Social Media & Blog camp! – a description 8

I have been organising Delhi Blogger Meets and events around Delhi Bloggers, since many years now. Recently we did something quite differently. On 7th June’08, we managed to present a Social Media & blog camp for Delhi Bloggers Bloc – an online community of Delhi Bloggers. Blogging has come a long way and is one of the most powerful tools that are a part of “Social Media”. This post has been long pending since I was in the process of changing jobs during that time, and was also waiting for some of the speakers to provide me with their presentations. I still haven’t received all, but well, better late than never!

The DBB – social media and blog camp was held at Indiatimes, Gurgaon office on 7th June’08. The event venue, meal and snacks were sponsored by Indiatimes. We also had IBM & WordPress as promoters for this event. Tyroo ads was the online partner as well. There was another corporate – a leading telecom giant – who was going to be one of the sponsors but backed out at the last moment. All part of the game I guess! The event tags and pens were sponsored by Puneet of Getting sponsorship was a learning experience in designing pitches and preparing concept notes. The giveaways were uber cool and perhaps one of the most pleasant surprises of the day. Indiatimes provided t-shirts and stationery. IBM provided sippers. WordPress provided some rather cute badges (which got lapped up very very quickly & I kept getting requests for them much later as well) and stickers. Indiatimes also had a lucky draw and provided all speakers as well as the lucky winners – a USB watch! How cool is that? A watch which also doubles up as a USB device.

We had released only 100 passes for this event and later had to extend them because of the high demand! I had to refuse some ppl who wanted to attend since we were already overflowing capacity. I had also been getting a lot of calls from people who wanted to speak at this event on a lot of interesting topics. However, we had to limit that too, much as we didnt like it! We had planned several talks by eminent personalities on relevant topics. The topics touched on web2.0 aspects in a lot of spheres.

The camp kicked off with N Madhavan’s talk on taxonomy of blogs – a way for newbies to identify where they are in this blogosphere. Madhavan is a senior journalist with HT with an active interest in New Media.

This was followed by a web 2.0 – travel industry perspective. Digital Marketing for the Travel Industry in the Web 2.0. Scenario was presented by Nirat Bhatnagar, co-founder of

Rajesh Lalwani of presented two back to back sessions. Both were very well received. The first was Where are you going in your social media car? This session presented a perspective on social media – we talk so much about it but are we getting there yet? This was followed by an excellent case study Impact of social media on purchase – derived from personal expriences on purchase.

The next session was by Shyam Somanadh, Principal Architect, Network18 (Web18) who presented Participatory Media: The view from inside. He talked about some of the things that the Web18 team had done wrt social media on their own website. This was the time I learnt that “participatory” media is yet another term for social media.

This was followed by a quick talk on Twitter by Sanjukta Basu where she discussed twitter and also used it for a live demo.

We had to omit a rather interesting session on Social media – Socio cultural implications and trends – by Manav Deep Mianwal, Head Brand & Media, Airtel enterprise services since he couldnt be there due to personal reasons. We were running short of time, so this provided some getting back on track.

We quickly jumped to the session on Social media in the corporate context – presented by Natraj Akella, Brand strategy & marketing, IBM.
After this we had worked up quite an appetite and moved on to a great sumptuous lunch. The whole place was jampacked and people could be seen enjoying and of course networking.
After lunch we started with Bringing “Social” to software presented by Manish Dhingra, founder Tekriti software. This session talked about how to incoporate that social context in software.

This was followed by a “light” session – Exploiting the Internet – Riding somebody else’s Success by Jamshed V Rajan, Director products, Ibibo web pvt limited. Jammy is known for his humour blog – and also showed us a rather interesting video on Social Media.

Then came a very debated session Protecting “New” in New Media by Prashant Singh. It presented various insights into our psyche about social media. Nikhil of, actually willingly gave up his session so that discussion around this topic could go on. He later presented his own take on the same topic.

A much needed session on Law & Technology was well presented by Gurpreet Singh, Internet Attorney. He discussed copyrights and trademarks.

This was followed by an interactive session on What makes mobile social networks successful? This was presented by Ekta Rohra Jafri.

The last session of the day was one that a lot of people had been waiting for. The monetary aspect of blogging (how could we not include that? 🙂 ).
Blogging Superstars : How to monetize a blog effectively? was conducted by Mohit Maheshewari, Co-founder Tonic Tag Media Pvt Ltd.

