475 Miles to Blogging @ DC

Saturday March 11 saw a bunch of desis and one non-desi meeting in the basement level at Union Station Washington DC. The reason to meet in the basement, was to keep out of the public glare that comes with such events like a Bloggers Meet.

It was hoped that there would be a journalist “mole” amongst us at the worst or an FBI agent at its best. Neither happened. Or at least not that I am aware of.

The day started at 7:15 am and as I headed down I-95 enroute to pick up Ravikiran Rao, a slew of thoughts crossed my mind. The most prominent one was….WTF was I doing driving 235 miles one way to meet a bunch of bloggers who I had never met and had read a few times. My thoughts shuffled from how I would address them, to how they would look in real life. Should I call them by their URL or their blog handle or their real name? Too many questions, and as a result I nearly missed the exit to Ravikiran’s apartment. Anyways got back on track, picked up Ravikiran and got back on the interstate. Chatting away we reached DC around noon.

We find our way down the recently renovated Union Station. For all its renovation, Union Station dosent hold a fuckin cookie in front of our VT Station in Bombay.

The meeting started with a whole slew of handshakes and repitions of names, hi’s and hello’s. This was despite the fact that Michael had printed placards for us. We had our own little huddle, with tables grouped around and chairs pulled. It wasn’t any coincidence that we met in front of the only Indian eatery in the food mall. Talk about Patriotism…..

The entire transcripts of each and every conversation shall be published very soon in the Times Of India, and you shall be able to read all of it. But till then I will try to give you a gist of the major happenings.

Arnab held centerstage and gave us a sample of the new course he shall be teaching at the School of Film Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. The course is for freshmen and is aptly titled “FILM 101: The Life and Times of Mithun Da“. If the sampling was any indication of what the actual course will offer, I urge everyone in the DC area to enroll at the University now. He took us through the nuances of every Mithun stunt, dialogue and movement. At the end he announced a 30 minute quiz we can take online on his blog which will make us all certified Mithunologists. I can’t wait. He also tipped us of his next teaching assignment for the fall semester 2006 tited “SPORT 203: The fall of Saurav Ganguly“.

Ravikiran Rao, was the birthday boy of the day. Of course I was with him in the car for four hours and did not know about it till everyone wished him. Made me feel a little foolish. But what the heck… Janam Din Mubarak Ho !! As Ravikiran was basking in all the glory of being a birthday boy, Arnab bowled him a “libertarian cartel” googly. Initially Ravikiran wanted to put his front foot out and pad the ball but then saw this as the perfect opportunity to smack the ball away for a six. Ravikiran told us how he had practiced that shot and honed his skills in the nets along with his other buddies Amit Varma and Gaurav Sabnis. The moot point is that libertarians will come and find you, you cannot find or become one of them. Sounds like the Knight of the Templars comic, I read as a kid !! It was also later revealed, that Ravikiran has bagged a lucrative contract to market “Wet Ones”, a brand of “Fresh and Flush” wipes as can be seen here. He has promised to put the product through extensive testing before endorsing them and certifying them “Libertarian Friendly”.

Chetan Kulkarni was another participant whose claim to fame is the longest comment on the Indian blogosphere. This comment was made with due help of large quantities of margarita, heavily laced with tequila. This was followed by some rum to water the throat and the rest as they say is history. Chetan also informed us that as a result of the long column, he has been swamped with advertising assignments from Chevy’s; a food chain in the US and from Bacardi. The actual ads will be shot during the fall and shall star at Super Bowl 2007.

Piyush Gupta, a lawyer by profession, was at his best when the discussion turned to politics and corruption in Indian life. It helps that he is part of a group that is hoping to change the face of India from within. A really grand plan, and something that got me interested. Coming soon, to a ballot near you in 2014……check back this space for more.

The meet organizer, Michael Higgins, has to be lauded for his immense passion and interest in India. His wife is from Indian and hence that brings me to the question….what came first….the Indian wife, or the love for India. Dosent matter in the larger context. We were all informed that Michael shall be conferred the honorary citizen of India status for his amazing knowledge and interest in all things Indian, especially cricket. The honorary award was one of the things that was signed by Bush and PM Manmohan Singh during the former’s latest visit there.

Seema, was the only member of the fairer sex to represent the “Bharatiya Naari“. She and Chetan found out that they went to the same university. In a matter of minutes, campus notes were exchanged. Talk about us Indians being “ghetto-ish” !! Her work in International Development was really interesting, and even more was the year long break she was taking from work. That’s something I got to find out more about from her.

Eswaran, was the official photographer from PTI and his handiwork can be seen here. He is still a blog-virgin…..the only member present who did not blog, and a unanimous resolution was passed by all present to rid him of this state within the next 30 days.

Ujwal, Sunil, Sunil and Vinay, chose to sit so far away from me, that the only interaction was combined laughter at the crazy anecdotes during the Mithun Da discourses.

Food was consumed, so was beer and then a cake was cut for the birthday boy. Winding up around 4 pm we all headed back to our lives. After a quick “DC Darshan” for Ravikiran, the car headed back towards NYC and memories of the meet were embedded on to the mind.

If you have read till the end of this you will note that this post has been served with a large dose of sarcasm. So take it in the spirit…..not the Bacardi kinds, and leave a comment.

Other more factual commentaries can be found here, here,here

and here


  1. Chetan March 13, 2006

    That was funny! Very well written indeed. Hope that the 475 miles of driving ultimately proved worth the effort.

  2. Greatbong March 13, 2006

    “The Fall of Ganguly” title has been changed to “The Fall of Chappell and the Prophecied Return of Elvis, Bruce Lee and Sourav Ganguly”

  3. Michael H. March 14, 2006

    Hi Arzan
    Great recap. It was very nice meeting you and I will definitely someday visit New York (only 250 miles away) so hopefully we will meet again. It was a great gesture on your part to drive Ravikiran such a long distance. I know he really appreciated it.

  4. Ujval March 14, 2006

    aaah !! Wanted to talk to you, but so is life (more importantly space) that could not slide closer !!

    mebbe next time around !! 🙂

    Arnab, is ur class offering virtual classes also? Tough for me to make the hike to UMD 🙂


Comments are Disabled