Performing Arts Festival of IIT Bombay

Out of many interesting events happening on the campus, the one which I enjoy the most is the ‘Performing Arts Festival’ or PAF as it is popularly known! This is a brilliant concept and I just love the format. To begin with, it is just another ‘inter hostel competition’. However, it goes much beyond that.

The objective is to perform a theatrical act. Few hostels come together to make a team and submit their entry. Based on the number of entries, the PAF committee announces the schedule. The act involves ALL departments of the theatre, such as: script writing, art, production, music, acting, voiceover, light, sound, direction etc.


However, the most crucial criteria to set up the act is the stage which is provided…it is a huge area to be covered by the props and lights. This is another reason, that the actors in this act DO NOT have microphones. They simply mime on the stage with a lip movement, and the voice over is provided by the actors in the front. The stage property is huge. Earlier, a stage with many levels was found challenging, however, in recent times, the production has graduated to many new and spectacular ‘heights’! We have seen a double storied building with an external staircase and galleries, line of control with watch towers, and even a moving train on the stage!


The music team performs LIVE and lends the necessary audio effect to the whole act. The voiceover artists scramble through the script papers, and the limited number of microphones made available!

All in all, this activity is a nice example of team spirit and creativity. Months of preparations come to an end after the act is over! Few glimpses of yesteryears years PAF for you:



T007: Kolkata (Part 2)

After a hectic but exciting day at yFactor conference, it was time for me to start back! I got in to the car and was heading back to the airport. I was accompanied by a senior professor, who was to get down on the way. He was a perfect person to get a suggestion for buying some sweets. He suggested Balaram Mullick sweets on the way. He guided the car driver to the entrance, and suggested that I can take as much time for my ‘sweet’ shopping, while they park the car in the adjacent lane!

Source: TripAdvisor

I entered this ‘Mishti Magic’ shop, and was absolutely clueless, about what to buy! I was simply looking at the display of mouth-watering delicacies, when someone tapped me on my shoulder! I turned to see a gentleman asking me, “Are you Dr. Sameer Sahasrabudhe  by any chance?”. “Yes! off course I am”, I smiled and shook hands with him. He was beaming by now and said, “I am happy to meet you, since I am a participant in your online course currently going on the NPTEL platform!”. He introduced as a professor from Techno India, and was visibly excited to meet the online instructor in person. In no time he went to the counter and got me a cup of Nolen gurer Souffle, which was the speciality of this outlet! I had a short discussion, before I realised that the people in the car outside were waiting for long now! I asked for recommendations to be packed, bought them, and bid him a good bye…not before I clicked a selfie with him and his colleague!


THis was not the first time that I experienced a ‘celebrity teacher’ moment, but it was first time I experienced it outside Mumbai! and it was special…too bad that I am unable to remember the name of this gentleman.. please help me getting him!

Nevertheless, the course on NPTEL is getting over this week, and I will get the list of ALL the participants. Hope to get it there!

T007: Kolkata (Part 1)

Last month my friend and ex colleague Agnijeet called me and requested to deliver a lecture at a conference organised by his institute. I did not ask for more details at that time, and realised later that the date is amidst my Pune travel. However, I managed to squeeze Friday for this visit, and join back for a day on Saturday.

Also, the SIU campus at Viman nagar came in handy for me to literally’ walk up to the airport in 10 minutes. Kolkata was just about to get going, when I landed at 8 AM! The venue was the beautiful Birla Industrial & Technological Museum. I was early, and could have a look at some of the nice exhibits!

The event was: yFactor: the annual conference of NSHM. The program kickstarted with a panel discussion about ‘Women in media’, a fitting topic to mark the International Women’s day! Met some of the stalwarts in the media..! Bachhi Karkaria, Dilrukshi Handunnetti, Nirupama Subramanyam, and Anuradha were curt, and clear about the status of women in media!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had the opportunity to share the stage with some stalwarts! The senior media professional Dr. Raju, Tejas Gandhi (fashion designer), and Cyrus Dastur (Shamiyana film club). The topic was interesting: Creativity in digital age! We shared our views and also had a fair share of differences! All in all it was quite interesting experience.

Made a lot of new friends, and left the venue to catch up the flight back! An interesting incident was waiting for me on the way to the airport. More about it in the second part… coming soon!

T006: Pune

This visit to Pune was part of my monthly schedule where I visit Symbiosis University for a week. But then I realised that it is going to be much bigger than that, since I am going to have two interesting things during this very trip. The first thing was a LIVE session for the NPTEL course I am co-instructor for; and the second one was a one day short trip to Kolkata to deliver a guest lecture!

The LIVE session was planned on the Thursday (March 7, between 3-4 PM). The team at the Symbiosis Law School at Viman Nagar Campus, made all the necessary arrangements for me to go LIVE. It was the time, and I began my session. It was wonderful experience to receive queries, comments,
and suggestions from the participants of the course.

The video can be seen below. I have my friend Dr. Tanmoy De, who shared his experience about the course planning stage. He and his colleagues came up with an outline for an interesting course on Rural Marketing!

