India Today #Conclave 15

Monday 9th March 2015, 1830hrs:

Ping….ping…ping…‘ The phone desperately tried to grab my attention towards the mails that were delivered. I had just returned from a 2km evening walk and was more interested in a glass of water than in checking out the emails.

But the addiction to constant updates is such these days that I too succumbed to the pings and opened my mailbox. The first few mails were some promotional ones. And so I scrolled down hurriedly for any relevant mails that the inbox might have, when a ‘Please moderate a new comment….’ mail caught my eye. A  fellow blogger and a visitor to my blog had congratulated me on making it to the winners’ list of @BlogaddaWorld remade‘ activity for India Today #Conclave15. I obviously had missed that mail in a sea of all those promotional ones !!

Once I read the mail by @Blogadda, I couldn’t of course keep a lid over my excitement and having confirmed my participation to Team Blogadda, quickly made calls for train reservations, forgetting all about the glass of water and my daughter’s pending 6th grade final exams.

Wednesday 11th March 2015, 1730hrs:

The remaining Monday and the whole of Tuesday went in a flurry of activity mentally preparing myself and my daughter to be away from each other for almost a week. I cooked some of her favorite food and stored it in refrigerator for her to have later.

Wednesday morning flew and it was my time to board the train to Delhi and I left after a lot of hugging and instructing. I planned to stay with a friend as the pass did not include an accommodation (that however would have been the perfect PASS though, if it included a stay at TAJ PALACE…..but alas!! our travel and stay was not sponsored).

I reached Delhi on 12th March 1020 hrs and me and my friend giggled away the whole day and the whole night in anticipation of the upcoming events at conclave 2015.

 Friday 13th March 2015, 0745hrs:

I rushed about at my friend’s place gathering laptop, watch, chargers, bag, trying to look presentable….after all I was going to be at the TAJ PALACE. It was already 7:45 am and I was supposed to reach the venue at 0800hrs (Blogadda guys really fooled us with this one! They said the passes were first cum first serve basis however they had already reserved a table for the winners. We could have easily and comfortably reached the venue without any rush at around nine in the morning)

After a little bit of scampering on the footpath I managed to flag down an autorickshaw. The driver gauged my desperation and charged me fifty bucks for a distance less than 1.5km 😦

Conclave I-card and red bagOnce at the venue at around 0805hrs, I rushed to the registration desk sweating and panting and was met by Sumit and Mayank from India Today team who did all the formalities on my behalf. I now got the official delegate i-card…people!! And then it sunk in really….Yes I was at the INDIA  TODAY #CONCLAVE 15!!

At the conclave venue

 While I waited for fellow bloggers who also won the passes to the event, I got Mayank to click my photograph at the conclave wall.

The session was to start at around ten so the four of us winners had time enough to acquaint ourselves with each other. We continued our introductions in the Shahjahan Hall over  tea-coffee and refreshments before the session commenced.

over morning tea-coffee

After the strong hot coffee and some tidbits, Aroon Poorie addressed the guests with a welcome speech introducing the speeakers and outlining the two-day itinerary.

The conclave session kickstarted with the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar sharing his Sachin Tendulkaropinions on life. Such modesty and humility could only be seen in a personality like him who believes in sharing his luck with the society and has adopted a village providing solar electricity through an initiative called ‘Spreading Happiness’.

An important life lesson that I could assimilate from this young achiever was to not let success go to one’s head, practice…practice….practice and to have a foundation of solid morals….something we can all give to our kids.

The next three session were not what I was much interested in because I feel politicians mostly lie about the promises they make to public and they don’t even bat an eyelid while lying through their teeth. However, I would like to hope that maybe slowly skill development and dignity of labor will gain ground in our nation too.

I wasn’t very happy though when the Union Minister of Defence commented that most of the air crashes of choppers and fighter aircrafts happen due to human error. It is so easy for a minister to wash his hands off the  by blaming the pilots but ask people like us…..the air warriors’ wives, mothers, friends….whose dining table discussions include stories of pilots who have perished or who have survived to tell the tale of the mishaps.

Lunch after the morning session was a treat for the gastronomically inclined and I for one was delighted to taste all the spread.

The post lunch session had two interesting guests Lisa Haydon and Katrina kaif. While Lisa spoke well about every woman’s right to feel beautiful and how the color of skin or the attire doesn’t define who the person really is, Katrina Kaif was a regular filmstar evading questions on her relationships. She could not answer intelligently two questions  posed by Shobha De and an Australian gentleman.

