It was about 12:30 p.m. when I left home to Bloggers Meet @ Hyatt Regency, Chennai organized by Indiblogger.in in association with AmbiPur. Since I have not attended any meets earlier, I was little excited when I started heading towards the meet. Though the roads were of less traffic given the fact that it was Sunday, it was really hot with temperature hitting close to 43 degrees Celsius as I drove and reached Hyatt Regency around 12:50 p.m. Thinking that I was getting delayed as the event was supposed to start at 1:00 p.m., I rushed from the parking to get into the hotel.
It was my first visit to Hyatt Regency. The lobby was neatly done and I felt it is little unique in comparison to the lot of other hotels of its class in Chennai. An old mandapam of Southern Indian architecture in front of the lift lobby is what adding that uniqueness to that lobby. Luckily the ball room where the event was organized is at ground floor and with the beauty of mandapam running in mind, I rushed towards ball room only to be told by one of my fellow bloggers that registration will start after 10 minutes.
Not sure what to do until that time, I started observing others walking into the lobby and tried to strike a conversation with few. It appears that lot of them have already met and known to each other and in few minutes the lobby area is full of groups of people. With no signs of starting of meet, I started walking across the lobby and found that Hyatt has kept a stall where soft drinks and tender coconut water are available. I suddenly felt a great thirst and an urge to quench it immediately after seeing that stall, and the moment I saw the price tag (it was Rs 100), to my amusement, my thirst has gone. There was also a biscuit stall next to the soft drinks stall, on which Naresh (one of the bloggers whom I was able to strike a friendship at the meet) was commenting at the end of the event that the title they kept at the stall – Biscuiti – reminded him of a scene from the famous comedy of a Tamil movie – “mama biscothu” scene.
With almost 20 minutes gone past and with no signs of any start, I went inside the ball room reception area to see what it happening. It was a huge area and Indiblogger team was making arrangements in a car, which I later realized to showcase the power of Ambi Pur. The food stalls were just getting ready. I walked across the room to pick a water bottle, drank, and just stood there watching the Indiblogger team running around and it was interesting to watch them when they are running around to kick start the event as fast as possible. As I kept wondering why there is delay, one of the Indiblogger team member came to me and asked me to move into the lobby area, politely. I told him that it was interesting to watch them but still he stood his ground. I have again moved into lobby.
After 10 minutes or so, the gates were opened and all of us started to get in. I moved in quietly as a lady was welcoming albeit apologetically because of the late start and I registered myself by entering the e-mail ID through one of the laptops kept. I felt that was a good thing as there was no need to write details in a paper.
There was a giant screen kept with a twitter page of Indiblogger.in and all the tweets and updates were shown, which was a novel idea. I have never experienced this before where people will be able to see what they are tweeting.
As I went and sat in the second row, I have noticed bloggers occupying the back end of the room. Within minutes few others joined my table and we did a small intro about each one of us to each other as we were sipping the cool juice served. As the time progresses, the hall was full and few other young bloggers who are in their teens joined our table. It was so energetic to even watch these young bloggers as there were all smiles. The groups that were formed in the lobby were maintained even inside and couples of groups were noisy and louder, it was fun though. I eventually ended up in one of the group led by Kalyan during the later part of the day as we were asked to do skit.
Then there was a welcome announcement and then asked all of us to shout, scream (!!!!). Though I started shouting …OOOOO..YEEEEEHHH..Internally I felt lost as I was wondering what this is all about at a bloggers meet. So happened that one of the girls whose shout was unique was given a movie ticket. I was even more astonished. What the hell is happening, man !!!!! Thought I will be attending a bloggers meet and here it is – shouting, screaming, and winning a movie ticket????!!!!@@@@..ooofff.
