Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Social Media Week 2014 (#SMWMumbai) Experience

Imagine being in the same room as the trend makers, influencers, twitterati, bloggerati of the Indian Social Media universe. Thanks to BlogAdda.com I grabbed this opportunity with open arms at the Social Media Week 2014 in Mumbai. The Social Media Week (#SMWMumbai) was held simultaneously in 11 cities, 9 countries, 1000 events and 3000 speakers. It was indeed surreal meeting and greeting the faces behind the twitter handles you follow. And even better to be greeting, rubbing shoulders with bloggers like oneself and the bloggerati you once wished to have a tete-a-tete with.
Novotel Juhu view

 The SMWMumbai was held from 22nd to 26th September 2014 this time at Novotel, Juhu. Let me tell you the hotel location is just fabulous with the waters of Juhu beach beckoning you to come and take a stroll on the sands. Having missed the first 3 days, I made sure I wouldn't miss the days to come. However, due to holiday constraints, I could only attend the session on Thursday, 25th September.
There were 4 stages where events were taking place simultaneously. The Pioneer stage, Social Community stage, the Learning stage and the Media & Entertainment stage.

Novotel Juhu breakfast

I reached the venue well before time and was greeted with sumptuous breakfast buffet. Hot steaming mug of cappuchino and soft mini donuts and cinnamon puffs beckoned me. I then proceeded towards the Social Community stage to attend Ansoo Gupta's presentation on 'Using Social Media to Enhance your travel'. Ansoo Gupta, COO Pinstorm presented the topic effortlessly highlighting when to rely on social media for deals/discounts and when to turn it off. The presentation simply enchanted me only with the sole reason : how to travel solo. It was also awesome meeting Rutavi Mehta of Photokatha who was hosting the session. A group photograph and we went on to the next session.


The following session was Speed Blogging and Tweetathon hosted and conducted by Yellow Seed Solutions. Yours truly was super excited and geared up with laptop in tow. Wi-fi connected and all set for the fingers tapping away against the laptop's keyboard and cellphone's touchscreen. 6 minutes to blog and 1 minute to tweet impromptu on topics ranging from 'Digi Soul', 'Alia' and 'Curves and kisses' to 'Mai ye shaadi nahi karoongi' and 'Ye vada pav sir mera hai'. It was nice to see your tweets being retweeted and favourited in real time. First half of the day ended so with a break for lunch with time to network. 

Well fed and watered I headed to the Learning Stage where live workshops or Masterclass were taking place. Joined halfway into the Masterclass for 'DoubleClick Digital Marketing Secrets: More Insights, Better Decision Making' conducted by Ram Mohan Pai, Lead- Digital Operations Quality, Accenture – Media Technology operations for Google. Then stayed on for the Masterclass hosted and conducted by Digital Vidya on 'Social Media for Lead Generation and Sales'. Digital Vidya's Pradeep Chopra elucidated on the topic with good case studies on lead generation via various social media platforms. He described his own experience through examples of Hippo's engagement on Twitter, damage control and customer service by Ola Cabs. He cited other examples of usage of QR code on Guinness' Cup (pure genius idea) and tweet to order idea by Faaso's. 
During tea/ coffee break, I then headed to the concluding minutes of Ashwath Ganesh's presentation on 'Life after Facebook Zero' – a whitepaper published by Social@OglivyDuring tea/ coffee break, I then headed to the concluding minutes of Ashwath Ganesh's presentation on 'Life after Facebook Zero' – a whitepaper published by Social@Oglivy.
Next up was 'Face Off with Anaggh Desai – So you think you can be an Influencer'. This was a panel discussion with social media heavyweights like Deepali Nair -CMO Club Mahindra Holidays, Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal – Blogger and Founder APB Cookstudio, Kiran Manral – Author of Once upon a crush, Rohan Joshi Writer and Stand-up comedian, Dharmesh Gandhi – Content Strategist for many Star channels and Jaydeep Shetty – Founder, Mineral. This session was good rollicking fun breaking the formal presentation code. Anaggh Desai moderated this fun discussion.

