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Vijay Mehta
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xx My Jaina Experience
« Thread started on: Jul 9th, 2007, 07:10am »


I just returned from Jaina 2007. I had a blast. I heard everyone on the stage proclaiming how successful the convention was etc. This is expected. I have never been to a convention where leaders do not use the words "Successful Convention" May be my definition of successful convention is different from others.

I was kept pretty busy with JNF 2007 and 499 young men and women kept me very busy. But I did get to see a little bit of Jaina 2007. I am sharing my personal observation here.

This is not meant to take away from hours of dedicated efforts from the organizers. I know how much effort had gone into planning this event and my hats are off to those dedicated people.

However, I would be remiss if I joined the chorus of self proclaimed succesful people. I don't see the success of convention on the speeches on the stage and number of attendees etc. I see them in what goes on at a grass root level.

In this forum I wish to share some of my observations and querries. I wish for encourage others to share theirs. We all must agree that with a large convention of 5000 -7000 people things were bound to go wrong.

But it is how we deal with such wrongs, that will define the future. I wish you all see these comments in this light.




Dining Hall - "Cafetaria Nazi"

I did not have much time to go to Expo Center to experience delicious cusine offered by Jaina. Because it ean 30-45 minutes waiting for the bus and same time coming back.

However, Aditi my favorite volunteer wanted me to meet her parents. So on Saturday after my session about 4 PM we ventured into Expo dining hall. The place was empty except for 4-5 people sitting at six or so tables.

We proceeded to grab some snacks and chai and occupied a table. I was trying to enjoy the snacks while chatting with Aditi's parents. Soon came a 'well meaning volunteer' and he noticed that only Aditi and I were eating, her parents were simply sitting and giving us the company.

He asked them to leave! I was shocked. I guess the Jaina rule must be - "if you are not eating, you do not have right to occupy any space." Aditi politely tried to explain that we would leave as soon as we finish our snacks. But he was not happy with it. He simply wanted non eating members of our party to leave. The place was 95% empty, but his logic was, by non eating people sitting next to us they were effectively slowing down the eating members.

May be Jaina should have posted some criteria like how fast you have to gulp down the food so you do not take up unnecessory space.

The well meaning volunteer showed up few minutes later and caught Aditi talking to her mom. He said, 'see what was I talking about. She (Aditi's mom) is talking to Aditi and that is slowing her down.

Oh my God, I was about to burst. What da hell is wrong with these ppl? Who da hell made up this stupid conception that people have to be quiet and push the food down the food pipe? Why do you have a convention of 5000 people and have dining room big enough to fit 1500 or so people. Why do people have to stand up and "Wagod" the food like they are some sort of herd of animals.

What kind of idiot was that 'well meaning volunteer'? He could be gainfully employed by any airport in USA, where like a schizophrenic nut they make you move your car, if you are standing for more than five seconds.

To those leaders who were screaming how successful the convention was why don't you be in my seat and experience Jaina from a non VIP personhuh

I invite anyone who knows answer to these questions to please enlighten me and others.
« Last Edit: Jul 12th, 2007, 1:57pm by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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xx Transportation
« Reply #1 on: Jul 9th, 2007, 07:17am »

While all VIP on the stage were thrilled with success of the convention I saw the different side of it.

I was in the lobby of Holiday Inn and one young lady came up to me at 11:30 PM on Friday night. Apprantly she was waiting for one hour and no bus had come. She did not know who to call? I could not find any posted schedule to find out when a bus is expected.

Why did we not have any contact information where people may call up to find out the status of next bus available.

I heard the same thing from JNF participants. Apprantly there was chaos and confusion, they waited for more than an hour for a pick up from airport. In this day and age, where airline travel is an adventure after putting up with body searches, delay in arrivals and rude airline police (host and hostess) why did we add the insult to injury by giving them a rude welcome to Jaina by more than one hour of wait.

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xx I finally got my registration tag!
« Reply #2 on: Jul 9th, 2007, 07:34am »

At about 7:30 PM on Thusday night, I finally made it to Expo Center. I was glad to see that lobby was not crowded. I proceeded to pick up my registration tag at the desk titled "Speakers and Dignitaries" I know I am no dignitary but I thought I am a speaker.

The young man looked up my name and found me listed under JNF - JNF speaker. He shifted thru a pile of nearly 80-100 registration tag, but could not find Vijay Mehta. He called in the back up person who did the same thing and found no tag either. After about four or five people I realized that there was no tag with my name on it.

