After our first virtual IRL in July-2020, it’s time for our first remote-first IRL. Which means Niteans were given options to plan and decide a location where they could meet other nearby Niteans and connect with the rest virtually.

So, the plan was to divide and organise Mini-IRLs – one in Lanzarote and one in Asia. However, as the scars from the pandemic were yet to heal globally, most of the Niteans decided it would be best to stay put and wait for things to improve. As a consequence, team Lanzarote had to cancel and team Asia was on the verge of cancellation too. But two Niteans found a way to travel and meet in a place while ignoring public transport and crowded places as much as possible. It was me (Surya) and Arijit, two of the adventures loving coding partners in Niteo.

We decided on Darjeeling(Queen of hills), West Bengal as the place since visiting it has been on our wishlist for a long time. No, actually riding on a bike to Darjeeling and Gangtok was the original wish.

On motorbike towards Darjeeling

We made sure to lower the risk factors as much as possible. We neither compromised investing on good protective riding gears, nor on medical kits, sanitizers and face masks. Although, we couldn’t avoid getting sore butts due to the almost 15 hours long ride each way (excluding the night stay in a hotel). But when we reached our destination, needless to say, all of it was worth the experience. The roads, Dhabas (local restaurants), Momo (a local dish) and Thukpa (local dish that originated from Nepal), the hills, friendly native people – everything were so refreshing. It was probably the best thing we could ask for to start 2021 with so much positivity and hope.

During the trip we have explored many amazing places. To name a few: Baba Harbhajan Singh Mandhir, Tsomgo Lake, Kanchenjunga peak view point.

Our taste buds were delighted on experiencing authentic Darjeeling food.

By the way, have you heard of Darjeeling Tea?

For more pictures and videos of the trip, please visit Google Photos link.

Being partly remote, it was a 3-days IRL. We explored places and local foods in the morning and in the evening, we socialized with everyone online. In the virtual meetings, just like the last time, we started with work and ended with beer and online social games.

While a virtual “IRL” has its own unique personality, the format remains. There is work, there is fun. We have lightning talks and several discussions participated either by the entire company or smaller groups that go into breakout rooms.

We played Pictionary! Guess the drawing.

Suffice it to say, this being our second time holding a virtual IRL, there is a smoother flow to things.


Though, it is a virtual IRL, we have done a ton of work and enjoyed the socials. Since the vaccines are in-place in many countries, hopefully the next IRL would be much more fun meeting the Niteans in-real.