Kick off for Drupal Camp Pakistan in Lahore was a strange affair! unfamiliarity with the local culture of the metropolis meant we went through a steep learning curve in the morning!
Registration opened at 0900 and by 1000 only half a dozen people had turned up! We were told by the University reps none of the students would be turning up till 1130 – there were classes going on but did not expect industry to be sleeping in!
The few locals who did turn up on time, near on time were quite relaxed… ‘this is a Saturday in Lahore’ we were told, relax.. ‘you said 0930 reg closes right, so they’ll be running an hour late for sure’. All but one took kindly to the norm of his city folk, we ended up getting blame for not organising things properly! I guess the expectation was that we ought to either kick off on time with 8 people in a room that accommodates 100 or to go around waking people up, dressing them, feeding them and bringing them to the camp! WTF!
Our sincere apologies to Ali Ahmed for deciding to wait for the masses before we kicked the camp off. As forecasted by the locals the Lahoris started trickling in past 1000 and we kicked off at 1015 with a call to Jacob Singh across the border in Bangalore. Jacob had arranged for us to connect with a Bangalore Drupal meetup over Skype (Thank you) and that got me super excited… the prospect of connecting the two neighbouring communities is on every doves mind! this was going to be awesome… well it was until we introduced a local Trainer to the group in Bangalore! and in the interest of politeness I will not name this individual but he really f**ked it up! This bafoon went off on an idiotic nationalistic rant as far removed from the spirit of community as pluto is from the third rock! it took him 15 seconds to sabotage what was going to be a historic moment for the two communities! It took me a moment to step in and push the fool aside and try and recover from it, 40 local Drupalers and me were in a total state of shock! The look on everyones faces called for a public lynching! I and the 40 odd Pakistani Drupalers in the room have to hand it to the guys in Bangalore for their maturity for brushing aside the idiots comments, thank you Anil and the Bangalore meet up group! I guess every community has an idiot amongst them.
Having been taken off guard, felt like I’d been thrown out of a plane without a parachute, I cut the call with the Bangalore Drupalers short and it was time to set some freaking ground rules!
I took the fool to task as did all the locals. I did not travel 6000+ KM from London to Lahore via Dubai and Islamabad, running on less the 8 hours of sleep over the last 72 hours…. for this! What was heartening was the audience in mass was was calling for blood! LOL letting him know publicly that he is a racist, the fool tried to recover with stupid logic that only a fool can conjure up! The positive from the drama was a racist fool was unveiled and now the local community knows who to avoid like the plague.
Enough of the fool, rest of the session was spent on a very constructive discussion on borderless communities, OS playing its part to transcend differences of all sorts… and why complete strangers were taking time off from London, Gent, Brighton, Bangalore to Helsinki on a Saturday to share their experiences, and how grateful the locals were for it. It was time to move on…. it was pleasant to hear in a room of 50 odd people by now no one else shared the bigot’s views.
If you are reading this post you know who you are, climb out of your cave of ignorance fella’
Our next speaker was a local open source advocate, Fouad Bajwa who adapted his discussion well to pick up where I left off.. on individual mind-set and culture being the biggest barriers to innovation and growth.
I would have gone into a live commentary of every session as I did from the Islamabad camp but we were not provided wifi access, bandwidth had been dedicated for the Skype calls… the submarine cable issue under the Suez Canal had not been sorted out, connectivity though fair still wasn’t it’s awesome self and it was more important for our speakers to have all the bandwidth dedicated to the calls… reporting back to the community could wait till I was back in Islamabad!
Given a late start we had to shuffle things around, by lunch time we had 70 folks in attendance as opposed to the 118 registered for it! and in majority it was the industry that failed to show up! as classes finished more and more students came around to the camp, few already dabbling with Drupal, most plain curious.
Post lunch we broke off to separate tracks, I went on evangelising and fielding some tough questions on why Drupal from a very informed bunch of CS students near graduation, the advanced tracks did not see the numbers for the industry failed to turn up! the training sessions were well attended and about 40 odd students went through the Hello Drupal sessions.
All in all Drupal Camp Pakistan in Lahore was a mixed bag… as far as our objectives went, we ticked the introduce Drupal to students box, we ticked the train upwards of 30 students box (we trained 41 to be precise), we ticked the get academia involved box but failed to get the industry to turn up in mass and network with potential future Drupalers!
The most interesting conversations I had was with a number of Professors and associate professors who turned up to feed their own curiosity, of them one needs a special mention Bilal Arshad, who is spearheading the university’s links with industry and has invited us back to the university to evangelise about Drupal and other emerging technologies on a regular basis. This part of the rock certainly needs more folks like Bilal to align the academic curriculum to the practical needs of the industry as well as global demand for talent and skills.
Our closing was spectacular, the Deen for IT from the university turned up impromptu to talk to what was in majority his students and big up our efforts for bringing the camp to his school and insisted that students drink deep from the Drupal spring and maintain contact with those they met from Industry on the day.
Thank you Fida, Atiq, Khurram, Umair and Ahmed from team ikonami for their hard work in organising the camp, its site and everything else before, on the day and after! excellent show cranes – mighty proud of the team. Thank you to our project managers for allowing the team to take time off to organise the Camp.
Thank you Jennifer, Stefan, Aaron, Dominique, Jacob, Ronald, Fouad, Amar, Anil Sagar (and the Drupalers in Bangalore), Shakeel and Atta for taking time out on a Saturday to share your knowledge and experiences with the community in Lahore! we all appreciate it immensely! it was a shame Mr Purkiss had to cancel bu Steve had a good reason for it.
Thank you Acquia, AberdeenCloud, Kubaku and ikonami for supporting the Camp with their sponsorships.
And lastly, thank you Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Bilal Arshad, Armaghan and the IT department at University of Central Punjab for hosting the camp and their assistance on the day!
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