This event was quite well received by both the audience as well as those who wanted to present something. It is amazing to see how social media creeps into everything – be it the corporate world, purchase, travel, traditional media etc. There were a lot of other interesting topics that I wanted to have during our session. However due to limited time we could not. I would have also personally liked to do an elaborate session on photography and how it is benefitting due to social media. Due to lack of time with me as well as a well known photographer I had approached, we could not conduct this one. Next time surely!

The participants were a very intresting mix with people from internet companies, startups, national TV channels, IT personnel, civil society, lawyers, brand managers, social workers, mainstream newspapers etc. The news about this event had reached a lot of people. A surprise entrant was Pavan Duggal, the well known lawyer who also attended this event, having heard of it from a friend.

The day ended with a closing thanks by me, followed by lucky draw and surveys/feedbacks.
It was a fruitful day full of compliments for the enormous effort behind it. All this would not have been possible without Garima and Sanjay – my co-organisers for the event. Garima worked from the Indiatimes end. Sanjay and I, designed pitches, made powerplay presentations, posters, tags, schedules, invites, concept notes etc.

Here’s a mini glimpse of how Amit Ranjan of, saw it and enjoyed it :).  Here’s what Sanjukta, an oldie in our DBB group, had to say :). “social media and blog camp by Delhi Bloggers Bloc ws a total hit..v v engaging, interesting sessions. m proud to b an oldie in this grp “, says Sanjukta on twitter! Thanks Sanjukta :). Here’s what Shyam Somnadh says about the day. Here’s what Kreeti tweeted about the day – here and here.

Here are some of the pictures we clicked that day. It was a day very well spent after which we proceeded to sleep off the sleepless nights spent behind the organising of this mega event.

Social media & Blog camp 13

It’s been quite some time since we were planning the “Social media & Blog camp” to be held at Indiatimes, Gurgaon on 7th June’08. It started as an idea from scratch and finally we have managed to get a sponsored venue for this exciting event. Indiatimes, our gracious sponsor is also providing us free wi-fi, lunch, tea/coffee and snacks. There is so much to learn on Social media & blogging in the social marketing context. Are you going to be there? You can register as a speaker or just as an attendee.

This is a one-day semi-camp style “unconference”* which brings together stakeholders and audiences of social media and blogging. The wave of social media in India (which includes Facebook, DBB Social Media & Blog camp Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Ryze, Orkut, YouTube, Flickr and many more) has led to a huge interest in the personal and business implications of this here-to-stay form of interaction. Blogging has already been a huge platform of expression for professionals and citizens from all walks of life.
The idea is to provide an ongoing and large platform of interaction for everyone, from entrepreneurs to enthusiasts, from technology to marketing experts, and from media to PR, to enrich themselves with a whole world of learning and business opportunities.

Where :

Date : 7th June’08 (Saturday), 9:30am – 5:30pm

Venue : Indiatimes office,
Times Internet Ltd.
I World , Opp. DLF Golf Course,
DLF City Phase V,
Gurgaon, Haryana – 122005
The venue is wifi enabled and has an auditorium, projectors and a board room for parallel tracks if the need arises. Lunch/tea/coffee/snacks would be provided by our prime sponsor – Indiatimes.

Parking : this will be provided inside Indiatimes office; Map:

Animal Kingdom 1

DLF Galleria at Gurgaon, is one of the places I love to hang out at. Not only is it sans any skyscrapers, it is also not a mall. Though it is surrounded by some of the typical skyscrapers that Gurgaon sees today, it has an architecture which makes it possible for the wind to just whoosh through the various passageways, making it a treat to walk in, on hot summer nights. Add a couple of food joints, a fountain and some benches and voila – you have a place that everyone loves to be at. All the stray dogs performing their various antics are an extra add on.
Guess who needs coffee?
Guess who needs coffee? Outside Cafe coffee day, I spotted this doggie turning turtle. He would try to wiggle around to scratch his back and then lie down like that once the job reached a satisfaction level. He looked like he was on dope and needed a good dose of coffee. Being right outside a coffee joint, made it even more apt for a shot (not of dope but a photography one).

Another Chilling out!doggie took me quite by surprise when she (yes ‘it’ was a she-dog and I shall not use the technically correct term) unabashedly ascended onto the parapet of the fountain to take a sip of water from the pool! Though I must say I was quite fascinated by the elegant manner in which she behaved like a well trained dog. On another day, I spotted her swimming inside that very pool. I tried to give her a small chunk from a coconut macaroon that I was munching. She eyed it suspiciously, then sniffed it even more suspiciously and eventually left it. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Humph.

