PyCon India 2019

PyCon India is one of those conferences that I look forward to every year. This year marked my fourth conference in a row. I was excited to meet all my old friends and make some new ones.

ChennaiPy the local python user group of Chennai hosted this year's conference. This meant two things I will get to attend the conference in Chennai and also visit some beaches around Pondicherry. So yeah I was super excited.

The journey to the conference started on 11 October, I was traveling from Delhi with two of my friends Kuntal and Sakshi. Since we planned our journey in such a way that we would reach one night before the conference, we missed the pre-conference volunteer's meet. Kuntal and I were in a state of regret of not taking the morning flight as the pre-conference volunteer's meet are super fun. You get to see the venue beforehand, helps out with swag bags and interact with all the volunteers and organizers of the conference.

On reaching the Chennai airport we met with Dedipyaman, he was staying with us. His name was a bit unique so we called him twodee, which he later adopted as his nick. Traveling to our Airbnb apartment was a challenge in itself as none of us knew Tamil. We were staying with 13 other folks, I knew most of them besides one, Shubo. I had seen the nick on the #dgplug but haven't met him in person. When we arrived at the apartment only Shubo was present, rest came in an hour or two. As everyone settled, we played some rounds of Uno while enjoying pizzas just before going to bed.

The next day I left with twodee and Sakshi for the conference, we were running a bit late. When we reached the conference I saw Kuntal at the registration desk. We all got our attendee card and proceeded to the conference. I saw all my old friends, most of them I only personally meet during conferences as they all live in a different state. So it was fun to catch up. After roaming around the sponsors both I went to attend Pradyun's talk. The talk was titled Python Packaging – where we are and where we're headed, I was interested in the talk as only a handful of people maintain pip. Since it's such a huge ecosystem in itself it was interesting to get some insights from Pradyun's talk about how packaging works with pip and how are they planning to move forward. Later in the tea break, I met with Saurav and Haris. I learned a lot from the conversion we had during the tea break. These people have been in tech much before me. Saurav talked about his company Deepsource, how managing a small team with people who take up responsibility is easy. You don't have to worry about those formal things like timesheets, leave policy because people take responsibility for their work. Haris was working in a two-person team and shockingly carried a very old cell phone which didn't even have internet. So his take on life was very interesting.

The next day we had our annual #dgplug staircase meeting, this year since Kushal was sick. Sayan took the initiative of conducting the meeting. We discussed the first staircase meeting, what went wrong in this year's summer training that people weren't completing their tasks, weren't showing up in the IRC channel and what needs to be done now. I meet lambainsaan who I had always thought was a bot.

The meeting concluded at noon and it was just in time for me to catch up the talk “Let's hunt a memory leak” so I ran to the hall to get a good spot. Sanket was the speaker, he showed us various ways how he solved memory leak problems in a flask app in production while describing the whole memory management concept in Python. I rushed for lunch after the talk as I had to be in open spaces for the PyDelhi's session.

Anuvrat had registred the open space for PyDelhi and other communities of the north. The whole agenda of the open space was how to be consistent while conducting the meetup, what can we do in the meetup we get people to come often and how can we increase the quality of the talks. I liked one idea of pushing all the 101 sessions to blog posts or even hangout sessions a day before the event so we aren't limiting the target audience to just people who are starting in tech. Of what we have been observing in the recent meetups, experienced people who can help mentor people and give great talks have stopped attending meetups. The problem is there were a lot of 101 sessions happening. We concluded that we can shift those 101 sessions to blog posts and if someone wants to give a 101 session we can have themed meetups once in one-two months where they can present those talks. The open spaces were scheduled for half an hour but we stretched it a bit longer as more people started adding points to the discussion.

Before the closing keynote of the day I helped in volunteering at hall-B, I was so much excited for the keynote that during the tea break before the closing keynote I went and sat in the second row of the hall just so I can enjoy the talk from a good spot.

The conference ended with David Beazley keynote, he live coded a stack machine, wrote an interpreter for Web Assembly game that was initially written for Rust in Python and in the end added PyGame to make it into an actual game. It was a jaw-dropping moment for me, though I lost in the midway of his talk it was a bit advanced for me. But when I looked around most people were feeling the same. The keynote ended with standing ovation from all the people in the hall. For me, the whole closing keynote was like a movie it was such a joy to just watch David live code and nothing could have been a better way to end a conference.

The last day of our stay in Chennai was a bit weird as there was some issue with water in our apartment so we went a bit late to the workshop. I had bought tickets for David's workshop “Write your own Async”. In the workshop I tried to follow up with him, was writing code just as he would do it but after the second half, I was a bit lost so I just focused on listening to him. It was not exactly like a workshop but more of him giving us a problem and we would discuss the solution to it and he would live code the solution after the discussion. The solutions were so well designed that it would be similar to the inbuilt functions that the Async module has. As I tried to live coded with him so wasn't able to make some detailed notes that I could revisit later.But luckily he uploaded the workshop screencast so I can revise the concepts again.

The day ended with me saying goodbye to all the people that had stayed late during the dev sprints as workshop and devsprints were happening in parallel.

This marked the end to one more year of my PyCon India journey. It was my fourth PyCon India and the most special one. I stayed with people that I look up to in real life and had lots of fun. The funny thing is not all of them use Python as their day to day language yet they came to a conference dedicated towards the language. I guess that's the beauty of the community. You meet so many people from different backgrounds and learn from them which not only helps you be a better developer but also gives a different perspective towards your life.