Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pudiyador

One of our expat Ultimate Frisbee players, Manickam (mostly known as Manix), and his dad run an NGO in Chennai called Pudiyador.
This evening I had a chance to go and visit their Besant Nagar center to see what they do. The intent is amazing.

Pudiyador adopts a community at each of its 3 centers and works with kids and uninitiated adults to enhance learning for the kids. The slum around this Besant Nagar center has people who are primarily dhobis, construction workers, street hawkers, and similar low skilled workers. The low skill jobs necesitate that most folks (both parents) work for long hours. Hence, there isn't much time for their kids typically. The good thing about this slum is that most of the kids here go to school which is typically till about 4.00pm. But, between 4.00pm and 9.00pm till their parents come back, these kids basically just loiter around. They don't do homework, or work on improving skills. It's not a question of incapability, but more a question of motivation and exposure. The school system encourages mugging / rote learning, which isn't the most motivating factor to study. Besides, the quality of teaching is quite poor, and hence these kids don't understand even what they're taught. Their homes are typically a single room with a TV.. (thanks to our Tamil Nadu Government and the free colour TV scheme), and hence offers a lot of distraction.
These kids when passing out of school find it very hard to survive in the real world... where they have to compete against kids who have had exposure to a lot more things. Eg. Art, craft, sports, etc. Hence, they come out with an inferiority complex in some cases, or lack of confidence, or lack of leadership qualities, etc. This is where Pudiyador fits in.
Pudiyador steps in between 5.00 and 8.30 in the evening and facilitates enhanced learning opportunities to the kids of the slum.

You can read more about it in the link below

If any of you want to volunteer to teach a bunch of underprivilidged kids once a week for an hour, please let me know. I can put you in touch with the right person. It can be anything from art to dance to theater to craft, etc. Deepam has already stepped in and is helping these kids learn and use computers. They could definitely use a lot more help. Just 1 hour of your time in a week?
Chennai Ultimate will be hoping to step in soon to teach the kids some Ultimate Frisbee. This will be a program that we will run just like we do at Olcott Memorial School. Teach the kids to play Ultimate and more importantly, the Spirit of The Game (SOTG). This helps in their hand eye coordination, as well as makes them better human beings. The background from which these kids come from.. they are used to breaking / bending rules to get ahead of the next guy. We will hope to teach them to respect fellow human beings, and respect the rules, and get rid of the "Win at all costs" attitude that pervades all around us.

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Indian Ultimate League

Proudly like to say that the Indian Ultimate League was born (officially) last week. At this point, we have

1) Stray Dogs in Sweaters (Delhi)
2) Pune (yet to be named )
3) Storm Chasers (Mumbai)
4) Learning To Fly (Bangalore)
5) Disc-o-Deewane (Bangalore)
6) Chakraa (Chennai)
7) Stall 7 (Chennai)
8) Blitzkreig (Chennai)
9) Livewires (Chennai)
10) Mozarella (Kodai)
11) Indicorps (Ahmedabad)
12) Auroville Ultimate (Pondichery)
13) The Flying Dutchmen (IIM-Ahmedabad)

Last week, someone from Pune contacted our Ultimate playing friends in Bangalore. They had a group of 20-25 people who played Ultimate Frisbee. They were interested in joining the rest of the teams in tournaments if we were organizing any.

The Mysore tournament planning is also underway by the DoD and L2F teams in Bangalore. They've been sending out communications as well regarding this. Few captains / coordinators were missed out from the communications. Not on purpose, but because there were just too many people to be added to the To list.

It was at this time that I thought we needed an e-mail list for only the captains / coordinators of the various teams around India. Thus was born the Indian Ultimate League. Baby steps..

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Entrepreneur vs. VCs

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Was it worth it?

