I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Rohan Thakare at the new sprawling office of WisdmLabs . After a illustrious stint with Convonix, and IBM, Rohan pursued the career path of his passion with WisdmLabs towards beginning 2012. This was around the same time I moved on from my corporate career to pursue a freelance path codenamed CoreGray. ( the site remains terrible and i am not linking it here :-D)
Here is a quick collage of the awesome time we had at the new office of WisdmLabs
The first thing that catches attention is oodles of white space and its fresh look, without any walls nor boundaries except that of the outer walls and the building itself.
Looks like a perfect setup that combines the camaraderie of a bazaar with no walls, and the white discipline and simplicity of a cathedral.
Rohan and WisdmLabs supported me a lot for larger project requests i received as a freelancer. We did some awesome projects together, notably among them – YouTooCanRun.com – the go-to website for preparing as well as booking for Marathons around India, and soon worldwide.
Rohan was distinctly the person who got me more interested about Matt Mullenweg , many years after i started working on the WordPress.org platform. This got me further interested in Automattic Inc., till i got myself hired by them.
Everytime i visited Rohan, his office size expanded in the exponential. I wish great success and happy growth to WisdmLabs and Rohan!
Summary – Before the Topi speaks for herself, the story here is about how i got my Crown (topi cap) for the WordCamp Mumbai 2017 thanks to a hero at my home – my loyal home staff – Jyoti Chawla :). Hear the story from “topi herself”.
Unlike Kochi, Mumbai does not have a distinct traditional dress code since it is a melting pot of many more cultures here. However thanks to the Mumbai Wappu avatar as Wambhau, Nagesh got hunting for a Gandhi Cap (topi) leading to me :).
The caps of my type- Gandhi Topis, originally donned by those who were a part of India’s non-violent freedom struggle, is also worn by a community of Dabbawallas. A nice white cap like me also protects heads from the hot tropical sun. The Dabbawallas are a unique community within Mumbai that has been delivering hot meal tiffins with 6 Sigma accuracy! Among their fans is Prince Charles himself!
Nagesh recalled having a Topi somewhere from the last Republic Day celebration. As usual he may have misplaced it and blamed his mother for keeping it so safe buried in the X-files of his many home cupboards.
His frantic search caught the watchful eyes of Jyoti, who keeps the house in order (in addition to mom Pai) , as well as serves as a nanny to his “Dotter”. On asking, Nagesh’s mom told her about his ongoing archaelogical effort to find the headgear for the event next morning.
The topi is also used commonly for ceremonial occasions in the Maharashtrian community to which Jyoti’s maiden family belongs. Looking at Nagesh’s perilous excavations around the house, Jyoti decided to get into action mode. Except, unlike other super heroes she didn’t change to a costume before kabooming in!
For Jyoti, impossible is nothing and there is no tomorrow. She asked for a short time out…. and in about half hour came home with me – a nice bright white ironed and fit Topi.. Much to the wide amazement of Nagesh!!
Now let me timeshift and slo-mo what happened in that magical half hour.. Jyoti stepped out of the home, walked about half a kilometer to the next locality on the other side of a busy highway. She crossed a busy market and an underground subway to get to her sister’s place. She asked if she had a topi with her. Her sister showed one which had gone dull and faded. Jyoti wasn’t happy and sparing no more time rushed out to the nearest shop and picked me off the shelf from there with my accompanying shawl ( a small towel). I was hoping to be picked for yet another Maharashtrian marriage, or perhaps a political rally. I kept guessing where i was headed until Nagesh picked me up to don his head and attire for his talk at WordCamp Mumbai 2017! He added a WordPress badge on me and we were all set.
With me crowning Nagesh, he got all the attention and admiration for matching the theme mascot of the event – Wambhau!
After the talk, i changed heads only to be donned by another fabulous member of the WordPress India community – Hardeep Asrani! Thanks to him I am now on my way to Kanpur from Mumbai.
I hope to attend one more WordCamp at Kanpur where Hardeep is an organizer, and crown one more awesome head 🙂
I am out of words to express the joy of my first experience as an approved WordCamp speaker. The talk itself, the hospitality and camaraderie within the community, all of it and more was truly heart warming!
