This was my first Indiblogger meet. I was really looking forward to attending this one yet was a bit apprehensive too because I did not know any one there. I am kind of scared of large gatherings. Besides, the timings were proving to be a dampener, just before Diwali and late at night. Unfortunately traveling alone that late even if in a cab is not safe for a woman in Bangalore. But then I was lucky to meet a blogger friend online, Anamika, who stayed very close to my house. When I met her, we both just hit it off like long lost friends. We decided to share a cab and my 10-year-old blogger son, Siddharth, also came along. I was hoping that he won’t be too bored. That was the understatement of the century as I later discovered! The meet held special promise for me because as the co-owner of a software solutions company, I looked forward to Apptasting; as a foodie whose entire family is hooked onto MasterChef Australia these days, I was looking forward to our very own MasterChef and his food gyan!
Thus favorably disposed, we reached ITC Gardenia a good half an hour ahead of time. Sid was already complaining of a headache :). Talk about bad beginnings, huh ;-). Once there, I met some wonderful bloggers. It is always amazing to see your blogger buddies in flesh and blood. The lovely ladies — Janaki, Farida, Vidya, Archana, Indrani and others were all so wonderful and warm. I met the gracious Vineet Rajan from the Indiblogger team while registering and a couple of other smiling ladies from the team whose names I do not know. It was dark inside the large hall and any other conversation with anyone else was impossible. This was the largest Indiblogger meet in terms of attendance, we were told. Yay to that! We registered and moved to our table right in the front of the stage. A very wise move as we later discovered. Anoop from the Indiblogger team pumped us with a hurr hurr call and then “hug the bloggers in sight” worked as an ice breaker and set the mood for things to come. We rolled up our imaginary sleeves and eagerly awaited for the proceedings to begin.
|Siddharth with Rajiv Makhni on stage Pic courtesy: Indiblogger.in|
Punam, the head honcho from Nokia, explained a bit about Nokia Appatasting – which is such an intriguing and apt term. Apptasting is a term coined by Nokia for combining Apps with food. It is basically a way of demonstrating Nokia Apps live to an audience while they savor good food and wine. She gave us a background about how they have been conducting these meets starting with celebrities and now graduating to bloggers. I, for one, am not a techie. I don’t understand Apps by seeing icons or reading text. I only understand them when I see for myself. On that count, Nokia did really well. The Apps were demonstrated smoothly and in such a fun way. The only hitch, it happened one after another. It would have been nice if there were some pure blogger interaction activities interspersed with Nokia Apps.
|Men with a knack Pic courtesy: Indiblogger.in|
I had heard a lot about the Mumbai Indiblogger Meet and about Vikas and Rajiv. Naturally I had sky high expectations! And, the guys came up tops even on those. From the time Rajiv and Vikas came on stage, we were lead through a roller coaster of rib-tickling experiences one after another. Rajiv, the Gadget Guru, was sophistication personified with a delectable wit to match. He also had amazing tact and gumption that he displayed on many occasions through the evening. Vikas was humble, down to earth and had a shy, tongue in cheek humour. All girls and women wanted to take him home to mummy. Yeah, their good looks didn’t hurt either ;-). Together, they were a lethal combination – Rab Ne Bana De Jodi!
Rajiv was so smooth that even people he took digs at loved them or perhaps didn’t get them :). Was it his charm or the wine effect? The gaping expression on Vikas’s face was priceless because most times he had no clue about the fast ones that Rajiv was going to pull on him. Some randomly selected bloggers got their “30 seconds of fame” on the stage. It was especially special for me when my little blogger son, Siddharth, was on stage. He was so happy to be sharing the stage with the two guys he had only seen on TV till then. And who can forget the inimitable Tiger! He owes his jobs, 4 girlfriends, a wife and a kid to blogging. Not even 4 boyfriends or a girlfriend in every country could match up to that scintillating story :).
Tiger, tiger burning bright!
