Sunday, September 18, 2011

DOing and Learning !

For a few years now, i've been having this troubled feeling that i don't 'understand' cricket. Like most boys in India, i've played cricket ever since i can remember , for over 25 years. But i realised i could never explain how to swing a cricket ball while bowling and to play a long innings while batting.

This feeling gave me a goal for my last 2 years at RunsNWickets - The team i play for.

After the victory against the Bangalore chapter of our club

I was curious to understand and this made me look forward to the NETS / Matches with the team, the last 2 years.

Though i have a long way to go in learning, am not as 'troubled' now as i was before. I now can more confidently explain why i bowl the way i bowl / bat the way i bat. Some 'learning' memories during the last 2 years -

The Observation NET :

NETS was the key to my learnings. I tried to 'observe' more during NETS sessions. Whenever i bowled a ball, i tried to be aware of my action - the way the ball went out of hand , the way i held the 'seam' , the body position during release and more. After every ball i bowled, i had sometime to think about the previous ball. I really loved to be 'on my own' and think during this time.

Me, bowling during the Bangalore Vs Chennai game

During the matches too, i tried to observe why i was able to swing well on a particular day / cricket ground. At the Marina ground, i got a huge in-swing. At the DB Jain ground, i got slight inswing but better outswing. When i changed the bowling 'ends' at the DB Jain ground, the in-swing got better. That helped to learn some of the effects of wind direction / wind speed on the swing of the cricket ball. In some time, the swing of the new cricket ball became more 'obvious'.

Connect the dots :

I particularly enjoyed the way i learnt to bowl the 'slower one' . For a long time, my cricket mates told me they could easily spot the slower ball i bowled. I was looking to change that. During the worldcup 2011, Zaheer Khan bowled brilliantly disguised slower balls. Luckily, i came across an article on cricinfo that mentioned Zaheer bowled his slower ones with just the 'index' and 'ring' finger on the ball. No doubt, i spent the next NETS session trying this slower one. 'Feedback' was encouraging. This slower one got me a lot of wickets in the 2011 season, so far !!

Travel Together :

I quite enjoyed opening the batting with Anba . We spent a lot of time together in the matches. The best part was Anba was looking to learn as well. We used to share our observations and had great fun 'discovering' finer points.

The one photo with Anba ( non-striker) and Me batting ..

I remember one particular highly enlightening point - 'playing in the present' . We both discovered at the same time that we were 'looking' for a shot we enjoyed playing or we just played. For example, if i played a front foot cover drive to an earlier ball, my mind / body was waiting for another front foot cover drive. It failed to realise that the next ball could be different. We both committed a lot of mistakes because of this. Once this realisation hit us, we worked on keeping the mind 'blank' before the ball. This made us better prepared to face the ball that was actually being bowled ( and not an imaginary ball in our minds ) . These were the moments i truly enjoyed - learning and having fun as a team.

The feeling is magical when we 'travel' together.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

What did you ship in 2010

Inspired by the Seth Godin post , i take shot at the work that got done in 2010
  1. What started off as a fun idea in 2009, become the big focus for me in 2010. More than 90% of my time was spent there. From running around trying to hire the tech team in Feb / March 2010 ( where we wasted many many coffees trying to pitch to the wrong guy ) to the investment offers we got later in the year, 2010 was a lot of fun. The team was delighted to get the positive feedback from the students / companies!
  2. Spent many days at colleges talking to students on 'initiatives'
  3. Loved the process of bringing a 'team' together - twenty19 has a sooper fun / action-oriented team
  4. Media was very generous on
  5. Officially, Ran 1 marathon ( don't ask me the time taken ) and 1 half-marathon ( i said.. dont ask me the time!! )
  6. Scored a few 50s - probably a better year in Cricket
  7. Deepam 3rd anniversary , HP EdTech 2010 award and more
  8. Bits2Marathon had over 600 BITSians registering to run 2010 run - We were thrilled to get the BITS Alum Association support
  9. School 10 year reunion - My awesome school buddies gave me the 'Sportsman of Our Batch' award at our 10 year reunion !! Was sooper excited to get this.. afterall, learnt everything right there, at the school
This year also made a clear statement for me - in a team 'sport' , one is only as good as the team. Am so glad to work along with some awesome folks at / deepam / runsnwickets / chennairunners / bits2marathon and everywhere else!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Inspiration ;)

She is always the one with the smile(s)
& Her enthusiasm stretches thousands of mile(s)
She pulls a lot of surprise
and makes everyones happiness rise
With her around
Fun is unbound !

