Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Mumbai Indiblogger Meet: 15Aug @Sea Princess #indimum

Indiblogger hosted a blogger’s meet yesterday at Hotel Sea Princess, Juhu. It was touted as the biggest such event and I think that’s a fair claim. The event actually began a half hour late, at 2:30p.m., by which time the hall was almost completely packed.

Registrations were done online by logging into the Indiblogger site. A display screen at the front of the room picked it up and kept a running tally on who had just walked in, a live feed of tweets tagged #indimum and those that mentioned the event. This feature was a really plus for a blogger meet since it allowed people to connect across the room and ‘interrupt’ or get into discussions just the way they would be able to online. It really kept the conversation, quite literally, running and the mood upbeat.

The first familiar faces I spotted were Arcopol, Chhavi, Mahafreed, Sahil, Payal, Teatattler and Netra. This event had all the hallmarks of a ‘typical’ bloggers meet with old friends catching up, people meeting offline for the first time, new connections being made and URLs/Twitter IDs being exchanged. The past meets have all been more like parties with people making random introductions and conversations. For an event of this magnitude, the Indiblogger team started with a loose agenda, which really worked.

The event kicked off with a ‘few words’ from the organizers and the sponsors. The HP session may actually have been quite interesting but the presentation was really boring and scheduled as it was, right at the beginning, I’m not sure they received much attention. BigRock’s presentation was much better, light and peppered with internet jokes and just enough information to keep listening parties interested in coming back for more.

The next item on the agenda was introductions (of the audience) which took the better part of two hours considering how many people were there. This may have run into boredom but the team worked it well by announcing a contest for the most interesting introduction. So introductions would happen, there would be gasps of recognition (and waving) from various places in the audience and live-tweeting. I spotted Kalyan across the room and a short while later, another person introduced himself by the same name and very similar profile. Normally I’d have had to keep quiet and wait till the end of a long session to connect up, by which time I may have forgotten or even lost interest. But I instantly tweeted him, which came up on screen and he replied. We got into a conversation about another member in the audience who suddenly saw his name pop up on the timeline and joined in too. Fun ?

I had a lovely surprise when I entered the room to find my Punekar friend Poonam, whose visit I had not known of. Later, during the introductions, I was deeply thrilled to hear a sweet-faced lady across the room introduce herself as the writer of Toerag. It was all I could do to keep from jumping up and down in my seat and yelling, “Here, here!! Remember me?!” Sangeeta and I have been readers of each other’s blogs for years now, right from back in the day when one visited every single link on the blogroll every day to check if there were new posts. In this day and age of instant updates, feed-readers and link-sharing, those seem like hallmarks of a bygone era. There’s a distinct pleasure in connecting with someone who remembers you from the days of yore.

One of the last introductions was a lady who claimed to have failed her 10th board, run away to Italy, fallen in love with one of the masters, left him to backpack and having run out of interesting things to do, began blogging. She ended by saying, “And I’m a storyteller.” She was the unanimous winner of the most interesting introduction. ?

The chai break that followed was really livened up by a cute little game organized by the team. Every member in the audience was given a chart to hang on their back, equipped with pens and asked to go around ‘leaving comments’ on other people’s charts. A simple enough idea but tremendously useful in bridging the gap between wanting to talk to someone and making the actual connection. I spoke and was spoken to by so many people, that I’d really have lost track if I didn’t have their twitter handles or URLs on my chart.

The post-break session began with an impromptu quiz (hosted by a truly beautiful lady from BigRock) and prizes being handed out. This lead into a discussion moderated by celebrity participant, Gul Panag. I really have to give it to the lady for being way more than a pretty face. Managing a group of 200-odd people, all with opinions jostling to be heard and ensuring that people stuck to the point, stayed interested and didn’t get into fights – that’s no mean feat and the lady accomplished it with aplomb. We discussed self-censorship, comparisons with traditional media, authenticity of content, new trends, social activism online and citizen journalism. The discussion was carefully kept short enough so it didn’t peter into wasteful arguments.

