It’s after midnight Pune time as I write this. My plane leaves in just over 4 hours. It’s 3:30pm yesterday back home. Today was an incredible, overwhelming, exhausting, amazing day. Let me explain. No, it is too much, let me sum up.
Once again I forgot to eat breakfast, so Vivek Jain from rtCamp took me to Vaishali, one of the oldest and most popular restaurants in Pune. I wanted to try some uniquely Indian beverages, so I asked for Thums Up first, a thicker cola. They were out so I got this Tropicana Slide (which I thought was pop, but was more like HiC) and a fruit juice that Vivek was a kind of orange juice. My guess is that it’s mandarin orange juice.
The big curly thing was a rice patty that spread thin and baked for a short period of time. Also on a small pate were two rice based patties. Imagine Cream of Wheat made of rice, and thick enough to stick together in a patty. That was dipped in a red curry sauce called sambar (more on that later). It was quite good, busy as you can see.
After breakfast we went back to the venue and started WordCamp. The main presentation room was big enough to hold all 500 attendees, and was very nice:
It was air conditioned in the morning, but they shut that off after lunch because people said it was too cold in there. No-one said anything about it being too hot later.
I went to Ramya Pandyan’s session about blogging first. There was room for about 30, and it had about twenty in it. About 10 minutes into her talk another 50 or so people came in. I knew what she was going to talk about, so I gave up my seat and left.
I actually spent the rest of the morning talking to people about WordPress; what it can do, what I do for a living, what they do for a living, etc.
I ate a very light lunch, because my session was right after, and I didn’t want to go in full. I had a little pastry dessert with cinnamon sugar and coconut in it, and a cute little banana.
There were lots of sandwiches though:
Then came time for my talk. The wifi flipped out, so we spent some extra time trying to get it working. Then I got up and spoke. I told the history of HeroPress, the goal, the purpose, and told some stories about the contributors. I told about the impact my wife and children made on HeroPress as well, and what it meant to them. It got a bit emotional, and the crowd was very gracious. It seemed like they liked what I had to say.
Afterwards I stood out in the hall and it seemed like I shook every hand, and posed for hundreds of selfies. It got pretty crazy and fun, with more than a dozen people in some of the group shots, all playing and laughing. I spent the rest of the afternoon going from session to session, posing for, selfies and shaking hands and answering questions.
Near the end of the day I spent some time in the Word Lounge. A group from Pune and Mumbai called Alphabet Sambar (remember the soup from breakfast?) get together and critique each other’s writing.
They had a meeting here today and the room was open to anyone who wanted to chat about the craft of writing. I submitted a short story for critique and they were very kind. :)
After that there was chatting in the hall and we headed over to the after party.
I got to hang out with the folks from rtCamp, and I got to meet Saurabh’s wife, who is just as long-suffering and awesome as the spouse of every other lead organizer. We had some yummy food and talked long and then it was time for goodbye. The goodbyes took about 40 minutes and involved a GREAT deal of photography.
I finally got back to the hotel, ordered a car for 2am, showered, packed, and started this post. Next I go to the Pune airport, to the New Delhi airport (about 2 hours north by plane), to Newark New Jersey (15 hours straight!), to Grand Rapids MI, where I will hug my beautiful family.
I’m going to leave this post at a factual one, and go into the details of what I learned, what I taught, and generally how things went in another post.
Goodbye Pune, I’m forever grateful for your generosity and the experiences I had here.