May 10, 2013

Mahesh Kumar Mourya - A teacher we will miss

My first assignment with Azim Premji Foundation as soon as i joined was to understand the education system in India. Having given this piece of information, did a lot of research about various schools and confidently sat in front of my boss who gave a smile the moment I put across my views. Yes, in all my supreme confidence was all set to dazzle her with all the facts about schooling systems - private schooling system. Well, the next couple of days I spent reading everything and anything that's available about our government education system. This was just a pre read for the Schools that were being planned across the nation. 

In this whole process, we met hundreds of interesting teachers who broadly fell into the 4 categories mentioned in my quote. I was humbled beyond my usual self to meet some stalwarts in the Indian Education system who have done some remarkable changes in their own unique ways and am going to be writing about a few of them in my posts every now and then. But this post is dedicated to Mr. Mahesh Kumar Mourya who was one of those difficult to find teacher. 

I had initially spoken to him as a part of the pre screening process for our test and he was one person in Jaipur who was constantly in touch with our team through out the entire process. When we met him in person after a series of tests and demo classes, we knew he was there to stay with us and those were similar sentiments that he had too. I personally had spoken to him in length about the way our schools are being planned, expansion, his travel, learning, knowledge sharing and he was as excited as we were to be a part of the pilot team for the Azim Premji Schools. Every now and then when the core team came back with feedback, there was always this thought that despite the fact that he had less experience when compared to a few others in Rajasthan schools he nevertheless was promising. All was well.

The last conversation I had with him was sometime in Feb this year when we had spoken about a resume he had sent me and was chatting for quite sometime about his work, travel everyday of 100kms, his son who had just completed one year. On a hot April afternoon , we received a call from the Tonk team saying that Mahesh ji had met with an accident and was no more. Stunned, all a colleague and I could do was to just sit shell shocked - guilt on each other's eyes. So many ifs , buts, could haves and would haves just flashed past the both of us. While I was the one person who had convinced him about joining Tonk which is about 100km from Jaipur, she had spoken a lot to him about the hardships he undergoes on the travel everyday. 

There has not been a single day that's gone past without me wondering what if I had not called him, he would have still been alive and would have seen his son grow somewhere. I still couldn't get myself to call his folks at home and speak. Hoping that sometime soon I get the guts to pick up the phone and speak to his family. For once am praying that and forcing myself to believe that time indeed heals even the hardest and toughest wounds. We at the foundation have lost a good teacher who was on his way to become a greatest one in a flash and have left a vacuum..

April 25, 2013

Peeking out of hiatus

Been a while since i even thought of writing anything let alone actually penned it..I hope I don't end up having a complete block when I write in future,not that I write a lot but the little that I do, I never want to stop.

Some say "there's no rest for the wicked" and now I know it for sure. Been experiencing this firsthand from the time I joined Azim Premji Foundation. So it's been a mad quarter (not that half is good), running behind numbers, goals, targets, deadlines - everything just whooshed past my head like it always do. Bore the brunt of it later with my boss - well let's say it was another thing though. So on yet another lazy Sunday afternoon (inner voice is just screaming bloody murder that every noon is this way) I kinda thought I'll list all that I have done from 2012 till now and boy-o-boy it suddenly dawned on me that am indeed another proud traveler who significantly have and will always contribute to Indigo Airlines & Indian Railways not to forget our own KPN Travels :D through the Foundation. 
Looking at the calendar that each of one of us individually created at work (sondha selavula soonyam), I realized that am going to be on the move for a while (read forever) and continue my Bharat darshan. Hoping to visit new places even if it's for a day and enjoy the work I do till it lasts. Behind all this is an ulterior motive - this way I get to spend sometime with my beloved during any transit through Hyd..
Only thing I want to do this time around is blog whenever I can, after a classroom observation or a school observation visits or even after interviews. My next post is going to be about some humble souls I have met and how they have battled it out in rough, harsh terrains to ensure that learning never stops - for themselves and to their students as well :)

January 28, 2013

What Chennai Means To Me

Thanks Vj Eshwar who gave us another wonderful writeup on "What Chennai means to him". You can read more of his works on

"Change is the only constant thing" and Chennai lives up to these wise words.