A heart full

Wo Naani Kee Baaton Mein Pariyon Ka Dera
Wo Chehre Ke Jhuriyon Mein Sadiyon Ka Phera
Bhulaaye Nahin Bhool Saqta Hai Koi
Wo Choti See Raaten Wo Lambi Kahaani

Although my nani never narrated stories to us, (not that I remember), she definitely did regale us with real life incidents. She was a brave woman who along with her husband and brothers made it to this side during the partition. My maternal grandparents had also, like my paternal granparents, left every single thing behind in what is now Pakistan. They witnessed butchering and massacre which is enough to scar a person for a lifetime. But they also carried with them memories of happy times, when the money and jewellery would be just lying about, cupboards full of it. There were personal godowns of dry fruits and grains. These were part of palatial houses with infinite rooms, marble flooring and plush interiors. Those “facts” were so difficult to digest they seemed like made up stories for they were being told to children who heard of such things only in their Amar Chitra Kathas and Tinkles. My grandparents would talk to each other in Pashto even now.

Nani ke ghar jaaoge to motte ho ke aaoge” is what my nani and mom always used to say. It was true also. It was almost as if the visit’s sole purpose was indeed to fatten up the children. We had delicious food with loads of butter – the home made white butter that I so love. We also had an angeethi – the actual thing made of clay and it used to take ages to get heated up and then to cool down, but the result was fabulous tandoori rottis. Their cutlery and tableware included a lot of brass. I distinctly remember that my sister and I used to fight over who would get to drink in the heavy brass glass. It used to take enormous effort to just hold it.

Being the first grandchild on my maternal side, I was always treated somewhat specially. As a kid I used to hate the regular stuff that all kids hate – veggies like Karela, toree, parmal, kaddu, tinde etc. but when my nani made it (using shudh desi ghee) the end results were so delectable that one could live on those forever. My maternal grandparents stay in Gurgaon – the actual gurgaon which existed much before the glitzy Gurgaon came into picture, much before there was life on the other side of the highway, much before there was any inhabitation on either side of it. In those days it was practically a village, for all the neighbours had buffaloes and tabelas! Almost all the houses were made of mud instead of cement (like my nani’s) decorated with the dung cakes that were so characteristic of a village then. Thankfully my nani’s house wasn’t a buffalo barn, but we sure got amused everytime we would go from Delhi to Gurgaon (the distances were so much more inspite of being the same physically).

I met her about a month back after she had recovered from some brief illness. She seemed to have recovered just fine and was attentive, alert, taking meals andMy grandparents medicines properly. That was the last time I saw her. Just when I was beginning to think that maybe my mother’s mother and I do look a lot more similar from a particular angle (seeing the B&W pic that hung on their wall), her sudden death took her away from us. She suffered from pneumonia and it resulted in multiple organ failure. She had been through much more serious medical situations and had always made it. We had not even thought that some minor illness would result in catastrophic consequences. Such situations are so pathetic. When the doctors tell you that there’s nothing else you can do except wait for the person’s death, it is the worst feeling in this world. A maternal cousin’s marriage was scheduled for a week later. My nani had gotten new dresses made and would have seen the first grandchild wedding. Unfortunately it never happened that way.

My mom took it bravely and so did the whole family. After the cremation we all tried to concentrate on remembering the good times instead of weeping inconsolably. We even laughed. That was something I could not even imagine doing, given the situation. My grandfather lost his mate of about 60 years. Life will never be the same for him ever again. It is very disheartening to see how someone who was alive and well could turn into a “body” and then soon into a “picture”. I can never forget the way my mom looked at her mom when seeing her for the last time. It forced me to think in a particular direction myself and I knew that even though I don’t even want to think about it, it’s a grim reality of life. When I look around I realise, we do have our hearts full. But full of the memories and of the love that she gave.

Home alone

It’s been quite some time since I have been staying alone now. When I shifted out 3-4 months back, I was practically spending 75% time with my parents and 25% time in my own house. On every festival I would be back with them. In case of every slight (and major) ailment I would be back in Delhi. But for now the balance has shifted. At least now since 1-2 months the %age of time that I spend at Delhi has come down. But then even after so many months I am still “settling down”. I still feel like a vagabond, living out of plastic packets (not even suitcases). There are ‘n’ number of unfinished jobs pending. Lots of things have changed in the meantime. I have my own emotional battles to conquer. Some new decisions have been taken and some really old ones are finally being implemented. It’s yet to be seen whether they were good or bad. I still need to come to terms with some of my decisions. I am at that point in my life when I know that destiny is playing a game with me and I can do nothing except flow with it. Life is but a combination of choices and if I made the wrong ones, I am doomed. It scares me to no end.

