Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Locking Up The Sun

They're locking up the sun, the light of reason gone,
n' hope has been successfully undone
The question's burning on, where is it coming from,
no-one seems to know the monster born.

If I have to summarize the Neutrogena IndiBlogger Meet in a few lines, I would do it taking these lines from this great song. Anyways, here is the music video of this amazing song for your pleasure (especially if you're half ass asleep reading this) before proceeding.

So coming to the main course, got an e-mail at night about a new upcoming IndiBlogger meet in Mumbai, ah that moment of joy. But wait, Neutrogena?

My initial thoughts were, what am I going to do knowing about skin cream? Isn't this more of a ladies thing/celebrity/ those body conscious type of people thing? What is a fat hairy guy like me (who has never even seen one for that matter) going to do in a meet regarding skin care? However I did used to go to skin doctors, but that was a decade ago or so. And the only thing regarding fashion I know of is what I read from blogs I read of fellow bloggers who I've met through IndiBlogger and the blogosphere.

As always I was the first one who would have registered for the meet, this time I sat there contemplating what to do. After several minutes of waiting and refreshing, and seeing the empty screen slowly being filled with chicks, ladies and well.. aunties :P I didn't know what to do. Finally after just sitting there blatantly staring at my screen, after seeing some familiar (wouldn't have mattered actually) male names, I registered myself, still pondering leading to the day of the meet (after a certain point which I stopped caring). Hey I didn't want someone from the Indi team like Vineet calling me up and saying, "Sorry man, this is a woman's meet. Didn't you get it?" My long hair wouldn't help here too (although it did in the end in a manner of speaking) :P

Anyways, the meet technically started on the midnight of 7th April 2013 itself, where bloggers were asked to tweet 'Anything under the sun.' the entire day, and at the end of the meet a lucky blogger will win a Lumia 620 (*ahem*). There were many other prizes too  as per the ritual. I spent the night and following day tweeting, I was one of the first to tweet to right at midnight. But guess I was bit more for them to comprehend.

Or not to people friendly I guess :P (the date/timing shown is UTC not local)

Well during the actual daytime, as per standard protocol, got my lazy ass out of the house and went to the venue - Hotel JW Marriott at Juhu. That's one of my favorite places, they have amazing food especially the deserts! *drools again* I had just been there the previous week, and was already looking forward to being there again :D Met Amreen, who was my early bird companion as always, hung out waiting for the rest (actually, someone) to show up. Met many of the familiar faces and checking out the new ones ;) After the wait, as per the protocol which I already mentioned, got myself registered, got ditched by Amreen who went to be with her psycho squad women empowered gang and I joined some other old mates, and going around the place meeting people before the meet started. The place had a yellow ambiance as one might expect, yellow lighting, yellow umbrellas and decoration and the people (here people = ladies) from Neutrogena all dressed in bright yellow.

After the welcome greeting, as every meet begins with an ice breaker as the main goal is to meet more people and have a good time, everyone were supposed to get up and not sit with the already formed groups and sit with different people, which was as you might guess fundamentally flawed. Regardless I went on (absent a choice, not that I'm complaining though, feels good to be in demand sometimes :P) to be with the gang of empowered woman (called Indi-blog-blabber-reswaris, something like that). While registration each one had to write their name on miniature umbrellas, all later mixed in a jar. Now each person was given one and was supposed to go hunt find their chosen one. Surprisingly (or not) I was one of the first 3 winners as the guy who got mine simply ran up to me (I had wrote down my alias - The Nameless One) whom I had briefly met before the meet started and we won a USB wrist band pen drive :D A nice thing that my finder and findee, along with myself, all three were photographers, so had a rather easy quick chat, unlike the others who couldn't even manage 10 seconds because of the 'chaos'.

After everyone settled down after this, random bloggers whose name appeared on-screen, their finders were supposed to tell what they learned about their target chosen one. It was fun and in some cases very hilarious too. And as you might expect there was a blogger/friend (Neha D) who picked her own name and nabbed a prize (later on she went ahead to win two!) for it. A modified version of the 30 seconds of fame, or here a minute. After this, as I already pointed out the obvious flaw in the logic, it was juts the beginning, as there was another round of running around, meeting more people and forming finally 6 major groups among the approx 120-150 people for the day, based on the number of holes in the mini umbrella we had. I got in number two, and praising the lord of laziness I was sitting at table #2 itself (haha!). We were perhaps the largest group among the lot comprising of more than 25 people or so, and the most awesome of the day :D

Every group was supposed to have a team name for themselves and an anthem. Thanks to the presence of pappe Ratandeep I declared us as Suns of Sardar (as the name and anthem had to do something with sun, as it was a skin care themed meet after all) and sheer brilliance of Suranga and Vaisakhi, we were the best :D Well apparently there was tie since the competition was so good it seems, and there was a tie that group #1 called Sunsani also 'won'. Well call it either a simple case of logic, human politicizing situational emotions, or me simply being an ass, we were exclusively called first, so we won :P 

