Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Har Har Mahadev!

So these 2 days were some of the most interesting there was. It was my birthday yesterday, and this can be considered as a sequel/continuation from my yesterday's post. So coming to the event(s):

Crossword charms

"What we are seeing today is a publishing phenomenon." - Anil Dharka 

"He not only writes books, he makes it a multi-million dollar event. Amish is India's first literary pop star" - Shekhar Kapur

Those were some of the many praises for yesterday's launch of the third and final book of Amish's Shiva Trilogy, The Oath of the Vayuputras. It had been a long wait, and the beautiful journey which started in 2010 saw the beginning of it's end now. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch of the book at Crosswords, Kemp's Corner, Mumbai. I was expecting a decent crowd, but what I didn't expect was the so massive crowd screaming Har Har Mahadev! on the road lined outside the shop, that was really something! The organizers had difficulty in organizing and keeping up because of the amazing response. I honestly didn't knew there so many people who were crazy fans, but glad I wasn't the only one. After a bit initial frustration because of not-being-from-an-elite-class-or-celebrity moment which happens all the time, once inside things start pumping up.

I had already pre-ordered my copy the moment pre-orders started months ago on, so initially I wasn't much into purchasing one there. But being in that ambiance, I said fuck it, I dashed ahead, purchased some copies for me and my friends. I was accompanied by Gordon, a college friend and there met Mitesh, a very old friend whom I hadn't seen since 2009 or so and due to this event spoke up and met. The crowd was building up. Heck THERE WERE BOUNCERS! WHO HAS BOUNCERS AT A BOOK LAUNCHING? So understand the magnitude of this happening, this was the biggest and most anticipated book launch ever!

Like I ninja I'm, I slipped through and managed to have a quick chat with Amish who was preparing for the presentation. I had previously written another blog post dedicated to him, he saw it, liked it and tweeted me with a thanks. I was also lucky enough to have small such chats on twitter. He instantly recognized me and said he was glad I made it. I told him it was my birthday, he was awed and wished me, and told me with a wink that he'll see me tomorrow (they'll come below). Oh how I love twitter, helping me talk to people I admire, and help me win a lot of shit too :D

So with the crowd (and bouncers) going up in numbers, at about 9:30 the event started. The event started with a great performance, 2 tracks of the soundtrack by the band Indo Gypsies who had worked with it. It was (another) crazy coincidence because they had performed just a day before at my college festival (and won #1). I really liked those guys, and acknowledged them after they were out. It was followed by the special guests taking their places on stage. Apart from the aforementioned, the special guests included Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO of Westland Books Publications, publishers of The Shiva Trilogy and Kajol (the actress, not to be confused with kajal). A very funny occurrence was (as always, I was in a strategically good position) she had just passed by me and was standing just in front of me talking to someone, I was ahead just behind the line of barricade bouncers and already engrossed in the book finishing about 2 chapters. When her name was announced with a big shock I looked up finally and when I saw all of them I was like WHAT!? You see Shiva (and Amish of course) were the biggest stars there actually. However I did manage to amend my mistake, as they again passed by me after it got over. :D And yes, the special people in the room were also his entire team behind the book and around 300 passionate fans who were there to witness it first before anyone else.

It was fun, everyone spoke about the awesomeness of Amish and his work, and he himself had as always good stuff to say, followed by a reading of an excerpt from the book, Q&A with the audience, and of course the grand launch of the book (all that not in that exact order though) :P

One good thing was everyone were given numbered coupons for maintaining order which was fair enough. I was #54 so I guess I was the 54th person in the world to lay hands on the book, more or less. In an not-so-but-still-decent orderly manner, people lined up and went one by one to get their book autographed and get a pic clicked. Amish is a really cool, casual and down to earth person, he spoke with everyone, patiently signed everyone's book, answered questions and took pics. Who would be so patient enough to do all that? When I went up, I had got all 3 books of mine with hope to get them signed, I thought I'll reserve that for tomorrow but not only he took em and signed all 3, he also turned to his wife Preeti who was near talking and taking pics, he told her it's my birthday, who in turn told the announcer, announcing it was my birthday and wasn't this the best way to spend it? The whole crowd cheered Happy Birthday (and many people passing by wished me later too!), heck no one I know had done something like this for me ever! I didn't eat a morsel the whole day, starving hungry (not even a chocolate or cake, see my post on clichés while you're at it) and this boring day ended on such a high note. Truly blessed. :)

