Memories 2006 Edition

Carpe Diem 2006

Judge not an event by the numbers

- Narasimha Reddy


Firstly, I'm sure whoever is reading this is looking for what actually happened during Carpe Diem 2006 to make it that successful. Bear in mind that when I associate adjectives like successful, amazing, epic, unbelievable, awesome, etc. in the rest of this piece, I'm not being your typical 20-something that has perverted the meanings of these words by using them to death. I can assure you I rarely enthuse, and when I talk I'm a man of few words. But when I believe that something deserves all the talk, trust me, the hyperbole is matched by the raw facts that go behind it.

So again, all those questions you have as you're reading this: "How many people were on campus that day?", "Who performed?", "How much money did you make?", "How much publicity was laid down upon the innocent denizens of Hyderabad?" If these are your benchmarks to judge an event of the scale of Carpe Diem 2006, please, go use all the resources out there and the Internet to confirm that the sheer scale of the numbers is your answer. And you're done. I mean, SLASH 2006 is still considered one of the most talked-about rock concerts in the city. I still remember a question one of the bands asked us: "You guys don't look like you listen to rock". My answer? "The CBITians I know don't need to ‘look’ like they listen to rock". We don't need to. But we know what we're doing, sir.

Trust me. We would not have taken the littlest step forward if it goes against the collective consciousness that screams to do things right, and do things original. Let's call it "The Chaitanya Smruthi Principle" (... and please remember that while you experience Carpe Diem 2010)

And yes, again if you really want only figures/buzz words, how about the fact that we had DJ Suketu for the crowd that lives to dance? Karunya for the crowd that came for melody? VJs from Channel [V] -- just because we can, damn it. How about the fact that we had Jal, way before the rest of the colleges had considered even "thinking" about a band of that magnitude? What about the fact that we did this without even a rat's hiccup? That everyone who was present that day got a semblance of what collective spirit could mean, and left taking with them something they will cherish for a long time.

... and that, is where you should take leave if you want figures (Sorry for keeping you this long) I will refer you to Shivendra Agarwal's excellent round-up of everything that transpired that day, and a perfect list of everything we took care of. And what we did with the proceeds.

Continue if you so desire…

So for those who are still reading this, I'm sure you agree with me that when you look back at something like this, honestly, the numbers don't give it life. So why am I so passionate about this? Why should I care? I mean, I'm done. I'm not doing my Bachelor's there any more.

I care because there are very few memories you keep with you for life, and Carpe Diem 2006 has given me amazing memories to cherish. I'm not going to act like an 80-year old and bore you with arm-chair kind of stories, but there are three specific events I will not forget, because they had lessons for me that I still follow to this day.

Comraderie, Leadership, and Compromise. When these three come together (at the fear of repeating myself) trust me. You can do anything. I mean, I've pulled off everything I wanted to do by following them, so I'm yet to be proved wrong.

  • It was late afternoon during Carpe Diem 2006. SLASH was almost coming to a close, after weeks of nerve-wracking scheduling work, with probably the most please-everybody-but-get-things-done approach I ever took to anything. We finally had all the bands lined up perfectly. The genres flowed smoothly, there were standard sound issues like with any rock concert, bands that don't know how to tune up / do sound-checks like with any rock concert, and bands that absolutely rocked people's faces off like with any rock concert. The last band (I don't want to name them) was scheduled to play in about 40 mins. or so, they were this buzz group that every one knew and we had to fight to get them to play that day. And then someone told me : "DJ Suketu has to leave early today, so his set has to start early, meaning we need to cut one of the bands"

    There are wars going on around the world, people struggling with famines, disasters, crime, family issues, and a whole lot of much (much) more serious problems. But that news just cut into us and affected us as much. Why? Because we were committed to it. We told everyone we'd pull it off. We worked our asses off to to play it out to our vision. And we couldn't bear the fact that we would fail. The last band would have to leave, abrupt endings, dealing with "high" rock groups, a whole mess. You could see that anyone who organized anything that day had a determination flowing through them, this event gave everyone the chance to live out their dream of attempting something grand and pulling it off.

    In about ten minutes, I saw most of the whole group that was available come to us. There were words of re-assurance, and pats on the back, and we all made our way to the group that had to play right at the end. After twenty minutes of shouting, discussing and agreeing on a changed plan, I heard the words that made me feel like this was working, and working well: "I respect the way you guys have handled this".

    ... and that is the way we (as in CBITians) are known to do things. As I mentioned, in a perfect example of Comraderie, Leadership and Compromise coming together, we pulled it off without any apparent problems. The band agreed to play a reduced set for less money out of their pockets, and DJ Suketu came, dominated and left as if the whole thing was a dream.

