Monday, September 06, 2010

Sangam 2010….

I just got back today morning after attending AIOUG’s 2nd user meeting Sangam. It was certainly very good to attend it since it brought one of the best and most respected Oracle guru, Jonathan Lewis to India for the very first time! It was a 2 day, highly technical event where lots of very hard-core oracle related knowledge was shared by Jonathan Lewis, Francisco Munoz Alvarez, Mark Rittman, Iggy Fernandez, Vivek Sharma and Murali Vallath. As like always, this conference gave lots of oracle professionals a chance to grow their professional network as well. Though it was really long and tiring two days( we used to start at 7.15am and would get back by 11pm something) , still it was a great experience for many reasons!

Last year, when Sangam happened for the first time, me , Amardeep and Ankit did plan to attend it but unfortunately, I was at Hyderabad at that time and was busy in my work and couldn’t go and since I didn’t go, Amardeep and Ankit also cancelled the trip(it was happening at Banglore) . We did want to attend it for sure since this was for the very first time that Tom Kyte ( of AskTom) was coming to India. But hard luck that we couldn’t go. This time, it was Jonathan Lewis was going to be the keynote speaker and we decided not to miss his first ever visit and sessions at any cost. Also, we included another very close friend Neeraj to come with us. It was going to be the very first visit of Amardeep in a flight and also this was going to be the very first that he was going out of Delhi. So obviously, it was going to be a very exciting trip for him. And since we all four were going for the very first time for such trip where we were going to get a chance to see and hear our mentors presenting live, the excitement levels were just touching sky :) . We had booked tickets, hotel almost a month before( or may be even before that, can’t recall properly) and also had applied for the leave. The very thought that we would be able to meet Jonathan Lewis was so strong that we were waiting for the travel date to come so eagerly. And finally it came as well 3 days ago and we started our journey to Hyderabad where the conference was happening this year. Me, Amardeep and Ankit were going together from Delhi whereas Neeraj was supposed to come from Pune. There would had been a very severe disaster in our plans which fortunately, didn’t happen though. Neeraj was going to travel by train and his train timing was 1.30am on 2nd September. He didn’t realize that its actually past midnight and that means, he would have to start in the night of 1st September only( which is technically morning of 2nd Sep). But he thought that he would be starting the next day and if he would had done what he had thought, he would had found out that his train has already left the previous night. Fortunately, he called Amardeep just like that and this was the time when Amardeep told him that he has to travel that very night only and not the next one! So he did start and reached as per the schedule only. We all reached on 2nd September and were waiting for the next day holding our breaths(almost) !

Finally, the next morning came and we were all set to go the venue. We reached there on time to finish the pre-registration tasks. After getting done with all those formalities, we were finally sitting and waiting for the conference to start which did get start a little late. There was an opening speech by Murali followed by the keynote presentation  by an Oracle VP and relationship manager for oracle user groups. I can’t say that I did dislike those two presentations but I somehow not able to digest the “sales presentations” very well. Since Jonathan was sitting in the first row, I was eagerly waiting for him to come and start his tech session. While the sales presentations were going on, Jonathan was busy doing his work on the laptop. But there was a moment when the Oracle VP asked that is there anyone present in the room who knows that how many versions of Oracle 6 came before it could be called a stable release and there was just one hand which did rise and it was of Jonathan who told precisely that there 36 patches which came from Oracle for its version 6 of database before it could be called stable(and then was renamed to Oracle 7) . Wow, just “wow” was the word which came from our mouths when we heard it! Jonathan has been there, done that all and his answer just reflected the same.

Finally, there came the moment and it was now Jonathan who started his session. I am too small to say anything about Jonathan except this that he is just superb! His knowledge , way of handling and solving issues, command over oracle database’s working and related behavior  is just beyond what words can explain! It was a very technical session which he presented about how to optimize sql statements! He had two sessions, one on the first day and another on the next day. After his session was over, there were some other sales related presentations which just did bore me like hell. I stepped out and outside met someone whom I wanted to meet from a long long time, Francisco! Though we interact on various web forums, portals almost daily, I was so eager to meet him in person! He is the one who nominated me for Oracle ACE award as well! I was so desperate to meet him and finally did on the 1st day of the conference. What a person he is, so friendly, so nice and so energetic! Even though we met for the first time, it didn’t occur to me even for once that its our first meet! I finally got a chance to say thanks to him for nominating me for the ACE award for which he very kindly said that you do deserve it Aman! What else I can say except Thanks to such kind gesture! It was a complete pleasure to meet him and I just hope that I would get a chance to meet him again soon!