 Took a train and reached home by 0030 hrs. I thought of skipping sleep and finishing the book at night so that I can talk about it the next day, but I was too tired so decided not to and crashed. It was wise as I didn't want to turn into a zombie at the meet/conference or worse oversleep.

flipkart Fascinates

So the next (big) day, got up and left for meeting the Amish again :D

I had won a contest by flipkart and Westland Books, for being one of the first to pre-order the book, answer some questions in my sleep, thanking the lord of random picking and well for being awesome. This time I think the universe was helping me, I very quickly reached the venue, Ramee Guestline Hotel, Dadar at 10 AM for the 11 AM scheduled meet. There I met Prashant, the guy from flipkart with whom I (and probably everyone else) co-ordinated with, Aswin, the director of Books division at flipkart, and a fellow winner Ram Kumar from Madurai, it was his first time here in Mumbai and what best way could it have been? I was quite surprised when he contacted me few days earlier before excited for the meet, flipkart had spent on his 4 flights (Madurai-Chennai-Mumbai and back) and also on the other winner Manish's who was from Delhi. That was impressive. So in short we had 3 people from 3 corners of the country for a private informal session with the AAA (amazing author Amish). And for those rare moments in Indian history, it actually started on time.

We were joined by the guys from Westland, Preeti who immediately recognized me (of course!) and said 'Hey lucky birthday boy' and then Amish who patted me on the back with a hey (again) buddy. Ram Kumar immediately 'took the lord's blessings' since unlike me who was very lucky to speak to communicate with him at times and just saw him last night and had an awesome birthday moment, he was first time meeting his most favourite author. I could see the genuine, child turning innocence and passion in his eyes which lightened my heart too. Not everyday you get such a chance. We are soon joined by the third fellow Manish finally, who had spent the previous night at the airport since he stays far from there so had to get ready after a tiring night and journey. He was a cool dude, an ex Indian Air-force fellow! So it was an ex-Vayuputra meeting with a creator of Vayuputras as we put it. :)

It was really great, we spoke a lot ranging from the 3 books, the ideas and symbolism behind them, Indian mythology, books, writing, the whole Indus Valley Civilization and Aryan Invasion Theory being complete bullshit and issues being political propaganda right since the British rule. I had a dozen questions to be asked what some people asked me to along with several of my own, Ram Kumar had 22 on his cell phone compiled and Manish was also in game, in short we all had done our homework and research pretty dam well. We couldn't record anything, and it was a if I tell you I'll have to kill you sort of thing. Okay not really but it was still cool. :D

After more than an hour of talking, it was massive photo session time, and a time where we could feel a bit as celebrities too. :D I got the chance to personally thank Preeti for the wonderful pics she took last night, help me make my birthday completely special. Got a second copy signed, this time more personalized :)

After it all ended well, there were journalists whose turn was to harass interview Amish while we three had a good chat with the flipkart guys namely Aswin and Prashant. Consumer feedback, what we liked and stuff in general. We had a lot of suggestions and feedback to give, well which we gave and hope will be implemented some time ;)

Had some nice lunch with some more talks with Amish and Aswin before all finally parting ways and ending the day. I told Amish I'll write a review on the trilogy once I finish the book (as I type this I'm at about 10 chapters, read in the train and at home when had some time) which I'll finish by tomorrow or so. He just requested me not to spoil it which I won't as I mostly stick to non-spoiler reviews, so be on a look out for that. Waiting for photos taken by those guys, will post more when I get them. Reached home late afternoon, heck those two from Madurai-Chennai-Mumbai and Delhi-Mumbai must have had a more comfortable journey than me from Borivali-Dadar. Something which only Mumbaikars will understand.