Anyhow the “home alone” stint has been quite full of things. The typical reactions that I would get from ppl when I informed them that I am shifting to my own house (and leaving my “nest” at that) would be:

1. “Are you crazy?” – No, I very well know what I am doing. Just because you never dared to do it doesnt mean it has to be crazy.
2. “But why are u shifting? What will you do?” – Huh? Dont ppl live independently anyway when they are working away from home? There’re ‘n’ number of things that one does with ones life, and those are what I’ll also do!
3. “Get married.”/”It’s time you got married.” – GOD help all those overzealous (read poke ur nose in my private affair) souls around me. Thanks but no thanks. I already know it’s time I got married. Doesnt mean I get married just so that I dont have to stay “alone”. Or are you just plainly green with “grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome and hence want to drag me into your side of the pasture?
4. “Is it safe for a female to be staying alone?” – well what’s safe in today’s date? Nothing.
5. “Won’t you be scared?” – No.

and some very atypical reactions would be
6. “Wow! that’s cool!” – gee, thanks, at last someone identifies with me!
7. “Hey let me in on this real estate stuff too” – ok, I charge one month rent as brokerage for that.

After I did shift and spent some time at home, most ppl who said points 1-5 treated me like I am off my rocker and kept to themselves. Some would ask me what I “do” (as if I had suddenly developed some alien receptacles on my head which prohibited normal mundane activities) especially since I didnt even have a cable connection or a proper music system at home. Well to be honest I didnt watch TV for 2-3 months and I just didnt feel as if I missed *anything*. I read a whole lot (nothing technical though I had plans). I listened to a lot of radio (on my walkman). I attended my piano/guitar classes. I cooked. I indulged in gardening. I drove between Gurgaon and Delhi. I contemplated. And did they forget that I work for a living? Anyhow running a house independently is no mean feat. And neither is staying alone. Especially if all the houses above yours, behind yours, across yours are empty too.

So far I think it was good to shift out. There have been myriad experiences all of which I wouldn’t care to write. But some notable things are:

1. From no cooking (omlet/maggi/sandwiches don’t count), I have graduated to good cooking. And surprisingly I even enjoy it. I have made various dishes now including pasta and “love filled” rotis. No, I am not inviting you all for a meal.
2. There were some thefts around the colony. Some ppl lost precious stuff whilst some lost the gutter lids in their premises. I lost all the gutter lids in my premises one after another (10 in all). It may sound funny to those who haven’t experienced but it just isnt funny when someone trespasses through your area, climbs through walls/locked gates and steals gutter lids even when you are *inside* the house. The next thing as you know could be anything.
3. I have had the pleasure of calling the police at the spot of the “crime” twice. Haryana police or rather anywhere is full of useless bastards especially if you dont know anyone in the upper echelons. All that they can do is tell you that they wont go search the umpteen jhuggi/jhompdi clusters right across your house, because some poor “mazdoor” couple might be copulating! HA!
4. I am an employer now apart from being an employee. It’s not as if there were no maids working at home earlier, but then the employer was my mom and not me. I have already changed 3 maids so far. The first one would keep cribbing to no one in particular even when I wasnt around. Within 10 days she asked me for a raise even though I was paying her full pay after having spent 75% time at Delhi. The second one would keep telling me to get married (she should be employed at the places of those ppl who uttered these responses earlier). When it came to work, she would shy off from most of it. “It’s dirty/It smells” she would say. Does she have this choice if she’s chosen to be a maid? She wasn’t even clear about her scope of work, forget objectives. But she was very clear that she wanted “baksheesh” on Holi etc. The third one is just fine. She isnt gossipy/doesn’t crib. She’s proactive and does things on her own. She doesn’t require close supervision. In fact now I have started taking the liberty of promptly going back to sleep after letting her in at 6:45 am till the time she has to leave. So far so good.

As I wrote, staying alone is no mean feat. It sure gets to you when you have to unlock a fortress every morning and lock yourself inside a fortress every night. One of the standing instructions from my parents is to keep mirchi powder or some chaaku at hand. Egad! They should know, I don’t take kindly to unwanted visitors. Anyone daring to step past my doorstep without my permission suffers the consequences. I already have blood on my hands after having killed some 450+ mosquitoes so far in a span of maybe a month. Some ppl actually changed their stand and now tell me “you are very brave to be staying alone”. Yeah well right, now if only I would get a plaque for it too. May be I can cover up some gutter with it.