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I Just Want To Be Me

21 November is Aru’s birthday. She would have been 27 today.

I want to share one of her poems today. She wrote this on 28 Jul 2006 at the “SEEK 2006” Creative Writing Contest. 2 songs were played, she had to choose one, take the theme from it and write the poem.

I Just Want To Be Me

Every person is born with a dream
But realize it, few can
For everyone gives up his dream
And takes on that of another man.

You mould your life, your work, your dream
You mould it to fit another man
You do not give yourself a chance
To stretch your wings, to show you can.

Why are you hiding yourself behind a mask?
A mask just like the others are wearing?
Why are you leaping around like a puppet
To a tune to which others are dancing?

Why can’t you see, hear, feel
Why can’t you experience things the way you want to?
Why must you always go with the world,
Flow with the tide when not wanting to?

I can’t do that, I can’t kill myself
Slowly, hour by hour, day by day
Caged in a prison I have created
Trying to keep those dreams, now monsters, at bay.

Because I don’t want to be what others make me
I don’t want to be anything other than what I want to be
I don’t want to be anything other than what I’m trying to be lately
I just want to be me.

[2nd and 3rd line from the last stanza were taken from the song]

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Safety Quest 2017

18 Nov 2017, Safety Quest 2017

We organized the first –ever Safety Quest on the eve of World Day of Remembrance 2017, to honour the victims and survivors of road accidents.

Yesterday’s event was the culmination of several months of groundwork. We had reached out to as many schools as we could, and also to our friends and colleagues. We were a little jittery about the turnout since the initial response was lukewarm. However, in the past 2 weeks, we saw the momentum pick up nicely. At the final count, we had 54 teams participating from 25 schools. Three teams from the Sri Manjunatha Vidya Samsthe came all the way from Malur. They took 3 hours to get to the venue!

We had over 170 people in the audience! We are truly amazed and humbled by the response.

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Shubhangi kicked off the proceedings with the Welcome note. It is always difficult to share why we started The Arundhati Foundation. But we do want to give a face to the name, and let everyone know that the issue of safety is so real. Shubhangi also introduced our Guests of Honour – Mr. Venkitachalam ( Venki ) the ex-VP of Public Safety Mission at UL India, and Mr. Uday Vijayan who started Beyond Carlton in the memory of his son Akhil, a victim of the fire at Carlton Towers in 2010. They have been our mentors, our guides, and their presence at the function was a morale booster for us.

The preliminary round had 20 interesting questions – ranging from the local Bangalore Metro guides for the visually impaired and Badal Nanjudaswamy’s work to draw attention to potholes to the difficulty faced by Volvo in implementing software to recognize animals ( which is failing in Australia because of it is hard to track the sudden movements of Kangaroos ), to the challenges of transporting pistachios ( they can self combust ! ), to the no-selfie zones imposed by Mumbai police, and so on. The questions were in both English and Kannada so that we could reach a wider audience.

While we waited for the decision on the finalists, Venki engaged the students. “There is a science behind safety” he said as he got the students to think of the triangle of fire, and why acids are stored in bottles. “Safety is for life” he said. While the students favourite equations ( Einstein’s equation, Coloumb’s law, etc ) are important and interesting, not many would use these through their life. But the principles of safety, and safe behavior is required all the time. He also urged the students to teach others, and to take their share of responsibility in ensuring safety.

Six teams qualified for the finals. One team from NPS Koramangala with  Abhiram Nitin and Ashray missed the qualification by a whisker. The Quiz masters decided to grant them a consolation prize.

The finals were played over 5 rounds. Again a bunch of interesting questions related to : Madam Curie’s notebook, the life-saving drones developed in Iran, the giant fire extinguisher developed in Hungary, the development of the oxygen mask, the impactful ad by Volkswagen to draw attention perils of texting when driving, the proposed national emergency phone number for India.

Quiz master Raghav kept everyone engaged by including several audience-questions.

The top 3 prize winners got Amazon kindles and cash prizes. The 4th, 5th and 6th place winners got Gift Coupons.