Big thanks to Amish, his entire team, Westland Books Publications (double points for you), flipkart (everyone already calls me a flipkart loyalist, I give them so much business after all, and they give me cool stuff, it's a mutually loving relationship, so far haha) and Crosswords (all time favourite hang out place, well the ones near my home). These 2 days were really awesome and special, I wish you all the success from the bottom of my not-so-existing-heart, but still I love you anyways. Looking forward to catch up next time. Never before I was so enthusiastic and eager to say the title of this post. I mostly use Godspeed, but from now also:

Har Har Mahadev!


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The sound of blogging - Connected Music Indiblogger meet with HP

"Music to me is like the air I breath."
                                                                                  - Billie Joe Armstrong 

Ah, Hewlett-Packard, every second or third person who reads this at some point might have owned a HP computer (or something else?) or have known someone as such. This time it was them who joined forces with Indiblogger, along with Universal Music India and Hungama, to conduct the first Indiblogger meet here in our Amchi Mumbai Bombay of 2013.

When I woke up few days back when the meet was first announced, I was surprised seeing some people already signed up when it was posted sometime like 5 in the morning. There went my being first streak. So began the wait for the d-day. Oh by the way, I don't know why the fuck most people use that military term either, but still it's cool.

Writing this after the meet, it seems days just snapped by in a flash. Skipping forward to the day of the meet, as I didn't do any interesting shit which otherwise I would have made note of, I not-so-much-really-as-always prepared to leave. I estimated to reach around 2 PM at the venue but it seems the universe was with me that day as I reached there around 1 itself, about hour and a half early! Well I'm usually the early bird but this time I had outdone myself (with no intention whatsoever). Luckily for me both of us, Amreen came in early too and we spent the day awesomely. I love you gal :*
And yeah I like a peculiar character from Pokemon Black/Black 2 too, and any further details or speaking out of the usual riddles can result in me being murdered so I'll leave it at that. (if you get what I mean) :P

Apart from meeting the Indi team, friends, familiar faces there was an abundant amount of new faces (and looking at feeds being first timers) at the meet, so it was great. It was lent season going so there was a downer in the no. of people rejoicing the wonders of meat and alcohol, but well what do I say? Time to tone down on weight in a way! I was bit sad though for BlogwatiGeeeee (the es are with extra love) didn't bring me any cake (or any of the others as a matter of fact) but well forgiven for this time. And yes, one of the most iconic bloggers in the Mumbai Bombay scene celebrates her first anniversary of her blog, so head by and congratulate her. And if you thinking of suicide, go call her aunty-g :P

The venue was Otto Infinito, a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant with a great ambiance. As I said I magically reached there from Borivali straight, without a problem or having to search at all, in around an hour while not being aware the existence of this place before the meet was announced. These guys surely get the best places! I can't comment on the food and service since we didn't actually quite hog eat anything say for some cool mock-(for the love of god why?)-tails and snacks followed by some amazing pasta (more on that later). However I heard from Amrita that their cheesecakes are good and they had some fine dam liquor! (which unfortunately wasn't being served due to the meet). The meet started with a warm welcome by the team as always, and this time the 30 seconds of fame and the ice breaker session were mashed up for something different. In short, get your ass up and round around meeting people and writing on each others scrolls. The people with the most amount of signatures scored some headphones by HP, and needless to say I have a winning streak in that too.

Again both sides though this time less filled. At least unlike last time, no one aimed for my nuts either :P

While this connecting mechanism might seem flawed as already pointed out by some, as people were just running around to say a hi and getting signed, and apart to some extent throughout the actual connection starts after the meet is over through facebook, twitter and other social media and of course one's blogs, until the next meeting IRL AFK. ;)

This formula does work fine, and since this was a relatively short and calmer meet (until the end that is) it worked well.

