kalyan: “This one time at Band camp”… BlogCamp Mumbai, Mumbai College Eats

Satish: @BlogCamp Mumbai

Priya Kanwar: My First Blog Camp Experience in Mumbai

Anu: BlogCamp Mumbai – Experience

Moksh: BlogCamp Mumbai – January 2010

Carnival ‘10 @ I.C Colony, Borivali

Like I say every year, The only place in India apart from Goa, where the Carnival is held is  in IC Colony , Borivali (w).

This year participation was bit low key but the mood was vibrant as always, and yes the usual suspects Karnataka Bank , ICICI and HDFC floats were also there :)

Though I missed the evening celebrations, Managed to catch the Carnival Float Parade.

This year King Momo was  Kukud.

Sharing some images :-

King Momo
King Momo

EyeSee Elephant
EyeSee Elephant – Our Cable + Internetwala

Save Our Planet
Save Our Planet

Eugenie Bldg
Eco Bus – Eugenie Bldg

Protect our Environment- VOIC
VOIC – Protect Our Environment

Kids at Carnival
Kids at Carnival

Vocal VOIC
Vocal VOIC

Suraj's Float
Suraj’s Float

AC DC & Iron Man
AC Dc Iron Man ??

AC DC Float

Check out more pics here : IC COLONY

BlogCamp Mumbai 2010

The first BlogCamp of 2010 has arrived!

For those of you who don’t know, BlogCamp is an unconference, an open forum of social media users. BlogCamp began as a module of BarCamp (which looks at the wider net of technology and business) but has gained enough popularity to merit an event of its own.

The format is as follows: Participants register online. Speakers volunteer to take sessions and are allotted time-slots. Anybody can speak and on any topic so long as it is related to blogging, tweeting or social media in general. The event is an interactive one so expect to find the audience jumping right in and at times, even taking over the mic from the speaker.

BlogCamp is an excellent place to network with other social media users, hear about what other people are seeing and experiencing in this space and share your own ideas. If you are a blogger or tweeter, you already have an opinion and a voice. BlogCamp is just a wider offline platform to share this.

Previous BlogCamps (1, 2 and 3) have seen a wide response from the Twitter community as well as from technology bloggers. The focus has largely been on the commercial aspect of social media. Since this is a forum that aims to address all aspects of social media, it would be good to hear from the other factions i.e. people who generate and follow other kinds of content – personal blogs, topical blogs, celebrity blogs, science blogs, photo-blogs etc.

So if you’re reading this and will be in Mumbai next Saturday, sign up and drop in. We’re all really friendly (okay, some of us are not but we’re all interesting to say the very least!)

The details of BlogCamp Mumbai 2010 are as follows:

Date: Saturday, 20th February 2010
Time: 10:00 – 18:00 hrs.
Venue:
Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management & Engineering (MPSTME),
Behind Homeopathy College, Bhakti VedantaSwami Marg,
JVPD Scheme, Near Irla Lane,
Vile-Parle (West), Mumbai – 400056

Since we don’t have the inimitable Mr.Shah to organize the Microsoft office as a venue anymore, this is a different place and here’s a map to help you get there.

Please register your participation here and carry a printout of your ticket to the venue. (Did the word ‘ticket’ scare you off? Come back, it’s free!)

Internet access will be provided through Wifi so feel free to carry your laptops to the event. If you would like to tweet about the event, please use the hashtag #blcm.

Afterwards, if you blog about the event (and yes, do! It’s good blogettiquette!), do drop me a link to the post here and I’ll list it in the after-event summing up.

The event is still looking for sponsorships so if you’d like to help out, please contact Annkur Agarwal or Moksh Juneja.

See you this Saturday!

Wet Paint, Paper Flowers and Dancing Men

The Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2010 kicked off to a rollicking start on Saturday. After sampling a bit of literature, visual art, music and food through the day, I finally settled on theatre for my final course in the night. The play ‘Dance Like A Man’ was being staged at Horniman Circle at 7.30 p.m.

I’ve attended music events at Horniman Circle before, most of them Kala Ghoda Art Festival events. It is an unconventional setting, a stage in the center of a park. But it works really well, more so for a play than a music concert given the intimate interaction that is possible between audience and performer.

A bench-painting event had been conducted earlier in the evening owing to which all the seating en route to the stage bore ‘Wet Paint’ signboards. It was too dark for photography and I was eager to get to the stage before the play started but I passed some interesting art on the way. (I hope one of us will be able to post photographs soon).

Just as well, I suppose, since we got there just about five minutes before the play began. All the seats were taken so we sat down on the grass and that’s how we watched the entire play. Normally, I would not consider squatting on the ground for a play but like I said, this was an unconventional setting. The stage and seating area were edged on one side by ‘Lotuses of the Floating World’, an art installation by Sabrina Mascarehas. As I approached the area, I first thought they were diyas floating in a pool. But I soon realized that there is no water body inside the park and the temperature was the uncharacteristic cool of February rather than the heat of a hundred lamps. The installation is actually…(Click here to read the whole post)

KalaGhoda Art Festival – Snapshots.

The festival is on till Valentine’s day :), 14th February 2010

Download the Schedule here.

http://www.kalaghodaassociation.com/kgaf10.pdf

What you can expect : Kids playing with Colour, Bench & Umbrella Painting, Gallery and pavement shows,exhibitions, literary events, music concerts, dance performances, a food fiesta, and a buzzing street festival bring in audiences and participants from all over the city & world.

After seeing all this you should drink at Gokul,Cafe Royal, Mondegar or Leopold and eat at Bade Miya’s :)

Sharing some colors and images shot at the 1st day of the Kalaghoda Festival.

The  Ghoda is back!!

The missing Kala Ghoda is back, though minus the jockey :)

Save Water

Save water!!
Bombay Taxi

Wish our Khallipeeli’s were as colorful as this.

Bombay Dabbawallah Cycle

The Bombay Dabbawalah Cycle

Save Water

Save Water

Lets hang

Don’t mess with Nature

Heal the world

Heal the World

Bench Painting @ Horniman Circle

Bench Painting @ Horniman Circle

The Great Indian Mango Trick

The Great Indian Mango Trick

Paintings

Nice paintings for Sale

Anti - Plastic Man

No its not Iron Man.
yeh kya hai?

Ragpicker admiring Photos.

Banian Art

Banian Art!!
For Larger size images click on the Pic and Also do feel free check out & comment on  The Flickr Set for more pics

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