After which, there was more physical activity to do, which this meet had the most so far among the rest. It was a battle game between two teams at a time, one were supposed to be throwing ultraviolet balls at the other. Just kidding, that's was just the concept, besides I've heard all kinds of balls, what's a UV ball anyways? And the other held yellow umbrellas with holes in them. The basic idea was that despite the skin care products we use, at a molecular level they are flawed with 'holes' in them through which ultraviolet radiation can pass through the skin regardless, so it's not 100% effective, and this is where Neutrogena is the best among the others, not having these 'holes'. Now I don't know about skin creams, and already had my share of holes among various others (I meant science, electronics and computers, just saying), I just knew the flaw again here in this game. Well it was fun as hell, after all who didn't like attacking with/throwing smiley balls?

It was time for tea and snacks, and I would bloody shave my beard if atleast half the people weren't waiting for it! As I already said above, great food and desert. Dam even the coffee was amazing! Apart from so called evening lunch which I along with my regular demon eater friend Sumit, had a green tea and two Espresso coffees *burp*. Time for a nap. 

The meet continued as Tara Sharma joined us, after coming up on stage she spoke about her experiences from a star turned mom, blogger turned show runner and how she went about it. It seemed interesting, though a good chuck of it went over my head I must admit, only stuff I know about skin or dress up is reading blogs of people who I met here. There was a Q&A with her, a number of questions being asked. After which young Ashwin, the youngest blogger got to reveal a gift hamper with her to be given to all the bloggers in the audience.

Oh bonus points if you manage to say Dermatologist in the first go. GO!

It was followed by one (whose name I unfortunately can't recollect) who took the stage who went on to explain the basic school science behind it which either you forgot or didn't bother knowing in the first place. In any case there was a very hilarious moment which followed. He was demonstrating to the audience the effect of ultraviolet radiation with colour changing samples, the products and a UV emitter, explaining UVA and UVB and all related terminologies and working. A fellow, to whom I would like to add 'the great' Pushkar, asked me:

"Abbe yaar agar vo Neutrogena cream itna effective hey, tho vo apne aap pey laga kar try kyu nahi kartha?" (if the Neutrogena cream is so effective as said, why doesn't he apply it on himself and demonstrate)

Already bit tired and further annoyed by such a silly question I turned back and sort of yelled (which I didn't intent to) "Abbe gadhe, uska thopda ka colour change nahi hoyega, cancer hoyega chu***a, cancer!" (You idiot, his face won't change colour, he'll get cancer you c*nt!)

Bit louder than which I never intended, half the crowd on my side took notice and burst into laughter. Luckily those on stage or all didn't take notice, otherwise who knows, I was afraid I might had to speak up something or worse volunteer myself :P

The meet was nearing the end, and if there was a part of the meet which everyone insanely enjoyed, it was this one. Anoop said let's do a IndiBlogger Harlem Shake. There were videos shown on screen for the unaware public, followed by a small cool demo by a dude who was also wearing the face pack mask which added to the fun. When asked for volunteer, apart from the usual us who didn't do anything better than such as this, the response was awesome. :D The same guy ahead gave a start, followed by Ratandeep, Harsh, Pushkar, Nikhil and the leader of the insane lot, yours truly. Dam fun!

 Not sure what this dude was up to, either.

Here Ratandeep went 'Oye Pa-pe'. Pushkar went 'How tell am I?'. Nikhil was like, what is happening? Harsh transformed into a super saiyan. And I was busy keeping my head on top. We all went sort of boom-chika-boom-boom, with our heads that is :P

Here is a video shot by Pankaja. Still waiting for the final cut if any.

The meet ended with a blast. Everyone then went on to click more photos, grab stuff for them, saying byes until next time, all happily returning homes (or not) with more goodies, good memories, smiles and in my case, a half broken neck.

Thank you once again for another wonderful experience.
Photo credits to Harsh, IndiBlogger and myself.

Until next time


Friday, 5 April 2013

Dinner is served

 ...and nothing here is vegetarian. If you get what I mean.

About more than a week ago, I was invited for the premier of the upcoming show Hannibal, based on the iconic character of the same name, by AXN India. I was already looking forward to the show since I loved Hannibal, had seen all the movies and went through the books by Thomas Harris, and this was a fresh take being a big prequel to the first book/story Red Dragon (which is going to be season 4 of the planned 7 season arc, followed by The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal eventually) I was very excited, although I also had my doubts how will the creators pull this off after the acclaimed movies and legendary performance by Anthony Hopkins. Well guess what? The show is terrific! With a strong cast and creative show-runners, this seemed to be the best move they made. A pretty cruel horrifying tale with seemingly no compromise on the legacy of this cannibalistic brilliant serial killer character is what was needed, and that is what we're getting.

