Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hyderabad Bloggers Meet - 2013

In more ways than one Hyderabad Bloggers Meet (HBM)- 2013 held at ITC Kakatiya was a grand affair.  Not only was the venue awesome, but we had a chance to rub shoulders with eminent bloggers.  There were bloggers from all walks of life and it was fun seeing everyone connecting like they were old friends.

While the organizers and hosts were prepping up for the meet, young tech blogger Satish and me went exploring the plush interiors of ITC Kakatiya.

It was a pleasure talking a walk in these beautiful hallways that were adorned with lovely paintings and gorgeous indoor plants.

With the noble goal of 'enabling change through social media' and Subhorup playing a perfect host, HBM - 2013 was up and running.  The bloggers meet started off with Satish CoolPcTips taking a fun and informative session on how to improve the visibility of a website or a blog and how the search engine spiders crawlers inspect the websites.  Next session by Anuradha Goyal, Linda Ashok and Shankari Sundaram talking about blogging and publishing.  The discussion was also livened up by Prasad N, Pattu Raj and Bhavana who made valid points with their anecdotes.   We had a few newcomers as well who made their presence felt, notably Debdatta and Madhur.

Pavan, Saikumar, Anuradha, Prasad, Pattu Raj and Bhavana.

Next we took a much deserved break with  shawarma, hot dogs and chocolate mudcake whipped up by the chef Sekar who coincidentally happens to be a blogger.

The session ended on a hopeful note with discussion started by Ratnakar Sadasyula a social activist and political commentator of sorts who said that there was a lot of good work that was unreported by the mainstream media and the possibility of social media in bringing a revolution.

Gautam, Madhur, and Ratnakar Sadasyula.

Just before the session ended, Sateesh NVL recited a beautiful poem from his cellphone.  It was a perfect marriage of technology (cellphone) and creative arts (poem) as demonstrated photo below.

Next came the crowd-pleaser, the gifts giveaways.  Every blogger brought with them their cherished things and put them in a gift basket.  Subhorup who just started his online tea store, Blend of Tea, gave away some of the finest teas available as gifts packed neatly in little boxes (I am sipping the gorgeous Darjeeling black tea at the time of this writing).  Maxthon gave away free T-shirts.  With every blogger winning more than one gift, there were smiles all around.  To top it off every blogger got a free BigBasket coupon.

Subhorup and Satish.

Overall it was a great experience.  With a right mix of youth and experience, the HBM - 2013 provided a great platform for the experienced bloggers to share their knowledge and for the young tech bloggers (Satish, Pavan, Saikumar, Sampath, and Koundinya) to shine.

Satish, Pavan, Saikumar, Sampath and Koudinya.

With the noble cause of enabling change for a good cause, the joy of connecting with one another, and the spirit of giving this bloggers meet will be etched in the minds of all those who attending for a long time.

For more on the same event:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Browns and greens - A trip to the village

Last month I made a trip to a village in east coast of Andhra Pradesh, which was still recuperating from the effects of the deadly cyclone Nilam.  Driving to the village, I could see the destruction wrought by the cyclone first hand.  There were fields of ruined paddy crop and farmers with stoic faces counting the losses.  Speaking to some of the people there I learned that these farmers do not get any government help for their losses, they simply have to take a loan from banks or money lenders and hope that the crop for the next season comes good.  The 'annadaata' though heartbroken seeing the loss of his crops still soldiers on and will break his back for the next crop.  These people  feed millions of people and are the true backbone of the country.

Next morning as I was walking around the village with my good friend Laxmi absorbing the soothing scenery, I comment on the lack of people and my friend informs me that once children complete their 10th standard and college they leave their village; the lure of the big city lights too strong to resist.  Most of the young generation leave either for the 'Hitech city' Hyderabad or the nearby port city of Vishakapatnam.

Village of Yedida.

Next we come across the huts on the edge of a lake that are on the outskirts of the village.  These huts are a stark reminder of caste system that is still deeply rooted in this village society; a dark side to an otherwise beautiful village.

Next, we paid a visit to a village school which is run by one of my relatives.  Children wake up by 6 in the morning and will be present in their school by 7.  There is nothing more heartwarming than seeing little children with bright faces carrying their books; children with hopes and dreams in their eyes.

As the morning progressed I expected some sort of morning rush, but there were only deserted streets with farmers already in their fields and their grown up children living their life in one of the big cities.

With stories to tell and camera full of images, we went back to our house for tea and breakfast.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A FEW HUMBLE CLICKS - Pictures from a camera phone

Unless you are a pro, you cannot have a dedicated camera on you all the time.  So what do I do?. I take my Android phone and click away.  I feel bad for not having a camera, forget about the pictures for a few days and then look at them again.

Pictures taken from a camera phone are not very good even if you pile on effects and filters in Photoshop but there are quite a few image-enhancing apps available in Android market and using them on your crummy photos can produce surprising results.  Here are some of my favorites.

