There I was, nattily clad in my rumpled T-shirt and tracks, arriving at The Capitol to meet bloggers who were only known to me by their words. Fifteen minutes early and, so, decided to walk around the place before entering the venue. “Books, Books, Books” proclaimed a banner and I walked enthusiastically to that place only to find that it was the “Indian Institute of Engineers”. Having had my fill of Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics in my quest for a degree in the thankfully long-gone past, I beat a hasty retreat back to the venue.
As I was entering the venue, there was this serious girl getting off an auto. How was I to know that this girl, without even a smile on her face at that time, was Princess Poo of the smileys? It was too much to expect, of course, that she would come festooned in smileys but such is the expectation that meeting people only in forums and Inditalk creates! That recognition came later, of course, so I walked into the venue without accosting her.
I had met only The Fool earlier and he was in a will-I-won’t-I mood regarding coming to the meet. So I expected to be a total stranger to most there except, perhaps, Leo if he could spare some time for me.
The moment I entered the room, Karthik accosted me and we exchanged names. Something about the scintillating intelligence in my face must have caused him to think that I had strayed in there by mistake! So, he checked whether I was indeed a Indiblogger before I went on the register. I had hardly registered and entered when Vineet Rajan came over and gave me Zephyr’s regards. A very heart-warming reception!
Ever since I joined school and found out that being in the front benches did not allow you the luxury of catching up on your sleep, I have been a back-bencher. As usual, I seated myself in one of the back rows and was watching the screen that was informing us about the bloggers who were entering the venue. Imagine my surprise to see Pooja Pradeep being represented there and this sedate girl walking in – again with not a smile in evidence! I was still not sure, so I did not accost her then either.
Ten minutes of listening the music and The Fool made his entrance (to the sound of trumpets, almost!). I caught sight of him only after he had passed me busily chatting to someone else. I went after him and joined his crowd. Leo was there as was Pooja (Huh! I pinched myself thrice!!) and a whole host of others – Ash, Nabanita, Tavish, Farida, Harsha Chittar, Ganchakkar and so on. Within no time I was chatting with them as though I had known them all my life – that’s what blog friends feel like to you. (Ah! Well! I am sure that they too had that world-weary look as though they had had to listen to me all their lives!)
Anoop set the ball rolling with the bloggers introducing themselves. I may and do talk nineteen to a dozen normally but hand me a mike and the words freeze in my throat. (Now, how did that slip out? If I see my family and friends carrying a conspicuous mike in hand, I’ll know that they read my blog!) What with that Damocles’ sword hanging over my head and with most of the bloggers articulately introducing themselves, I was in a blue funk for that period.
Anoop was interspersing the introductions with questions and cool rewards for the correct answers. What with six months of washing powder, bean bags and an attractive gift hamper doing the rounds, I sorely missed questions about the radio and transistor of my times. Why, they did not even ask about 5.25” and 3.5” floppies!! Now what is all this Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress and all? Next time, I hope Anoop has strategic questions about walking sticks and reading glasses to encourage us old fogies!
Games time, then! Considering that all of the bloggers joined one team or the other and donning their team T-Shirts, I decided to fill in the sorely needed role of a spectator. It was great fun to watch them all having fun with their games till about the time when the
Orange team won DVD players
for each member of their team. Would you believe it, there was no single Orange
T-shirt lying around unclaimed so that I could join in that queue for prizes?
Tea Time! I would rather not list out the items now – it would make me ravenous again. Suffice to say that I can resist everything except temptation – as Oscar Wilde puts it – and I gorged that day.
Now was the time to pay our dues to Surf Excel! I must say that the HUL chap made the process as painless as possible and, when he threw in yet another DVD player into the game it was positively interesting. The question was about vibrating molecules that reside quiescently in Surf and I was having fun listening to the various answers till The Fool made it awkward for me by remembering that I purported to be a Chemical Engineer. What I learnt those days is something that is best kept a secret between my college, my maker and me!! I wriggled out of it by saying that it was nearly 30 years back and Surf had no vibrating molecules then!
When Anoop asked whether we enjoyed the meet, a large group yelled “NO!” and when he asked us why, we said we had not got those goodies. I am sure that, like me, all the others also knew that it was in jest and that our enjoyment was so apparent that we were sure that we would not be taken seriously. Indeed, it was much fun later seeing the guys with bean-bags, DVD players and half a year’s supply of detergent staggering around trying to balance them all as they made their way to their vehicles!
All good things come to an end. Walking out of the meet with a T-shirt and a Surf Excelmatic pack, I found Santosh going my way and he dropped me back quite close to my residence. All in all it was a fun day and left me hungering for more.