Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Auroville Run

The run experience at Auroville was just simply ... Beautiful. The experience itself is very much a reflection of the spirit of the place - The beautiful trail through the forest , very scenic , the waiting in anticipation of whats next on the trail , the woods and the unpaved roads , local drummers upping the tempo of the run ( me syncing my run to the beat!! ), these volunteers who would go miles to ensure a great experience , the cyclists accompanying the runners all over the course , volunteers cheering runners at exactly the right moments - it was all magical ! It is Auroville..

The Beautiful trail through the woods

The Carbo loading at the pasta party - we stuffed ourselves with so much food. Thanks to the dinner, i could last the distance.

I had a fantastic run - though i couldn't crack sub 2 hours for my 21.1 km. Gut given the tough last 2 months , with a terrible IT band that put me off sports for 3 weeks and a bout of fever/ cold that lasted right into the marathon day - am happy with the time i took 2:19 or a little less. I managed to do 15 km in 1:29 and had a smooth run till then. I was sapped of energy to come up with a strong finish. 

Thanks to this podcast ( on Energy , by Vinod Khosla ) i managed the first 1 hour easily - i had some doubts going into the run. I hadn't run for 10 days , thanks to the fever. So, the podcast really helped me take my mind off the negative thoughts. I learnt a great deal, listening to it, in the first place. After the 1st hour, it was familiar territory - a bit of tiredness , heavy breathing , heavy legs : Just hung on till the finish :) . Am falling in love with that 'phase' of the run!!

The target is to now crack sub 2 by end of 2009. This run gave me a lot of confidence and hopefully, should stick to the routine and crack the goal.

P.S - Thanks to the organisers for a beautiful run. I borrowed these pics from Balu / Venkat and others. Thanks !

Idea # 7 - Flash Visuals of Concepts to aid Teaching

Problem : I was teaching the kids at Deepam , the concept of 'Force' , some months ago. I had prepared 4 simple examples t0 help students understand , better. I used the blackboard , 'told' them examples - Didn't help them much to 'visualize'. 

I got a couple of kids to 'enact' what i was 'saying' - the kids were able to understand easily. So, clearly, the problem is with 'teaching methods'.

Solution : Develop flash visuals for all concepts from the LKG to Class 12 and beyond.

If someone is aware of any free content on the web, please do let me know.

Harvard Model and Deepam

How does Harvard attract the best of the best students to study there ? Most of us ( definitely, i thought ) would think the big boys at Harvard would have it easy - the best students fight to get in there ( similar to the IIT situation ).

I was WRONG - This business week article shows why .

Harvard admin / professors / alumni go all out and scout for the best talent to study at Harvard. Machine ( computer) involvement is so minimal. Its this personal touch to the whole effort, that brings the best of the best to study at Harvard. Am quoting Mr.Fitzsimmons, the Dean , here "What we aim to do is to get the very best faculty together with the very best students," he says. "Our hope is that these synergies will develop the talents of these students to a much greater degree and that they will then give back a lot more to America and the world." 

Am thinking Deepam should aim to ' Bring the best volunteer effort , with a good infrastructure / technology and enable the underprivileged kids become the best students '

Its possible... with a personal touch :)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Deepam - Collaborative Painting

 Deepam 1st Anniversary celebrations kicked off with a ‘Collaborative Painting Workshop’ on Saturday and Sunday. Students at 3 of our centres – Olcott School , Pudiyathor and Besant Nagar Community center had a lot of fun splashing the colors on the canvas. Over 40 students participated in this activity. The kids enjoyed themselves immensely - their creativity and team work was on display as they turned the blank canvas into a piece of art .

A big thanks to Archana and Balaji - They helped take this concept from an 'Idea on Paper' to 'Painting on Canvas' !! They planned this event well, from buying the right materials / coming up with a 'workable theme' to coordinating with the other volunteers and kids, to ensure the event was a success. Thanks to all the volunteers, who worked along with the kids , got their hands dirty with the paint and brought shape to the painting. 

Here are some of the pictures 

Idea # 6 - Google Lattitude and Indian Public Transport

Google Latittude was launched last week. It brings real time location updates of friends using Mobile phones. This features opens up a bunch of possibilities - one of which is in Indian Public Transport system.

Idea - Provide real time update on Indian Public Transport, using Google Latitude ( similar to London )
Resource : A compatible mobile phone in each public bus / train. Use of the Google Lattitude API ( not available right now, but can be requested ? ). One website, which updates the location info, which can be accessed from mobile / PC
Monestisation : This service for each bus / train might cost about 12k every year for connection plans + cost of device (12k ) + maintenance cost ( hosting / support - 12 lakh per year ? ).

 The website will have ads. Also, people can also request location info with a simple SMS. So, ads can be sent through SMS, for every request. Ads bring in monies.
Benefits : More usage of public transport ( since i can plan my travel better )

What do you think ?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

2 for 4 ( Continued )

I had planned to run the Chennai Marathon in Sep 08 and Singapore Marathon in Dec 08, to raise money for DeepamChennai Marathon was DONE - But couldn't practise / run the Singapore in Dec 08. 

Am running the Auroville Half Marathon ( 21 km ) on Feb 15 2009, to complete the 2 for 4 project. 2 weeks ago, running even a 2 km was proving to be difficult, because of a knee injury. Some resting / stretching has helped me recover . This morning, i did a 21 km and i should be able to do the 21 km at Auroville, comfortably.

Here is the appeal again -

2 for 4 : Through these 2 runs, i wish to raise 4 lakh rupees - this money will be utilised to get computers, Internet connection and reading material for the kids. We wish to place the computers permanently at the locations we teach - Govt. Schools, Slums and orphanages.

I request you to support me in this effort - If you can donate / spread word about the program, i would really appreciate it.

Please do get in touch with me, if you can support in some way.