I have been part of this amazing group of bloggers in the Blogging Marathon. Though I have blogged multiple recipes with this group I have written very little about the people and the behind the scenes action. So this and the next two posts are a kind of ‘The making of’ part of the Blogging Marathon group with details about our meet up for the 100th edition.
I reached Hyderabad early morning because I had to meet my uncle. After that I went to Kamat hotel near Birla Mandir where the girls were having lunch. It took probably 2 minutes to get comfortable with everyone, even people I was meeting for the first time. After lunch we visited the Birla mandir which is a beautiful temple with a fabulous view.
Then we decided to head to the villa where we were to stay for the 5 days of our trip. Our bus driver had a tough time to figure out the place and Archana had a worse time trying to make him read a basic google map. Finally we reached the villa where Vaishali was waiting for us with a pooja ki thali and gave us a warm traditional welcome. We settled down admist excessive chatting and catching up with everyone. We ordered some dinner which was tasty. As the rest of us sat to talk some more, the cake team of Gayathri, Ritu and Ruchi were so busy getting the cake decorated and ready for the next day. Gayathri is our baking queen and she makes some delicious cakes. I don’t need to say a lot about her since she is a star in the baking world. Ritu has blossomed into another cake star and each of her creations is better than the previous one. She is one determined and persevering lady. I met Ruchi for the first time in Hyderabad and she is another expert on all things cakes and does stuff that I haven’t even heard of.
Amara and Usha met us at the villa. These two lovely ladies have been coordinating and running around for this event for over six months. I strongly suspect Amara had a magic wand because she would get us just anything we asked for in terms of ingredients and equipment for cooking and baking. She would simply nod her head with a smile and before you know it, the requisite item would appear in front of you. Usha reserved her magic for coming up with one awesome event after another each of which I will detail over the three posts this week.
Srividhya and Sharmila, who were able to join us only for a day, had rehearsed a lovely dance for us and they were an absolute riot. Pradnya reached late at night and simply refused to let anyone sleep. We spent a long time chatting into the night where Srividhya gave us a lot of tips and information about how she manages her blog and various other social media channels. Pavani also came to the villa later and spent the night chatting with us over the course of which we realised that her ‘pavam’ photo on her blog is totally a misnomer and she was an absolute revelation in the most fun way.
Day 2 – Dress code – Green / White / Traditional
We were scheduled to have a North Indian Thali prepared by a group led by Vaishali. So I had a comparatively easy morning which I mainly spent in clicking pics and catching up with everyone. Suddenly the doorbell rang and Kalyani was at the door for an absolute awesome surprise. She had to cancel due to her health and so seeing her was so amazing. Harini also managed to come for a few hours and it was lovely to meet her. Wish she could have spent some more time with us.
One of my main reasons to go for this BM meet was to meet Varada who I have been blog-stalking for a long time now. She had agreed to bake yeast breads and sourdough breads for us during this meet and I was determined to soak up as much knowledge from her as possible. So we started reactivating the dried starter she had carried with her all the way from the US.
I will write in detail about what I learnt in the coming weeks but I can say this in a nutshell that I had a fabulous time baking with Varada and learning so much. It is my most exciting memory of the event.
Then we had to change into our whites and denim aprons which Vaishali had got for us for the cake cutting. We had a professional photographer whose capabilities were truly tested with our various demands and multiple poses.
After the cake cutting, there was a surprise cake for Vaishali’s birthday which was also fabulous.
Then we changed back to our greens for another round of photos. Finally it was lunch time and the aromas were making us quite hungry.
Each and every dish tasted amazing and I wanted to eat more even though I was full. Then we bid farewell to Srividya, Sharmila and Kalyani who had to leave that day.
Usha had picked a lovely restaurant called Vivaha Bhojanam for a typical Telugu meal for the evening. We were to wear traditional attire for it and I was super nervous about having to drape the sari by myself. But thank heavens, Gayathri was around and before I blinked twice she had completed draping the sari for me and I could only stare in awe.
The restaurant seemed to be inspired by a Telugu movie of the 50s which had a famous song ‘Vivaha Bhojanam’ that talks about Gatothgaja eating a feast at a wedding. (Kalyana Samayal Sadham song for the Tamil audience).
We were served a huge variety of dishes one after the other. Valli was sweet to wait for the entire meal to be served and click a picture while the rest of us were wolfing down all the dishes and demanding for seconds.
We returned to the villa and Ruchi generously shared some cake decoration tips with us with a detailed and step by step presentation on making flowers to decorate the cake.
So much happened and it has been only 2 days. I will post about day 3 tomorrow. Do drop in to read.