The panel discussion ended a few minutes past 5, and I was spoiled for choice between attending the subsequent sessions 'Stand-Up Comedy in India: Online Viral, Offline Housefull” featuring stand-up comedians Ashish Shakya, Tanmay Bhat, Aditi Mittal and Rohan Joshi versus Fireside Chat with Rajkumar Hirani versus 'Social Bollywood- Where Hollywood meets Bollywood' featuring Malini Agarwal Blogger-in-Chief of MissMalini.com versus Jeff Bullas' MasterClass on 'The 8 steps to becoming a World Class Blogger for Business and Revenue' on a G+ hangout from Australia. Such multiple action packed sessions lined up for the evening. I wish I could attend ALL of them. Decisions, decisions.
I chose Jeff Bullas' MasterClass session for the genuine and simple learnings from the master himself. Pure 90 minutes of enriching session on how blogging can be leveraged for business with clear goals and focus.

Overall the entire event was conducted smoothly and synchronously and it was a delight to be a part of the Social Media Week 2014 in Mumbai.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Missing (Part 13)

This is the thirteenth part of the short story that I am writing in collaboration with other bloggers on Blogadda. Our team is 'Tete-a-ten'. You can read the previous parts here: onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleven, and twelve.

Read part 12 here

Part 13
As Fanus and Dr Sneha entered Cyrus' room, he stood motionless for a while as he threw his gaze across the room. That room was where his Cyrus, his love, spent most of his time.
Dr Sneha and Fanus frantically searched across the room. Fanus booted Cyrus' laptop. It prompted a password. Fanus entered random numbers, alphabets but no could not get access. They upturned the pillows, bed covers, rummaged through the drawers, looked under Cyrus' bed- but found nothing. Cyrus' parents rushed upstairs to the cacophony created by the frantic search. “Arre! Dikra! “ yelled Mr Daruwalla. “What are you doing?” As they reached upstairs, Mrs Daruwalla expression read shock. She was very particular of keeping things in its place and neat and clean as possible. “Uncle, Aunty we need to search for something important!” Fanus tried to explain her calmly but instead raised his voice. After which he realised he should have refrained himself.
“Don't talk to my wife like that dikra!! First you barge in my home and then you talk to my wife this way” There was a anger and sadness in his tone.
Defeated Mr Daruwalla said “Come dear, our prayers can only get our Cryus back.” They left the room with anxiety on Mr Daruwalla's face.
After a good hour searching Cyrus' room and yielding nothing, Fanus and Dr. Sneha are about to give up hope in finding a clue; any clue understanding where Cryus disappeared. Dr.Sneha reclines on the beanbag in corner of the room and looks at Amitabh Bachchan poster near the study table.
The poster was from Amitabh Bachchan's Deewar movie. The iconic 1975 bollywood movie had Amitabh striking a pose in a red shirt and blue trousers.
Fanus followed Dr Sneha's gaze and now too was staring at the poster.
Deewar. Such a popular ground breaking movie it is.”
I've seen it once.” said Dr Sneha Phadnis who prefered Rajesh Khanna's romatic movies over Amitabh's action packed ones.
I really liked the movie. Each and every bollywood movie for that matter. 3 and a half hours of pure masala magic. And this poster is what I gifted to Cyrus. He absolutely loved this movie. Typical angry young man Amitabh.”
It was no secret Fanus and Cyrus shared their love for movies.
This was a blockbuster. I think it won a Filmfare. Their dialogue “Mere paas Maa hai” was iconic.” reminisced Dr Sneha Phadnis.
She continued “Cyrus loved Amitabh's movies. He once went on talking about dearth of good actors in Bollywood. He was of the opinion that Amitabh Bachchan was vastly under utilized as an actor.”
'Wait a minute” It dawned upon her. “Cyrus had this blog on movies, right?” she said rhetorically as she got up from the bean bag chair.
Why Yes!” Fanus smacked himself as to why it didnt occur to him earlier. “Cyrus even maintained a blog called 'MovieRus by Cyrus' which was about movie reviews. Cyrus would blog about how he would remake the same movies differently.
Fanus rushed and grabbed his phone and logged onto google.com. He google MovieRus by Cyrus and clicked the link.
He continued “It was a brilliant idea. He was a big fan of Bachchan. Why, he even had a special section dedicated for only Amitabh movies.” Fanus clicked on the tab for 'BigB : Real Badshaah of Bollywood'
Fanus and Dr. Sneha Phadnis skimmed through the blog. Cyrus had maintained it immaculately and designed it with bright colours akin to a Bollywood movie poster. Cryus' passion for the starry life of Bollywood displayed in the way he talked about movies. He was passionate about it. His passion for bollywood dripped with every word he spoke on BigB's movies. He had a well researched opinion on Bollywood. Why, he even had penned original storylines for movies. Though those were not to be seen by all on the blog, but locked in his head. One would wonder why he took up the profession of law – in stark contrast to the colourful, glamourous and glitzy world of Bollywood.
Dr. Sneha had earlier pondered on the thought. Cyrus' should've gone to Film school instead of Law School.
Cyrus once told me how boring law school was. He really wanted to go to film school and learn filmmaking. Once revealed his dream. His dream was, one day, to direct Amitabh in his own film. Director Cyrus Daruwalla.” she smiled as she said it.
There it was. The clue. Staring right at them. Dr Sneha said triumphantly “Could he have gone to Mumbai to meet Amitabh Bachchan?”
Fanus and Dr. Sneha look at each other, the triumphant look on their faces now fading to an anxious one. Mumbai. The city that never sleeps. Mayanagari.
Now Fanus is worried. Searching Cyrus in Delhi, is easier than searching him in Mumbai. An unknown city with unknown people.
OK. If Cyrus is in Mumbai. “ gulped Fanus nervously. “How in the hell would we find him?” Fanus was starting to lose it. He was losing his composure and was now on the brink of paniking.
Sensing Fanus' tone, Dr Sneha spoke calmly “We will find Cyrus. We will. First, let's face it we need tell people Cyrus is lost. And we need help. So if they find anything about Cyrus they need to contact us as soon as possible.”
With a new sense of determination, Fanus said “ Let's put it up on social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, his blog. Everywhere.”
Without wasting precious moments, Fanus logs onto his Facebook profile and posts a status : with Cyrus' picture 'MISSING – Cyrus Daruwalla. Fair, wears black rimmed spectacles, 5'11'' Usually dressed in a Jeans and T-Shirt. PLEASE help me find my friend. If you have any info please contact Fanus 91XXXXXXXX '
He then logs onto Twitter. Twitter did not give you the liberty to write to your heart's content. Fanus condensed the post to a 160 character tweet and linked the post to his facebook post.
Pls RT. My frnd is MISSING. #HELP bit.ly/fb.cyrus”
He posted the same Facebook post message on Cyrus' blog.
He hoped and prayed for it to be discovered by someone who could give them some critical information on Cyrus.