The two short interesting sessions about Volvo’s crash resistant cars and fututistic 3-D printing besides a long long boring monologue by Deepak Chopra, the wellness guru who promotes Yoga, Ayurveda in scientific way to the westerners, made way for the evening tea-coffee break…..a much desired one at that, post the mind numbing Deepak Chopra.

Later again the political discussions commenced till dinner time. Dinner was a lavish spread which I thoroughly enjoyed before calling it a day and heading back to my friend’s home.

Saturday 14th March 2015, 0900hrs:

All five of us, the winners and new friends decided to reach venue earlier so that we could grab better seats than what we were offered on the first day of the conclave. Though we were still too far, we did manage to occupy a table little closer to the stage.

Though the pre-lunch session wasn’t my cup of tea, however I appreciated the comments made by ambassadors. While the German Ambassador remarked ‘India will stun the world on global platform in coming years’, the British High Commissioner referring to the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Britain said that the British have finally acknowledged (and i quote) “Mahatma Gandhi beat us”. The Japanese Ambassador hoped India would host Olympic Games in 2020.

Mehbooba Mufti, President of political party PDP, had it seems forgotten that the whole country has suffered enough due to the five terrorists who were released in exchange of her life and safe home-coming years ago, when she commented that for Kashmiris to feel like being a part of India, the rest of India has to feel the pain of Kashmiris. Somebody please tell her that it was for her safety that the safety of rest of the Indians was jeopardised….so its not anybody else who needs to feel the pain but she needs to understand that she is living a life indebted to all Indians be it Kashmiris or Maharashtrians or Delhiites.

Moni Mohsin and Shobha DeIt was post lunch sessions that I was looking forward to with the Butterflies who sting like Bees….Moni Mohsin and Shobha De ! They read out the letters to each other and Moni Mohsin was too good! Her animated voice was engaging and hilarious. I for one, am going to grab books written by her soon.

Vishwanathan Anand, was again a celebrity who was so unassuming and humble. He played two people simultaneously on stage and check-mated both of them in five moves. Again the take-home nugget of his wisdom was ‘Practice…practice…practice’.

The post tea session in the evening was intereting with the AIB team’s spontaneous replies. Since I have not seen their controversial ‘Roast’, I could not really understand the sudden interest of people in these twenty-something boys.

The biggest crowd-puller of the event was Ranvir Singh’s presentation post a chat and live demo of skills of Chef Gaggan Anand. Ranvir Singh entered the hall amidst lots of claps, hooting and dancing to the bollywood songs. He took the audience by storm pinning them to their seats with his mimicry of Amitabh Bacchhan, Jitendra, Amrish Puri, SHahrukh Khan. From my seat I could see a few grown-up women, the Delhi Socialites giggling, waving and screaming like teenagers at every word that the actor spoke. He was no doubt funny and entertaining totally and nobody seemed to mind his presentation eating into the break for evening cocktails.

After another round of ministers hooting their own horns the dinner was announced and brought an end to the two-day wonderful experience at conclave.

I had wanted to put up a question to the Chief minister of Maharashtra who is spending tax payers money to build a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in middle of ocean arguing that he will develop it as the tourism spot. I would prefer if he spent the money in cleaning up the dirty roads and improving the existing tourist spots to pull in the crowd and not creating another spot where garbage will accumulate after few months.

At lunch and dinner I noticed something else too…..The socialites, do they really think that if they have money and wear much expensive clothes have the right to do whatever suits them right? I was in the queue to pick up a plate and followeing the direction in which the line headed but some women (God knows who they were) and some pudgy old men broke the queue now and then to wiggle ahead of others and helped themselves with food without bothering about those few who tried being disciplined. I am sure food on table wouldn’t have finished, for God’s sake, if they had stayed in line!!

conclave decorThe privilege to be a part of Conclave 15 was an amazing experience. Not only did I get to hear from great personalities like Sachin and Vishwanathan but also got a taste of high end society life and all this because the Team @Blogadda selected my post among the winners. I will be forever grateful to  Blogadda for giving me this opportunity.

I made some new and wonderful friends in the fellow bloggers too @tennysontea @arvindpassey @yogita and @shreya. We helped each other and in a sea of unknown people connected very well with a common thread of blogging.

However, I still couldn’t bring myself to overcome my shyness and hobnob with media people like representatives of Harper Collins, India Today etc……I regret that…missing the chance to introduce myself on such huge platform.

May be some time again when I get another opportunity….Hey, I am going to stick around you guys though at Team Blogadda 😉