I hated Chennai when I first landed here from Kumbakonam. Coming from a quaint little town one can understand my inhibitions with the city and it's culture. But after living here 
for close to 2 decades am in absolute love with the city, with all it's flaws. Can never understand when people crib saying this city is harsh, hot,humid,dirty and corrupt - my counter question has always been " is your city not the same?"..And ofcourse like I always say - one can get down late in the night at Koyambedu or Central, can take a public transport and still reach home safely.

From Madraspatinam to Madras to Chennai - the journey so far has by and large been great and we Chennaites have adapted to some of the changes. Yes something is amiss when 
I pass through where Saffire theatre & Woodlands drive in used to be.. Chennai to me means - the city that has made me what am today. I don't know if i can cover everything that's possible but to some extent I think these are the standouts for me definitely

1. Kollywood aka Kodambakkam,  - How can one forget that this is the land that brought out a huge difference in the world of cinema -Sivaji, MGR, Kamalhaasan, thalaivar, A.R Rahman, Maniratnam & Isai Gnani,Aachi, nagesh & MKB to name a few. Our movies speak for itself - diwali, pongal pudhu pada release iladha celebration ila :) From black & white to colour to the latest era in film industry we have seen it all.. thara ticket vaangi whistle adicha paartha padangal evlovo :D. We surely can boast about AVM Studio & Gemini film circuit that still stands tall and proud in Vadapalani. Am sure 90% of us would have started watching in local theatres, slowly moved to devi, Mayajaal sathyam complex and now completely moved on to IMax and PVR. 

2. Kalakshetra & other Sabhas - I have never in my life seen anything as inspiring like Kalakshetra - always in awe with the place on how they balance different cultures &traditions with evolving ones. As for sabhas like Narada Gana Sabha, Music Academy and the likes - mid dec to pongal is the best time for one to catch their favourite carnatic artist croon or see their favourite classical dancers perform across the city. Marghazi 
masam kalai kattum engoorla :)

3. Marina, Presidency College & the neighbourhood  - Well being a chennaite one can never be without mentioning Marina - world's second longest beach with it's new beautified look. Anyday anytime you can find people and am always surprised by the fact that there are people who still visit just the MGR & Anna Samadhi :) Presidency with it's famous gaanas (oru pakkam vanga kadal indha pakkam gaana kadal) and kadalai in marina..ahaa adha madhri oru sugam edhuvum kedayadhu..

4. Mylapore to Triplicane - Triplicane Ratna Cafe has been my usual haunt after cricket matches that used to be played in Marina or after a visit to Kapaleeshwar / Parthasarathy temple or after a tired shopping at Rasi Silks. Love their sambhar idli and vada, to this date I pay a visit to their velachery branch whenever am in Chennai. Mylai Karpagambal mess is another fav place we used to drop by and Eashwari lending library ki jai ho, have read tons and tons of thrillers to that point I exhausted their list and after a while actually moved to their Adyar branch.

5. Shopping area - It's a shoppers' paradise and we mean it literally.. Ranganathan Street, Pondy Bazaar, Purasaiwalkam,Sowcarpet,Spencer Plaza, Prince Plaza and Pantheon road to name a few places that will suit anybody's budget and pockets. Right from my college days pondy bazar has been a favourite place to shop and I still follow the tradition. Ofcourse on the flip side we have City Centre in Mylapore, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, NH Road with it's Shilpi, Cathedral Road with Kalpasree & the new found love EA to name a few for the high-end shoppers

6. All the pettais - From Chrompet - Saidapet to teynampet to sowcarpet to kannamapet it's always been "pettai rap" :)

Ripon Building, Spencer Plaza, Central Station, Burma Bazaar, Jam Bazaar, Anna arch,Saffire theatre & Woodlands Drive ( that are no longer there),MCC, Loyola, Ethiraj, Stella, IIT M, IT Corridor, ECR, OMR, local EMU, MTC and ofcourse the upcoming Chennai Metro Rail Project are a few things that the city is proud of. From tea stall to qwiky's to cafe ashvita - the city has moved on slowly at it's own pace and has caught up with latest trends. Having said this I also would like to mention that like every developing city we face issues like irregular electricity, water supply, from potholes to no roads, flooding, autowallahs who rip you, corrupt politicians and ofcourse the main deterrent for many - our weather.. but these are minor irritants and a small price to pay. I would any day prefer the hot hotter hottest weather of Chennai to cold, colder coldest of Bangalore or Delhi. This city like many have mentioned has a tendency to accept anyone who come here to make a living or to settle down. No wonder I love these lines from the song in Marina "Vanakkam Vazha vaikum Chennai pidikudhunnai unakku eedu iliye" which roughly translates to there's no match to Chennai. Which is the same sentiment I'll always share no matter where I live. Home is where heart is and for me it is in SINGARA CHENNAI :) 

