In medias res

NalandaWay on

“What makes us violent? Are we all humane or pretending to be? Why do we need law or God to police ourselves? Does this mean that the absence of these will lead to more violence?”

My journey in understanding fear, hate, violence and the founding of Nalandaway Foundation. Thank Shweta Vitta for the article.


Healing through music and play


The floods in Chennai were like never before and took its toll in various ways. A natural disaster of this kind always can have a very traumatic impact on children which may manifest in later life. It requires timely intervention and healing. The trauma symptoms are often displayed in the form of startle reactions, dreams, crying, anger, palpitations and the like. Slightly older children tend to withdraw, become fearful, want to cling to elders, have sleep disturbances or refuse to go to school , avoid going near water, climbing a bridge etc.

Nalandaway Foundation identified 2780 small children who had suffered anxieties due to flood water entering their homes. We partnered with V Excel Trust to conduct 93 music and play therapy sessions. For children, especially the younger ones, who cannot express their feelings either in words or pictures, a movement story and sensitive touch through activities, can give a sense of security and safety.

This photograph was taken at a school on the outskirts of Chennai. The joy and energy of these kids was so infectious and are so evident. Thank you Vasudha Prakash of V Excel for helping us in this project.


Pay it forward

Sacred Games


Uma leads my projects team at NalandaWay. A bouncy and generally a very happy person. I have known her for over four years now, and someone who has become very important in our work with children. She has a warm personality and it is very hard to catch her without a beaming smile.

On one hot sunny afternoon in Chennai, both of us were getting out of a school in Mylapore. We were slightly relaxed that the review of our programme had gone well with the trustees of the school. We had been anxious about the review for over a week.

“How old are you?” I had always wanted to ask this question to her. She has had long years of corporate experience behind her but always carried a youthful exuberance.

“Never ask a woman her age,” she said and gave her characteristic smile.

More than anything else, what is most noticeable about her is the total absence of cynicism in her attitude to life that usually comes with getting older. Both of us were walking towards my car and I noticed she was dressed rather festively for a school visit.

“So going for a wedding or a concert later?” I was curious.

“Nope,” and in a shy voice continued, “my husband had gone out of the country for the past ten days and I am meeting him for coffee now. Thought I might dress up for him,” and winked at me.

For my turn, I was now smiling ear to ear. Apparently love is real.

Uma is a fan of crime thrillers and I gifted her, “Sacred Games” by Vikram Chandra.

‪#‎PayItForward #‎GiftABook‬ 22/100

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Chennai Children’s Choir


Presenting NalandaWay’s Chennai Children’s Choir.

The journey started eight months ago. A dream to create a world class choir that comprise of children from the poorest homes, children with disabilities and children who have suffered exploitation. Our benchmark was the “Chicago Children’s Choir”.

We reached out to 240 government and ngo run schools in Chennai. Auditioned over 600 children between ages 10 to 17 for over two days and selected 60 of them. They have undergone training every Saturday and Sunday except for the days during the floods.

We wanted these children to reach the stars like no other and become role models for others. Radio Mirchi bought into our dream and supported the project.

Chennai Children’s Choir made their debut on Sunday at the Tatvaloka auditorium. They sang bhajans of Mirabai, poems of Amir Khusro, and jumpy folksy numbers in Telugu and Tamil. None of them knew Hindi or Telugu before. But they were feisty and fabulous.

A person from the audience told me that he got goosebumps listening to them.

I cried.

Six children in the group are visually challenged, two have spectrum disorder, but every one of them has a song they want you to hear.

They are performing again at the Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha, Besant Nagar beach, 6 pm on the 28th of Feb, Sunday.

Be there. Bring your friends. They are counting on your support.

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Reading room


At the Nalandaway Foundation office we have a new reading room. So if you want a quiet place to read, please feel free to drop in. The place is open on all weekdays between 10 and 6. But bring your own coffee 🙂

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Help the kids smile


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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Bliss catchers

A month back I spoke at the Bliss Catchers event in the beautiful Odyssey Book Store. Folks who attended the event told me that I spoke well. And after seeing the video I am inclined to concur with them. LOL. The video is little over an hour but do watch and I would love your feedback.

Also you will listen to the wonderful Nikhil Joseph and Madhuvanthi Senthilkumar of Post Box. Thank you Avis Viswanathan Vaani Anand and Ashwin T S for inviting me.