I was getting impatient. My stomach was grawling. Having no food for 8 hours would put me in the risk of developing hypoglycemia. I would have walked out of the place had there been a Taco Bell nearby. Unfortunately there was no restaurant nearby. I think they should invite some fast food place to set up a shop in our parking lot, so if registration is delayed, we do not lose any Jain to hypoglycemia or dehydration.
I proceeded to the registration desk at the Expo about 7 PM of Thursday. Since I was a speaker I went to the area of "Speakers' to pick up my badge.

The gentleman there was very courteous. He was able to varify that "Vijay Mehta" exists, since my name was listed under JNF Speakers.

However, he shifted thru nearly 50 -75 badges that had not been picked up. Rescue team came in the form of another young man and the same process was repeated. After about four of so guys I was about to give up, but that was no option. I was hungry and there was no Taco Bell in sight. Only way I can have some food before my death from hypoglycemia was to persist and get some form of recognition.

Finally after nearly 45 minutes of praying to Mahavir Bhagwan someone came up and made me a regular name tag. I later found out that even though I was a speaker to JNF and I probably uttered more words than many of the speakers, in the power hall of JAINA I was not considered a speaker and was not entitled to speaker badge!!!

I guess JNF speaker is not a speaker. I checked Jain website there Vijay Mehta is not listed, inspite of the fact that I have presented several seminars. Dipen, later told me that they refused to allocate me to speaker category. I am working on investigating the logic behind this. Why the JNF Speakers and I believe, youth speakers not listed anywhere.

"Tumhara khoon kya khoon hain or hamara khoon kya pani hain?"

« Last Edit: Jul 9th, 2007, 08:06am by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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xx Have you registered for Jaina?
« Reply #3 on: Jul 9th, 2007, 07:46am »

2 months before the convention, I was asked, are you registered with Jaina?

Well, frankly NO. The only reason I go to Jaina is to contribute as a speaker and motivator. Why would I pay 170 dollars for the privilege of picking up the chairs and running around like a chicken with the head cut off?

But it got me wondering, what kind of arrogance and ignorance would lead to call up a volunteer speaker and worker and ask, "have you registered for Jaina."

All other convention that have invited me - TANA, ATA, NET IP, Leuva Patel, Charotaria Patel, Marathi Youth, Rajput Youth etc. have never asked me wheather I am registered for their convention.

Not only that but all of the above has provided me with air fare, transportation to and from airport, hotel accomodation without ever questioning. The only question they have asked is if I charge any fees for my talk.

Kudos to those money minded Jaina organizers, you made me feel welcome 3 moths before convention by asking this stupid question.

With money manager like you guys I am sure convetion will be a block buster success in term of finance.

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xx Truth & Jainism
« Reply #4 on: Jul 9th, 2007, 07:53am »

I was informed that Jaina official policy is not to pay for any transportation or hotel for the speakers.

Wow! I am glad to know that multitude of speakers are lining up to come and talk to Jaina and spend their own money.

Next to Ahimsha - Satya is the second pillar of Jainism as I understand. If someone lied on this issue, we have to wonder, if it is ok to organize Jain convention and in process ignore the cardinal principal of Jainism.

I am investigating the matter and will keep you posted.

Now, I know why our youth are only "occasionaly drinking!'
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xx Transportation - Why close at 1:15 AM
« Reply #5 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 05:37am »

While most youth parties ended at 2 AM the bus service stopped at 1:15 AM. What were the youth supposed to do?

Walk at that time of morning?
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xx Does it take a rocket scientist?
« Reply #6 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 05:40am »

Our greatly successful Jaina 2007 was spread all over the place. Expo Center was nearly a mile and half from civilization. Sheraton hotel was few blocks away. Hilton Garden and Holiday Inn were more than 200 yards away.

Who soever booked the place need to realize that it is hard for people to wait for the bus to arrive at the expo to have food just to go back in the bus to resume seminars at out lying locations.

What a wastage of time and energy.

I did not consume a single meal at Expo - it was not worth the hassel.

Why did they not serve any food at outlaying location?
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xx Floor Space needed
« Reply #7 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 05:44am »

This is not our first attempt at a convention.

Why did we not know how many square feet are needed in the dining hall?
Why did not know how many square feet were needed for activities. There are formulas that will easily tell you how many people you may fit in theater style seating or banquet style seating etc.