Taken just before attending a bloggers meet in Hyderabad.

Sun Dog.  It was cold this day, but the sun came out for a brief moment.

A plane, a rocket or a meteor?

Was listening to The Beatles and spotted a plane.

Opposite my workplace.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

No Colour - Black, white and many shades of grey.

The strong brown of the early morning coffee, that unexpected yellow in concrete jungle or the incandescent orange rays of setting sun, the human eye responds very strongly to colours.  The advertisers and filmmakers no doubt have recognized the subtle power of colour to catch the human eye and influence our moods, but great photographers and filmmakers also recognize the other important aspect in the visual medium; the forms and shapes.

When you look at a black and white photograph, your eye is forced to examine the forms and shapes without the distraction of colour.  There are photographers like Ansel Adams whose images are superbly balanced and he clearly elevates the photography to an art form.

In my college years one of my seniors used to bring a digital camera to our campus, but oddly enough he used to switch the camera to black n' white mode and take pictures repeatedly of an old banyan tree.  In conversing with him, I found out that he was trying to capture "the balance of things, you know, the shapes of things."  We thought he was a nut job and left him alone; I wonder where he is now.  Later in my life after countless number of days with my humble camera, I think I understood what he was trying to say.  Here's me applying some of his principles.

Dargah at Moula-Ali

Arabian Sea and a silhouette of a friend.

Tamilnadu-Kerala border.

Disused warehouse, originally a colour photograph converted into black and white.

On a Friday at friends' house. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A gift by a guest

I got a gift yesterday.  It's a guest post by none other than Subho's Jejune diet, one of the most influential bloggers around; also a person I look up to when my life feels rudderless through his writings, conversations and music sharing.  So without further ado here is his guest post which sparkles with wit, embedded wisdom and some truly creative images.


Some posts package your abilities like well shot glamor pics of aging divas. They are like well designed apps that intuitively know what you want them to do. Their shoes shine like in the ads, and their clothes are clean and starched, and they obediently line up and sing the national anthem in three part harmony. They unhesitatingly sort into openings and closures, and bullet point themselves into bite-sized chunks. Such posts make gloomy days seem sunny to me and Readers Digest read like high art.

Painting with light.

Some posts just don’t write. They sit like a sullen child holding its breath and daring you to end a paragraph. They file themselves away into the back of the bottom shelf in the drafts folder and pretend to be invisible when you peer to look. They disappear into the soil of the mind like an expensive seed that waits to germinate till you forget to water it. I keep taking them out, bathing, feeding and drying them out like pet geckos in the sun. These posts are very dear to me. Like children with special needs.

Chili plant.

Some posts write themselves, brushing you aside like an unpleasant thing lying on the road. They roll themselves out like a magic carpet of thoughts and images, usually unlike anything you were prepared for. Then they look back at you and gloat, as if saying, now what are you going to do? Some of them go a step further and announce it to you even as you sit to write. What I usually do with such posts is generously gift them to my fellow bloggers in the guise of a guest post. Like curses in a Stephen King story, they become their problem after that.


Thank you Subho's Jejune diet for taking your time and contributing a post to this blog and turning it into a much better place.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

On a Sunday - A walk in the park

Located in the heart of the city, KBR park is like a beauty spot on the face of Hyderabad.  This is the park where you are more likely to find spirited senior citizens walking than couples sitting on the bench and holding their hands.  One fine Sunday morning as I was having a steamin' cup of coffee and preparing to read  the vivid and stately prose of P.G. Wodehouse in my favorite reading spot, my brother came bursting into my room and proposed we go to a walk since the weather was sensational.  Why not?

With the morning sun peeking from behind the palm trees and dragonflies hovering around like mini helicopters, we got into our tracks and tees and off we went to KBR park located in Jubilee Hills.  With no agenda on our mind and a Nikon camera in our pockets, we explored the 24-acre park.  It is very unusual to find a mini jungle like this in the beating heart of the city but here it is, the local flora and fauna in all its glory.

A family of flowers.

The park is well-maintained with few ponds, wooden benches, a duck here and a peacock there.  The air was fresh and the light was golden.  We came across many colorful sights and we were furiously clicking away on our camera.

Nature's supermodel.

Suddenly without warning a peacock appears out of nowhere and lands across the path.  With the attitude and swagger of a seasoned supermodel, he starts strutting around and showing off his colorful feathers; we were happy to oblige.

Old world charm.

After spending nearly 3 hours exploring, we rested our weary legs in the shade near abandoned garage somewhere in the park.  We knew that when we get home, mom's crispy Sunday special dosas will be waiting for us.  What a way to start off a Sunday.  So when was the last time you took a walk in the park?

The mystic bond of brotherhood.


KBR (Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park) is located near LV Prasad Eye Hospital.  The place is well connected by buses and autos.  The park opens its gate at 4:30 a.m. and closes at 9 in the morning and starts again at 5 in the evening until 7 p.m.