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IndiBlogger’s Akshaya Patra Gathering

Acknowledging my blog being dead for a year in front of 200 odd blogging enthusiasts wasn’t easy, even if I meant it as a wisecrack. It seemingly did the trick, however, going by the scattered laughter in response to my candid announcement. “Don’t worry, Jayesh, you’re not alone,” someone chimed from a far corner. The room full of strangers, hanging on my every word as I completed a rather uninspired introduction, suddenly felt a lot more inviting. IndiBlogger‘s session ahead could only get better, I reckoned.

Sunday’s strictly a leisure day for me. So what pushed me to make an exception, instead of laze around hugging my mattress, refusing to do anything but “chillout” on Sundays as is my wont? Given Bangalore’s stick-up-the-bum public transport system, which I detest from the bottom of my artery-clogged heart, even the idea of traversing halfway across the city was enough to stir some bile. If anything, it was to reconnect with ISKCON, soak in the divinity, that pushed me to go. IndiBlogger’s “Akshaya Patra” meet was an added bonus, nothing more.I’ve had a fruitful relationship with ISKCON since my early teens, but for a variety of excuses had lost touch with the institution for the past few years. It was nice to learn about Akshaya Patra, ISKCON’s and India’s largest mid-day cooked meal program that reaches out to over 1.25 million school kids everyday in eight Indian states. Between IndiBlogger’s interruptions, the ISKCON representatives brought the blogging community up to speed with their charity initiatives — they even fielded questions on day-to-day operations, corporate donation programs, food production, and blogging efforts impacting the Akshaya Patra movement.

To hear a religious-cum-spiritual organization interested in social media initiatives to propagate their message is something I don’t see very often. Just like my memory of ISKCON’s Juhu temple, the humble repast or prasadam served continued to be simple yet sumptuous.

Surprisingly, the afternoon turned out none too bad for me. The fact that IndiBlogger’s meet didn’t have a set itinerary helped keep the mood informal, I met some new people, reconnected with some old faces, and left the premises before I could snag a free T-shirt — Manchester United vs. Liverpool awaited.

One of these days, I will go back to ISKCON again. The temple fascinates me.

Originally published: January 11, 2011

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