Attending ReactFoo Conference 2018 and Exploring the City of Pune

One morning, some days ago, I was offered (read persuaded) by our manager to go and attend this software developers’ event happening in Pune, Maharashtra. The name was ReactFoo, and it was a developers’ meetup, with talks and workshops around the popular web design framework, ReactJS.

Now let me tell you, I’m not an avid traveler. Though I reckon that traveling to new places has almost always rewarded me with some great experiences, I am not one of those who would volunteer for the tasks that involve travel.

But this prospective Pune trip was something I really started to look forward to. Not only I had the urge to learn more about ReactJS and meet fellow JS devs, but also after so many years I finally had the occasion to catch up with my very good (read one of the best) friend from school days, Trisha Mukherjee, who happens to live in Pune!

I and one of my teammates were chosen to go for the conference. This was my very first trip to such an event on the behalf of a company. Thrilled about how the things will unfold, I boarded the flight to Pune on the evening of 18th January. This post recites about my time there, that is from 19th to 21st of January, 2018.

Pune street art

* * *

Day 1 — the conference

The welcoming weather of Pune was one of the many reasons why I immediately fell in love with at the place. It was comfortably sunny, even in January. Pune is a pleasing, hilly place; an industrial city with less pollution and more greenery, and a homely ambience.

ReactFoo 2018 PuneThe venue for the day was MCCIA Trade Tower. Many appreciable talks were delivered at the conference. It was awe-inspiring to see the experts, including one of the core contributors of React Native, discussing the pros and cons of delving into the React universe.

There was also a JS coding challenge going on by one of the sponsors. After paving my way through a couple of recursive functions and similar stuff, I could crack the challenge to win some cool goodies. Wow, that was the unexpected surprise of the day!

ReactFoo 2018 Pune collage

Day 2 — the workshop and the rendezvous with an old friend

The workshop on React Native started in the morning at around 9 AM at Wingify. Simply put, React Native is a framework used to develop applications for smartphones with just the knowledge of ReactJS (which is normally used to build websites). Pretty cool, eh?
It was a very informative workshop. We got to learn so much about the fundamentals of React Native in just around five hours. We also developed a project – an app which shows the current status of the various cryptocurrencies (it’s on GitHub).

React Native workshop - building a small project

At 2 PM, I was free. That’s when I met her, after four long years. A person I am friends with for nearly a decade.

Here is a bit about Trisha Mukherjee… An army brat by birth and by heart. She has the mind of a writer or a philosopher; she chooses to be a model. She is that sort of friend with whom even silence is not awkward. For the record, she is pretty, but I find so many other qualities in her much more prominent that the appearance part will only start to seem inconsequential if I list them all.

We went straight to MG Road. I had the fortune to explore the streets and roads (and some traffic too) of Pune on her scooty. We had a great lunch at Cafe Toons, and coffee at Marzorin later. Man, she knows her city so well! It was a scintillating feeling to meet her. And we still had one more day with us.

Pune in pictures - 1

Day 3 — the no-work-all-play day

Next day, the first place we hit was her college, the Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce. Going to a college brought back so many memories. What’s truly awesome is that there is a small hill beside the college, which the people call as Symbi Hill. Did we climb it, you ask? Yeah, we did!

Pune in pictures - 2

The hill can be aptly described as a place that is calm and tranquil… The inverse of a city, blooming within a city. You also get a beautiful view of the college and the Symbiosis Vishwabhawan from there. While climbing the hill, I learned that it’s not just another cool-to-visit place; it’s the result of the hard work of many dedicated citizens who have, no doubt, successfully made their city a little more memorable. I am glad I went to Symbi Hill – the amalgamation of natural serenity with the flourishing city below it.

Pune in pictures - 3

Pune in pictures - 5

It was afternoon. Both hunger and sunlight were bugging us, so we got back down. Gokhale Road was our asylum afterwards. It is a busy place near the college campus where you can find good food. I loved what we had that day – Mysore Cheeze Dosa and Irish Crush Cold Coffee.

We sat and talked till the evening over plates of Biryani (yes, she is a model and she eats!)… We talked about my college days, her college days, our school days, the epic saga of Harry Potter and other pop culture characters, conspiracy theories, life, death, paranormals, and even some Computer Science (that’s where she must’ve been fighting the urge to just run away). It felt great to be able to discuss every crazy topic under God’s blue heaven with someone who shares most of my weird interests.

I’m still amazed by the ambitious, intelligent and inspiring person my friend has grown to become. Even in such a short time, I learned so much from her…
Sometimes when a college student gets his first gig, he may think that he has conquered the world, that the mission is over. Meeting her reminded me how we must keep the flame of ambition blazing in our hearts, and never start to settle at any “checkpoints”.

At Symbi Hill with Trisha

* * *

At last, it was time to head back…

Truth is, I felt rather downhearted while leaving, after having such a marvelous time in Pune. It is quite surprising that a place I have been to just for three days is making me feel kind of homesick for the past week. Once again I found that exploring the unexplored gave me awesome memories to cherish, and that ditching my torpidity was such a good decision.
Hey, maybe I should start traveling some more!

Pune in pictures - 6

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