My first WordCamp as an attendee was WordCamp Pune 2017 which was incidentally in the same month when i joined Automattic full time as a Happiness Engineer – January 2017. Friendly organizers of the event and colleagues alike, encouraged me to give a quick talk at an open conference slot. Though i had an audience of just 5, I received some generous appreciation that pushed me to apply for the subsequent WordCamp Kochi and WordCamp Mumbai.
I found through my friends that speaking about our own experience in the WordPress circuits is a great idea. With that hook I thought about RadioIdli.net – my community “radio” (multimedia magazine site / blog) as a good reference point. It was this project that gave me everything in WordPress as well as my career in digital marketing.
Kochi and Kerala, are heart-beds of literacy and literature in our country. It’s citizens are very vocal and expressive in written communication as well as media. Hence i thought of using my learnings to present a talk on
I hope to share the video here pretty soon, as much as i am curious to see what i actually spoke 😀
My next talk scheduled in WordCamp Mumbai – “How I built my community ‘radio’ using WordPress… and my career in Digital Media” is going to be inspired by RadioIdli.net too. However the talk will be more about how the project transformed my career for good. The story is also about how an ordinary user with no programming knowledge and zero investment can go about learning by oneself and making an awesome career. I hope the talk will help aspirants with their journey, developers to onboard and encourage users to turn power users, and the community to have more vibrant users too!
Warning – Random Rambles of a Caged Mind – let loose for few minutes
The ad of Cadbury’s Bournville says…
You don’t just buy a Bournville.. you earn it!
Dark exotic chocolate aside, The tagline easily fits the description for something that we seek dearly, and forget usually as we part with our “pound of flesh” to the mean marketplace – The rare flavoured Bournville I am hinting at is what we know as our Freedom.
Yes I wanna break free.. I am sure most of us would immediately go karaoke alongside the memoirs of Freddie Mercury and resonate with the urge to break free.. from what? A world of our own inhibitions? towards what? A world of our own fantasies? As a concept, Freedom gets mysterious upon scratching below the crust of usual perception.
The Harsh Reality – There are two aspects to this – One, we are all born free.. Two, it takes an effort to remain free. It’s the effort to keep reminding ourselves that nothing binds our imagination and freedom to use it, other than our own inhibitions and fears. Nature has indeed given us fear as a guarding emotion, to ensure that we sustain through her forces of creation and regeneration. However, but for a conscious effort to balance our imagination with this fear, we will never be free! And thats the effort that earns us the Bournville – The exotic flavour of our freedom.
We are and we have always been free… but to enable us to be immersed in that freedom, we need to put an effort of courage in being a black sheep, of taking the unbeaten path. And over and above, keeping our minds homed in on what we seek from life herself!
The weekend thats about to end in few hours, marked two very memorable events. Apart from the launch of Balaji Seva Samitiwebsite, there was one more event which was very special and unique in its occurence – the convocation ceremony at NMIMS University,where my first batch of students passed out. Around 140 in all across three classes – all decked up in their convocation gowns.
Its been three years since i got the wonderful opportunity as a visiting faculty at the prestigious institution, adding a new facet to my life (read weekend life) at large. The greater privilege was being given a chance to address students who were no less than a panel of experienced professionals from various reputed organizations, who sweated out their evenings and weekends to get their masters degree. Being a part-time MBA myself, makes me totally empathize with the amount of sacrifice and tight-rope balancing needed during the course through a bermuda triangle of – Family, Profession, and Studies.
I was at work when i got a call from Mr. Dharmendra Kumar, my student and a seasoned professional from the Pharma industry. He informed me about the convocation ceremony and asked me if i could be a part of the event by invoking Saraswati Vandana – a Prayer to the Goddess of learning. He was entrusted the task of getting someone with a classical music background, and it was kind of him to remember me. I pounced at the offer and readily agreed for the event that was scheduled in two days time.
At The Venue
Bhaidas Hall was abuzz with activity of the post graduates passing out, but what surprised me further was familiar faces at the entrance.. These were students of my first batch! “Its been 3 years already!” I thought with glee to myself. My students and i had pleasant exchanges. Was totally humbled when some of them introduced me as their prof to their family members. One of the elders even blessed me with a caring hand over my head.