 After the mambo-jumbo running around and everyone were seated and folks like me who scored a headphone, it was time for the main presentation. The aforementioned trio force spoke about music, how music means to us and connects us (see what I did there?) and introduced a new DRM-free service bundled with a new line of HP laptops, with a subscription to a huge catalogue of music with high quality music for (the magic word) free. Well the laptop however was not free. :P

Who (especially we Indians) doesn't like free stuff? And considering vast of the population pirating borrowing stuff, this is indeed a good very good move. And for the minority(?) of folks like me who have no life nothing much to spend on actually buy stuff, one might know one of the biggest evil of earth - DRM and what a pain in the neck, head ass and whatever hurts ya, really is. People could try it out and they searched and played music from various artists for the entire audience. Ironically, when I went up and searched (for 5 times), not much luck for me. They ought to add (much) more in their catalogue. And one thing which kept bothering me - Why on earth were they using Internet Explorer for the presentation? Argh! I had to control myself from getting up and asking that you know.

Reasonable prices, easily available to many and DRM-free is the way to go. Then one might hope to say viva la piracy. (but who are we kidding?) Oh yeah, here I was the first one to score another headphone for naming a song first (it was Enter Sandman) After which, the manager and the chef-chief spoke about the restaurant and their special cuisine which was then followed by the (other) favourite part- hogging eating time! :D

The Indiblogeshwaris with a father figure among them. And I think BlogwatiG is tired giving gyaan. :P

Personally I love pastas. My soul gets touched when I have them. Or some shit like that.

 No words here. Can't say the best ones I had but still simply awesome. My mouth is watering just remembering it.

In the end, before coming to the prizes, there was a fun activity and like I said above, which ended the rather relatively calm meet (considering it was a meet on music) ended on a high note. Groups were formed by participants based on their favourite genre of music and were supposed to perform and the best one were in for goodies. Of course not so surprisingly I was in the group of rock and metal fans, and dam we were pathetic. Problem was not everyone knew whichever particular song we decided to end up mashing up some songs but well no instruments and none of us were vocalists either. I won't further make a fool of myself, those who were present know it. Besides that, it was great fun. The winners were the group in sheer majority called '13 13' (I don't even want to explain, just google padawan), the choir led by master Nelton.

 Coming to the prizes, my moment of small pride ended with 2 headphones. If you are wondering why I was (trying to) kill her Amreen above, she won the grand prize - a HP laptop! For her tweet on her favourite artist Queen. The thing is I told her jokingly out of a hunch that she'll win. I should start a sort of business based on my hunches now, still more profitable for me. There was another winner of the grand prize where the point was to tweet to something good/sweet about a fellow blogger/friend there. Well again here, silence for the fear of being killed. Besides having a garbage in the name of a cell phone and for some reason twitter not working, I spammed kept posting on facebook which automatically tweeted it. We are engineers señor/senoritas. :D

The day ended with the last bit of photo sessions and a group photo(s). To watch a cool compilation of the meet check out a video made by the amazing photographer god Magic Eye here. Kudos to the Indi team once again for the amazing meets and hard work we put through. Actually I was going around doing this:

While I don't have much luck in grand winnings, more importantly everyone wins with great memories, met many awesome people, learning quite something or more, good food (mwahaha!) and looking forward to more such wonderful times. Apart from that I won a free ride back home thanks to Sumit Sumoni. And I got some good words too :D

Until next time. Till then I'll sort my wardrobe of Indi t-shirts.

For more pics check out the facebook Indiblogger album.


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Away From Keyboard


This must be one of the most relevant documentaries of our times, telling the tale of one of the world's most famous sites The Pirate Bay. While I personally don't fully condone piracy, this is a tale of our internet culture and in a way, freedom of expression.

You can watch it fully in HD below on Youtube, or download it from torrents in 480p, 720p and 1080p formats. Yeah this time it IS legal so don't shy away :D

Visit the TPB AFK site and support it by buying it if you can. I know quite ironic to buy something which is the pioneer of piracy.

Spread and share the film online and offline. This is the documentary of our times.
There is no real life, just AFK.