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Video on Taking Initiatives !

Our company worked with a bunch of fantastic college students Shruti / Mrudula to come up with an awesome video on taking initiatives.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Day 2 & 3 of 10 x 10

Day 2 - Had an early start at work and had to run at night. Started the run at 10:10 pm, after a long but happy day at work. Squeezed the run, before end of day :)

Thanks to Rajesh for the motivation - he offered to run along, at that hour.

Day 3 - Started the run at 6:15 am, with little sleep and not much recovery from the night run. Crawled to the 10k mark !!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Chennai Runners 10 x 10

Inspired by my running group , I decided to sign up for the 10 x 10.

What is 10 x 10 ? Running 10 km on consecutive days for 10 days.

I’ve never had a running streak longer than 5 days and the 10 x 10 will test me. But will give it a good shot. Watch this space for the updates J

My 10 x 10 - Between 1 Aug 2010 - 10 Aug 2010

Day 1

Saturday night 9:00 pm – engrossed in the colors on display at pecha kucha. Met many friends and as usual, didn’t have a watch on the time L .

9:30 pm – Rushed home for a call with friends in US / UK. 3 of us, in chennai / oxford / cinncinati went over an event plan, that was just a month away. It was 10:45 pm . I was now pinging my dear friend in poland and I was in queue ;)

And then I remember waking up at 1 am , lights on , lying on the desk!!! These days , all I need is some space and I go zzzz . Yes, I don’t just have to ‘make-up’ for the poland miss, I realised I forgot to have dinner!!! It was apple and a few slices of bread. Now I truly fu@#$% up the morning run

With that thought I hit the bed and slept like a log, missing the alarms and woke up at 6:15 am . Tiger and gang would’ve started off at 5:15 am and now I have to run alone . I checked the garmin and it was dead. Decided to juice it up for 30 mins.

At 7:30, with the garmin back alive, I started my 1st of the 10 x 10.

A very slow 10k through mandaveli , Boat club and Anna University. I was initially planning atleast a 15km but lacked energy.

Run Stats :

Running alone is never fun and today was no exception.

If you are looking to run in Chennai, in the mornings over the next 10 days, feel free to buzz me. I need you more than you need me ;)

BITS2Marathon 5 x 5 : My 5

The BITS 5K 2010 is likely to be on September last week. As a lead up to the event, BITS2Marathon is organising a 5 x 5 event ( taking inspiration from my running group in Chennai ).

What is 5 x 5 ? Running 5 km for every day for 5 days. This will be a relay, where someone will pick up the baton and keep the 5 x 5 going.

I just compeleted my 5 x 5 . I ran between Tuesday (27 july 10 ) to Saturday ( 31st july 10). This was my longest streak – no runs missed in 5 days J

Day 1 – Ran a 6k , ran into some friends who started their run early. Made a note ( yes, again!! ) to go to bed early !!

Day 2 – Ran a 5k around boat club in Chennai and running alone wasn’t fun ! how do I balance running at my convenience and running with a bunch. Clearly, running with a bunch is more fun but can I do this at this point of time ?

Day 3 – Ran in the boat club area again and ran to the gym for a 40 min ‘core’ workout session. The pain was fun!!

Day 4 – Late night work, woke up late , ran around my locality at 7:15 am. Damn, I want to kick myself. Runs should stop by 7 am

Day 5 – Caught up with a friend at ymca, over a long walk. Discussed many things and finally ran near my home.

That was my 5 x 5 .

Lessons : Try to run with a bunch. Running alone is no fun

Friday, February 19, 2010

Education NGOs in India - Segmentation / Big Picture

A few weeks ago, i had met Dr.Balaji Sampath , to understand the 'Big Picture' in the Education NGO space in India. It helped me get a lot of clarity on the way forward for Deepam

According to him there are 3 models working well in India, presently
  1. Asha / Aid ( US Chapter) - Fundraising organisations - they primarily raise money. their impact measured by the number of organisations they support - For example : 200 orgs supported in India in 2009 etc
  2. Pudiyador / Sukrupa - Centre running orgs - They ensure Kids come to class. They hire teachers or invite volunteer orgs to teach. They are supported by fundraising orgs. Measure of impact - no of kids reached out, improvement in their standards
  3. Content Orgs - Eureka books / Pratham books - These orgs primarily focus on curriculum . They research on the best content / curriculum and provide this for free / at a low cost to NGO's
  • The 4th type of Organisation - he says are slowly emerging - Deepam is one such. They go out and teach the kids in a focussed way. They can take content from 'content orgs' , go teach at 'centre running orgs' , which are funded byFundraising orgs

According to him, the value that Deepam has created is enormous - So far, the NGO space has been missing "consistency" and "focus" among the volunteer teachers. Someone going to a centre at the alloted time and teach the kids, a specific subject. He says this is quite rare and wanted us to build on what we have created so far.

