This was the first time we decided to meet in a Mall. In the unrelenting humidity of a Mumbai summer, the central airconditioning and multilevel parking was most welcome, and so was the choice of eateries. Of course we always look for a place where we can be ourselves - a motley group, chatting and laughing away, casually eating, occupying long tables. And we also look for a place, where no one kind of breathes down your neck, having promised your table to someone else. This time the ages were spread across a spectrum from 3 to 61.
The Generation Next of the bloggers was present , aged 24, 10,5, and 3. And there was so much for them to learn.
-- Observing that endless traipsing around wasn't pleasurable to some elder blogger types, one of our young chivalrous professional adda types requested them to sit somewhere, and that he and someone else would scout out a good place and then have us come there. Much appreciated. But everyone went together.
-- Some Generation Next's youngest bloggers, kind of sprinted around, and one of them made his displeasure known at being weaned away from the entrance to the game places. Maybe we should have showed him the fish feet- massage place.
-- Generation Next bloggers got presents. The eldest blogger also got a "congratulating" mug from the second eldest. Coincidentally the eldest blogger was sitting amidst the youngest folks, so maybe some folks thought that's why she got it :-) . But the thoughtfulness and wonderful mug was greatly appreciated.
--Some guys who keep running hundreds of kilometres a week for practice, end up crawling when driving in our Mumbai traffic. And arrive last. These folks are given a place at the head of the table, and the honor of ordering the food, and they do an excellent job with the menu. Just a decent vegetarian menu, with variety baskets of rotis, a nice selection of veggies and a pitcher of cold "chhaas", so welcome on a day like this in Mumbai.
-- So many of our group are on to new things.
One is pursuing a doctorate in English at a Technology Institute.
Another combines her legal and sports watching activities, with a penchant for teaching, and manages to have students who have cricket match tickets to spare, allowing her to watch "God" get his first IPL century.
A retired elder blogger, continues in academia, teaching at well known institutes, guiding younger folks in his field.
A younger corporate type, manages to seamlessly interface managing colorful stuff and colorful people, travelling the length and breadth of this land, and running hundreds of kilometres a month in Mumbai in the early hours of dawn. And he still has the energy to tweet and do wonderful photography about just about anything; buildings, animals, payasam....
One younger member, who already teaches, is now spearheading a funded project doing research about blogging and bloggers, and we are her initial data points.
A still younger member excels at running behind a hugely active, expressive, cartoon loving very young son, who is on his second blogger lunch, and shows great promise.
Then there is someone who writes blog posts that make you think about the world and what is happening in our country, and she often comes up with suitable Sanskrit verses. She is limited a bit by her health problem, but she just leaves those behind when she makes it to these lunches, and we like to think these blogger meets are a nice change.
And then there is the adda-ish one, who is so infatuated with his Fiat Punto, he drove it to the bloggers meet. And even convinced his boss to drop by.
But this was a day of amazing coincidences.
What is a blog meet without a dessert of kulfi ? And so we wandered over to the Food Court, where there was a mind boggling variety of Kulfis , and the younger kids got to choose to their heart's content. A point to be noted is that most bloggers in their 30's preferred to lick kulfi sticks, while those double that age, actually had theirs in a frozen earthen pot.
As they say on Twitter, #just saying.
In the meanwhile the youngest member, aged 3, had flown into a huge rage, at being deflected from the game parlours, and being bodily carried away by his mother. He continued to be supremely unmoved by the kulfi.
But, suddenly, the boss of the adda-type arrived. He probably wanted to put faces to the words he probably reads so often and enjoys from time to time, and he was providentially carrying a bag containing some wonderful Ferrero Rocher chocolates for everyone. The little one, quietened down, eyed the booty, and forgot about the game parlours. He was presented the nice bag of chocolates.
I am positive the adda-types will go very far and have a bright future for their company. They already know how to woo the Generation Next bloggers.
The only thing missing was the photographs.
One of the elder bloggers spied , what looked like an American, sitting at a table next to where we had collected. The man seemed to be doing nothing much except waiting for someone, and so he was requested to click us. He graciously agreed, and asked who the group was. The age range, looks, and languages was baffling, and we couldn't possibly be a family.
Here's the coincidence.
When he heard about our blogger lunch, he introduced himself as a blogger too ! From Virginia. And he was also involved in some conflict resolution stuff in the work he was professionally doing here in India. One of our retired elder bloggers, actually teaches this currently , and was amazed to meet this guy. The adda-types too were interested.
You don't run into unknown bloggers in Food Courts with hundreds of kids running around, staff cleaning floors, and waiters trying to avoid coming between folks doing photographs of groups.
Everyone was requested to come together. Those of us smiling for the camera didn't notice that ALL the male bloggers, including the adda-types, were busy discussing something, where this American guy had stood a moment ago. He left them to take our photograph, and a couple of us got introduced to him and his family , who arrived by then , with their food trays.
He did take our photograph. On various cameras .
But the interesting thing is, on my camera , it looks like he left almost ALL the men out of the frame.
All I can say , is Hmm.....
And more Hmm.....