The last thing on the menu was a select preview of the movie Soch Lo. I’m rather afraid I didn’t understand a thing and it didn’t enthuse me enough to want to watch the full movie whenever it is available. ‘Nuff said.

This is an account of the events as they happened but it doesn’t capture the essence of the fun and energy that marked the full day. So I’m posting some of my tweets, as they were live updates of things that happened (and because Twitter archiving still sucks).

• Indiblogger meet under way. Intros on. #indimum

• Bangalore accents are to Indian women what French accents are to Westerners. Ooh, yummy! #indimum

• Gadzooks! My crush-ey tweet just popped up on screen at Indiblogger meet. Eep.

• Pleasant rush of memories happening. Why did the blogger meets stop? #indimum

• HP talk at #indimum. Fairly interesting talk but blah ppt. Form does matter. Content is invisible if audience loses interest.

• BigRock does 140char intro. Agenda says ‘vision mission blah blah’. :-) Am listening already. #indimum

• Celebrity spotting at #indimum! @Netra just walked in!

• found an envelope under seat saying Collect prize from prettiest girl at reception. Heh, nice. #indimum

• Intros of audience happening at #indimum. Next to me, @arcopolc taking notes.

• Amrish blogs abt mumbai since it is his life. Life, leverage and limits. Cute. #indimum

• Honest admissions at #indimum Ppl blog to up Google rank, earn on ads, bcos friends do it, bcos its the new geek thing to do. :)

@finelychopped Hey, that sounds like you! #indimum

• Keema from Mizoram ‘as in Chicken Keema’ Lol, I like! #indimum

• Really good to see ppl blogging abt whatever comes to mind, stories, pictures etc. Tired of hearing of SEO, Tech etc. #indimum

• Heh, an Arsenal fan intro’d self as that and ended with ‘BOO you!’ to two ManU fans. #indimum

• IT IS TOO COLD HERE! #indimum

• Yay! @Sahilk plays knight in plastic armour & loans me his windcheater. #indimum

• Heard an intro from toerag.blogspot. Iv read her for yrs! Wish id caught her twitter id. #indimum

• SunshineMom is now Freaked-out Mom. #indimum

• Hardik Shah at #indimum wonders why everyone staring at him. :-) @hardik, eh?

• Passing charts with strings and sketchpens. Everyone loves new stationery. Intros getting missed unfortunately. #indimum

• Next item on #indimum agenda: SWITCH OFF THE AC!

• Hot baldie alert at #Indimum. Men should not be allowed hair above the eyebrows.

• #indimum Screen refreshed after 15min. Bcos @gulpanag walked in? Her name still hasnt come up.

• Okay now we get to play with the new stationary. #indimum

• Hot girl in great haircut conducting pop quiz at #indimum

• This quiz in damn tough, ya #mahafreedstyle. #indimum

• All the guys rush to front of room. #indimum

• Ageism at #indimum. Am sulking in the left side. Grmph.

@gulpanag speaking abt why UGC scores over mass media. #indimum

• RT @rati7 And d guy just wont shut up..

• Do bloggers self-moderate? I think the democracy of blogging does that already. #indimum

@shrikant Stop hitting on the pretty lady, Neanderthal! :)

• Are we back on censorship?! #indimum

• If ur content is wrong/offensive/misleading, ull lose readership. Why are we still discussing censorship? #indimum

@shrikant scowling at me for calling him Neanderthal hitting on @gulpanag #indimum

• ‘Good ppl are not visible & visible ones not credible’. Does that mean bloggers are incredible? #indimum

@mahafreed says we are her eyes, her twitter timeline, bloggers. FTW! #INDIMUM

• The Banglore boys leaving! :-( #indimum

• Now @gulpanag gets background score! #indimum

• @_alps and I giggling

• Soch liya, kuch nahin samjha. #indimum

• Much fun was had at #indimum. Old-style blogger hookups (face to DP/handle) in newer settings (live tweeting, posh hotel, freebies, contest)

• @abhinav_hee_haw Ah. Just the live timeline was a party in itself. #indimum

• #indimum made me fall off compulsive-tweeter bandwagon after going clean for weeks! Someone asked if I was the talkative one on the hashtag!