Annihilated all the bloggers in sight :).
The repartees with the bloggers had us in splits.
Now coming to the Apps part. Personally I found the Blood Alcohol Level Test App very useful. Never one to drink and drive personally, I think it is very handy tool to know your exact condition when you have downed a few drinks. I think it is a very practical App. Another great App was Nokia City Lens which could help us locate particular places in our area. That really is very convenient for a direction-challenged driver like me. The App that helped pair wine with food was informative too with personalized inputs like “sevaiyan” to remember French names like Sauvignon Blanc from the MasterChef himself. Like many others, my knowledge of wine with food is rudimentary. The most hilarious Apps were the ones that created a Charlie Chaplinisque kind of movie in a “jaw-dropping” 30 seconds. And, gangnam style app takes care of the current rage. I especially loved the face-off between the foodie and the techie teams dancing gangnam style. All the participants were such great sport. And, I was particularly happy because sonny, Siddharth, was in the foodie team. I noticed that he looked a little lost among adults, but Vikas gently steered him to the front and even chatted a bit to make him comfortable. I had read about Vikas and his amazing story from a very humble beginning — about how he still retained his humility; he has been on the covers of top magazines, owns a top-notch Michelin-starred restaurant in New York, yet it was an act like this which showed that his heart is in the right place truly! A true gentleman! Punam was given the atrociously tough job of judging the two teams, and she wiggled out gamely by giving prizes to both the teams. It was an added incentive to see Vikas and Rajiv shake a leg too in their tuxes.
|Gangnam style face off with Rajiv’s and Vikas’s teams! Sid is the chintu fellow in front. Pic courtesy: Indiblogger.in|
The onion cutting exercise by Vikas was entertaining, and it taught me a new technique. Vikas very correctly pointed out that no woman would ever admit that she had learnt a new technique especially when it came to cooking :). Couldn’t help but nod my head at that! As our bastion is taken over by charming male chefs all over the world, we are not yet ready to give up completely, are we :)? The evening was a huge joy ride. I feel very sad that I had to miss a couple of stage events, as I had to leave early. There was a food quiz, guess the soup ingredients and What’s My App as well.
Before I wind up, I must thank Nokia for taking Apps out there to the non-techie public. I loved the way they incorporated fun and promotion. This was a wonderful way of building a warm connect with their audience. And, reaching out to cull ideas from their consumers about the Apps they would love to have – totally rocking. I have seen the ads of Nokia Lumia phones currently airing on TV. They seem promising. Currently, I own an Android phone, but my blogger son has a Nokia. My experience with Nokia has always been good, and I owned their older models, but somewhere along the way we lost touch. Hope to see them bounce back with new and exciting things in the future. And, they do seem to be on the right track.
The biggest regret for me – I could not stay back till the end. Wish I had, in which case, I could have caught up with the dashing duo in person. A suggestion to the Indiblogger team and Nokia is to incorporate some more of blogger interaction. Most of us just ended up meeting people at our table. I am sure some team events would have taken care of that. All bloggers being vain expect their share of limelight :). And, Rajiv and Vikas would have risen admirably to group challenges as well.
I must commend the spectacular food, wine, a special mention for the awesome desserts and the hospitality of the folks at ITC Gardenia. A big thank you to the Indiblogger team for pulling off an event of this scale so admirably. ” Hurr hurr hurray to a job well done!”
Back to the pièce-de-résistance of the evening, Rajiv and Vikas (I have a feeling that your Jodi will become even more popular than Raj and Simran one day :))! Yeh dil definitely maange more of you!
|Sid and me with Farida and her kids, Janaki and Vidya Pic Courtesy: Janaki Nagaraj|
As the lights dimmed and I sank back in the cab, I could not help but feel content at an evening well spent in the warm company of friends, great food, wine and loads of laughter and cheer. And I had a super excited son clutching his two prizes, who will always remember the friendliest celebs he has ever met. Thank you all! Look forward to the next meet already!