Monday, March 13, 2006

D.C. bloggers' meet




The Washington DC Bloggers Meet held in the food court of Union Station was a grand success. And if you are brushing this off as an expected statement coming from a not-so-famous blogger going gaga after meeting veteran popular bloggers, take your news straight from Greatbong himself. Even he concurs about the meet's success. In fact the first sentence is his quote. And no, this time round he is not being sarcastic!
From left: Sunil, Ujval, Michael, Arnab, Chetan, Ravikiran, Piyush and Arzan (click to enlarge)

The meet started at 12:00 p.m. but I got there horribly late even for someone swearing by Indian standard time. But it paid off. I got the best seat at the table. With "Happy Birthday" boy Ravikiran to my left, Michael Higgins to my right and Arnab the Greatbong bang in front of me, I felt as if I was at the head of the table had a wonderful time. I sure do hope certain qualities of people you interact with actually do rub off on you. Because if that is true, the quality of writing on this blog is going to hit the fan.

As far as reconciling online personas with real life faces go, my guess about how Ravikiran may be in person went for a complete toss. Going by the short, pithy and insightful sentences explaining serious policy issues in a dispassionate manner on his blog, I had expected him to be a very serious looking guy with a moustache who cracks Mallu jokes with an expressionless face. Apart from the bit about moustache, I was proved wrong on all other counts. He greeted me with a warm disarming smile that had no trace of any pomposity or arrogance, which many people have accused him of online. He said that his objective was to get me drunk so that I start speaking in long sentences and everyone gets to know what actually went into the making of the longest comment. We got to hear the 'You don’t come to the cartel, the cartel comes to you' explanation upon being asked about the necessary and sufficient conditions regarding its membership from one of the most prominent cartelians himself.

While in case of Ravikiran, my online perception of him had tough time conforming with reality, in Arnab's case it was exact opposite. He came across exactly as he does on his blog. Enthusiastic, funny and eager to discuss diverse topics, he is as eloquent while discussing as his writing on his blog. He talked about a range of topics, which included Mithun, his latest post on terrorism and the trolls on his blog. Ganguly posts and their responses and behavioral characteristics of his trolls, who never fail to crack me up with their inability to process sarcasm and their angry-to-the-point-of-frothing-at-the-mouth responses were also dissected.


Michael had done a wonderful job at organisation. Beginning from the choice of the venue to minutiae like table signs, it was obvious that a lot of thought had gone into the organisation. The clinching evidence of course was Ravikiran’s birthday present. Along with a delicious cake with gold coin shaped chocolates on it, Michael had also got Ravikiran flushable wipes to reassure him that not all Americans are crazy and that the market here does offer a choice for those who are worried about America's 'toilet gap' with Japan. Michael regaled us with stories about cricket and the first match he had watched. He has blogged about it. His interest in cricket and his knowledge of the game is awe inspiring.

The most amazing feeling was when I realized that I felt surprisingly at home amongst bloggers whom I had never met before and some of whose blogs I hadn’t even followed. I suppose just the shared experience of blogging and having followed some prominent blogs is enough to feel that connection.
Ravikiran grinning as he shows off his birthday present

I am thankful to Arzan for driving down to D.C. and bringing Ravikiran along with him. I had read Arzan's comments on Sepia Mutiny and loved the image of the bike as the header image on his blog. Arzan impressed me with his enthusiasm. He seemed genuinely upset with US Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as he recounted his experiences there. He has a blog post comparing Indian Regional Transport Office (RTO) with DMV.

Seema was the sole representative from the other half ;). We discovered that both of us are alumni of the same university. She has studied International Development. Given that there were very few Indians that I met at my university during my time there, it came as a nice surprise to meet an Indian alumna and that too at a bloggers’ meet. Piyush Gupta was the political junkie at the meet. He spoke animatedly about following the due process of law, corruption and sparred with Ravikiran regarding the need for primaries in the Indian political system. You could feel his intensity and passion and desire to do something about the state of affairs in India throughout the meet.

Eswaran, who commented on Ravikiran's blog during the longest comment controversy was curious to see me and Ravikiran interacting together. He semed well-versed with all the happenings in the blogosphere and I was surprised that he did not have a blog himself. He seemed to have followed almost all the blogs I had. Him, me and Arnab got extra time to spend together as we came together by the metro. Yourfan and Yourfan2, the two famous commenters on Arnab’s blog would have reason to be jealous of Eswaran. He stays in the same apartment complex as Arnab.

Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to interact much with Ujval, Vinay and the two Sunils. I hope that it happens at the next bloggers meet. Of course I wish to to interact through their blogs.

Thanks Michael and Arnab for organising this event and everybody else who attended the meet. Count me in for any subsequent meets. Finally in Amit’s words, ‘fun did come’ and I had nice time flirting with her at the meet.

13 comments:

Michael H. said...

Hi Chetan
Excellent write-up. I had forgotten that Seema had studied at American U.

Thank you for the nice card and the nice compliments in your post. I am glad people had a nice time.

greatbong said...

Let me repeat what Michael said. An excellent write up and thanks for the nice card. .we have to do this more often.

Chetan said...

Thanks Michael and Greatbong. It was great meeting you guys.

Anon said...

From GB's YOURFAN:
Well, well, well. Should I or Yourfan 2 be jealous of Eswaran? That depends on the perception point. All I can say is that both of us can’t be jealous of Eswaran at the same time because of our different gender!!!!