We were then asked to make sounds to open up our vocal chords as one of the Indiblogger team members was guiding. Those were crazy sounds and he convinced us that it will clear our throats…hehe… All this as a practice to sing Happy Birthday to Renie Ravin (Founder of Indiblogger.in)..man, I am lost. I have never sung a birthday song like a national anthem and they made me to do that, so many of us standing and singing Happy Birthday Renie. I really don’t know how many of us know who Renie is. I got to know about him as I goggled about him after seeing his name topping the list of attendees on the website of Indiblogger.in
Then started Sweep Stakes and by the time I realize what is happening I could not remember the numbers left. Prizes won in front of me by just a telling a number..ghosh…
All this time I was wondering if it is time for me to switch over to a smart phone as my phone does not support Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi was available free at the meet. There were lot of prizes to be won by participating in the tweet contests like the best road trip that one has undergone with hash tag #AmbiurFreshnHappy and I remained as a spectator reading tweets from other “smart” people from the giant screen.
We were then asked to swap the places with a rule that every table should have at least two women members. Ironically we ended up as all men table and that is when I met Prason who maintains an awesome blog chronicwriter.com and somebody whose stories I read when I was entering into teens, Sathyanarayana sir, he maintains a wonderful blog in Telugu meeandarikosam.blogspot.in.
Then came the 30 seconds of fame where people asked to introduce themselves by random picking of names. It took some time for me to realize that these names are random picked. There were experts, there were novices, there were bloggers of fame, and there were bloggers from nowhere. It was fun to listening to them. Few got huge roars, few were met with golden silence.
By this time, I was lucky to win a cinema ticket – WOW..not bad, man – meet seems to be good.
Then came the announcement of lunch and we were asked to visit the car behind the curtains (though the announcement was to visit the space behind curtains, I knew there was a car as I saw it before the start of the meet) and experience it. Guessing that it was a showcase for Ambi Pur, I walked towards the food stalls. Food was good and tasty.
We were again in after lunch and all of us were asked to stand so that we don’t fall asleep and again there was a surprise gift for those who are wearing a collarless t-shirt. I was broken, yaar!! I was wearing a collarless t-shirt but under a formal full hands shirt. Why did I do that? Ptchhh…. Winner of the first Samsung Galaxy S4 was announced for her tweet of “the car you pushed me in to, smelt much better than the world I was born into” ..WOHWA..good one. I was still brooding though that I don’t carry a smart phone.
Then the presentation on Ambi Pur and guy who did it was pretty straightforward in agreeing that he is a marketing guy and is only talking what he has been told, knew nothing technical about the product. But, the presentation was all about formulations with lot of stuff thrown at us. Few of the questions hurled at the marketing guy who did the presentation were funny and to his credit guy managed it well by boldly acknowledging the fact that he does not know and he will let us know after talking to his R&D team, that includes an answer to the question of whether CSK wins or not in the finals.
After the presentation, the product, Ambi Pur was distributed to all of us and based on the flavor we were asked to form teams. I belonged to Lavender which was captained by Kalyan. All the teams were asked to present a skit on different themes like office romance, Senthil-Goundermani-Vadivel comedy etc. Our team did it based on Malayalam Art Movie. It was fun and enjoyed it to the core. This is where I met Naresh, Jagan, Deva, and Muni; wonderful bunch of young bloggers and easy going guys. The creativity displayed by the groups was truly tremendous.
In the mean time, Prason won a Samsung Galaxy S4 for his tweet on best road trip which reads like traveling 1500 KM with Rs 56.
They kept us waiting for the winner to be announced as fellow bloggers shared about the causes that they are working for that includes fighting against the discrimination based on skin color to working to uplift students of a government school to using social media as a platform to better emergency response to well, the list goes on. All the while, I was looking at the t-shirts that were kept on the side table.
We, all the bloggers, then had a group photo session and as people were still posing, I walked to pick t-shirt so that I can avoid queuing up, had a tea which was served outside, had a group photo with newly made friends at the meet, Naresh & Co.
I have then slowly walked off the meet to the parking place thinking what is blogging has to do with the meet if one takes away the networking part and with the memories of moments of fun and with the names of new friends made.