And this is an original AXN production, which is one of the biggest English television channels here in India apart from HBO among others. So there was a premier party on 2nd April 2013 at JW Marriott, Juhu for which I was invited as I said already. I wasn't keeping well since some days, due to my state even considered canning my plans for the day, but heck I couldn't afford to miss it so I went anyway, and I'm so glad I did. Should say the good food of that hotel (which is one of my favourites actually) and drinks did cure me up for that time. :D

The ambiance of the venue place was great as was supposed to be for this dark show. I met the gal (Shivangi) who invited me here in the first place. Had a couple of drinks before the main course began. There was this booth where a psych revaluation was going on. Fun stuff, registered myself at the desk, and filled the questionnaire chilling on a sofa. At my turn I sat in front of the psychologist, who asked bit about me while reading my responses. While I don't remember most of the questions now (as that was the only thing they took back) he was quite surprised (and amused at the same time, in a manner of speaking) with my responses, remarking I was the first guy to give certain different answers than the rest. I remember the last question he asked of me, the same old 'is this cup half filled or half empty' one. I replied for me it's just a cup of water, irrelevant of it's full or emptiness. But then he went on to say that he could say the cup is half full. My response was the usefulness of the cup lies in it's emptiness. He was amazed (I guess?) I know I'm awesome :P After saying something of the sort you're one heck of a fella, he went on to give me a certificate, citing me a borderline sociopath. Not that I'm surprised, I was just a bit in fact as I think he went bit soft on me instead of declaring me a full blown psychopath. My parents and people around me would surely say that. :P

Dam I need friends. Speaking of friends, since I was on my own, as I didn't knew anybody, except for a brief moment I met one of the photographers from the media side there, a pretty middle age tall man called Mr. Vilas, who was also the photographer present at the Microsoft press event few days ago. Truth is, he recognized and approached me as I must have missed him, asking me I was one of the winners who met Aamir Khan right? Had a quick chat with him, asking what he does and the whereabouts of that day's press photos. :D You see why I wasn't surprised of me being a sort of sociopath? Well besides that and looking around waiting, having some starters and drinks *gulp* and smiling back at those few faces who actually bothered to look me and smile.

But a nice surprise which followed was met an old friend cum consistent winner companion Krutik there along with 2 of his friends. I had first met him back in 2011 when we both won a contest and got to meet Tom Cruise for Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol premier here in Mumbai. Felt good catching up. Soon after great starters consisting of the psych reval, drinks and well... starers, the main course was about to be served. Proceeded to the dining room with the screen and the usual you know what. An introduction by the runner of AXN channel here in India Mr. Sunil Punjabi followed by some footage of upcoming stuff at AXN, was pretty awesome considering some great shows were finally being aired here in India and hopefully general public would be aware of them at least. I was in particularly happy that Justified was being aired here too, pretty dam awesome show, acting and storytelling, the season 4 finale which aired recently was perhaps the best episode in the entire series yet and blew me away. Currently season 3 is about to be aired here. AXN is quite possibly among the best channels in the country.

Eventually the screening of the pilot episode began, which the entire audience was glued too, and received a bit of uproar upon it's ending. All the reviews which I've been reading since the past few days truly make sense of it now. Already couldn't wait for the next episode, and Mr. Punjabi joked about coming to his office to nab the rest of the episodes, at that point I wouldn't actually mind doing that shamelessly. We are the fans after all. A Q&A followed where fellow invited guests including me gave our feedback and enthusiasm for the show. The best part was this was the first time that a show that too of this great scale was airing almost at the same time of the US counterpart, with hardly 12 hour difference. Some more jokes followed on piracy subtly and seeing episodes back to back and waiting for weeks. Kudos to AXN for this move, this is the way for both ridding of piracy and spreading good shows/media to more people.

 Just a harmless turkey passing by...

Finally the desert followed after the main course, well aka dinner, and not to mention a few more drinks that is which was awesome for which this hotel I'm fond of. Got to have a chat with Mr. Punjabi and a few others, and congratulated him personally for the show's success and future endeavors. After a fine evening with Hannibal, good food, and an overload of cheesecakes, went back home (and well, fell sick again) :P Should have just stayed there I guess.

 'Trophies' (it's a serial killer thing)

As for the review of the premier itself, I need not add anything further as it speaks for itself. It was just the cherry on the cream of the cake, waiting for next week as it follows. You can check out the great reviews it has been receiving here and here. Hannibal premiers on April 4 - 10/9c on NBC in US and April 5 - 10 PM on AXN here in India. As I said hardly a 12 hour difference which is awesome in fact. Do not fail to catch it!

With that ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served.