Conference was packed with many technical talks. There were non-stop technical sessions happening simultaneously in two rooms and it did continue for both the days. As I mentioned above, besides Jonathan and Francisco, it was Mark(Rittman), Iggy(Fernandez), Vivek(Sharma) , Murali(Vallath) who also were presenting. In addition to these tech sessions, there were several (boring) sales related presentations as well from the sponsors of the event. Needless to say that those were the most boring part of the entire conference. But we couldn’t do anything except sitting and yawning oops, hearing what those sales guys had to say :) . Why we couldn’t escape from such events? Well, they were precisely put before the start of lunch and it was announced that lunch would be served only when the presentation would be over. I guess,it was evident that there was no other way to hold up people :) . so we did listen to the sales talks and then went for lunch and that’s the reason I said that we were “made” to listen to those talks! Not fair right ;) .

It was a 2 day event and the same technical information flow was happening on that day as well. Since the conference was starting very early( 8am in the morning) , we had to start much earlier from our guest house to be at the venue on time(7.15am) with just having tea and bread toast! And I must say, its a real bad thing to do to start your day with just a bread toast and that too so early in the morning! Add to it tons of technical information and you have got a perfect recipe to make one feet super tired by the end of the day which was exactly our stage for both the days. But still, all of this pain was well worth since it may not happen again( at least very soon) that we would get a chance to hear Jonathan speaking live and direct! It was once a life time opportunity( at least let me say, for the moment it appears like one) and anything else was of least importance compared to it, even the bread toast breakfast too!

Finally, the 2nd day also came to an end and just before the conference could be called finished, Jonathan did an open Q/A session. Though we had attended two of his sessions already in these two days but this session was simply awesome! JL took questions from the audience and gave their answers and once again showed that why he is so respected in the entire world and he is a mentor, guru and role model for those millions of oracle professionals (including me) . Once the conference came to an end, there was a long picture and autograph session which happened( un-officially) ! Everyone wanted to be in the picture with JL and many got this chance as well.

Besides all the above things, this conference became special for me for some personal reasons as well! Though I won’t let those reasons take over me (and that’s the reason I am mentioning about them over here, on my personal space. The very first thing happened when there was an open session conducted related to Real Application Cluster(RAC) by Sateyndra Kumar. He is vice-president of AIOUG and also holding a senior position in the board for RAC in Asia Pacific( I forgot the position title). During the session , he mentioned that he is looking for regional leaders in various cities of India. When he mentioned Delhi, my friend Virag Sharma, raised my hand and said that consider Aman for the same title! To which Sateyndra mentioned that he certainly  can and he also mentioned that he(me, Aman) is an Oracle ACE as well! Then, after finishing his 2nd presentation , Francisco shared with the community who was present there , the information related to ACE program, its benefits and how one can go for it. In the same talk, he told all that including him, there are 4 ACE (and ACE directors) sitting in the room out of which, one was me too. At that time, he mentioned my name and told all that Aman is an ACE ! A minute after he said, I was approached by many who were sitting around me to wish me congratulations! Thanks so much Francisco once again for being so kind! Thanks so much! To my surprise, there were many who told me that they do read my Oracle blog and appreciate my work! Thanks a lot guys for the kind words. Okay, now if things would have stopped here, it would be still okay but then there was something else which did happen and made the whole trip unforgettable for me. What happened,well I was asked to sign autograph! WHAT! An autograph and from me, I mean even the sound of this statement is so embarrassing for me! I am no one, nothing , doesn’t know anything about Oracle, yet I was asked to give autographs. To be honest,  I have really no idea that why me! Very reluctantly, I did sign my signature for two people. I am not sure what to say except this that I was feeling so shy while doing so but still, I am so thankful to those who considered me worthy enough to give them an autograph! Thanks so much guys, thanks so very much! You have no idea how much it means to me and I shall never forget that moment in my life ever.

Finally, it was the end of the conference and we got back to Delhi yesterday evening. We still can’t completely believe that we have finally met Jonathan in person and I am sure, it would still take a day or two before this would sink in us completely :) . And I got a chance to meet my friend Francisco as well which was very deep wish of mine to do from a long time! Overall, it was a very memorable experience and hope I would be able to attend as maximum as possible conferences related to Oracle wherever and whenever possible!

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