@sahilk is funner in real life than on email. #justsaying

• received a delightful surprise when @_alps turned up at #indimum today. And another on meeting longtime blogger-pal @sangeeta_kini 1st time.

My congratulations and thanks to the Indiblogger team for pulling off a complex and really fantastic event. My only suggestion would be to consider proving WiFi access next time to ensure even more live coverage during the event. I’m looking forward to more from you guys!

Other coverage of the event (will be updated-drop in a link if you find something not featured here):

Mizohican: Chp.314 Indiblogger Meet Mumbai

Magali: The Wonderful Indiblogger Mumbai Meet (#indimum)

Firoze Shakir: Flickr

The Wall Project: Boycott Aladin, Canvas, Gair & London Dreams For Boorish Publicity Actions

About two months back, I wrote about the exciting experience of being part of The Wall Project in Mumbai. A BMC initiative, a number of citizens turned out to beautify and place their own mark on the wall running along Tulsi Pipe Road, between Mahim and Matunga Road.

Yesterday, we commenced on Phase II of the drive, this time taking the street art concept to Lower Parel, opposite Phoenix Mills and simultaneously pulling off the cause of education-through-art with The Alphabet Project at the Mahim end of the same road. I was waiting to collate all the photographs that are still appearing across the net, to write the post about it.

Then earlier this evening, we discovered that a different sort of vandalism had happened. Movie posters of Aladin, Canvas and Gair have turned up, pasted over the paintings, less than 24 hours later. I’m rusty on the legalities of these movie advertisements that appear all over the city. All I can say is that Wall Project was a BMC initiative and certainly not meant to be a backdrop for the marketing of Bollywood.

Posters

As outrage spreads across Twitter, even as I write, Ritesh Deshmukh and Sujoy Ghosh have been notified and have both issued apologies. But an apology I say, is not enough. It is enough of effort getting past the apathy of citizens to drive forward something like The Wall Project. Asking people to come out of their houses on a Sunday and spend a searingly hot day painting a rough wall for free is not an easy task. So much for the so-called indifference of this city, the numbers of people that turned out are testimony to the fact that Mumbaikers do indeed care. But after such an episode, would a citizen want to take the initiative?

My guess is that this will boil down to #wallproject becoming a popular Twitter topic for a few days; there will be a few media mentions about the outrage of social media users after a citizen drive and a clean-up PR effort with apologies by the people in the limelight. At some level, I expect some poor poster-paster will get yelled at or even lose his job. Is the onus of this to be laid on him? No, I say, the onus of this must be borne by the people who well understand the power of advertising and publicity, the people with the moolah, the people who have the most to gain from publicity, of any sort. Blaming the poster company or the person who put up the posters is not enough; the responsibility lies with the people who gain from the effort of the publicity. I say turn that idea around and make sure that the negative publicity hurts right where it should. Every person who stands to gain from the movies’ good collections holds responsibility for the end result and hence must bear the consequences of such an action.

See the before and after pictures courtesy @wanderblah

Aladin Canvas Gair London Dreams

If this is our city and its state is our concern, we have the right to stay outraged. I say, boycott the movies Aladin, Canvas, Gair and London Dreams, whose posters vandalize a community drive. Commissioning those posters not only hurts the sentiments of those whose painted walls have been covered, it cocks-a-snook at the Mumbaiker while saying,

To hell with your sensibilities. Advertising my movie is more important. I don’t care if a citizen effort that managed to raise such civic consciousness so successfully, is scuttled.

If you participated in The Wall Project or know someone who did, add value to that effort by passing this message on. If you are a blogger or a Twitter user, re-tweet this, blog about it, link to other posts about this. If you are reading this at all, you probably have access to the internet and a mobile phone. Use them to pass on the message. Spread the outrage, it needs to be felt.

New Era Protestors Should Have Been Arrested

Parents and students of New Era School on Pedder Road took out a “rasta-roko andolan” outside the school to protest the school closing an unsafe building. Traffic along the six lane Pedder Road was disrupted for over 8 hours (+/-).

