My 9th month working at HasGeek. Being away from actually writing something non-trivial has taken its toll. However, the time I had in managing a part of one of the biggest HasGeek conferences, the Fifth Elephant, deserves a blog post.
The main reason why I am writing this post is because of the wonderful time I had in working together with the volunteers who came forward to help us and make the event a memorable one. My involvement in organizing the event was pretty much zero. I kind of felt bad not being able to understand and take over anything from Zainab while she was managing the speakers, sponsorship, ticket sales, marketing and a million other things including inventory for the event. Even though I was neither experienced nor comfortable, I did help her with talking to the workshop instructors to get their installation instructions ready as well as with managing the volunteers.
It all started when I received the following mail from Iliyas on June 19th.
As you know I’m an active participant and volunteer in many FOSS conferences in India. I would like to contribute my best to this event as well.
For some reason, I knew that this responsibility was going to be on my shoulders and I am only too glad now that it was.
Once I received that mail, I talked to Zainab about it and she told me to round up the usual suspects. Well, no, not the group manipulated by Kevin Spacey. But a bunch of wonderful people who are always there to help out us at a HasGeek event. They’ve been supporting us even way before I joined the team.
Without delay, I wrote to all of them and narrowed down their availability based on their commitments and other responsibilities. Among the usual suspects who came this time were:
Anand. The force behind PyCon India for this and the past year. A passionate programmer and a hardcore Python expert. Sit through one of his Python trainings and you will come out mind blown with the realization of how much more there is to learn.
Haseeb. The young lad hailing from Gulbarga. Passionate about open source & free software, he is an active contributor to Mozilla’s Urdu translation. His contributions have not gone unnoticed and as such, has been invited to the US for this year’s Mozilla summit.
Anenth. The cool and simple fellow with a thing for Android. One among the founders of ideophone, he is someone whom I hope to get to know better in the coming days. Especially since we share the same office space now.
Sidharth. Genius. Well nothing more is to be said about him. Still, it would be worthwhile to mention about his extraordinary skill of remaining calm in any given occasion and facing it with a cool head. Lately, it seems that he has been having visions of the dark side. May God protect him.
Vamsee. This name always brings back a lot of good memories. Especially from the good old days back when I volunteered for Droidcon 2011. Those were one among the best couple of days in my life in more than a few ways. Anyway, this Rails dude is one among the coolest and most reliable people whom I have ever met. I was only too glad to see him at the event.
Sandeep. One of the founders of ideophone along with Anenth, he has been there supporting HasGeek since a long time. A mallu brother, if I may say so, he is one another person whom I am looking forward to get to know better in the coming days.
Jitendra. An artistic interface Engineer. A gamer by heart, he feels that HasGeek is one of the best reasons why you should consider staying at Bangalore. Passionate about trying out new stuff and as such, always a learner.
Well, that covers the usual suspects. Now for the ones who came forward willingly to help in spite of it being their first time as well as them being busy with myriad of things ranging from interviews, to night duties to daily office hours to commitments at their homes. In no particular order:
Iliyas. As I had already mentioned in the beginning of this post, he was the one who set the universe in motion. He had been volunteering for events and organizing meetups for the sake of communities since he was 16. He believes that is the best way in which he can contribute back to open source. One of the most wanted figures during the conference, he picked up the ContactPoint app in no time from Mitesh and helped to get it up and running all over the venue. In fact, almost all the first time volunteers came to know about the event through him. Without doubt, if it was not for him, we would have had a hard time getting volunteers.
Anusha. The beautiful young lady who was only too nervous to volunteer. Sister of one among the usual suspects, Ashwin. This time, he wanted to attend the talks as a participant and hence, could not volunteer. However, he made sure that his spot was not left vacant and he convinced her to come forth to volunteer. Even though extremely doubtful of herself at the beginning, it was amazing how she came out of her comfort zone to handle her tasks flawlessly. Hope she had a wonderful time at the event as well.
Abhijith. One of the most reliable and pleasant personalities that I have ever met. He was dedicated to make the event run smoothly as much as us and was someone who took the tension off my head with his presence in an auditorium. He had his interviews in between the event and I pray that he got through. A mathematician at heart, I hope I can get his help to learn a lot over the coming days.
Ali. The cool one whose presence was felt almost everywhere during the event. He reminded me of myself when I volunteered the first time as he had just completed his 3rd year exams. Enthusiastic about technology, he made the most out the event by handling registrations to mic to camera as well as by paying heed to the talks that he found to be of interest to him.
Vinay. It was admirable how he found the time to come forward and help us despite running his own firm. More than once in between the conference, he had to run outside to meet clients, seal deals and hurry back in ensuring that his duties were taken care of. I wish him all the success with his venture and may his willingness to help amidst his busy life be rewarded in plenty.
Ralph. A jolly, energetic and enthusiastic person who impressed us all with the amount of dedication he showed towards his duties. What was special about him was the fact that he learned from each context he was in and shared his learnings with us without any shyness. He possessed one of those rare qualities which was more than just doing his best at what he was doing, to improvise and act based on his observations. Hope his family was not too hard on him for taking a three-day volunteering sprint. He he.
Niraj. The pleasant young chap who walks around with a smile on his face all the time. Someone who became an expert camera man within a day, he spreads joy to the ones around him with his quick witted jokes as well as his sudden burst of words. He certainly has learned from his uncle Vijay and is one nice guy to be with.
Basavaraj & Rajshekar. I would say these two were godsend. When I had a couple of volunteer withdrawals towards the event, I was sort of feeling a bit tensed until these two came forward to help. Friends of Charitra, who had to unfortunately go back to his hometown due to the sudden announcement of his project demo. I could not get enough time to know both of these young lads well enough. But I will make sure that I do. Raj had his interview for a job on the second day of the event. Here is wishing him all the best and hope he gets through.
Sagar. Although his plan was to volunteer just for helping out Edouard during his MongoDB workshop, he decided to stay back and help us out as much as he can. This young man was present everywhere amusing us with his charming personality as well as insights. A lad with lot of potential, I hope that he chases his dreams. Let’s see what stirs up after he watches ‘office space’ which I recommended for him.
Zubair. My roommate. One of the best friends I have ever had. An open source lover at heart and a passionate learner of every day things. He observes, takes input from all that is around him, improvises, concludes and executes the best possible course of action. Even though a bit reluctant to come over, he was only too glad that he came over in the end.
There were others as well who came forward but just could not make it due to their commitments and responsibilities. Charitra, as I mentioned earlier. Rinku, who offered to help even though she had bought a ticket. Pradeep, who had a lot of last minute work popping up. Vinayak, who was there for the first day and then couldn’t make it due to work. Asif, who fell sick. Here is wishing him a speedy recovery.
That sums up all who came forward to help. I haven’t got the photos from the event yet, but I will post them here as soon as they are up.
I am not sure whether I was a good task master. Whether I gave them the chance to feel what I felt back in Droidcon 2011. I hope I did. And I really hope that they had an amazing time and finds it in their heart to take initiative and volunteer for a lot of events.
Of course, this post won’t be complete without mentioning the amazing HasGeek team of Kiran, Zainab, Krace, Supreeth, Radha, Nimisha, Kingsly, Gaurav, Jamna, Praseetha, Mitesh and Devi, who gave more than 100% for the success of the event. But they deserve a post for just themselves.
Here is to the future! May the bonds that were made last long and strong.