Arre bhai zara dekh ke chalo!” yelled a guy in a crowded market in Delhi.
Cyrus was taken aback by the voice. He then realised he was wandering aimlessly in the streets of Delhi. Delhi, the city he belonged to was now knowingly unknown.
He flags down an autorickshaw and mumbles “Dilli railway station chalo”. The ride was no longer than twenty minutes amidst heavy vehicular traffic.
Delhi's Nizamuddin station is packed at any time of the day. Cyrus reaches the Nizamuddin station with thoughts of fulfilling his dream to direct Amitabh.
As luck may have it, he hears the announcement for a Mumbai bound train ready to leave any minute. He rushed to the platform and boards the train in unreserved compartment of the train. Just making it in time as the train pulls away, Cryus' is reminded of the train scene of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

Read part 14 here

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What YOU missed at the BigRock Indiblogger WordUp meet

I cannot believe it has already been 5 years since my first ever Indiblogger meet. I can distinctively remember it was 15th August 2009. This makes me feel old now. Back then blogger meets were attended primarily focused around
1. Free food
2. Freebies
3. As an excuse to nagging parents forcing you to attend your uncle's nephew's neighbour's son's mundan ceremony. Yours truly was no different and subsequently added to the list was Free Wi-fi. (I sense techies nodding their heads in agreement.)

So this was my probably my 5th blogger meet since I started blogging and I've been on and off. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Lewis Hamilton meet is the last I attended and so was looking forward to this meet. Location: The famous resto-pub The Blue Frog at Lower Parel and time of meet : 9 am. 9 am? Who goes to a fun blogger meet at 9 am?! However I went and the early getting up bit was made up with a rocking concert by the IndiBlogger band. Who would've thought a rock concert at 10ish in the morning! Awesomesauce.