Kya yaar tu bhi said...

DC blogger meet very nice, very nice! Bunch of fatcats sitting around circular table. I mean that literally guys. Whats with the bloated faces, plump torsoes, rotund personalities ? Let me guess - You are all working overtime for Baron Vijay Mallya and he is paying you with 12-pack beer cases ? No no my friends this will not do. Ditch the paddy, I think that is your primary food group. Eat fish straight from the ocean. Isn't DC next to pacific or is that atlantic ? You must consume 1 can Beach Cliff sardine every day, available at 65 cents per can from that libertarian giant we all love and adore ( repeat after me ) W A L M A R T !!! 20 grams protein zero grab carb! Go to the fish aisle, right next to the Oatmeal section. While on that subject, the Oatmeal of choice is of course the "Great Value" brand Old Fashioned Oatmeal, manufactured in the Bentonville facility, exclusively for our Lord in Heaven ( repeat after me ) W A L M A R T !!! 50% soluble fiber in every 2 cups, at the rate of 98 cents for a 2 week supply! Beat that, "Quaker" ! By the way "Great Value" Old Fashioned Oatmeal is a generic brand, it will be obscured from shelf space by the HIGHLY OVERPRICED "Quaker" Oatmeal! Fear not, my budding libertarian dudes ( and you too, my sole libertarian dudette Seema, jiski koi seema nahin, or have you heard that one too many times now ? If so my apologies ) for I shall let you in on the closely guarded secret. Bend your torso and angle your libertarian neck by 135 degrees and look under the last but one shelf - you will find the precious "Great Value" Oatmeal hiding there! Sometimes I have also found the "Great Value" Oatmeal balanced gingerly on the highest ie. 13th shelf, in which case, you must stand on your toes and crane your libertarian neck by 14 degrees and reach out for the stars. Do not fail to notice that this will give the added cardiovascular benefit of stretching your spinal column and tailbone.

Every morning at 8am consume 1 can Beach Cliff sardine and 2 cups "Great Value" Old Fashioned Oatmeal, microwaved for 12 minutes with 4 cup water and 2 tea-chummuch salt. Around 11:35 am, when your boss is proofreading your incisive, in-depth and hard-hitting futuristic Powerpoint Report titled "Worldwide recession in 2010 with prolonged downturn in the subcontinent of India, concomitant with mass suicides of IT and BPO professionals on the glittering streets of Gurgoan, skyrocketing numbers of dead and dying freshly minted IIM-A middlemanagers rivaling those of humble debt-ridden Vidarbha farmers" you will hear growling noises emanating from your guttural region. Yes my friends, this is the communist Inquilab Zindabad protest sounds generated by the Fibrous Fishy Residue making its way through the coiled posterior regions of the cecum, before launching a fullblown assault on the alimentary canal.

Grab the nearest dog-eared copy of The Fountainhead and head straight to the fountain I mean the loo. For the next one hour, take in the unadulterated timeless wisdom of our libertarian hero(repeat after me) H O W A R D R O A R K, while the communist fibrous residue makes its graceful exit via your small intestine through the anal tollbooth, straight down the toilet.
Return to your respective cubicles, your bulk vastly lightened, but also enlightened by the scintillating libertarian rhetoric delivered with fiery passion and clarity of thought by DEVI MAA AYN RAAND, and proceed to compose a verbose blog on the topic of Ricardian Rent Seekers in the Free Market Space, for the benefit of us NHBs.

Adios,
kytb

arZan said...

Chetan

Great write up.

I blogged about it here. Check it out

pah said...

kytb, not upto your standards. overcooked.

Shruthi said...

ROTFL at the last line! :)
Good to see the faces behind the blogs!

suyog said...

I know I need to offer you ten thousand apologies for not being able to neither meet / call or just about do anything before leaving D.C, but at this point, the best I can say is Sorry :) - Man, it was quite chaotic before I finally left... and its best left as an explanation on our next trip to Prince :)

Enjoying DESH - it zimbly Rocks!

I came to this blog specifically to read about the bloggers meet... hehehe - after greatbong, I was pretty sure u would pen it too - and must say I think I have missed a lot :D - nonetheless, next meet I'll be there :)

Cheers ... and lemme know if you need anything from desh dearest :D

Suyog

Amit said...

Looks like you had a blast! Great going!

;D

Chetan said...

YourfanThanks for letting us know about the differences between you and yourfan2. Its easy to forget that you are two different individuals given your similar words of effusive praise and strident defense on behalf of Greatbong. Keep up the good work.

Kya Yaar Tu Bhi Tend to agree with Pah here. It seems as if you tried too hard. Besides Ravikiran was the only Libertarian and there was hardly anything on that front discussed during the meet so it takes too much of a stretch to bludgeon everybody with your Libertarian bashing club.

PahWell said.

ShruthiThanks. Hope to return to blogging regularly after the month long hiatus.

SuyogNo apologies necessary man. I totally understand how busy you must have been. Wish you were there at the meet. Probably once you come back we can arrange a meeting with Greatbong if he has time. And have a wonderful time in India and put up some nice snaps on your blog.

AmitWe did have a terrific blast. Thanks.

Chetan said...

ArZan: That was a nice write up on your blog. Had a good time laughing. Thanks.

sunil said...

got here from Michael's blog........and it seems too bad that Michael's phone wouldn't work during the meet.

I did want to catch up with a bunch of you! But it looks like i've found a few new, very nice blogs (like this one) to trawl.