A short fuse.. is what I was built with. God created me that way.
I've blown up a few times.. badly. Said things in anger, that I regretted later. Done things in anger that people have seen only happen in movies.
One evening, back in October 2001, I decided to change that. It was on that day that I regretted something I said much more than any other times before. From that point of time, I wanted to be someone different. I wanted to be someone with a lot of patience.. someone who wasn't reactive... someone who wasn't blowing up at the slightest of provocation.. someone who didn't lose words easily.
It was a lot of hard work from that day. Every day, every minute, every second I had to work on it. Very consciously. Very deliberately.
I learnt to slow down my speech. I learnt to take a few seconds to think about what I wanted to say. I forced myself to look at things from the other person's point of view. I taught myself to think about how the other person would feel if I said something. I put rules in my head about what I would allow myself to say, and more importantly what I would never say in any situation. If it ever got to the point where I was going to blow up, I told myself I would walk away from the scene. I played past experiences over and over again in my mind. Ones where I blew up, and things went down hill. I visualized myself walking away from such a situation were it to happen again... when my blood is boiling, and when my head is feeling like it is going to explode if I don't say something, or if I don't act.
Many times since that evening, I've been angered. I've felt like I was going to explode if I didn't act. That part, I couldn't stop. Even if I worked on it a million more years, I don't think I can ever stop feeling those emotions. But what I managed to do, was watch the way I acted on those emotions. I have raised my voice in anger, but managed not to spill unnecessary words. I managed to never say anything more than what was needed to convey the emotion.
It is like this.. there is this person I want to be.. and then there is me.. and everyday is a constant struggle to get to this person I want to be. A struggle that I have waged with reasonable success for the last 7 and a half years.
And then 4 days ago.. after years of taking baby steps in the right direction, I let myself down. Someone managed to break me. Someone who I considered a very close friend hurt me so much, that my resolve broke down. It was the same feeling of my blood boiling.. the same feeling of my head blowing. My head pounding on me to react and retaliate.. my senses telling me to not take it standing silent.. my feelings telling me to be a man and have some balls to give it right back.. How could someone be SO inconsiderate and selfish? How could someone so lack any sort of respect for me or my feelings?
In the heat of the moment, I cursed that person. I regretted it an instant later. Yes, sure, it felt good for a few seconds. It felt like I was giving it back. It felt like I finally did what that person deserved.
But, was it worth it? Was it worth 7 and a half years of progress that I made? Was I proud of the fact that I did something I've never done before? Was this person even worth my anger? Was this person even worth giving up on my principles?

No!

All I had to do, was get up, and leave. Walk away from that situation. Not spend an instant more on worthless things. What goes around, comes around. I don' t have to be the one doling it out! If someone stooped to low levels, did I have to go down to that level too?

I shall not forget the 15th of June. A lesson learnt for life! ....hopefully....
My journey starts again. Journey to do what it takes to be that person I want to be.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CUF is a 2 year old baby now!

We successfully completed 2 years on 9th June! All of us forgot! :-).

My first reaction: Not bad! We survived so far!

Some trivia & Timelines
(picked up from memory and yahoogroups old messages)

June 9th 2007 - CUF founding date: Mama's initiative completely. I'd given up on the thought of playing ultimate 'cause of the lack of grass grounds. Mama put enough enthusiasm and convinced us that we can play on the beach!
First Day Members: Shankar, Mama, Vivek Manjeri, Karthik Vijayapalan, Sundar Ramachandran, Sid Govindarajan, Manu
We all ate at Murugan Idli after the game. A tradition that continued for the next 1 year or so!
4 of us playing with the club still?

June 14th, 2007 - KK Starts the "I'm in" business (so yeah.. if any of you are irritated by the number of "I'm in" emails.. you know who to beat up).
June 16th, 2007 - Next group of people join in for a game : KK, Anba, Vatsan, Guna -> Only KK still plays

June 21st, 2007 - Abhinav joins the groups.. and says "I'm in!".. and continues to say that for the next 1.5 month.. but no signs of him on the field! Starting troubles of waking up early morning for the next 1.5 months!
AJ turns up on the field same day. First woman member Lekha also turns up. Drags Varun in from next week!

July 8th, 2007 - First press coverage: Initiated by Kiruba on Press trust of India (PTI). Sudden spate of members wanting to join the yahoogroups.
July 9th, 2007 - The first (and hopefully the only) time we had to temporarily shut down membership for the club. We had 1 red ultra-star, and that was it. We couldn't scale up as fast as we were getting people..

