This will be a short take on how people can crap an event by not planning properly or getting the business sense right and what we could perhaps learn from it.
For a long time, have been an avid reader of all kinds of books, fiction as well non-fiction, although my non-fiction is limited to technology, history, Economics (Freakonomics 1 & 2 come to mind) and others like that. Last year I had come to know of PILF Pune International Literary Festival after the event is over. This second year, proved to be an exception as I got the info. beforehand. I reached the venue in time (just when Mrs. Maneka Gandhi started her speech on non-violence towards animals), being had a WWF volunteer in teens and then later a cynic about it, gave it a pass. I am sure Mrs. Gandhi gave a rousing and inspirational speech. I later when to attend the book launch of Sutak (apparently a book on/about human relationships.) The Compere was an RJ who thought a world of himself and was acting pretty smart. After a while I had to walk away.
Then lunch break came and came to know that there are no stalls for food. There was just a Wada Pav, Samosa and a chai wallah guy and nothing else. All of the guests (readers) were herded towards the canteen which both hygienically, looks and taste was one of the crappiest places I had eaten. I had taken a Thali but left it less than half-eaten. I saw quite a number of people who were clever and just ordered something simple (like wada pav or near basic) because they knew it won’t be any good. I went to one of the outside shops (which I should have done before) to keep myself sane. Then in the afternoon session attended a discussion on hindi fiction. Probably by design, all the four panelists were poets. Of these Dr. Dr.Vageesh S. Saraswat was great as he shared some simple yet poems with deeper meanings. He also shared one of the more humorous ones. Dr. Swati Nalawade, the compere was equal to the task and she shared a couple, one of which just went over my head.
What was interesting was not the poems or the authors themselves but both the grace and the humility with which they interacted with us, the common reader. In my life, I had been fortunate to have been able to interact with great and humble writers like Mr. Khushwant Singh (as a reader) as well as some foreign ones too (again as a fan/reader). Almost 95% of the times, writers like Mr. Singh (an exception) and western writers are pretty humble. Then we have the ‘English Indian’ writer who has this snobbish attitude towards others and live in their own fictionalized world. This I had observed years ago and was re-iterated again in today’s meet which again left a bad taste in my mouth. In the evening was able to catch Mr. Sourabh Pant, (The East India Comedy guy) who trended on YouTube a while back. There was a lot of above and below belt jokes and fun. To add to it there was Angad Singh Ranyal as well who also used quite a few puns in his act. I liked the Angad’s act a pinch more because there was a bit of sarcasm and dark humor in his act which I don’t know how many people caught on.
At the end of the first day, while I was upset with the organizing part (schedule was not maintained and things going haywire as well), I was happy to connect with some hopefully up-coming good writers. So, would I go the second day, absolutely, if nothing else with the hope and the zest that I meet some more nice and upcoming authors as well as engage with like-minded readers to understand and relate to various types of writings, readings etc.
Lessons for us (as in debutsav) :-
a. Make sure that lunch is good. If possible, try to have one more alternative so that if people don’t like certain food, they can choose another provider.
b. Unlike a traditional conference, we look, feel and do things like ‘Unconference’. If you do not know that word, please look it up. The idea is not to look at people from down upon but be with them and within them.
c. Content wins every-time :- From the experiences shared, it’s obvious, even if they are short-comings they could be covered provided the content is what people expected. The more people understand and relate to your content, the more forgiving they can be.
d. Don’t spend 20 minutes introducing speakers and don’t read out :- If you have 2-3 people from dias, read the content a few times, understand who’s who and what they have done and then don’t refer the material again and let it come from within. It may be short but will get the point across. In a Unconference, most of the time we do our intro. ourselves in as time or
I hope it gives the Amritapuri (boots-at-Amrapuri) some more data points for organizing of a debutsav.