  • It was late afternoon at the graphic design place (I can't for the love of god remember the name of this place) where Suvesh, Vikrant and Rohan went day after day to get the perfect poster out for the event. You see, we had ideas. And great ones, but execution, we'd leave it to the pros. I swore I wouldn't forget the name of the man who worked with us there but I have and I regret it. Anyway, I was scheduled to look and sign off the poster design we had. Suvesh, vikrant & rohan loved it, and were sure there would be no problems, because in their eyes, the whole thing was their creation and obviously they thought it was awesome. But I wasn't into it. At the time, they did not keep in mind that they hadn't received outside response for this, and were adamant that I was not thinking about the design the right way. My point was that the black background was too grim, and a white background would put some positive vibes out there. we argued for about four hours on this little detail. Here's another lesson for those who are working on Carpe Diem 2010. It may be a little thing, but it could make all the difference in the world. So please be passionate about all the details of anything you set out to do.

    Anyway, in a perfect display of Comraderie, Leadership, and Compromise yet again, they understood the point that I made, trusting that I know what I was doing, and that poster with the white background is now so symbolic of everything that was right with Carpe Diem 2006. In the light of day, we will succeed. That's the message I wanted to put forward, and damn it, it looked so cool.

  • Suvesh and Rohan were with most of the group, sitting on a table at Ohri's, discussing some seating strategies for the main concert, when we saw one of the juniors walk to us, with his hands in his pockets, about to say something. Now this was the sort of the guy (...and damn it, I can't remember this guy's name as well!) we kind of ignored sometimes, and wrongly too, because we thought he was a band-wagon member, in it to skip classes so he could go around the city on Chaitanya-Smruthi sponsored money. Now that I think about it, he was the kind of guy that kept bringing up some very key points in meetings, and was probably one of the most enthusiastic members of the whole group. If you're reading this, I'm sure you're doing well somewhere.

    Anyway, so this guy was standing next to us, and we continued to ignore him, our discussion centering on the question of whether we should have standing space in front of the stage since there were rock bands that were going to perform. I don't remember which one of us was for or against it, but there was definitely an argument. It started changing direction, and I noticed that we were using more and more heated words, probably because of the frustration of not being able to sell that day. We were tired for sure, and all reason was out of the window as we kept bringing up all the minor issues we wanted to put out, and it was just one of those moments.

    This junior then interrupts us and goes, "Here's the money I made today". Get this, this guy sold 20 tickets that day. Now, I don't know what that number means to you, but it's really hard (and any Chaitanya-Smruthi member can vouch for it) to sell that many tickets alone, especially when you knew that this was the kind of guy that didn't have contacts of any sort that would buy THAT much in bulk. But he did. He went around to all of his friends, family and random strangers in a bunch of colleges, and sold 20 tickets. He probably came to us, proud of that fact, waiting for some senior organizers (who in his eyes were working so hard) to recognize this achievement. And I don't know if Rohan noticed this as well, but I still remember this because I thought we were being unbelievably stupid in losing our cool on a tough day. Again, another lesson from this. There are tough days. There's times when again, in the spirit of the group, you don't feel you're doing great compared to others. But it's not easy. It never is. I've written this long piece to remind everyone that this was no simple task, that there was HEART behind it all.

    We did agree on whatever we did at the end (a minor standing area, but mostly seated) and we got back to discussing the things that mattered. I remember smiling at that junior and saying "Great Job!", but if you felt like you deserved a more enthusiastic response, then sorry. I think that you're the face of Carpe Diem 2006. Not all of us whose names are on the organizing committee. The ones in the shadow like you. You were the real leaders. And all of you organizing Carpe Diem 2010, remember that. All of you are leaders, but all of you are also "listeners", because the words that everyone around you puts out, or the trickle that they add to the overall spirit, matters a lot. So look around, listen and learn.

Comraderie, Leadership, and Compromise. They were all there in that example again.

So yes, don't judge Carpe Diem 2006 by the numbers. I mean, I've proved that if you really want to, it's a success. But if you seek all that went behind it, then it is more than a word like "success" or a few more like it -- It embodies the basic reason why we get a glint in the eye, the goosebumps on our arms, and an empty feeling in the stomach when we set out to do something. It embodies human spirit. I'm proud to say, at the end of it all, with all of us lying down on the cricket grounds, I've never seen a group that strived for it more than the Chaitanya-Smruthi committee of that year ... and all the nameless that joined us in this pursuit.

As James Murphy wonderfully put it:

"...and if it's crowded, all the better!

Because we know we're gonna be up late.

But if you're worried about the weather,

then you picked the wrong place to stay.

That's how it starts!"



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