28strike Pedder Road in the city is one of the busiest thoroughfares. Not only for local traffic but also for suburban commuters connecting to points in South Bombay.

This protest was nothing but a tamasha that the parents and kids resorted to so that they get some media coverage. Ironically this happened on the same day that Omar Abdullah resigned. So the hoped for TV coverage didnt happen as they wouldve loved.

What pisses me off is the reasons and the modus operandi of these very selfish parents. The school wants to demolish the building because it is unsafe for occupancy. They are moving the children to another building a little distance away. The building has been inspected by three independent structural engineers who all agree that is is unsafe. However the parents still want the school to keep the building open and let their children study in this unsafe building.

The parents allege that the school is trying to shunt out the lower fee-paying SSC division to some other building and use this plot to build a fancy high fee-paying Int’l division school.

The controversy started last year when the school management decided to permanently shift SSC students to a new location on D N Road in Fort, as they wanted to demolish the existing building at Hughes Road for IGCSE and IB Board. Parents approached the HC against decision and won the case in July.

On June 4, the school management had circulated a notice to parents that school would restart on June 29 at building in D N Road, Fort. The school, however, did not starts as the matter was pending in court [link]

If this is correct and I am sure there is some truth to it, then take this to court, get a stay order and pursue it through legal means. Don’t resort to uncivilized hooligan tactics.

28busThe police stood there for the most part and could not do much as they said kids were involved and therefore they could not use any means to disperse the crowd. I guess they meant tear gas et al.

The parents took shelter behind the children and held the city and lakhs of people to ransom.

What is more appalling is that students were encouraged to do crazy things like climb up on the front of buses etc as this picture shows.

This also sends a very wrong message to children, the adults of tomorrow. It teaches them that taking the law into your own hands is the recourse to all problems and loutish, roughish behavior is the way to go.

Image Copyrights Mid-Day

Mahafreed Irani, a journalist with Times of India and a friend from the blog/twitter/facebook world has a first person account on her blog.

The Bandra-Worli Sealink Opening

The much awaited Bandra-Worli sealink opened yesterday. In the unlikely case that you don’t know what I’m talking about (in which case, what are you doing reading this post?), this is a bridge built across one of the bays between the islands that comprise Mumbai. It connects Bandra reclamation to Worli seaface and has been predicted as the solution to easing up the daily traffic snarls from the western suburbs to town.

The view from the Bandra Reclamation road

The sealink has been a long time in the making, having faced some setbacks and delays as well. It has been a part of the grand plan for Mumbai for so long that it has almost made a mark in local lingo by now (Yeah, I’ll get a promotion by the time that damn sealink gets made, maybe then I’ll be able to afford a car too!).

01

Most Mumbaikers have seen its grow, inch by agonizing inch on the horizon, from each direction. Just last year, I looked out at the impressive seaview from the window of a friend whose Mahim flat faces the then under-construction sealink and said,

Whatever is taking them that long??!! There’s just another inch to go!

After much fanfare, the sealink was inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi last morning and thrown open to the general public at 7 a.m. There will be a Rs.50 toll to traverse the sealink but that becomes functional only as of next Monday. So for the next few days, you can expect most Mumbaikers to derive full paisa vasool rides, riding Mumbai’s first ever sealink.

Quite fortunately (for me) I had an appointment in town that same morning. Fortunate I say because I (like many suburbanites) detest the painful commute into town, even less by road. What a stroke of luck to have a reason to go into town on the very day the sealink was inaugurated!

03

So I nagged dad into turning off into Bandra reclamation, shushing his incessant doomsday prophesies that the sealink would only add to commute time and what was so great about that damn bridge anyway, it’s taken long enough to come up and blocked Mumbai’s strained resources as it is.

In a few minutes, I was ready to jump out of the car and dive for cover as we ran smack-dab into the middle of the kind of traffic that makes road-rage seem like a pardonable offense, not punishable by law. I think every Western suburbanite must have been on that road to Worli today, whether or not they wanted to go to town!!!

02

I actually saw a few cars take U-turns and head back out, presumably to get to their destinations, the old-fashioned Mumbai way.