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We are extremely thankful to all the parents and teachers who encouraged the students. Without their support, this would not have been possible. And thanks to the students themselves – their enthusiasm and engagement was outstanding. They are the real reason why we feel this event was a success.

Thanks to UL India and Beyond Carlton for giving us the support that allowed us to stage the event on this scale. A heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers who worked shoulder to shoulder to make it a success. And a loud shout out to the team at Walnut Knowledge Solutions for the quality of their content, and for making it such an engaging session.

We chose the name “Safety Quest”. It symbolizes a search for safety, in pursuit of safety, a journey towards safety. We hope that we have been able to instill some values of safety in the students, to implant a seed. Going forward, everyday experiences will either weaken or strengthen these values. Our hope is that the values remain intact. Indeed, we urge the audience to demonstrate leadership in this regard. Whether at school, or at work, or at home, or in public places, you can continue to demonstrate a positive attitude towards safety. You can continue to demonstrate safe behavior.

Stay Safe!

Here are a few more pics :

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Dr. Aswathy Ashok Menon – Winner of The Dr. Arundhati Tambwekar Award for Excellence in Pathology, 2017

6 November 2017

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This year’s award goes to Dr. Aswathy Ashok Menon, MD Dept of Pathology at CMC Vellore.

Dr. Aswathy has had a stellar record all through her career as a doctor. She did her MBBS from Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, in 2013. During the course of her undergraduate degree, she won Gold medals in Pathology, Pharmacology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and also the Amrita Kiran award for all round excellence in MBBS course.

While doing her MD and residency at CMC Vellore, Dr. Aswathy also won the first prize for paper presentation at Annual Research Day 2016 at CMC, Vellore.

Congratulations, Dr. Aswathy! The Pursuit of Excellence never ceases. Continue to strive for excellence, keep your values and passion intact. We wish you the very best !

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On Air with Red FM

This is a belated blog post. In September, we responded to the Red FM Pothole Challenge. Here is a brief note from the producer Moushmi Manek.

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Thank you very much for taking the time out and agreeing to be a part of our morning show on Red FM and of course for coming forwards and supporting The Red FM Pothole Challenge! We are very thankful to you for having come on-air with us!

Here is the link that we played on-air. Please do share it with your friends and family and encourage them to be a part of the campaign as well.

Sanjay’s Talk

Shubhangi’s Interview with Disha Oberoi

I must say, you have really rattled and inspired many a Bengalureans to come forward and take road safety seriously. We had messaged pouring in after we aired your link, all showing solidarity with you.

Once again, thank you very much, and we will keep going with our efforts to make sure we can do as much road safety awareness as possible.

Regards,
Moushmi Manek

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Road Safety at MLA Academy of Higher Learning

Oct 14, 2017

The MLA Academy of Higher Learning was started in Aug 2006, an offshoot of the  90-year old Malleswaram Ladies Association. It offers courses in B.COM, M.COM and BBM. Ms Santoshi Ramu, Professor and Coordinator, got in touch with us after the voice clips were aired on Red FM during the campaign against potholes last month. The Academy was keen to do a session on Road Safety as a part of Institutional Social Responsibility Initiative.

Our session was scheduled for 12:30 PM – after the classes on Saturday. We had a sizable attendance with over 150 students. The children were probably eager to get home! So when Ms Santoshi began the session saying “please be attentive for the next 1 hour and 30 min”, there were groans from the audience!

Shubhangi assured them, that we would make it worth their while, and not keep them for 90 min.

And indeed, once the session started, there was a good engagement from the audience.  Shubhangi’s appeal touched them in many ways. And in the end, they came forward to share.
* A student shared about her uncle’s accident.
* Another girl felt overwhelmed with the emotion talking about her mother urging her to take care on the road
* The staff remembered 2 promising students, and how the promise was snuffed out due to road accidents. In a way, our road safety session was a tribute to those departed souls, and a call to action and defensive driving to the students.
* And a girl came forward to say that she felt the time was most well spent!