July 28th, 2007 - Our first visiting expat player Chakrax joins us for a game. He works for Cisco in SJC. Also the same day Sukrit Sarkar makes first appearance on the field. He teaches CUF to "NO BACKHAND!" later rechristened as "Force forehand" :-P. Can't believe we didn't know what a force meant till that point! Sukrit also educates us on how to look for Ultra Star discs and not buy any Whammo's!

Aug 15th, 2007 - First Frisbee camp! Independence Day Boot camp. Chennai Runners group takes a crash course on Ultimate. We pick up some more members! This is also the first mid-week game played.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/manukaran/sets/72157601565136023/

Sep 9th, 2007 - First Sunday game. Demanded by Vatsan, AJ and a few others. They wanted to increase the number of game days to twice a week!

Sep 15th, 2007 - Subbu, Muthu join

Sep 27th, 2007 - CUF tournament proposed so that Mama, Sukrit, Shankar and me (only people who have played before) could split the members into 4 smaller group so that we can concentrate on growing skills of the players. KK, Abhi, AJ and Vatsan (later replaced by Subbu. Vatsan had to travel) respective vice captains. Friday games start at this point! We've reached 3 day games a week!

Oct 1st, 2007 - http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/astute87/TheUltimateSport#
Also Viswesh, Ranjani's first day

Oct 9th, 2007 - Ahmedabad Ultimate Discovered (http://ultimate.indicorps.org/) and contacted. Just saying "hey, we exist.. hopefully one day we'll find a way to play a match against you guys".

Oct 11th, 2007 - First time we deploy end zone cones! (Yes, till this point, we only had lines on the sand drawn with our foot)! Subbu & Mahen's suggestions.. .


Nov 2nd, 2007 - Logos for CUF designed by many people..
http://www.flickr.com/photos/14900510@N03/1551875389/sizes/l/in/photostream/
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/astute87/TheUltimateSport#5124439586659408098
http://bitterscotch.wordpress.com/2007/10/07/ultimate-frisbee-chennai-logo/
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/astute87/TheUltimateSport#5119276357364783314
http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/astute87/TheUltimateSport#5119276353069816002
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_mFnBJSPGbrM/Rxk5nCbZvUI/AAAAAAAAAA0/8DocoVUnHOA/s1600-h/logo+copy.jpg <- AJ"s logo only logo to show co-ed sport http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A2AiRZCsQ-c/R51ojjdNtmI/AAAAAAAAA1M/XAwJDwUpRq0/s1600-h/4309.jpg
A poll was taken and last logo won!

Nov 6th, 2007 - World's coolest poem in Senthamizh (pure Tamil) composed.. when a big cyclone affected our play!

Chennaila Cyclone!
chennai le cyclone vandha kaathu
school/college gate-ellam saathu

chumma light mazhai le nananja no baathu
only veetukku vandhu dress maathu!

heavy rain-na road le man-holes paathu
swimming therinja nee swim like vaathu
therilena takkunu shout "aandava kaapaathu"!

- Babynav, Rhapsoder (aka. Abhinav, Manu)

Nov 17th-18th, 24th-25th, 2007 - First CUF Tournament is held. Blue team wins.
Winning pic:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/30648061@N03/2870013184/sizes/o/in/pool-893963@N20/

Group pic:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/30648061@N03/2870016152/sizes/o/in/pool-893963@N20/

MVP: Abhinav
http://www.flickr.com/photos/30648061@N03/2870013512/sizes/o/in/pool-893963@N20/

Tourney Cartoon - Coutesy GAPP
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2253/2057710678_70f36174f3_o.jpg
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2387/2070049967_6e9913b238_o.jpg

Press Coverage
http://rhapsoder.blogspot.com/2007/12/chennai-ultimate-frisbee-tournament.html
http://rhapsoder.blogspot.com/2007/12/and-two-more.html

Dec 2008 - 2nd expat player (Jairam) visits us from Stanford

Feb 12th, 2008 - Preparation for Ahmedabad Tourney starts. First hard ground game ever!