I had asked to provide me with 12 -15 sq feet per person for speed dating event. Instead I had to pack young men and women in a very small space. The size of room was so small that with half the participants talking the decible level in the room was like crowded crofford market back home.

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xx Cancellation at the last minutes
« Reply #8 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 05:48am »

Someone decided to remove my seminar that I had prepared for months and tried to market for weeks.

Ask Dr. Phil was supposed to be a venue for all the parents who are lost when it comes to the marriage of their children. I went about an hour early to check out my room and to my shock and surprise I found others looting the sound equipment and chairs for the adjoining rooms. (This reminded me how it must have looked like in New Orleans after Katrina!)

One of the speaker informed that I was not even on schedule!!! I went and checked the schedule and he was right. Someone had crossed Dr. Phil session and written over the other session.

Wow what a successful convention.

I am curious as to how this decision was made, who made it and what logic was used.

There were only 10 or so people at the starting time.
Thank you Jaina for getting the speakers free and then provide them royal treatment.
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xx Bring your own chairs - BYOC
« Reply #9 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 05:54am »

I have heard about BYOB parties but Jaina 2007 convention - at least the part that I witnessed - was BYOC convention. I instructed all the participants to bring their own chair. They may have to loot it from adjoining room or go the store room and get one for themselves.

I can see that some of our young adults might be slightly out of shape but I had no intention of giving them involuntary work out.

We could not find chair dolly for the longest time. After some effort we found one dolly. I begged one young adult to move the stack of chairs, and he started doing it. Since this was past starting time the youth were impatiently waiting near the lobby and I had to scream from top of my lung to clear the hallway enough to let the chairs go.

Did anyone ever wonder what would happen if one of this volunteer dropped stack of chairs and someone was gravely injured?? Was that part of planning process?

« Last Edit: Jul 10th, 2007, 06:08am by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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xx One more job description for speakers
« Reply #10 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 05:59am »

On the opening day JNF was supposed to have activities in Holiday Inn Ball Room at 2:30 PM onwards.

Of course they had scheduled some Puja in the same room that was crowded with devotees. Once the puja was over they wanted to spend as much time as possible with Swamiji and Sadhvijees.

It was speakers job to get all these people out of the room. Holiday Inn had only two workers who will work at thier own pace to move the table and chair.

Again I found some young men and women and gave them opportunity for a free workout.

I wish all those leaders who were proclaiming the successful convention in every speech they gave could have witnessed the scene. I wish I had broght a professional videographer to record the scene for any one interested to watch.

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xx What was up with the Hotels
« Reply #11 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 06:04am »

Nearly 4-5 weeks before when I tried to book a hotel I called the ones listed on Jaina website. Holiday Inn and Hilton Garden both were sold out.

Why the fact that these hotels were sold out not mentioned on our web page as soon as that point was reached?

Why did we not other area hotel to meet the need of attendees? I suspect I may know the answer to this question. They felt that if they post other hotels on site they will have to provide the transportation.

From my point of view if we are expecting 5000 attendees we can figure out about 3500 rooms less those who may drive to convention and we should come up with a formula as to how many rooms are needed.

Why subject the attendees who may not be familiar with location to struggle with all these difficult issues??
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xx we are short of donation and short of volunteers
« Reply #12 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 06:08am »

I often heard the excuse that Jaina 2007 was very short on funding. That resulted in curtailing services all the way to the last minutes.

To me what comes first - chicken or the egg? If you run a good convention you find more people enthused about being a part of it and vice a versa. If we can not find enough volunteers may be we need to look into why the people are not excited about volunteering at our event.

I was talking to a lady in New York who conveyed to me that during last convention 10 -12 or her friends all decided to help out the JNF in San Francisco and they did. The whole thing was so disorganized that most of them decided never to volunteer again for JNF!!

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xx 10 days before the JNF Hilton Garden Gone
« Reply #13 on: Jul 10th, 2007, 06:21am »

10 days before the big event. I was talking to the event manager at Hilton Garden. We were scheduled to have JNF sessins at Longwood and Evergreen rooms from 1:30 PM to 5:30 PM. She casually mentioned to me to make sure we were about by 1:00 PM that day!!!

Apprantly they had a wedding in Longwood room (the big room) and they were going to use Evergreen room for wedding also.

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