But as we inched forward and the high beams of the sealink came into view, my spirits surged and even my father ceased his complaining and grudgingly took out his own phone to take a picture.

04

We passed an impressive-looking toll-naka. Oh okay, I know there’s nothing impressive about a toll-naka, I’ve seen the one at Mankhurd and what about that huge one leading out to Mumbai-Pune expressway that I passed, not three days ago?

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05

It still was a momentous occasion, for we were on the brink of breaking new ground. As we passed, I’m rather afraid to say that the insofar well-laned traffic just sort of melded into itself and became one sea of cars going helter-skelter. The road curves a bit before it touches the sealink and the lanes just sort of get lost in each other. The authorities are just going to have to do something about that if they don’t want to face choke-ups every morning just before the Bandra end of the sealink.

Very near the sea, I saw a flock of crows flying around frantically and wondered aloud,

Why are there so many birds around? What are they so agitated about?

13

Dad said that perhaps there was an colony of nests in that place which had so far been pretty secluded and undisturbed. Displacement was a sobering thought to start the trip on, but well needs must.

Once we actually got closer and closer to the sealink, I could feel the anticipation electric in the air. Cars slowing down, audible gasps, people zooming their camera lenses and phones, excitement was rife.

11

I can’t even begin to describe what the journey was like. I am sure, in a short few days I’ll become as accustomed to it as the regular train and road commute. But today, this first trip was special. It was the realization of the great Mumbai dream. We were riding over water. All my hitherto unvoiced fears that the bridge would give way were blown away in the cool breeze. The bridge is rock-solid (not at all like Lakshman Jhula, ma, you can stop worrying, it won’t sway in the wind) and it would otherwise feel just like riding on a concrete road, except there’s the sea on both sides.

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What an odd feeling to turn to one’s left and see Mumbai, the city, the familiar buildings and roads on the horizon but on the wrong side and from so far away!

I saw a media van pass in the opposite direction on the clear Worli-to-Bandra lane, with a journalist standing out of one of the windows holding a mike, and a cameraman standing out of the opposite side shooting her. It was a funny sight and I’m only sorry I didn’t have a chance to shoot it.

The image below shows the proud and cheering workers who were lined up to watch the first few travellers on the sealink. What a moment of glory it would have been for them!

16

The couple in the Qualis next to mine were carrying balloons and traversed the entire length of the sealink with their balloons held aloft and flying out of the windows. Viva, the spirit of Mumbai!

19

We touched terra firma again at the Worli seaface end. I’m rather afraid this means the end of those long, wonderful soujourns ending in masala milk and sandwich. With the incoming and outbound traffic to the sealink, the seaface is bound to become thoroughfare and lose the charm it has.

We’re losing a few lovely spots and the traffic problem may not really be solved. But the experience of riding over the sea is something every Mumbaiker should have. This link has been far too long in coming. In the larger picture, perhaps easier access will level out some of the differences of Mumbai’s very own caste system?

I can’t tell just yet. My head is still spinning with the adrenalin rush of yesterday morning. I really feel like I’ve been part of a grand day in Mumbai’s history, almost like the fall of the Berlin wall. It is a big thing for this city and as a Mumbaiker, I feel really proud.

Global Vipassana Pagoda : Gorai

After all the  TV coverage of the President inaguration of the Global Vipassana Pagoda, Me and Deepthi decided to make a visit there. There are 2 ways to get to the Pagoda (near Esselworld, Gorai) 1. Via Ferry From Gorai Creek 2. Via road  Bhayandar – Uttan – Gorai (details on site ) Good Things About the Pagoda

  • The 325 feet majestic monument really stands out and will surely drive more tourists.
  • Its the world’s largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars
  • Over 8k people can meditate inside the Pagoda.
  • Genuine Buddha relics enshrined in the Pagoda.
  • There are no entry fees or charges of any kind.
  • Free Bus from Car Park to the Pagoda
  • Located in a great location with great view and really breezy place.

