Every morning after a cup of tea, I walk around the pages of Face book, Twitter, blogs and other social media channels to update myself with the latest events. I normally see the same set of people, most of them are unknown to me personally, but I know them well from their profile pictures, their postings and the news that we share.
I am never sure who reads my blog but I was surprised when I was invited by Windchimes to participate in Lavasa Women’s Drive2011 along with seven more bloggers to spend two days of leisure and tour around the city.
That was the first time that I met bloggers whom I had never met before. I may be very active online but otherwise I am quite reserved and don’t interact freely with strangers. It took me some time to interact but others were very friendly and full of news to share, soon I was enjoying with them, laughing, chatting and touring around the city.
Nisha Jha, the travel blogger, Kiran, blogger and author, Leela Shakti, DNA sub-editorand author, Monika Manchanda, the food blogger, Ramya Pandyan, a netaholicblogger, Anuradha Shankar, thetravel blogger, and Shashi, shoppingstories blogger were the eight bloggers whom I met the first time and Biswajit was our friend, our guide fromWindchimes, who would calm our nerves when things went wrong.
We spend two days together in the beautiful city of Lavasa and then we went on with our lives with just the memorable time etched into my mind.
Over the period of one year, everybody has progressed exceptionally well in their own field. I wanted to meet them all, at least once again, but getting them under one roof was bound to be a difficult task. Every month I asked if it was possible to meet up but always somebody was busy. Three months passed but we were not able to find common dates to suit all. I had almost given up and decided to try for one last time and wrote a final mail asking
‘Will we ever meet?”
Kiran responded saying that we could meet this coming Saturday but Shakti had already planned for that week-end and said she couldn’t meet.
I wanted to call it off again but this idea had stretched too long and we decided to go ahead with whosoever was free on that Saturday. We discussed various venues and finally zeroed it at Lemon Tree at Bandra.
At 1pm, Biswajit send me the message that he had already arrived and was waiting at the top floor of the restaurant. I waited for Nisha, since she was coming from Panvel, 3hours away from Bandra, to attend this meet-up. We met at the end of my lane and took an autoride to the venue.
The ambience at this restaurant was very soothing and peaceful with beautiful decorative plates, vases and blue lanterns on the wall, there were artistically painted white logs and branches on the ceiling, the etched floral glass on the windows, white and mustard paint on the walls and white shades to keep the sunlight out.
The tables were distantly placed with enough privacy to each group. We sat comfortably on the soft seats with ample of cushions of different sizes to lean on. The quorum was not complete, unfortunately, Monica is in Bangalore, Shakti had her college reunion and Kiran had last minute guests. Five of us met, ordered the drinks and refreshed our memories of the days spend at Lavasa..
When bloggers meet what do they talk?
Blogging of course.
We started the meals with drinks, each one ordering their own preferences; they had interesting combination on their menu card like spicy guava, blue berry yogurt, Chunky Muesli, etc. Over the drinks, Ramya, who now conducts regular workshops on blogging, discussed the various methods she used in her workshops and how she uses visuals and content to her blogs to make it interesting.
The next, we ordered the starters like Mediterrian grilled salad, Cajun potatoes and chicken in green pepper sauce. In between our chat, we clicked few pictures of the food as they arrived, which amused the waitress a lot, who was so distracted that she brought the wrong order of potatoes, which had to be moved away before we finish off the plate. This year 2012, I had made a second trip toLavasa again with other set of people, I was happy to share my experience and how different it was from my last visit.
For the mains we had Basil Ravioli of oven dried tomatoes and olives, a Shepherd pie, Ratatatoville Risotto and vegetarian sandwich platter. The food was quite bland to our taste and we had to order extra tomato chilie sauce and Mustard sauce to alter the taste. I was specially amused by this long black pepper grinder which looked like a weapon of mass destruction. We continued our chat on different topics. Nisha had just returned from the Malayasian BloggersMeet and Award Nite, and also had spent two months, working with NGO in Cambodia teaching school kids in the rural areas. It was interesting to hear her stories of the natives and how rewarding it was to work for NGO and contribute to the society in our own capability.
My Blue Berry Yogurt lasted throughout the meals; sipping slowly and relishing every sip so when they ordered Crème Brulee and Bitter chocolate and apricot mousse for deserts, I only watched them eat. Anu spoke about her romance of apple pie and how she has enjoyed at different places. I have never ever tried the apple pie but now am curious to try one at Yazdaan Bakery when I visit South Mumbai next. Anu has been travelling widely across India and she has a new hobby ofcollecting postcards and stamps of different countries, it was interesting to hear about her adventurous travel tales across India.
The lunch lasted over four hours, bill was paid but our conversation had not yet come to an end. We had to vacate the room for its closure during lunch hour. We moved to another room downstairs, which was cozy bar with wooden tables and chairs, to continue our conversation. Biswajit, who is the social media consultant, discussed the importance of virtual interaction on net and how useful it is to the corporate world.
Blogging is the informal way of advertising and bloggers should not be taken for granted. There may be paid news in the newspapers and magazine but a blogger cannot be hired, because he will be honest and true to his content, he may not hesitate to give negative review if he feels like it.
Blogging is a very powerful medium which plays very important role in spreading awareness. There are no monetary benefits, it is purely passion but much importance is given to the written word. A blogger is invited to different events by corporate in the hope that they will get free publicity, people feel pleased when they see a blogger making notes, clicking pictures but they are never sure of what review they might get.
Blogger is not looking for free-bees; he is just looking for news-worthy content, to share with those who are looking for right kind of service, be it a new product, a film, an interesting place or an event. Bloggers should never be taken for granted because they are creative, moody and sometimes fun too.
We missed Monika, Kiran and Leela Shakti. We had hoped to listen to Kiran Manral discuss her new book ‘Reluntant Detective’, or Shakti discuss her book, ’Imperfect Mr Right’ or Monika for her culinary stunts of those beautiful cupcakes
But most of all I truly missed Monika gurgling laughter.