Now the real fact this meet was more awesome – was I was gonna meet bloggers like me. The only difference was they had made a cool living by blogging. Back in 2008, when literally everyone had started blogging -yours truly included- one never imagined it to be a full time profession. Why, even the mere thought was incredulous. And then the boom of social media happened and suddenly Content was King. The meet started with IndiBlogger's Anoop as the emcee followed by Vinit Goenka delivering the keynote peppered with diplomacy.
Speaking next was Amit Agarwal from labnol.org, who was blogging since 2004, like the Jurassic era of blogs advocated using wordpress.org over blogger.com. His thoughts made a lot of sense as wordpress was more search engine friendly and had more analytics features. He also spoke about never giving away content for the lure of freebies.
Next up was the literal YouthKiAwaaz Anshul Tewari who relentless struggle and belief in his socially aware idea catapulted during the Arab spring of 2011. Cannot believe he does not have a single ad placed on his website.
Varun Krishnan, the founder of FoneArena.com gave an insight on monetization on blogging. He spoke about how important it is keep focus on the content while the money will follow.
Chai with Lakshmi Rebecca can give a KJo a run for his Koffee. Her tete-a-tete along with Sumit Singh of Cleartrip, was refreshing. Lakshmi advised hiring your own help for editing content for video blogging while Sumit gave due importance to maintaining a clean, easy to navigate and responsive template for Pcs, Tablets and mobile devices. Sensible. Harsh Agarwal of shoutmeloud.com highlighted more technical aspects of blogging with primary focus on SEO. Who knew search engines can be picky!
Uber cool Sherezade Shroff described her dislike for writing and love for fashion. She reminisced her experience when a brand approached her to review facewashes and rejected them outright because of her affinity to Medimix soap. Story ninja and Tea sommelier Snighda Manchanda narrated a sweet story of how she discovered her liking for Tasting Teas and weaving wonderful stories. 'Ideas come and go, Stories Stay' So true. Also, I truly liked her 7 basic story idea plots. CS Krishna highlighted their run in with the law for turning up the heat with Mrs Gandhi and Mr Singh video. Their video got a million likes, but the Sec 66A IT Act was breathing down their necks.

Overall the day long meet was supercharged and even better that it ended on time with a bang. Like literally, headbanging.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Missing (Part 8)

This is part Eight of a story that I am writing in collaboration with some very talented writers on Blogadda's Game of Blogs. Our team name is 'Tete-a-ten'.

Read the previous parts of the story here:Missing-Part 1

Missing-Part 2
Missing-Part 3
Missing-Part 4
Missing-Part 5
Missing-Part 6
Missing-Part 7

Still groggy from his sleep Cyrus looked at Roohi and then turned his gaze towards the people surrounding her. He wore his spectacles and was still adjusting his eyes to the bright light that shone from the warehouse ceiling when he clearly noticed the small mob of people. Looking at the mob gathered shook Cyrus back to his senses as Roohi tugged him further towards them. 
He looked at the woman in front and the man right behind her and realized they are Roohi's parents. A multitude of thoughts ran in Cyrus' head. Why are they all here? What are they thinking? Did they think he'll harm Roohi? Would they hurt him? Should he run? Where would he run?  He noticed various expressions were across their faces – anger, disgust, nervousness, concern. This made Cyrus nervous. Very nervous and uneasy. Beads of sweat had now formed across his forehead. He felt weak in his knees, his hand now slipped from Roohi's grip and without realising his body was now swaying, about to give away. His head spun. Closing his eyes he held his head in his hands and winced. In less than ten seconds Cyrus Daruwala fainted at the Ballard estate warehouse floor.