Things to remember :

  • You cant meditate or enter the dome unless you have completed the 10 day vipassana course.
  • Visitors can just roam around the Pagoda and see the people meditating inside the dome.
  • Lotsa work is still pending and it resembles a big under construction project, It should be at least a year or two till everything looks like the pictures in the Brochures.

I will definitely wanna  do the 10 day course subject to getting leave from work :) Some snapshots of the Global Pagoda

Global Pagoda

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Borivali Lafda Explained

Is Wi-Fi access the real front in the war on terror ?

An article in the Mumbai Mirror is deceptively titled " Terrorists have 15,000 options"

You would think that they are talking about entry points into the city, or the number of trash cans available where bombs could be left behind or some such thing. However to my dismay the article states

There are an estimated 15,000 wi-fi networks in the city that are vulnerable to terrorists like the ones who used the wi-fi networks of an American businessman and an entrepreneur couple from Chembur to send e-mails to various media companies minutes before the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26 and a little after the first of five bombs exploded in Delhi on Saturday evening.

Agreed that open access wi-fi points is a safety breach, but shouldnt the government be busy in making sure the terrorists never get here in the first place. This sending of emails before blasts has been a recent phenomenon. If we clamp down on the access points, the terrorists will still set up bombs, but not email us about it, hence making them so much more difficult to trace.

As much as open access wifi is an issue in the "war against terror" it should be way down on the priority list.

Is it time for abortion laws to change?

Am sure all of you who are reading this have seen the overly stressed out Nikita Mehta with her big belly running around the TV screens. I wonder what was the judge thinking while refusing aborting a 26-week fetus with a serious heart defect after rejecting the mother’s plea to terminate the pregnancy in a case torn between trauma and ethical issues. Guess what this silly decision is going cost the couple their entire life of trips to the hospitals, medical bills, extra efforts to generate money and the list goes on.
Haven’t the court thought about the aftermath of this decision? If yes then have they offered any kind of medical assistance for the couple? If not then why not? Has the Indian court become so insensitive towards the public? If the laws can be tweaked for actors and politicians whose actions have cost zillions of rupees (Yes our blood and sweat which we pay as taxes) and many lives (Yes am hinting here) then why not for Nikita Mehta’s case?

In the end am sure that Nikita would want to take a double barrel gun and shoot the judge and then the rest who help him make this decision. Also the gov/ law have set a bad example with this incident. First it is not that we have hundreds of Nikita’s walking in every day asking for court’s help to abort a child. Secondly the one person who has faith in the laws and wanted to go about the right way has been bowled out. After this I don’t think that people will have any hopes of receiving the justice to any issue. The moral of the story is such incidents will make the people loose faith in law and justice. And more importantly its is high time for India to change/amend certain laws.

Meow 104.8 FM launched in Mumbai

meow.jpg

Meow 104.8 FM has been launched in Mumbai. This is one of the new FM channels launched in the city. A channel exclusively for women. Well thats what they claim to be. After tuning into the channel several times here is my take on this channel.

Although the concept of the channel sounds super cool, there is a lot of areas of improvement.

The RJ blabbers a lot. Well the channel claims to be a talk FM channel unlike the music FM channels we already have in the city. Am not sure if we Mumbaikars are ready for this yet. Trust me its gets to ones nerve after sometime. Probably we need to get used to it like Delhi and Kokalta. On thge other hand I would also like to mention that whatever less music they play, the choice of songs are pretty good.

Even though the FM channel claims to be India’s first Just for women FM Channel they do cut some slack and have men callers with their piece of gyaan too. After all what fun is it for gals if there is no eye candy in this case ear candy :)

Love the way the female RJ purr with a meow but hey guys (RJ) please that sounds so gay.

The entire station has just one male RJ who hosts a show called Meow “Betweeen the sheets” ( they really have some naughty captions and names)

To sum it up, I think it wont cost us to give a chance here. And all the ladies have this exclusive channel to tune in to bettwen your commute in the local train.

An axe to grind, an axe to fall

Raj Thackeray has just been arrested and is being driven to Vikroli for the court hearing. Now what? Let’s see. This titbit has enjoyed much more publicity in the past week in Mumbai than the falling temperatures, the art festival and all such mundane things as national news.
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