As usual, we ended with the pledge. We always emphasize that the pledge to drive safely is a promise to oneself. It was heartening to see the students come forward to sign the pledge.

Thank you Ms Santoshi for the opportunity to spread the word on Road Safety, and to all the students and staff for their participation.

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Road Safety Session at Netsurion

Sep 1, 2017

My old colleague Soumitra Sen (Soms) reached out to me last month.  He is now the General Manager at Netsurion.  A young engineer at his office had met with an accident riding a 2 wheeler, and Soms asked me to sensitize his team about road safety.

We planned the session at 6 in the evening to get good participation during the end of one shift and start of another.
Our presentation is now updated with the statistics from 2015, including the age and gender distribution.

It was heartening to see about 70 employees joining the session. The concept of Defensive Driving will now be well understood by the attendees! I liked the engagement during the discussion after the talk. The topics included “How to define overspeeding?”, “Bad time management is the cause”, “Potholes and bad roads”.

As Soms observed “We spend a lot of time of our life on the roads! It is imperative that we pay attention to safety on the roads”.

Thanks to Soms and Geetha for organizing the event, and their whole-hearted support to The Arundhati Foundation.

A few pics from the event :

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Arundhati – The Morning Star

In February, this year,  we brought out a book. This is a selection of Aru’s thoughts and ideas reflected in her stories, poems, scripts, and sketches. It has a few tributes from the people she touched. A tiny part that we share, and, in doing so, hope to keep her memory alive and give you a glimpse into our morning star. The picture above is the cover page designed by Ms. Manjiri Sabnis.
Do read an article in SiyaWoman about Aru and her foundation.
Aru’s writings will soon be published every Friday on this site.   A big thank you to Lakshmi Ananthamurthy and Namita of SiyaWoman for your encouragement.
Update :  Selected writings from Aru’s book can be seen here on SiyaWoman
Please spread the word. Share this article and help us spread the message on Road Safety.
Thank you for your support and kindness.
 
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Road Safety @ Mushtifund Aryaan Higher Secondary School

July 18, 2017

Mr Vyankatesh Prabhudesai, an alumnus of IIT Mumbai and IISc, has been the driving force behind the Aryaan Study Circle in Goa. With the vision of directing the students potential to the optimum, the Aryaan Study Circle and The Mushtifund Saunstha joined hands and floated a new unique and unaided higher secondary school named The Mushtifund Aryaan Higher Secondary School, Panaji to provide a better ambiance to the students of Goa.  The school has shown an impressive track record over the past several years.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to address about 100 students of Std XI aspiring to the best institutes in the country.

The first part of the talk was motivational :  thriving on the challenge, continuously raising the bar for oneself, self-confidence and self-discipline, and enjoying the journey.

We then segued to Road Safety. Shubhangi linked the two talks by urging the students to ensure that their hard work is not upset by lack of caution on the road. We trimmed our talk to address 5 key points :
* Protect yourself First : Wear a helmet / seatbelt
* Slow Down : A normal speed with get you where you want
* None for the Road : Drinking and Driving do not mix
* Say No to Distracted Driving : Hands Free is not Risk Free
* Mind the Gap : Keep the distance and be aware of blind spots

To tune the talk to the, we discussed with the help of Physics and Biology ( difficulties from skull and head injuries, effect of speed on stopping distance, field of vision and blind spots, effect of alcohol on our body, distance traveled when distracted for a couple of seconds). We also tried to inspire the would-be engineers with some examples of innovations in road safety ( the seat belt, intelligent braking )

The children were very receptive, and their response was very heartening to us. The boy who stood up to give the vote of thanks, tore off his prepared speech and spoke spontaneously, urging his classmates to take road safety seriously.  The faculty also joined in signing the pledge.

As always, our fervent hope is that our effort influences at least 1 person to take a positive step towards safety of self and others on the road.

We thank Mr. Vyankatesh Prabhudessai for giving us this opportunity to address the students at Mushtifund Aryaan, and we hope to make this a lasting partnership.

Here are some pictures from the event.

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