Feb 15th, 2008 - www.chennaiultimatefrisbee.com launched - courtesy GAPP

Feb 23rd-24th, 2008 - First Ultimate Frisbee tournament in India. Organized by Ah'bad Ultimate. Participants: Delhi Stray Dogs in Sweaters, Chennai & Ah'bad. Winner Stray Dogs in Sweaters
http://rhapsoder.blogspot.com/2008/02/first-ultimate-frisbee-nationals.html

March 2008 - Vivek, Bharani join CUF. Bharani learns to throw his forehand just as awesomely as he does today AT the Kodai tourney :-P

April 2008 - Mondams (aka. Bulu Thunder) joins CUF, full Cheetah tail and all!

April 25th-26th, 2008 - Kodai Fly-Baba tourney. Participants Kodai, Learning to Fly (Bangalore), Disc-o-Deewane (Bangalore), Stray Dogs in Sweaters (Delhi), Chennai. Joint Winners Kodai & Learning to Fly

June 2008 - More expat players Manix and Govind Manian

July 4th-5th, 2008 - Chennai tours Bangalore! Camp Shrishti tournament. Bangalore combined beats Chennai in a nailbiter 16-14 in a gruelling 1.5 hour game! Manix played on Chennai team

Aug 15th, 2008 - 2nd Independence Day Boot Camp. CUF appears first time on TV.

October 2008 - Blitz team starts playing under the leadership of Janani

Nov 18th, 2008 - CUF is featured for the first time on radio Chennai Live 104.8fm in the Chennai Connect show.

Nov 27th-28th, 2008 - Chennai International Beach Ultimate Tournament. Participants: Serendiscity (Sri Lanka), Stray Dogs in Sweaters (Delhi), Learning to Fly (Bangalore), Disc-o-Deewane (Bangalore), Storm Chasers (Mumbai), LiveWires (Chennai), Cultimate (Chennai). Winners: Learning to Fly

Dec 20, 2008 - Asia notices Indian Ultimate Frisbee scene. Asian Ultimate TV features Chennai Ultimate Frisbee and rest of action in India

Jan 2009 - Siva turns up to try out Ultimate. Brings Vishnu, Vijay and Pramod. Thus starts Stall 7 team

Feb 2009 - Raj shows up first time to play for LiveWires against Blitz in a trial game in prep for Kodai FlyBaba 2008

March 28th-29th 2009 - Kodai FlyBaba 2008 tournament. Participants: Kodai Cheddarcheese, Kodai Mozzarella, Learning to Fly, Disc-o-Deewane, Storm Chasers, LiveWires, Chakraa. Winners: Learning to Fly

May 2nd-3rd 2009 - Chennai Stall 7 and Chakraa tour Pondicherry. Beach games at Auroville. Winner Chakraa

June 27th-28th, 2009 - Agni Nakshatra newbie tournament

July 4th-5th, 2009 - Agni Nakshatra hat tournament

Okay.. got impatient towards the end. But I had fun remembering the past! :-)

Baby steps for now! We have about 200 people in Chennai who have tried out Ultimate. 50 people who probably play actively. A little slow, but definitely growing.

Giant leaps coming up in the future!

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Redbus - Raising the bar on user-friendly websites?

My colleague was trying to book tickets on Redbus, when he pointed out this really funny link on the Redbus.in website! Boy did me, him and my boss have a big laugh about this!


The following page showed up when we clicked on the "Boss is watching? Look busy." link!! HAHAHAHAHA!

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ripped out heart? It's still alive!

My alma mater North Carolina State University has done some amazing work. The Mechanical Department (yes.. the same place I used to be a research assistant) has recreated a tiny bit of God's magic, by keeping a heart beating outside the body! Pretty awesome stuff. Take a look at the video below..



More info at
http://www.engadget.com/2009/06/03/nc-state-gurus-keep-hearts-beating-outside-of-the-body/

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Love this Parle ad!

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