Arriving At GNOME Asia 2023

From unexpected happenings to heartfelt reunions, from regional sceneries to mouthwatering delicacies and from ecstatic celebrations to focused preparations - the onward travel from Pune, India to represent the Fedora Project community at GNOME Asia 2023 to Kathmandu, Nepal was quite the adventure.

Arriving At GNOME Asia 2023
Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

The onward travel from Pune, India to Kathmandu, Nepal began for me at 0530 am Indian Standard Time on 30th November 2023. My first flight from Pune Airport (PNQ) was scheduled for 0845 am Indian Standard Time. The airport was less crowded than usual, which was a surprise to me owing to the small area of the premises. Funnily enough, my attempts to help a person at the airport security almost led to me losing my smartphone. I was able to get my device back though pretty quickly, amidst another dispute going on at the same place. I met up with Amita Sharma at the airport who was departing on an Indigo flight earlier than that of mine. After seeing her off to her departure gate, I joined a group of unhappy passengers taken aback by the last minute gate change and started moving from gate number 7 to gate number 9. Once I was aboard the first flight, I spent my time watching some TV shows on my phone while breakfast was served.

Akashdeep Dhar holding the two Vistara Airlines tickets for the flights from Pune, India to Delhi, India and from Delhi, India to Kathmandu, Nepal
The bountiful non-vegetarian breakfast meal provided on the Vistara Airlines flight consisted of bakery bread, dairy butter, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and boiled vegetables

The bountiful non-vegetarian meal kept me busy as the Vistara Airlines flight drifted close to my first layover destination, Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). I updated my family, friends and colleagues about my landing at around 1100 am Indian Standard Time while I advanced through the immigration queue and security gates. On my way to the departure gate for my next flight, I met up with Nikita Tripathi who was also headed to the same destination with us. We caught up on the funny memes and community conversations while we waited for sleep-deprived Samyak Jain to find us in the food court. With him finally joining us, we started heading off to gate number 9 to drop off Nikita Tripathi and meet up with Amita Sharma before we returned to gate number 6 for our flight. Justin W. Flory soon joined us while the two of us discussed the role of the newly appointed Fedora Linux release engineering lead, after failing to get some meal.

From left to right - Akashdeep Dhar and Nikita Tripathi meeting up at the food court of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)
The bountiful non-vegetarian lunch meal provided on the Vistara Airlines flight consisted of bakery bread, chocolate mousse, orange juice, dairy butter, mouth freshener, boiled black gram, boiled rice and chicken curry

Another uneventful Vistara Airlines flight took us from Delhi, India to Kathmandu, Nepal and I opted for the non-vegetarian option for in-flight lunch. Once we landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) at around 0400 pm Nepal Standard Time, a bus took us from the runway to the arrival gate where we got the immigration process done. I met up with Sudhir Dharanendraiah and his wife, Shivranjani who also were aboard the same flight with the three of us while waiting for the luggage to arrive at the conveyor belt. We were off to book ourselves some prepaid taxis to get us from the airport to our hotel with Amita Sharma and Nikita Tripathi. Some confusion in the taxi booking led to the five of us having to squeeze into a van after donning some warm clothes to keep up with the colder climate. On our way to Fairfield by Marriott Bonvoy, I got to see some glimpses of religious temples, local marketplaces and interesting museums of Kathmandu.

I captured a breathtaking glimpse into the placid cloud-covered mountain peaks of Nepal while the Vistara Flight was drifting close to the Nepal Airport
For the small area that the airport premises of the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) had, everything was well organized and elegantly managed

We checked in at the hotel at around 0630 pm Nepal Standard Time and met up with the newly wed couple, Sumantro Mukherjee and his wife, Saheli in the reception area. Samyak Jain and I got neighbouring rooms, numbering 709 and 710 respectively, and we went to our rooms to freshen up before heading downstairs for a group dinner together. Sudhir Dharanendraiah, Sumantro Mukherjee and I discussed the advent of ARM-based servers. After some deliberation on deciding the dining spot, we settled on a restaurant called "Fat Duck Hotel" that included both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Buddha Ram-Gurung, one of Sudhir Dharanendraiah's friends joined us and we raised toasts to Sumantro Mukherjee's and Saheli's marriage, Amita Sharma's birthday which was on that day itself and finally, the Fedora Project community's presence at the GNOME Asia 2023 conference from the following day onwards.

From left to right - Samyak Jain, Akashdeep Dhar, Amita Sharma, Nikita Tripathi and Justin W. Flory looking for a restaurant for the dinner
From left to right - Justin W. Flory, Amita Sharma, Akashdeep Dhar, Buddha Ram Gurung, Sudhir Dharanendraiah, Shivranjani, Saheli, Sumantro Mukherjee, Samyak Jain and Nikita Tripathi enjoying their dinner meal

Alongside the usual dinner meals. the group decided to get some specialized steamed, fried and gravy momo varieties that the region was known for. We discussed the limited announcement made to some attendees about the twelfth-hour postponement of the event commencement time on the following day. As the event slot for the Fedora Project community was already scheduled to be the last one, the per-talk slot length was compromised to ensure that the first day of the conference ends sensibly early. After wrapping up the dinner at around 1100 pm Nepal Standard Time, we made our way back to the hotel and Justin W. Flory booked a taxivan at the event reception for the next day to the event venue, Softwarica College of IT & E-Commerce, Kathmandu. Gathered in my hotel room, Samyak Jain, Justin W. Flory and I decided to discuss ways of engaging an in-person audience the next day and then, we decided to get some rest.