Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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 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

BlogCamp Mumbai: Traditional & Social Media, Knowledge-Power Systems, Identity & Anonymity

I’m just back from BlogCamp. It was held at the Microsoft office in Kalina and sponsored by

Going by last year’s BlogCamp-part-of-Barcamp, I figured it would be a series of important sounding sessions about SEO and monetization and techie tips. Such a pleasant surprise it was for my techno-greeky (Technology is Greek, Greek, Greek to me!) self to find myself sitting in on conversations about traditional media versus new media, personal blogging, live coverage during the terror attacks and sharing social media with our families!

I thoroughly enjoyed Thakkar‘s humorous talk tracing his early blogging experiences right down to what his relatives thought he did for a living. Techies do have a sense of humour (I stand corrected!) and some of them, like this one are bloody brilliant! (more…)

Our very own Mumbai Shutterbugs

Mumbai Shutterbugs

Mumbai Shutterbugs

Photo courtesy SIDKING

Looking at the serious shutterbug activities in Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi I was beginning to get a complex. Presenting our very own city shutterbugs. These are a buch of photo enthusiats, who meet periodically at a common place to capture some amazing pictures and share some cool tips. I had attended one of their outdoor shoots at the Dadar Flower Market. Its still in its infant stages, by which I mean there is a lot of stream lining to be done and loads of scope for improvement that is if they want to do serious photography with loads of fun. Nevertheless I am glad that these bunch of people have taken the initiative to come together. My take on the entire group is that most of them are pretty new to photography but there are quiet a few who has an eye for details. I also feel that such group get together is a great opportunity to learn/share new photography tricks/tips. So cheers to the team and hoping to see a lot of activities from these shutterbugs.
To dig more about this group’s activity check this link here.

I am not an Anti-Party Animal

It’s the time of the year were partying is a must for each. People are busy drilling a hole in their pockets buying passes (or in a more sophisticated way should I say ‘invites’) to the hottest and the most happening parties in town. I never got it in the 25 years of my life, what is it with expensive parties and New Year celebrations. And probably I will never ever get it. Is it worth spending through your nose just to shake your hips and gulp some booze along with some Pg3 socialite aka some Saas Bahu / Reality Show celebrity who won’t even bother to know your name? I never really missed those chaotic New Year parties where inebriated strangers next to you brush their sweaty cheeks to yours after the darn count down. Is it the way you want the year to be. All booze and no money? Or would you prefer to spend the New Year eve with your love ones or that special one in your life. New Year has become an excuse for some to just blow up the hard earned work and an opportunity for some to make a quick buck by hosting such senseless parties.
Let me clarify that I am not an anti-party animal. Don’t get me wrong. I love partying and hell I like to do it a lot but among people I know. My friends on whom I can lean over when I am completely sloshed and am assure that I will be dropped home safe and sound. So this New Year party hard, party loud and party safe. Happy New Year.

Merry Chirstmas and Happy New Year

Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Chirstmas and Happy New Year.

Mumbai Bloggy Brunch

Agreed, this is on a short notice but believe me life is not all about blogging and fun. So yeah, it’s actually a favor that Melody and I are doing for you folks. Now stop gawking, you know it’s the truth.

Okay…Okay, on a more serious note this time round we have decided to go with the Brunch Theme (yes, so very innovative) – slightly on the higher side entry fee wise but hey, nothing’s really cheap re these days.

The invite basically says it all – yup, will be super cool if you could make it. And please confirm with us if you are seriously going to make, it makes life a hell lot easier.

Ps…would be super duper cool if you could let others know about it via your own blog/s. Thanks and looking forward to meeting the bloggy bunch soon.

Previous blog meet gupshups can be found here.

Mumbai Via Oliver Luigi

Today I bumped across a blog called OLB Chronicles.

Oliver takes his mom and dad to go live in India for awhile. Dad works long hours and he, Oliver and mom try to learn how to survive in Mumbai, the craziest city in the world.

In the whole “world is a small place” vein…I have met Oliver’s parents and him at a birthday party in Brooklyn, last May. And our mutual friends introduced us and we did discuss about life in Bombay, since they were getting ready to move there. That conversation was the last of it, till I bump across their blog and see some familiar faces in the pics.

Check out the blog to get a perspective of our city from the eyes of a foreigner.

Ghe-oon Taak!

The Delhi-ities sneer at us when they hear us, the Lucknowites turn their nose up (also shut their ears tight), and practically the entire north ridicule us for s%&**ing the Hindi bhaasha. No matter what the country thinks we Mumbaikars love our Tapori Bhaasha. It is like the tadka to dal, giving that special flavor to the matter spoken about. The Tapori style of speaking Hindi is a mixture of many languages spoken by people in Mumbai. It has words adapted mainly from Marathi, and some from Kannada and Tamil. It also has a few Hindi words spoken by people of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh due to heavy migration of these people to Mumbai city.
For those who are not familiar with the language here is are some basics to start with:

Munna & Bapu in Amrica


Yes the infamous Munna bhai’s gandhigiri has its charm working for the Indians in America too. In a protest against the last minute reversal in policy that would delay the permanent residency Indian green card seekers sent hundreds of flowers to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Emilio Gonzalez in a three-day campaign that started on Tuesday

Inspired by the hit Hindi movie Lage Raho Munnabhai that extolled Gandhian ways of non-violent protest, the green card applicants sent around a thousand flower deliveries to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Emilio Gonzalez in a three-day campaign that started on Tuesday.
On its part, the USCIS response was equally pacific. It plans to forward the flowers to Walter Reed Army Medical Centre and Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington, the main facilities treating US soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Gonzales in a statement on the agency website.

Read More here

Who says that Bollywood movies are all about signing songs and dancing in the rain..

World Blood Donor Day

Today is World Blood Donor Day, a day to honor the unknown voluntary donors, who donate the precious fluid and save many lives. Mumbai requires 625 units of blood per day, and about 20,000 units of blood per month. The only way to meet this demand is to encourage voluntary blood donation. One unit of blood can save four precious lives. Still India faces a shortage of approx 60 lac units of blood every year, which determines the lives of 2,400,000. One small act can save so many lives so why not join hands to make this blood donation drive a success. There is a Blood Donation camp set up in Mithibai College Campus at Vile Parle today. Be part of this drive and save lives.

Who can donate blood?• The age of the donor has to be between 18-60 years.
• A minimum weight of 45 Kg is required.
• The donor should have a minimum hemoglobin count of 12.5 gm/dl.
• The donor’s blood pressure needs to be within acceptable range of 110/70 mmHg to 180/100 mmHg.
• The donor should not be under medication or on treatment for diabetes, cardiac problems or any other medical ailment.
People who require blood
• Cancer patients, after chemotherapy, have very low blood platelet count, and require blood.
• Patients scheduled for surgery
• Emergency cases
Benefits of Blood Donation
• Donating blood may reduce the risk of heart disease for men and stimulate the generation of red blood cells.
• In patients prone to iron overload (e.g. due to hemochromatosis), blood donation prevents the accumulation of iron. However, at this time the American Red Cross does not accept people with hemochromatosis to donate blood for other people. On the other hand, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service does accept blood from hemochromatosis as they recognize that there is no disease to the blood.
• The amount of toxic chemicals (e.g. mercury, pesticides, fire retardants) circulating in the blood stream is reduced by the amount contained in given blood.
• Anecdotally, elderly people in good health have reported feeling invigorated by giving blood on a regular basis.

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