I know this is yet another lengthy blogpost when compared to some crisp ones here but I just can't stop talking about Chennai :)

Over to Melani Rayen who loves music, books, clothes, shoes and who has just entered marital bliss. Melani writes at 

January 17, 2013

13 things I plan to AVOID in 2013

13 things that I plan to avoid in 2013 is part of the CBC contest. Chennai Bloggers Club is a group where a group of like minded bloggers meet and bring out the voice of Chennai from across the map of India :)

1.Being a shopaholic - How many is too many :) Planning to cut down on the shopping disorder I suffer with as it's turning to be compulsive, impulsive,suppressive,oppressive & depressive :(

2.Being a feedback Fathima - Suffer with a bad case of "Open mouth insert foot" which at times (read 90%) go overboard and I face the dire consequences of apologizing later after the damage is done

3.Stop singing - Save my husband, I know for a fact that everyone suffers in my block because of this trait..Edho long long ago so long ago donkey years back learnt music 
adhukaaga ipovum chinna kuyil Chitra rangeku I keep doing karaoke much to the chagrin of others. Have to avoid this at any cost before it reaches the ears of my association's president,treasurer, their thatha, paati and god knows who :)

4.Stop eating healthy - Yeah, you saw it right, am going to avoid eating healthy..Not that I eat a lot of healthy food but to gain lotsa much needed fat am going to quit being finicky 
about junk and become a junkie totally :D (evil grin)

5.Being an insomniac - This is just for the sole benefit of all the kaathu karuppu that roam around in my area..Offlate, I think there's a complaint that's been filed against my name to the chief of their gang..Gotto cut that cuppa filter coffee in the night and start taking stronger medicines (wink wink) before I hit the bed here on..Ofcourse I can understand all my nocturnal friends feeling bad that there's someone to give them competition..No more giving them complex

6.Biting more than I can chew - Simple words - Evlo mudiyumo am going to take only that much and leave the rest to others - in desserts and alcohol yaar..Too much of anything is good for nothing and some days I suffer badly coz I go tad overboard..Kid in the candy shop is what I turn at the dessert table ;) (well if someone thought I was thinking about work..sorry rude shock to you)

7.Workaholic - Oh well where do I start on this - Take a task and finish it before others, so that I can concentrate on other important things like browsing, online shopping, blogging etc..Naatula evlo mukkiyamana velai irukku adha vitutu why die on my job. Anyway appraisal system is screwed and I know what to expect, so less tensun less work :D

8.Wait until the last moment - Epdiyum vaanga pordhu thuppu most of the time (read 90% again) so why wait till the last moment rather than breaking the pot right then and there 
wherever whenever it needs to be broken. No amount of cajoling is going to do damage control at the last moment. So no more waiting - need leave 3 months later for a trip apply like NOW and coolly pack off without feeling guilty and atleast a lot drier than with all the thuppings

9.Flaring temper - I don't need anything in RED to take my temper on a high. Just a ishmmaaal trigger is enough,which actually is bad not for me but for everyone else around. My BP manages to stay intact but sadly my manager's doesn't ;) Will be a cool cat and meow softly and learn to get things done rather than gorrrr and fall flat :P

10.Taking risks - No more of taking unwarranted, unwanted risks.Risk edukaardhellam rusk saapadra madhri or am still young and youth nu no more telling..Nammalayum nambi oru 
jeevan iruku so might as well play it safe (with Bisleri) :D

11.Stop swearing in Tamizh - Aargh the bane of my parents were totally shocked to hear the non stop flow of Chennai Tamizh and its quintessential swear words 
within a short period of me migrating to Chennai..They were able to sagichify me converting from a samathu Agrahara kozhandai to aminjikarai aatha but I shock a lot of maamis and maamas even today when I open my mouth. Trying to stop swearing in Tamizh and move to decent level of swearing in English with asterix sign. Strict avoid in the list (believe me..swearing in English is not all that natural :( )

