NalandaWay

Murals

 

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Nalandaway Foundation has adopted 26 Government Primary schools in Chennai, that had been severely affected during the floods in December. We are rebuilding classrooms, toilets, libraries, art labs, providing learning aids, uniforms, furniture, equipments, etc. But I am very excited to show the beautiful murals that our artists, volunteers and children are painting in these schools.

Aren’t they beautiful? Do let us know if you’d like to volunteer.

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Urur Olcott Margazhi Vizha

Me and a bunch of friends have been involved in organising a dance and music festival that celebrates the diversity and oneness of arts. This year the festival is being conducted on the 27th and 28th of February at the Urur Olcott Kuppam near Besant Nagar beach in Chennai.

This video is a sneak preview.

Now I have a personal request. This festival is possible only because of contributions from individuals like you. Please please, click here (https://www.ketto.org/urur-vizha) or (http://globalgiving.org/microprojects/urur) to make a donation now.

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Support for schools

If you know of any schools (govt and trust run), balwadis, anganwadis, orphanages, tuition centres that have been severely damaged due to the floods, please write to me at sriram-at-nalandaway-dot-org. We may be able to support refurbishment of classrooms, furniture, electrical equipments, learning aids, libraries, computers, labs, art studios and toilets. Please pass the word.

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Help the kids smile


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Aren’t these children’s smiles beautiful? Would you like to help them smile?

At Nalandaway Foundation we have started running small workshops to engage children inside 10 transit shelters across Chennai. We are looking for volunteers who have skills in story telling, teaching, playing games, dance, drama, singing, painting, music.

Sessions are between 10 to 12 and 2 to 4 all days. Please contact Monisha @ 9940350836 or Vidhya @ 9566180985. Kindly pass the word.

Thank you Vedanth Bharadwaj, Manaswini, Jayachandran, Usha (Rhapsody), Shujo (SCARF), Rhoda Alex, Siddharth, Shweta, and Deepika for getting things started.

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Chennai and Sun

An assortment of mamis and mamas from the neighbourhood association are assembled to discuss the flood situation. Suddenly everyone break into wild cheers. “Hey look, the sun has showed up.” You know something extraordinary has taken place when Chennaites start loving the Sun.

#‎Chennai‬Floods

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SPI Cinemas

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I was delightfully surprised on receiving this handwritten thank you note at the restaurant inside Escape Cinemas at EA, Chennai. Some organisations go out of the way to make you feel special. SPI Cinemas you guys rock!

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Purple hibiscus

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It was a rainy evening, a little girl in school uniform, fully wet and drenched, walked into my office. She wanted my help to do a short film on ‘child abuse’. She was pursuing her 12th std at DAV Gopalapuram in Chennai. She would meet me and my colleagues for couple of weeks. She wore only school uniforms when she came to meet us.

Preethie went on to become the Horlicks Wiz kid that year.

She lost her mother in a freakish accident. Her father had deserted them many years earlier.

It was six years ago.

She could not join BITS Pilani after securing admission because her uncle who was now her care-taker refused for whimsical reasons. Using her mother’s savings she joined BE at Shastra University in Tanjore. She was a topper in academics and an excellent dancer but her uncle repeatedly threatened her to throw her out of his house if she continued dancing. He continued being emotionally abusive and unreasonable.

Preethie kept in touch with me through the troubled years. I was her mentor.

One day her uncle in a fit of mindless anger assaulted her. She was shattered. She had reached her breaking point and moved out of his house. She was only nineteen then.

What astonishes me till date is that Preethie has never even once cried or had a breakdown during her conversations with me. She always came across as a playful, optimistic, free-spirited and independent girl. We met regularly. She continued to drop into our office, joined us at office parties, did movie marathons, enjoyed pop corn and pizza. And discussed life sometimes.

“Can I call you dad?” she asked me a few years back.

I said yes.

After graduation she joined the marketing team of the much successful start-up, Freshdesk after turning down offers from TCS, Cognizant and Accenture.

I met her recently and gifted her the book “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new as viewed by a young girl.

“Do you miss your mom? Do you envy your friends whose parents are supportive of their dreams?” I asked her.

“Sometimes, but before I get psyched and pulled into a whirlpool of self-pity, I hit the gym and pump up the volume,” and she laughed out loud.

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Singing in the rain

This morning I saw my neighbor, an elderly gentleman walking under the rain gleefully and humming a song. The rain gradually picked up speed but that didn’t seem to deter him. On a closer look I found a neatly folded umbrella in his hands. I asked him if he was doing okay. He replied, “I am enjoying the rain. I always loved getting wet,” he smiled. And before I left he warned me, “don’t tell mami (his wife), she hates me getting wet,” and laughed like a child.

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Thank you Odyssey

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My ‘gift a book’ project has found an ally. Ashwin T S of Odyssey book shop (http://www.odyssey.in) has agreed to sponsor the books. Yippie! Thank you sir. May your tribe rise. More books coming your way people. Look out for books on vacant tables at your favourite cafes. A book is waiting to be read.

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The Zen of eating

An elderly gentleman sat next to me at a restaurant this morning. He was dressed in a spotless white shirt and could have been in his seventies but his face looked tired. He ordered for an ‘onion rava dosa’ and requested the server that instead of sambhar he be given extra cups of chutney. In a matter of few minutes, the plate was emptied and his face shined like his plate which glistened with a fresh coat of ghee polish. He now ordered for a plate of butter murruku and ‘pineapple kesari.’ The server’s eyebrows arched like an inverted ‘V’ in surprise on hearing his order. The gentleman did not approve of the server’s reaction and looked at me instantly if I shared the server’s surprise, but I maintained a straight face.

It took a while for his next order to arrive. At this time, he gently tapped his fingers on the table while he sung a slow tune in a low voice.

The dessert, ‘pineapple kesari’ looked tempting with small bits of pineapple and came in a small bowl along with a plate of savoury ‘nei murukku.’

The gentleman dug into the dessert straightaway without wasting a second. Both the server and I waited to see his reaction, who had now become oblivious of his surrounding, completely immersed in the ‘kesari’ experience.

After a moment, his eyes lit-up in ecstasy and all the three of us exchanged our smiles sharing his joy.

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