I told them that i was giving them a surprise .. as i left for the backstage 🙂
Backstage — Frontstage
I was introduced to the compere of the evening who briefed me about the flow of the event and my entry and exit. The curtains opened and the crowds cheered to the young and beautiful compere, in many more decibels than the applause to any other guest for the evening.. ahemm!
The convocation parade comprising of senior faculty and distinguished guests marched to a ceremonial tune of bagpipes and lit the ceremonial lamp. I was called upon the stage where i sang the Saraswati Vandana i had learnt in my college. I was humbled when my name was mentioned in the vote of thanks for the tiny participation in the prestigious event marked by its achievers.
My students got their degrees and felicitations… and i Got mine when they reciprocated my surprise stage appearance for them .. and Goddess Saraswati 🙂
Felt like i was convocated 140 times for each of my students passing out… ..A feeling that had never hit me before. My students got their degrees and i got mine in my joy filled heart.
Icing on the cake
When i was having my dinner (actually high tea) with my students, a senior visiting faculty walked up to us, congratulated me for the ‘degree’ and wished me all the best for the future…. He thought i was a student :-D. I was reminded:
” Life is a university that admits you in the Womb, and graduates you in the Tomb”
Here i am, at the brink of terminal midnight… where one week end’s and shows me the next flight..
The week that went by had many pleasant and jovial moments.. Few random citations served right here:
1. Finally got a call from NMIMS university for an assignment as a visiting faculty for one of my favorite subject – “Brand Building for NGOs and social enterprises”…. So next ten sundays are booked. This is the third year i would be facilitating the course.
2. Had my third marriage anniversary.. which i spent with a rare occassion of overnight work assignment at my creative agency’s premises. Worked till early morning 430AM, to be greeted by passionate rain with lights and sounds… On a road that was empty with cabs and autos on strike. Was lucky to be dropped by a friend from the agency.
The final outcome was good and appreciated indirectly… I think the compliments, few of them make it direct to you specially during appraisal :-D.
Luckily had the privilege of taking the next day as a compensatory off from work.
3. The rains are here.. It was raining moderately yesterday… i embarked on a two mile walk after a days work, as i left for my sister’s home.. It was an experience enjoyable as ever sipping raindrops.. The next morning, was walking again towards office, just when a bus driver, from my usual morning bus honked at me and dropped me to the bus stop en route his return journey.
Little moments… few disappointments… glitters of joy…. deep rough sea… and then Land Ahoy!
The first notions that come to your mind when someone says – “Sleepless night” is hard work, constant worry, upset health, insomnia… and so on. Thankfully, this moment of my sleeplessness relates to none. Strangely, i slept off at 8 PM the moment i reached home, and after 6 hours of dreamy sleep, i woke up at 2 AM with nothing much to do except for toying with a new netbook that i got for my cousin sister.
I just recall that i reclined on my bed at 8 pm, and immediately fell asleep as though i was tranquilized with a strong dose of anaesthetic drug. Though my personal anaesthetist – my wife Varsha, is away from home preparing for her final exams on the same subject. I could have very well been a subject of her study today for two reasons –
1. What made me go into hibernation at 8 pm? 2. What keeps me totally awake at 2 am?
As i fell asleep, i recall entering an imaginary world in my dreams, which had some imaginary friends of mine partying with me. In the dream, I recall standing outside the five star venue, in the lawn of the entrance driveway, with a couple of my friends asking if i was fine… And all of a sudden, the earth shakes violently – right to left… “God, its an earthquake!” everyone around exclaims.. Within moments, there is a second tremor, this time exactly in 90 degrees direction to the earlier one.. Went into deeper slumber after that… and then stood awake at 2 AM.
Have had strange dreams, usually during summer nights. Have dreamt of dark skies, storms and tornadoes (once distinctly at Dadar beach) during this rude season.
Maybe i should just shift to the Air Conditioned bed room :-)….. *yawn* … feeling a bit sleepy now.. and there is about an hour of sleep-able early morning :).. Sweet dreams.