Going to NYC for Pygotham 2019

Posted by StuffonmyMind on October 19, 2019

Yooooooo something super crazy happened this spooktober. I just gave my first ever conference talk at Pygotham in New York City

My proposal : https://2019.pygotham.org/talks/spatial-thinking-with-python/

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wCZH_zgyYc

Getting involved with the python community was something that I always wanted to do and I had just figured out that I could submit talk proposals to conferences and with the timing maybe I could travel to attend these conferences, meet a bunch of really cool people and just hang around and explore the city for a few days. Truth be told I never really expected anything to come out of the talk proposals I kept submitting to all the conferences that could be found online since I had just graduated, not given previous talks at conferences and was clearly not an expert in anything. As the lore goes my financial aid got accepted by pygotham, a NYC based python conference and I was one of their backup speakers but then I guess I just got really lucky as one of the speakers dropped out of a Pygotham and I was offered a spot on the schedule to talk and also I was getting financial aid… I had not applied for VISA and applied hastily but with some help from my dad’s acquaintance I ended up with a VISA just a few weeks before the conference. It still feels surreal how all this happened so fast. So yeah … that is how I travelled to NYC to speak at Pygotham my first ever conference talk and it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.

Day 1 (Made some friends and raided the place for stickers)

It was October 4th 7:45 AM I was in my room at Hotel Penn getting ready to head to Pygotham. I was so nervous and yet so freaking happy. A very weird feeling but I remember thinking how I could make a good first impression on everyone from the python community. I head to grab breakfast and find a corner to sit and wallow … It was really stupid of me cause I feel like I should have joined a table and introduced myself … but at the time I was really intimidated by everyone there.But now thinking back I feel so bad cause everyone in Pygotham were so awesome and I could have totally gone over to any table and introduced myself. But luckily as I was getting ready to eat breakfast alone ,Marcus came over to my table and introduced himself … he is the first friend I made at Pygotham and seriously helped me out throughout the conference. Just after a few minutes Adrián and 2 other really cool people joined us and made the breakfast soo much fun (Python smalltalk !!). After breakfast I headed to the Keynote of the day by Kojo Idrissa where he talked about how the open source community needed more new contributors and how noobs should feel welcome…It hit me extra hard that day cause being a noob myself I felt really welcome

I also met some really cool people from shutterstock and dropbox after the keynote and then headed over to attend the talks for the rest of day. I had actually learnt a lot of new things from the talks. I also got a bunch of ideas to improve my talk. Right before lunch I hung around the lobby waiting for the right moment to raid the whole place for stickers and goodies. Got tons of really cool stickers (RIP python2 sticker is <3)

During lunch I met Anuj he was pursuing cs with entrepreneurship in NYU and had previously given talks at pycon France and India, I had some really interesting conversations with him and actually decided to stick with him for the day. he gave me a lot of really useful advice cause my talk was scheduled tomorrow and I was pretty nervous

After the day’s talks were done we had a brief lightning talk session where Dustin Ingram gave a really funny and amazing talk on how he dockerized vintage python for us to play around with and also Anuj gave his lightning talk on his recent project that scraped content from videos based on keywords and grouped them together.

Then came the ministry of silly talks where I met the MC of Pygotham and the man with the funniest turtle jokes Paul. He was the funniest and the most humble person ever and initially though I was one of his students. lol I was really fascinated by the way carried himself so easily on stage to which he replied that he was constantly swearing on the inside the entire time he was on stage. It made me feel a lot better … but seriously tho paul was one of the so awesome and can make 9AM introduction sessions on a saturday interesting (btw he does comedy too !!)

After the first day of Pygotham I went to my room and immediately took out my laptop to make a few customary last minute changes to my presentation based on the talks i had seen in the morning.

Day 2 (Imagining 10000 scenarios of how my first talk would turn out to be a disaster)

It is 6AM in the morning October 5th 2019. The day everything was gonna unfold. Okay so I feel like I am unncessarily making a big deal out of this. I remember nervously walking onto to grab breakfast and then hastily opening my laptop to brush through my presentation one last time. After a few minutes I was joined by a bunch of engineers from bloomberg. I talk to them about Bloomberg’s project terminal and some other interesting stuff they were working on. I also got a bunch of touristy advice from a them cause most of em were from New York or Jersey.

After breakfast I left to attend the Keynote of the day by Pyper Thunstrom. It was very moving and a story that everyone should hear. A lot such stories go untold cause of Social stigma but her keynote stressed on how the python community listens and even helps people who just need someone at the time. She got a well deserved standing ovation in the end and btw she writes video games. My first experience with computers was playing video games and I always wanted to make one even though I played around with Unity and unreal I have never gotten around to actually making one

So my talk was at 11:15 after James Powell who talked about Metaprogramming (Really cool) and William Woodruff who talked about Pypi and it’s 2FA (Very helpful cause it was new stuff for me)

After these talks it was me. I was nervous in the beginning but as I went on it got a whole lot easier. I started to notice a bunch of familiar faces in the crowd which made it a whole comfortable for me. I felt like the talk went pretty cool and I did not bomb. I had actually finished my slides ahead of time and in the end I was asked some questions on the presentation. After the talk I caught up with a bunch of really cool people who were also working on Geospatial data and exchanged a bunch of ideas with them. I met this guy who was working with spatiotemporal drone data and two people from a startup working with cellular network and real estate data using tools like Kepler.gl. I also met a woman working as a part of NGO in developing countries and uses spatial data for really good causes.

3 people laughed at my Geometry joke

I then went to this really amazing talk on Poetry Samuel Roeca. It was honestly one of the best talks of Pygotham and personally the best talk of Pygotham. He explained how poetry handles dependency management and packaging in a way that kept us hooked from the first slide to the last.

In the end we had the closing Keynote from Meg ray who talked about educating children about Python.

After this I caught up with Stanley Zheng and he actually offered to show me around town so after the conference , so we hung out and walked out to New york comicon, then visited the Vessel and the High line. We then went to Chelsea market, checked out the local tesla store and the samsung experience store. Stanley then told me that we could catch up for breakfast the next day

The next day I checked out of the hotel and went to meet stanley at a cafe in brooklyn. There I met a bunch of really interesting programmers from the Recurse center RC. Maybe I’ll apply too :P

I then said my goodbyes to the Recursers and left to my friends place in Bayridge Brooklyn. I stayed with him for 5 more days to explore the city.

I think I visited almost every famous place in NYC but I missed the oppurtunity to make the holy pilgrimage to the joker stairs and I will regret it forever :(


  • Special thanks to whoever pulled out their Pygotham talk and the Pygotham organizing team for choosing me to fill the gap and give my first conference talk cause it was an experience of a lifetime :)
  • Thank you Marcus for helping me out throughout the conference and for being super awesome and supportive
  • To all the amazing conversations we had and all the advice before my talk, thanks for being a big brother throughout the journey Anuj menta :)
  • A big thank you and a virtual hug to Stanley Zheng for showing me around the city, introducing me to the Recurse group and for being an amazing human being.

NYC Highlights :