In addition to this interesting experience, I got a chance to relish, one of the best ‘Misal‘ served in Pune: The Shrimant Misal! It is one of those things that has to be experienced, and not just to read, hear, or see! The reason why I mentioned that ‘I got a chance’ is because, although I visit the SIU campus on Senapati Bapat Road, so many time,s I always missed the chance to visit this place…but not this time. I got hold of my friend Kailas Rode, and actually managed to keep our date with the awesome Misal!

Shrimant Misal, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune

The restaurant uses brass utensils to give a royal look to their presentation. In addition every dish seems carefully crafted to make it tasty, tempting to eyes, and wholesome! The signature dish is the ‘Shrimant Special Misal. This consists of a spicy sprout curry, condiments, chopped onion, a piece of lemon, some carrot slices, potato curry, fried papad, curds, and the bread! I was amused to find a rare traditionally maharashtrian sweet: a peanut laddoo. The dish is served with an unlimited supply of the spicy curry called as ‘Tarri‘. The taste was just right (spicy, as it should be), and the curds offered the right balance to neutralise the spice!

All in all, it was a good sumptuous snack that made our day!

T005: Madurai: A long wait

After the enchanting visit to the north, I got a chance to visit the south in the very next week! This time Madurai was the first halt. A 6 day long FDP was organised by the famous Thagarajar College of Engineering, at Madurai, and I was supposed to be there for a session on the 5th day and also on the concluding day (16-17 February)!

I flew early morning from Mumbai to Chennai, and was quite time consuming on the account of the recent attacks at Pulwama on 14 February. I then changed over to a plane headed towards Madurai. It was a short trip, and I was planning to catch some sleep, since I had left my home around 3:30 AM! I woke up to realise that we had landed at Madurai, and (as usual), I saw many of the passengers scrambling to get out of the plane as early as they can. This took a while, and there was no sign of the gates opening.

I could see that the passengers were now visibly (and vocally) disturbed, and started questioning the crew. Since it was mainly in Tamil, I could not participate, but could understand (and also share) their emotions. Somehow, it got resolved and we were out of the plane. As we were walking through the jet bridge, I realised that the volumes of the agitating passengers calmed down suddenly. I looked outside, to see a heart warming visual!

A coffin was being off leaded from a small military aircraft. The coffin was covered in tricolour, which made all of us realise the gravity of the matter… it was the body of a brave martyr, which was being received at Madurai.

Image Courtesy: The Hindu

As I came out of the gate I could see a lot of grim faces. Garlands, Indian flags, and placards bearing the name of the brave soldier. As I got in to the cab sent by the college, I saw a large crowd waiting on the road, and all over the parking area of the airport. My driver asked, “Flight was late Sir?”. “A little bit”, I replied, getting inside the cozy car.

He then told me that the people gathered all over the area, were the relatives and friends of the martyred soldier. They had come over to get him back to his village, where he was supposed to be cremated. He also added that they have been waiting for his body to arrive for last few hours, not aware of the exact timing of the military aircraft.

The driver put on his belt, and said, “Let us go, you are already late”, and was about to push the horn. “Wait!” I almost shouted…”Please don’t press the horn. Let us wait and see him go off”.

I just realised how, we often overreact to something which is happening for a genuine cause!

Read more about Flight Lieutenant K. Praveen in these articles appeared in The Hindu and The Times of India.

T004: Jammu (Part 2)

It was almost mid afternoon that we finally reached the top. It was chilly and no signs of the Sun, making it worse. SMVDU management had intimated the police officer at the shrine, and he greeted us with a broad smile. We took some rest in the cozy room, adjacent to his office. Soon, one of his policeman escorted us to the cave, where the devotees queue up for the darshan.

The shrine is situated at 5200 feet (above the sea level). The yatries are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the Holy Cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave. The best part is that this is written on the boards outside the shrine, and the devotees can read them when in queue. It is important to know it, since the darshan time is so less, that those who are NOT aware often have a puzzled look when they come out of the cave, “Where was the Vaishno Devi Mata?”

After we finished the darshan, we came out of the cave and enjoyed the lovely scene outside. This place has a magnificent view of the valley. We had our time with some photo-opps, and started the descend. As mentioned earlier, there are multiple ways available, based on your preparedness! We chose to climb down the stairs, as we were excited to come down faster. It is not easy, unless you have good shoes to absorb the jerks. The easier way out is the slope road, which is quite a leisure walk!

All the time that we were climbing down, we had just one target in front of our eyes..and that was the hotel where we had the tasty and sumptuous breakfast. We were looking for the same one, but we missed it somewhere as we were busy jumping down the road. We were back to Adkumari, where we finally decided to stop and have food, at the first hotel we can see. It was a dhaba, and the tandoor was hot, with a cheerful boy excited to serve the food. We ordered our heart out, since we were too hungry to think rationally! The food come up, and was a marathon eating feat, that we finished everything on the table!!

We left the Dhaba with a heavy heart (and stomach), and touched the finishing line in the next hour and a half! Rain tried to play a spoil sport, and we had to change our track to a covered one to save ourselves. We could also shop around for the amazing walnut shops on the way.

The car brought us back to the guesthouse, where we had a nice hot bath, and a light but tasty dinner! The legs were sore and the heart filled with joy!