“He's fainted !” Tara exclaimed as she and Shekhar took a few steps back sensing the impact of the fall.
“Cyrus! Cryus!” screamed Roohi and looked at her mother. “What happened to Cyrus mom?” Roohi seemed genuinely concerned with tears now welling up in her eyes.
Tara scooped Roohi closer and away from Cyrus and towards one from their friends' group. Shekhar and his friend moved closer to Cyrus lying on the floor. Cautiously they approached him and saw his face clearly now. His big thick rimmed spectacles were now skewed across his fair skinned face. He looks in his early twenties Shekhar thought. Isn't he too young to be a kidnapper? he further thought. Without wasting any more time, Shekhar animatedly exchanged glances with his friend near the door and signaled to call and inform the police.
Roohi realised what was happening and was now crying inconsolably and was making repeated efforts to approach Cyrus.
“Now, Now Roohi dear. Please! Sweetheart Please!“ Tara tried to hug her tight and comfort her, but in vain. 
She wiped the tears from Roohi's face but Roohi howled “I warned you Papa! You don't listen to me! I told you he would get scared if we all went together! I told you !!”
Tara saw her husband approaching a fainted Cyrus.
“Be careful now, Shekhar” voiced a concerned Tara who was now trying to console Roohi. Now Shekhar searched Cyrus' pockets and hands for any concealed knives, drugs, firearms. He checked the area around him. He got Cyrus' wallet and a note: “Mission Roohi : Do it today!”
Shekhar's head spun. He looked closely at the note, read it and reread it again.
What was this note? Why was Roohi's name over this? Why Roohi?
From a distance Shekhar could hear the screech of tyres coming to a sudden halt. Doors snapped to a close and footsteps echoed in the night. The eerie silence across the warehouse was broken as the doors opened with Inspector P N Kamble entering with his troop of constables.
“Where is he? Kuthe aahes toh? ” said P N Kamble in chaste Marathi.
He marched in and signalled his constables to the usual drill.
“Ek minute saheb. Thamba. Please wait! ” said a soft but commanding voice that came from behind the Inspector.
Little did everyone notice Dr. Sneha Phadnis walking in and said “Yes, that's him...he was missing..."
Stars dance in the moonlit skies,
Figures prance around and around
Dreams glow like fireflies,
Moving from lost to found.

Somewhere in the mischievous mind,
Images float on a horses hind,
In the gardens of endless surprise,
Laughing nights and the happy sunrise.

Figures roam in the darkness of shadows
Hope hangs within the gallows,
Moving clouds and singing rain
Butterflies on the ramp again.

Farther than the running man
Snowcapped mountains on the ceiling fan,
Dreams drift into a sleepy thatch,
Reality closes a delicate latch,

Angels sing and fairy's tell,
Hundred stories in a sea shell,
Bells ring and time to fly,
Roohi's eyes wave goodbye.


Read Part 9  Missing (Part 9)

“Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.”

(P.S. Feature Poem Credit: www.gyanban.com)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: 60 Minutes

‘The mightier they are, harder they fall’ goes the adage. Truly, the powers of the corporate world with the rapid ascent and rapider descent are definitely not for the faint hearted. Read on as I write my review on the new thriller authored by Upendra Namburi : 60 Minutes.

This is not my first review of Upendra Namburi’s books. I reviewed his first book again through BlogAdda’s Book Review Program which you can read here
It’s has been two years since I reviewed 31 and now the next in the triumvirate series is 60 minutes. Hope to review the third one too: 8 hours due in 2015. (Mr Namburi, autographed copy next time!) So obviously I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a certain level of excitement and expectation out of this book and further reviewing it Ican assure you, is not a let-down.

Right, getting down to the brass tacks. The author has created the main three characters to be strong, determined and powerful to the level of self-destruction. The story revolves around Agastya and Sailesh the CMOs of two MNCs that are at loggerheads to gain market supremacy for the launch of their respective products. One is a ambitious, suave and brash maverick while the other is a brilliant, calculative and experienced veteran of the high profile corporate world. How their commitment to propel their respective companies to the helm of market supremacy while deeply discounting on the matters of their personal lives is what the plot is about. Maithili is the third strong and ambitious character who is determined to create a permanent turbulence in the lives of not one, but many.

The design of the main story is woven into 26 chapters with each chapter alternating between events unfolding every five minutes and what delves deeper into the past of the lives of the three main protagonists. The 361 pages are written in lucidly and has a nice flow to it. Even to novices like myself on the aspects of stock markets and the terms are explained in a simply but descriptively. Moreover, it throws some light over the inner workings and dealings of the corporate world with political associations, the media glare, treachery by inner intelligence team and sabotage by to arch rivals.

Thrilling and pacy, I was hooked to the book right till the end, always trying to figure out how the story is going to come to an end. Will all hell break loose? What would you do when you have to choose between the devil and the deep sea? 60 minutes -promises you the adrenaline rush of the play in the bourses, the emotional upswings and romantic escapades of the protagonists and the power of the high and mighty while battling for survival in the corporate jungle-has the right mix of ingredients for a corporate thriller.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
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