Friday, January 23, 2009

BarCampKerala4: Turned out to be BoreCamp

BarCamp is supposed to be a gathering of geeks, enthusiasts and other techno aficionados. Never have I thought it would call in suits (or 'suitlings'). BarCampKerala4 was organised at IIM-K. An odd choice for a geek gathering. Here's my experience of the day as well as of the camp.

I woke up late that day. The train was at 6:45am, but I was awoken by my room mate at 6am. I quickly grabbed my dress from the hanger and was running towards the junction, with my laptop bag and by backpack in 2 mins. I got an auto, luckily, from Thevara to South Railway station. Binny and Venkat arrived in about 5 mins after I reached the station.

On train we met Alby and Abhilash, both en route to BCK4. We had a pleasant start, discussing various issues ranging from the pros/cons of RH certification, CentOS as a server OS, the unsung powers of Debian, KDE vs. GNOME, the scary life of Chinese netizens, the possible horrors awaiting Indian counterparts because of IT Act Amendment Bill and its big brother — Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

It was a great day, with beautiful scenery on the outside and cheery moods inside coupled with anticipation of meeting more like-minded geeks, before things started to go wrong.

Nearing Farooq, I believe, our train stopped suddenly, with people jumping down and peering under the train. We initially suspected the train had run over someone, but then, there's no need to halt the train if that be the case. We went on to inspect and found that the rail had broken and pilot had pulled on the brakes fearing derailing (I still wonder how he came to know of it).

We kinda KNEW it then that day is going to be not as great as we thought, and the software Gods were not pleased with us. We somehow landed at Kozhikode station, and firstly booked the return ticket back for 5:45pm train.

I met one Mr. Midhun Zachariah from SMS, CUSAT, whom our team (Akhilesh and myself) defeated for DC Quiz Book Fair quiz competition at Railway station. They were the runner-up or so, but Akhilesh and yours truly got to inaugurate that competition that day. Anyway.

Well, we walked till the bus stand, and hoped into a bus that announced, “we're leaving right now, we're leaving right now” — except that even after 3 buses left, the bus that we sat weren't budging. :'(

Before the fourth one left, we jumped out and hoped into another bus that had its engine running. I kept tweeting about my status, via mobile, but sometimes that damn place couldn't get E-GPRS connection. We reached IIM just in time for lunch. People were moving towards the mess-hall, and we didn't want to be left out or be late for lunch.

I came to know 2–3 sessions were already over, with interesting topics like Web2.0 something-something and the like. Lunch wasn't that bad, and we moved to an amphitheatre-like classroom (typical for MBAs).

The 1st thing I did was whip out my lappy (which the previous day, I had painstakingly updated to Ubuntu Intrepid) and try and connect to Net. Weep! No Wi-Fi. Or worse, no open APs. Somebody from my back commented that an AP named “Elena” had a WEP key “acces”. No luck there too. ☹

Some guy is blazers was talking big about ‘mind maps’ and its profound effect making things simpler (WTF?!). Next was Vishnu Gopal's session on tech start-up — “Start-ups: make money or die trying” (or something similar). By this time, I started hating that guy in the centre who was taking over the stage and was showing some form of contempt to ‘tech-talks’. But Vishnu give a nice answer to that guy. He showed how techies react to so-called mind-maps; he tore the paper in four and threw it to the floor (followed by applause, while IIM students aghast). We (Venkat, Binny and me) tried changing our positions too, in the amphitheatre.

Finding no luck with getting net connection, I was nearly loosing my cool. Oh c'mon, this is BarCamp, and the essential things for a BarCamp is 1) space for all to sit, 2) free (unrestricted) Wi-Fi, 3) free beer (although, the latter is not observed in ‘this’ of the world.

Another interesting session was Anand's (of fame) regarding Wordpress and blogging. Well, that made me think seriously about blogging (readers might notice that I opted a new theme for this blog, and it was inspired by his talk). The coat-guy interrupted, “wait, this is free? You mean you can freely download it? No cost? Wow!”. I _really_ hated that guy now. I could see Anand had a weird expression on his face.

Don't get me wrong, I too am an MBA. But I'm more of a geek at heart. I know both the sides, and how each side think. I specifically have contempt for those who display their ‘suit’ behaviour.

We decided to get out earlier, lest we miss our train. But once we got out, we found more of other BarCampers standing outside, who couldn't take the bullshit going on inside (which had progressed to food sale, and its market penetration — great topic for a BarCamp, eh?). We (the one's who had jumped out for breathing space talked for 5–10 minutes discussing various techie stuff, not to waste all the time and money we spent in trying to come to this place. I found out that one guy from Amritha Engg. college who was getting bored had been flooding some random TCP port (5225 he said I guess) he found using Wireshark. I now know why my Pidgin showed “SSL handshake failed” message and I couldn't get into GTalk. Grr!Binny diving, possibly to run away from IIM ;-)

We skipped tea and hurried down (2kms down to IIM main-gate). We found out, after reaching the bus-stop that due to some on-going Muslim League convention, all the traffic had been re-directed off form some other place. No bus through this road, not even an auto.

We had to walk a long way before we could find an auto that could take us to some intermediate stop by which buses were going. But as (un)luck would have it, our auto got stuck in between a traffic jam, and we just had 15–20 minutes before our train left the station.

Somehow managed to reach and hop into a KSRTC bus, we hoped to catch the next train which was leaving by 7:00pm. We got off after a not-so-short journey. But had to walk a loong way before we could reach the railway station. Suffice to say we reached there just in about 1 minute (or was it 30 seconds) to time. We had to find a general compartment, as we did not have any reservation.

The train only had one, and it was tightly packed.

We somehow wriggled our way through. And I tell you, it was very hard. And then we came to know that the train had stop *not* at South railway station, from where we boarded, but only on North railway station. But throughout the way, we discussed great many things which made us not to notice the limited space we were standing on, and the horrible stench of the toilet, near which we were standing.

We reached North after 12:00am. I decided to go to Venkat's place to spend the night. We all were very tired, but above all that, we were disappointed at the turn of events. So the goodbyes were shortened into wave of hands, and we all went out on our ways.

It was a BoreCamp in reality. Hijacked by suits, with horrible attitude. I would never attend any other BarCamp organised in or near the vincinity of an IIM.


TheAnand said...

Nice theme :D

One thing I would change with blogspot is the way its comment system works...3 page loads for a comment!

TheAnand said...

Oh yea, Nice review! Everyone from Cochin who has visited this camp has had a lot of adventure for sure!

binnyva said...

That day is what I use as a proof for murphy's law.

Kenney Jacob said...

I am quite lucky that I had to go home urgently on that day and skipped the event.

Lesson learned, wont repeat.

maravind said...


Thanks :-)

I'm only a baby crawling on all fours in the domain of blogging. When I start walking maybe I'll go WP way :-D

It was not 'adventure' — it was misadventure.


@Kenny Jacob
Yes, some people were lucky.

We too learned our lessons, thanks to BarCamp@IIM

maravind said...

Updated with photos... (with exclusive "Binny diving pic!" :-D)

Yeah, I know, I'm a sloth... bluetooth had some trouble on Ubuntu Intrepid.