Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Last day of PDC 2005

Last day of the conference, I arrive early at the hotel, fire up my laptop, look at my demo, touch up my presentation. I went with Adnan to Ballroom B. I was actually presenting in one of the two biggest halls in the event. And Clemens was persenting next doors. That's like, out of this world, that is impossible, that is insane. Me and Clemens at the same time, next door to each other, and I had a fair number of people in my room. I tried to do my best job, and give value to their
presence. I gave them the presentation, the demo, and then Q&A. Adnan kept supporting both me and Hammad, who was presenting in another hall by hopping back and forth and took photos of us with my camera. I mentioned Beta 2 of Whidbey that you need to run Indigo samples, and Adnan told the audience that he had some DVDs from his user group if they wanted some, they could go to the community lounge for it. After my presentation, I left my laptop there thinking that Adnan was presenting in that same room and might need it, and went to Emerald for some coffee. Emad came to me and told me there were people asking for some DVDs at the community lounge and the volunteers at the booth had absolutely no idea what these people were talking about. I told him what it was and he suggested that we could get everyone's name and email address on a sheet of paper. I agreed that that would be a good idea, and he executed it. A volunteer came to ask me if I had left it there, and I said, yes. He asked me if I wanted to collect it, and I said, yes. I went there and saw that Goksin was presenting, so I sneakily went up to the stage, took my laptop and ran over to where
Adnan was presenting his session on Speech Server 2004. I took photos of him, went downstairs where Hammad was presenting and took photos of him, went back upstairs. Adnan and me joked freely, which eases the atmosphere a little bit so that the audience feels a little more at home. Adnan gave his demo and impressed the audience, but in the end, there was some unfortunate trouble, and I think he handled it quite well. Feeling relaxed, we went back to the community lounge. People kept asking about the DVDs and we told them that we'd have to get some more as everyone seemed to want one, and we would email them about it once we have them. We shot videos of conversation with the speakers,
Geo TV interviewed me, Sindh TV interviewed Hammad and Adnan. We also had photos with the volunteers. Fortunately, the shooter by mistake set the camera to video capture and he got a very good footage of us with the volunteers in a very relaxed mood set for the group photo. I'll cherish the memories in that video.
I later talked to Kemmou about it and he said that some people had complained to him that Microsoft's website was asking for $20 for shipping of the beta and he said that that should not be the case and it should be completely free. He said that he would check it out and get back to me about it. At the closing ceremony, they played the Microsoft promo videos, and we had a very happy audience, as someone in the audience always started to clap when anyone entered the hall as if the Chief Guest had arrived. But trust the Pakistani elite not to arrive on time, even though everything else that breaths is stopped when they move. Acting President, Muhammad Mian Soomro did a very nice and short speech and then there was souvenir distribution and a lucky draw. In the end, I collected my laptop and we went back to the community lounge. The volunteers departed to the ballroom where they partied for a while, and we packed our stuff. As I went to look for Vaqas to request him to give us the banner and scroll that he had printed for INETA Pakistan, the students were partying to music in the ball room and Vaqar pushed me in the middle of it, but I just ran
out. In the end, we got the banner and scroll, met with Vaqar, decided to have dinner with the remaining speakers and take care of some other stuff. Adnan was being flown to Islamabad the next day to take care of some stuff and we had to do something before he could do.
I also discovered to my shock that Clemens had lost his Cell phone. No wonder, the acting President and Provincial IT Minister were there with their official protocol in the room where Clemens had left his bag, what else could you expect.
Later that night, alone, I passed the hotel lobby as I waited for Vaqar and Adnan to meet me there. I looked left and saw the empty hall. Nostalgia! The halls pulled me towards them. I stepped inside the empty hall with the stage still looking the same and I felt sad as if I had lost something irreplacable as I felt that the conference was over. I could still see the audience in the chairs. I'll miss everyone of them.
Faisal Nasim had checked earlier and there were no seats on the flights. We decided that me and Adnan would go out at 9 pm and find him a way to go to Islamabad. PIA's main booking office near Press Club was closed, we went to Submarine Roundabout and talked to the PIA office there, no seats for Islamabad till June 20, and no seats for Lahore till June 19. We went to the travel agent next door, found that he had some reservation for a flight on June 16. We were short of money, so we convinced him to block the seat for us and drove back to Hotel Pearl Continental Thai Restaurant to have dinner with the others. I briefed Vaqar about it. He said that we'll get cash from his place, get the
ticket, go back to Microsoft Pakistan's office, do some documentation and then he'll drop us at the hotel so that we can get our cars and drive back home. So, we did it and arrived back at the hotel at 3 am. Adnan asked me 136 times this night not to turn off my mobile phone and I always failed to convince him that I would not.
Now, if you've been reading my blogs, you'd know that I havent slept more than 3 hours for the last two nights and three days. We were in no shape to drive, but we had to. Adnan had to get to the airport at 6 am and so did I because I needed to hand him my photographs which were necessary for his trip. I drove very very fast. Near Lal Qila I was very very sleepy, but I kept driving and kept trying to keep myself awake. Near Drigh Road, it became impossible, and I was half asleep, at Star Gate, I was not awake anymore, but I continued to drive just as fast. I got back home, looked for my photos, took them out, set an alarm for 5:30 am, and slept. I woke up reluctantly, changed, answered Adnan's call, and drove to the airport. The ASF guy at the parking entrance wasted my time narrating some incident when I told him what my profession was. As I parked my car, and got out, Adnan called and told me he was there. I ran up to him and gave him my photos. Wished him luck and went back home.

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