The perpetual state of busy-ness that has been the last few months (specially the last 3-4 weeks) was frankly just terrifying at one point. I realised the limits of involvement one tends to push oneself to, when the outcome at stake is so close to ones heart. Terrifying, because it digs out levels of energy you didn’t think or know you had. It brings out skills you were convinced you didn’t have. And it shows you sides of yourself you were shocked to see. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I could manage a project of this scale and magnitude, from scratch. Approaching brands for sponsorship, selling ideas, spur of the moment twists and turns to pimp our platform to make it viable for them, pretending like I’m wrapping my tiny little math-confused brain around the big numbers they threw at me, being a patient and understanding face of the brand I represent, remembering to bite my tongue and learning valuable lessons in client management.
Thinking on my feet has taken an all new meaning now. Of course, I can say all this with a big grin on my face, now that I have the luxury of retrospection. Its been a week and the flurry of updates, little displays of gratitude, waves of budding new friendships, incessant notifications on facebook and twitter and while personally the afterglow faded in a little over a day (because fatigue swooped in full swing), I’ve been watching the activity on facebook, with a sense of pride. It’s like growing a garden and watching things spark to life — this largely virtual community, with connections real and on-screen has suddenly sprung to life as one.
While I have been blogging here on HaathiTime for aeons now, the foodblogging stint is a more recent one for me. I usually go out of my way to stay unnoticed and have shied away from getting to know too many other food bloggers — quite a contrast to the number of friends I have made through this blog. The reasons are many, but when I started selling my baked goodies through Hungry and Excited, I had to change this. I did, only in some measure, but only when I decided to jump into organising IFBM with Aparna, Arundati and Nandita did I pull almost all the stops off. The exhilaration of putting together this thing we had only imagined and talked about for months, suddenly kicked in, the reality loomed large and kept me going. There were glitches galore, and twists and turns every step of the way, fresh googlies we didn’t plan for and never saw coming, but somehow after the initial panic, some calm brainstorming and a few measured moves later, help always seemed to come our way. Things fell into place at an alarming frequency.
I was the first one amongst the four of us to check out the venue, the stunning new Aloft Bengaluru Cessna Business Park and within ten minutes of interacting with the team we had only so far exchanged emails with, I knew we couldn’t have picked a better venue. The experience at Aloft deserves a separate post.
If you’ve read the last few posts from July, you’ll know I was overworked, stressed and irritable for a large part of the time. Most of it was my own doing — absurdly high expectations and standards and trying to do it all never really works, I’ve realised. I’d drift on to autopilot and just plod on like a machine, while some days I’d rave, rant and wish I had done things better. This was most evident on the night before the event as Aparna, Arundati and I sat in the hotel room, with cartons of goodies and bags strewn all over us, not a square inch left for us to walk around to even have the space to think. We somehow sorted through it, wading through the tons of gifts and goodies we had so excitedly talked about in the weeks before. In that moment, more than ever before, I told myself there was SO MUCH I had already learned form planning this event, and yet SO MUCH remained yet to be learned. Eventually though, it has all paid off. And the first ever Indian Food Bloggers Meet was nothing short of a smashing success. That feeling of satisfaction hit home the moment Arundati took the stage to begin with a round of introductions and opened session 1 on day 1.
I’m still recovering form the overwhelming success that the event was. Personally, the planning and bringing together of the event taught me more than any of the sessions did because I was too busy running around even through the two days, to sit down and take in anything that was being talked about. But when we took a bow, the four of us, standing in front of 50 grinning faces, clearly euphoric over what they had experienced over the two days it hit home — IFBM turned out to be far bigger and better than I had imagined it could be.
It was nothing short of exhilarating to meet so many faces I have only known through their blogs. Discovering the people behind the words. The brains behind the pictures. The food-obsessed people I have known to love, respect and adore.
Eventually, I had to leave many of the goodies behind because my bag was already stuffed to the brim with things I had carried to Bangalore for the meet. I didn’t come back laden with IFBM wares like many of the pictures on facebook now reveal, but I did come back richer with lessons in
– What happens when you manage a relationship regardless of what comes out of it
– Humility and honesty in planning something that is true to a common goal
– The importance of integrity in teamwork
– The potential of putting individuals aside and focusing on something bigger than the sum of every individual part
– The power of having a clear intention and a clean heart, and what happens in the absence of it
– Believing in an idea enough to run with it, allow it to pick up enough mementum to attract likeminded people, take over your life, garner support, love and affection and and bring together so much positive energy
OOH, IFBM2014 taught me one other thing: the art of perfecting a selfie. I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t know how selfies are taken, until I was shown only approximately 50 times over the 2 day event. Excuse me while I plug in a few moments. There are far too many to choose from, and this selection is completely random. For (wayy too many) more pictures, look on the IFBM page.
Before 1st August, the blogging community was a string of faces strewn across cyberspace. At the end of 2nd August, I came away feeling like I am a part of a community that is capable of many big things. A bunch of people that can become quite the force to contend with.