I have been part of Blogging Marathon group since it started way back in 2011. Srivalli of Spice Your Life started this as a 30 days event where some bloggers posted recipe every single day of the month. This is the group I am quite proud to be part of. Though it started just like any other group, it has grown to a close knit group of bloggers around the world. Even though I haven’t participated in Blogging Marathon since September, we do chat a lot on whatsapp and we are constantly in touch through mails and Facebook. For the 25th month of the BM, there was a blogger’s meet arranged in Ahmadabad and unfortunately I couldn’t take part in that. I still blame my husband for not taking care of Sruti and allowing me to go. So when Chennai was decided to be the hosting place for the BM #50 meet, I didn’t want to skip. To be frank, I never plan my trips. We never go by train because it needs planning. And this is the first time in 10 years I booked a train ticket 60 days in advance I was praying God that the plan should not go flop. Yes, I did go through lots of problems and I had doubts whether I will be attending the meet or not. But still I was preparing for the meet.
The preparations started months back. Valli had given us the dress code and I bought dresses to match the codes. And then came the goodie bags for other bloggers. I wanted to give them something that will last longer and would remind me whenever they saw that gift. So I decided to do an eggless baking book. I just collected some of my baking recipes and printed them into a book. And then came the gifts for kiddos. For the girls, I learnt paper quilling and designed some cute earrings and necklace sets. ANd for the boys I didn’t have any idea what to do. I left it to hubby. He selected some cars which he would have selected if he were a little boy. And some chocolates, idli podi and ellu podi went into my goodie bag. My luggage was so heavy I couldn’t even lift it. And finally the day arrived and I boarded the train with three heavy luggage (note this down).
When train entered Chennai I was super excited to meet all my friends. I was also little sad that I had to leave Sruti with hubby. But still they were in Chennai too. When I went to Padma’s house, the first person I met was Kamalika, who blogs at Dedicated To Janagi Paati. This was the first time I am meeting her and was so happy to see her in person. At first we were so formal but at the end of three days we were so close and all the formality had gone away. Padma of Plantain Leaf needs a special mention here. She was the host and we all stayed at her house for 3 days. It was great to meet her and there is a special bonding as we both are Sai devotees. Then I met Archana who blogs at The Mad Scientist’s Ktichen. She is so lovely and I felt such joy meeting her. Next came Vaishali- Ribbon’s to Pasta’s, the eldest member of the group. I have been waiting for two years to meet her ever since the first meet. I have heard so much about her and when I met her in person there were no words to be said. I am so lucky to have met her. Then I met Usha who blogs at My Spicy Kitchen and Pradnya of The Pumpkin Farm. Again this is the first time I met them and we were so formal but we became so much closer in the next day. Then came the Chennai bloggers whom I have met before. Nandhini of Foodiliciousnan came with her son naughty Ikshu and then came our Boss Valli. These three days I had a nice time with Valli and co and there were so many surprises they had planned for us. It was nice chatting with everyone while Padma served us with delicious breakfast – Idli, Thalicha Idli, Sambar and Spice Powder. Unfortunately I don’t have a snap for that. Then came in PJ of Seduce Your Tastebuds with her son naughty Sidarth. These boys were the guys in the house and they were so shy even to talk with us. Then entered Kalyani of Sizzling Taste Buds . We were so happy thatevery one was there. We were also expecting Veena of Veg Nation ( who I have met before) but due to some personal works she couldn’t take part. But she visited us every day and took part in photo shoots and sent us all the equipments we needed. She also had two cars ready for us to travel within Chennai. So here ends the intro of all the bloggers who I met in the meet.
After every one arrived, the preparation of lunch started. To be frank, I didn’t do anything apart from tasting the sweets brought by Vaishali and taking snaps of what others were doing. But it was so nice to be around such enthusiastic people. I took step wise photos of Bhakri and Zunka made by Pradnya. Vaishali made rice with green garlic, Kalyani made Thecha, Archana made a delicious pudding Ginnu with colostrum powder she brought. And we had a heavy lunch. Then there was another photo shoot and we moved to birthday celebrations.
Kalyani and Srivalli celebrated their birthdays during September and this was a surprise cake for them from Cheenai bloggers. The cake cutting went on great with lots and lots of laughter and fun.
This meet was not just about having fun. We learnt a lot from others. One such sessions was by Usha who gave us some insight on Fodd photography. We noted down the points and I need to follow them to improve my photography skill.
Then we changed ourselves to traditional attire and there was another photo shoot. Then came the pani puri shots by Vaishali. They were absolutely delicious and spicy. I even had tears but it was worth it.
These were the tamarind shots which were sweet and tangy at the same time. Yummm…
Then we went out for Dinner at Annalakshmi.The place was so grand and I loved the interiors. Look at the idol of Annalakshmi. Isn’t it beautiful? We had a most filling dinner there. By the time the soup and started were over I felt really full but had little of everything that were served and the by the end I couldn’t even walk!!!!
One more on the interiors of the hotel. Pic Courtesy Valli.
When we returned we were chatting so much that we didn’t even sleep. That day I slept for just 20 minutes and all the time we were laughing and chatting away. And the goodie bags were also distributed the same night. I have tried to capture all the goodies I brought back. Priya Srinivasan of I Camp in my Kitchen, sent us goodies from Dubai though she couldn’t attend the meet.
Pradnya’s Goodie Bag with so many Maharastrian specials.
Pickles, toffees, snacks.
These are the pan shots and till pistachio rolls made with honey.
This is an Andhra sweet called Potharelu, which had paper thin layers with sugar inside. We had a really tough time to decide whether it was paper or any edible thing. Then Padma cleared our doubts.
The various spice powders, zaatar, kokum and peppers.
Nandhini gave us pure vanilla extracts, one with alcohol and the other without alcohol.
There are never enough props for a food blogger. See how much we got as gifts..