He says when all 4 of the above is done by 1 organisation in the social sector, everything goes for a toss. Balaji has tried doing all of this in his initial days and failed. Finally, he decided to focus on content and content development.
Anyone here has a better way to segment the Education NGOs in India ? Would love to hear from you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary Trek

Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary was the setting for 2 day trek / stay in the forests with cousins. With my brother Vishnu's return to India after 1.5 years, the 2 day break was a great bonding / thrilling / interesting experience for all of us.

Stats from the trek into the forest.

Most of the trek was on flat terrain, except for day 2. The steep incline can be seen from this map. Thanks to my garmin , for the stats :)

Route we followed : Coimbatore - Pollachi - Top Slip - Parambikulam. Except for 10-12 km just before top slip, the rest of the roads were in top condition, especially, the road between top slip and parambikulam.

Vishnu and Niranjan on the long straight section on the hills.

At a place we stopped by to have lunch..

Car parked, it is time to head into the forest...

Went past this dam, a km into the trek...

On our way to the forest stay..

Scenic, wooded pathway .. had elephant dung all over the route

It was an easy stroll all the way - the guide kept enthralling us with the stories of the forest

Tiger's pug mark that we came across , on the trek - apparently,28 tigers are found in the Parambikulam sanctuary. The place we were staying at night, was in the home territory of 2 tigers.

The Samba deer that we spotted on our trek in..

A massive tree that was on the way ..

Some more deer on the grasslands..

In front of the place we stayed at night - 6 km into the forest.

The view from the house...

Stay at the house was the scarriest experience in a long time - as the night enveloped all around us, with the guide taking us through the stories of the forest, we got increasingly nervous about staying outside the house.

With every movement around us being keenly observed by us, the wild cat droppings from the top of the tree was enough to get us running inside the house :)

With the doors closed tight, we had our dinner ( cooked by the guide , at a place with basic facilities ) and we resigned for the night.

Crossing a river, early next day, to reach a grassland..

We then returned to the base and drove 15 km to the parambikulam dam, to start the trek on day 2. We set out to climb the peak seen below , enveloped by the clouds ..

Thick wooded route -

There was thick vegetation all over and it was quite steep, going up the mountain ..

That was the steepest section - all of us struggling to go up...!!

A wild elephant had passed though this bush!!

And more climb!! There were leeches all over the place !!

Vishnu "skating" down - it was the best option given the steep inclines! All of us were struggling for foothold and stability. Coming downhill took almost twice the time of going uphill.

A leech on Ram - we burned the leech ( and his leg! )

Jam in the tubes came in very handy!!

More deer that we spotted on our drive back to the base camp.

This was the most thrilling moment during the entire trek - it was worth all the money and more. Vishnu was at the wheels and when we took a turn, we came right in front of a wild elephant crossing the road. After taking a few steps to cross the road, the elephant stopped and came charging at us.

I was sitting next to driver's seat and my heart almost skipped a few beats. Vishnu kept his cool and kept the car still. He switched to reverse but kept the car still / idle. Elephant took a long, hard look at us. That was probably the longest / scariest 5 minutes!!! No lights / flashes or anything to distract the elephant

Elephant slowly decided to move on - took a few steps to cross the road and waited to see our reaction. We stood still and the elephant moved into the forest and we went our way...

An awesome 2 day break - i hope to return to this place again and explore more. Next time, we will spot the tiger :)

Friday, January 01, 2010

My Sports Plans - 2010

Probably, the only part of my plan that i can talk openly :)

  1. 35 km running per week
  2. A sub 2 hour half marathon
  3. 1 full marathon
  4. Improvement in flexibility and strength
  5. Cycle more – errands / in city commute, as much as possible
  6. No 2 days without an activity – Run / Cycle / Frisbee / Cricket / Yoga
  7. Cricket – Play atleast 1 tournament with RnW. Improve bowling accuracy and bat longer innings
  8. Frisbee – Play atleast 1 tournament with Chakraa. Learn to handle
  9. Atleast 2 days of yoga, per week
I believe this is possible. Wish me luck :)