12.Fight the body - In other words I will try and stop being a superwoman (all in all azhagu rani). No rest makes my body grumpy and when my body is not proper condition, tinkering 
takes a long time and that leads to a total butterfly effect. No,am not saying that someone in Uzhavar Sandhai of America will bear the consequences of my gym body failing but ulloor la periya kalavarame varardhu. Idhellam thevaya ennaku - so beshhht is when my body needs rest am gonna lay low. Can fight inner demons only when the external one is hale and healthy - don't you agree :D

13. No more resolutions -Bloody avoid this at any cost. Resolutions, promises and deadlines are always meant to be broken. To me, next time if I feel like indulging myself with a dessert or kwaater I will do that without any inhibitions or guilt feeling of ayyo am breaking my resolution (not that I ever take a resolution on alcohol). How did I reach to this conclusion - simple..I made a new year resolution that I won't shop more, spend more and I'll save more and look where am within 2 weeks of the new year.

Ending this with famous lines from a not so famous movie - "idhu nirandharam alla..maarividum mananilai dhan" ;)

PS: Translation for those who can't get the Tangilsh in the post - (trying my bit )

adhukaaga ipovum - for that even now 
chinna kuyil - small Cuckoo bird
thatha paati - grandparents
kaathu karuppu - ghosts and other supernatural elements
Evlo mudiyumo - How much ever 
Epdiyum vaanga pordhu thuppu - Anyway will get spat at
Naatula evlo mukkiyamana velai irukku adha vitutu - how can i leave all important work in the country ;)
Risk edukaardhellam rusk saapadra madhri - risk taking = rusk eating (that easy ya)
Nammalayum nambi oru jeevan iruku - One soul actually believes in me
sagichify - bear with me
samathu Agrahara kozhandai - Sweet village belle / child
aminjikarai aatha - Aminjikarai goddess
azhagu rani - beauty kween
ulloor la periya kalavarame varardhu - inside city big disturbance coming
Idhellam thevaya ennaku - I want this ah??
"idhu nirandharam alla..maarividum mananilai dhan" - This is not permanent, my mind will change

Irony of the contest - It's being sponsored by which provides us the latest and most lucrative deals on leading brands like Myntra, Flipkart, Jabong, Expedia - mindblowing discounts to suit every need be it online shopping or travel or holiday or food :) Need i say more as to why am taking part in this ;)

January 09, 2013

Design a badge - CBC

It's amazing as to what a small group of bloggers can do to your soul :) You want to give out the best you can and no matter how amateurish it may look you still can be happy with the effort. This is my contribution to the Chennai Bloggers Club "Design a badge" contest. It's a group of like minded bloggers who are in someways connected to Chennai. Contest is sponsored by  which provides an array of discounts from leading brands. 

December 30, 2012

Perils of Ghostwriting

*Ghostwriting - A ghostwriter is a writer who writes books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person

I wouldn't call myself a world class blogger. I write on what I can and leave the rest. So for me it's shocking when people boast that they have been in the blogging / writing circuit for years yet fail to write a decent write-up let alone a blog. At the same time giving others a benefit of doubt I do work rather tinker a few articles every now and then just to give it a finishing touch!!  Over the last year I have been a ghost writer and now I realize how stupid I have been. Well to, start with I was just editing a few docs here and a few there. Gradually as days went by I started writing the complete article on any given subject with just a gist. And accidentally stumbled upon the fact that people conveniently forget to mention that. And that is exactly why i got back to writing again much to the chagrin of a few :) It's the sheer audacity of such people that made me even write about this topic. 

To me writing comes with a passion for words - you don't have to be a Shakespeare or a Shaw to write. All you have to do is to just think and then pen down your thoughts. And writing medium need not necessarily be in English, it can be your native tongue too. I have read some wonderful articles written in Hindi & Tamil and have been amazed by the clarity of thoughts that has gone by in each article.I personally feel  writing should be original and not a haphazard job of stealing somebody's ideas, words or pictures. Wonder if I can make it any easier for people to understand..Now that's called a wishful thinking :)

December 23, 2012

Back from hibernation :)

There used to be a time when this page of mine used to be a sounding board for all that used to happen in my life. And then much to my surprise I stopped blogging about 4 years ago. Not because of any great job, new place, lot of changes and I simply forgot that I even used to write before. Then came one more surprise - got married after a whirlwind romance. With all these changes also came new set of priorities in life. Not that it gives a solid reason for me not to write, I simply lost interest is all I can say :) 

Back again in this space, feels like riding a bicycle after a long time and am sure I'll get a grip back again in a while. Atleast I won't have to be a ghostwriter anymore ;)