Tuesday, 17 January 2012

2012 's Uttarayan - Couch Surfing Ahmedabad's First Event

14th January.... Every year this day is celebrated as Uttarayan in my part of India.  Its the day when almost whole of my city, Amdavad is on the roof flying kites and having loads and loads of fun.  After joining Couch Surfing in 2009, it has become a very integral part of my life.  So anything new that comes across to me in CS I grab it immediately.  Few months back Rahul, Piyush, Palak, Amit, Nishith and me had a small get together and suddenly at midnight we decided to organize & host Couch Surfing Ahmedabad's first grand event of Uttarayan - Kite flying.

So we began brainstorming sessions on Facebook as a group chat.  Every day whoever out of the six of us was having some free time, started putting their ideas.  Finally the first step was taken.  The invitation write up was put on India and Ahmedabad CS group and immediately we started getting good responses.  Next was the venue and after some scouting finally the roof of a commerce college in the heart of old city was fixed thanks to Piyush.  The CS event for Uttarayan was created in Ahmedabad group.  The enthusiasm grew more among us and we started putting all our unique ideas into action. Meanwhile we started getting messages and CS requests from travelers wanting to attend this event of ours and people started listing themselves for the event.  Ten days before the festival our event for 50 people was full and still more requests were coming in.  Every CS'er was provided a host except for the last one's.  Originally I was hosting just 2 people, but ended up hosting 6 people.  Two Serbs, Three Chinese and One Norwegian.  

CS'ers on the heritage walk
The event started on 13th afternoon with the old city heritage walk.  First spot was Bhadra Fort.  Ahmedabad CS'er Sanjaybhai had taken the initiative to conduct this walk.  I guess its little over one year that I met Sanjaybhai in one of the CS meets and he has been one of the active persons and of tremendous help to the CS community of Ahmedabad.  I visited Bhadra Fort for the first time and wow the view from the top was amazing.  Then we walked through Teen Darwaaza, Manekchowk and after seeing Jama Masjid finally ended the walk at Sidi Saiyeed Ni Jali.  Lastly chai with maska bun at Lucky restaurant.  This place again is a very unique one for it has graves of some Islamic saints right inside the restaurant.  Then we all headed to Vishala restaurant, the best for traditional gujarati food.  Finally a very good start to the first part of our CS event ended  and we decided to meet at the venue next day at 10.00 hours.

So 14th Jan. as decided everyone started arriving at the venue from 10.00 hours onwards.  The music guy came and put up the music system that we had managed after a lot of juggling.  Kites, string reels, finger tapes, CS badges, snacks, drinks and music, everything was managed.  The wind was quiet okay and the first kite was up in no time from our venue. More and more people started arriving and in an hour or so the venue was packed.  We had CS'ers from America, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Columbia, China, India, Israel, Norway, Serbia, Sweden and also some expats living in Ahmedabad attending this event of ours.  It was really overwhelming and a nice feeling when every CS'er of Ahmedabad came upto us and congratulated us for organizing such a fantastic event.  Very soon it was known to all of us who organized this event that our efforts were appreciated and liked by all.  After all we really had taken care of almost all aspects of making this event a grand success.  Only disappointment was that there was almost no wind during the later part of the day and that really didn't help flying kites at all.

So instead of flying kites I kept clicking some pics. As the sun started going west it was time for some celebrations.  It was on Rahul's suggestion that   a cake with the design of Couch Surfing - Ahmedabad on it was ordered.  And   it was   time now to celebrate the success of our event.   Finally we let loose some chinese lanterns in the sky   and the sky  looked  beautiful  at   twilight filled with so many of this lanterns.  
A chinese lantern being released 

Though it was banned from this year by the govt. as it can cause fire very easily but who cares. Though we should but still.....We also had planned to fly paper lamps attached to the string of a big kite, but lack of wind ruined our plans.  That would have been a wonderful site to watch. But anyhow this event was a success.  We had more people than we had expected and everyone appreciated our efforts.  Apart from being part of the organizers, the most important part was that it gave all six of us to work as a team and know each other more. We were able to dig into the lighter and darker sides of each other.  Not to take it too seriously though when I mean 'darker side', but its actually the fun side.  Chatting everyday on FB, our group chat has more than 2200 messages and still its going on strong.  For me it is this one to one connections with people whom I get along easily that counts a lot.  Thanks to Couch Surfing.

Once again thanks to CouchSurfing I got the challenge of hosting 6 people at a time and hopefully everyone had a comfortable stay at my place.  It was so very nice when the Chinese CS'ers left my place presented me with postcards and some experiences from their travel journey.  Its very heart warming.  


  1. Good job Nipun that was indeed an awesome event!

  2. somewhere about 7 years ago i read about travel surfing somewhere than yesterday i read about it in navgujarat samay and today when i m searching on net i read your article. i also want to b a part and want to know more about it .my name is parshwin mehta and i also want to join. my mob no is 9377711899.plz contact me if possible. thanks.