Imagine the scenario. A campus teeming with young people with eminently commentable dressing patterns, all from across the country , there to attend a very well known , well entrenched youth festival. Banners and stuff all across campus, making use of the huge density of trees for holding them up. Stalls with soft drinks, all kinds of youth centric companies exhibiting their wares and sponsorships, an exhibition of Harley Davidson bikes, including one with an embedded music system, so to speak, (which you could actually hear above the revving of the engine, but I challenge anyone to listen in the 7 pm traffic rush outside, with 5 cars honking at you...). They even had two real Sumo Wrestlers, who did workouts in the gym, under the supervision of a trainer 1/10th their size. Asha Bhosle, Kavita Sheth, Iktara, the works. Even Medvedev, the President of Russia couldn't keep away, and came with all the associated tough looking security.
Early morning today , saw droves of sleepy eyed young boys and girls lugging and rolling suitcases to the Main Gate, on their way home from the campus, where caution, voices, and other things were thrown to the winds, over 4 days of revelry.
And into this chaos, 2 old ladies decided to meet for the first time.
Two years ago, on Dec 20, 2008, 5 people who were unaware of each others existence , except as residents of Blogger, decided to meet. For a lunch. They had so much fun, they decided to meet again. This happened several times in 2009, at assorted venues, and an anniversary of sorts was celebrated in Dec 2009 , with folks traveling in from Pune and Indore, and a great time was had by all, not to mention some folks trying to swing on the roots of a amazingly tolerant banyan tree.
2010 has been difficult. I know we've had scams, and stuff, lot of running in parliament, and some may even be happening as I write this, but somehow, in keeping with the exceptional situation all over, the 2010 Bloggers lunch didn't seem to be happening.
Some folks were travelling out of Mumbai, some had many weddings to attend , and some were unable to travel into Mumbai from outside.
But one lady travelled a huge distance down from Bihar, (or is it Jharkhand? never mind...) braving Naxalite areas , with no trains moving there at night, and 6-8 hour stops for trains at roadside stations. She was to visit family in Mumbai and she informed the other old lady about it much in advance.
The nice thing was her family lived nearby, and so the two ladies met . This morning, at 11:30 am.
No name cards and stuff was needed. You can tell a fellow blogger from a mile away, and she stood there at the gate while the other lady performed some parking acrobatics in the presence of some overzealous security.
Enthusiastic meetings, visits to home, and family, and the two ladies, set off for some sightseeing . As is traditional, perhaps, unknowingly or by habit, a visit to the local Devi Temple kind of started off the meet. Built around the idol image found underground, and honored by visits of the great late M. S Subbalakshmi and religious gurus, this temple has a very old history No crowds, no hustle and bustle, no priests urging you to "move on", just a quiet temple, with the Goddess quietly observing folks coming to worship her.
A longish drive around campus, seeing the various departments, and the younger blogger from the north, who is also an academic might have found it interesting. She had been on walks on earlier visits since her family lives close to the Institute, but this was possibly the first time she had a fast campus darshan tour.
Our way to lunch, and at one turning , it was either us or a car with a flag and red beacon . (Don't know what it is with ministerial/powerful red beacon cars and me, but during the last lunch here, some army types drove in excitedly in tinted cars , beacons and flags. ) This time it was us out front, with the flag-car behind us. I finally knew what a pilot car feels like. As we sailed into the parking area, I found out who was the Big Visitor, as we were summarily asked to vacate a wonderful parking space and go park under a far away tree. One doesn't argue in front of whistling cops, police jeeps with barricaded windows, and the two old ladies decided to make their way to lunch.
This was, the 3rd blog-lunch at this place. The guy should even give us a discount. But we were a good change for the folks there, from the usual smart , young, twittering and facebooking , casually posh, and poshly ordinary young people, sometimes referred to as dudes and dudettes, normally seen there.
A nice vegetarian lunch was ordered, and enjoyed over lots of chit chat about the state of the world, the state of education, administration offices, young people, their ambitions, whether its a nice idea to shift to Mumbai (it isn't), how some offices we have to deal with are the pits, how matrimonial search techniques are different today than in our time. :-)
There was great concern over knees, and the trouble they cause, Vitamin D3 blood tests (more about that in a forthcoming post), our fun memories of meeting other bloggers. A bit of tsk tsk about young folks today.
And we suddenly realised that the raita we had ordered was not so thick, and there was a lot of it left. Like we don't like to waste stuff we had ordered, and so at the fag end of the meal, we asked for an empty bowl, and half the pineapple raita was "poured" into it, and the two ladies kind of drank the raita in great style, chewing and nibbling on the fresh pineapple titbits.
Of course some photos were taken (not drinking raita), one of the in-charge types, clicked one with both of us.
I too took some. Of people and things. And veggies.
We spent almost 2 hours talking and still could have talked more. This always happens when I meet bloggers that I follow and read. Start off as if we've met before , and there is always so much to talk.
An amazing way to get to know a person, is to read the persons views on a plethora of subjects , through her blog.
The last time I had a one on one meeting with a blogfriend, it was a year and more ago, in Sunnyvale, USA.
The same feeling, the same conclusion.
The two of us get up and leave, weaving our way through tables choc-a -bloc with young people and luggage, having a last bite, before, bidding goodbye to friends.
They, to friends they have recently made, and me to a friend, it feels, that I have always known. She , amazingly says the same , as she gets off at the gate, to cross the road, on her way home.....
The world suddenly seems a nicer place.
All the signs are there.
They even served onions at the lunch table .......