How can Alumni help their Schools/Colleges?

I am involved with the alumni association of our school and we are exploring how to meaningfully connect/help our institution so that students/teachers can benefit from the alumni network, and alumni can help each other.

Among various points discussed, here are some activities which I thought would be useful. Please add your suggestions in the comment box below.

  • Career counseling & Guidance on selecting college courses could be done for students to guide them on the existing scenario in colleges/job market, entrepreneurship.
  • Sports, Teachers day/Children’s day Competitions could be conducted for students & alumni.
  • Sapling plantation, Donations to orphanages, Cleaning of beaches and other such activities could be organized to inculcate social consciousness.
  • Culturals, hobby-related competitions could be organized for students on a regular basis.
  • A fund could be created and maintained for the benefit of students & teachers in case of emergencies.
  • Helping needy students to get educational loans at affordable interest rates to pursue higher education.
  • Creation of interest groups like photography, movie making, wildlife, trekking, astronomy, etc. could be organized involving students & alumni so that both can benefit from the activities and learnings.
  • A few events involving the general public (like exhibitions & carnivals) could be organized so that people around the area can see and interact with the school.
  • A book exchange/book rental library could be created with both academic and general books donated by the alumni to benefit students.
  • Discussions & speeches by alumni from various fields & colleges (from both India & abroad) to enable students to get different perspectives.
  • Organizing educational trips/internships for students in companies where alumni maybe working or know someone.
  • Organizing short-term student/faculty exchange programs.
  • Collecting information and guiding students about national/international events, competitions, and other opportunities.
  • Connecting students interested in certain fields with experienced professionals (from the alumni network) in that field.
  • Having active social media outlets like facebook pages, blogs, etc. where student-alumni activities, student & alumni accomplishments can be highlighted.
  • Organizing debates, talks, talent exams to improve the aptitude & soft-skills of students.
  • Organizing mock-parliamentĀ sessions where students could be given the opportunities to speak about issues, areas of improvements not only in the school & their area, but also in the society at large.

Destination Infinity

 

Board Exams for Class 11 in Tamil Nadu – A Good Idea?

The very premise that students will study and teachers will teach only if there is a board exam is RIDICULOUS.

Forget the question of whether we need the newly introduced XIth Std board exams inTN. Do we actually need such teachers and students?

Here are some good points for and against this decision.

If you ask me, we don’t even need an education system which drives students towards mugging up/memorizing the course content, vomit it verbatim, and clear their exam papers in “flying colours”.

Until we work on an understanding-based/practical-oriented curriculum right from Class I and stop the scramble to obtain “lucrative” engineering/medical college seats that promise riches irrespective of the students’ aptitudes and interests, it won’t matter even if there are board exams for all twelve years starting from Class I.

Until then, we will keep producing useless engineers who don’t have a clue about engineering (me included) and doctors whose only focus will be to maximize their Return on Investment.

We reap what we sow. Karma.

Destination Infinity

PS: This is my 1000th post on this blog šŸ™‚Ā 

1000 Blog Posts on destinationinfinity.org

Are School Uniforms Necessary? NO.

While our schools get away with strict policies on student’s dress codes/clothing with almost no one questioning them, I feel that we can do away with school uniforms. In this article, I have written why I feel school uniforms are unnecessary.

Let’s look at reasons why people seem to want school uniforms.

  • School uniform encourages equality and prevents discrimination.Ā 

This is plain wishful thinking. Let’s admit that there is inequality at every step of our lives and we can’t do much about it. If not with uniforms, there are thousand other reasons to discriminate and people often amuse themselves by discriminating.Ā When the student goes out the of the school. Wait, even when the student is wearing aĀ uniform and is very much within the school, he/she is going to experience discrimination at multiple levels.

So why hide behind the veil of uniforms and try to conceal the fact that we are a discriminating species? The only thing uniforms seem to be promoting, in my point of view, is hypocrisy.

  • Uniforms teach students to dress smartly and formally after they join corporate companies

They can also learn how to dress smartly and formally after they join work. There is no need to be trained 12 long years for that.

  • Uniforms enable one to take pride in being a part of the organization

If a uniform is required for this, and not other important factors like quality of education, etc. then I wonder why schools even exist.

  • Uniforms discourage discrimination, social conflict, bullying & crimes

Why not ask all the prisoners to wear uniforms and roam freely on the streets? Uniforms prevent crimes, right?

  • Uniform makes students take studies more seriously and study without distractionĀ 

If uniforms are going to make students study better, I wonder what are teachers for and what those millions of tuition and coaching centers are for!

  • School officials can recognize their students fasterĀ 

Even an emblem on one’s shoulder or a badge/ID card in one’s pocket will do the job. I wonder if schools want to brand/advertise their schools through uniforms?

  • School uniforms support unity in diversity

One of the easiest things for the society to do is to rest happy that at least in schools we have ‘succeeded’ in eliminating all forms of discrimination and hence have achieved unity in diversity, all because of a uniform!

Think about this – parents not only have to buy multiple sets of uniforms (white on Mondays/PT periods, colored – on other days, etc.) every year, they also need to wash and maintain them. And uniforms are expensive. Some schools even create an additional revenue stream by selling or recommending the ‘only preferred seller’ for their uniforms.

Freedom of expression is thawed. Yes, we are free to express ourselves in any way we want and our freedom of expression, including clothing, is guaranteed in the constitutions of most countries. But not in our schools!

It doesn’t allow a person of a particular sect/tribe/religion to wear/not wear what they might want – wearing a head scarf, not wearing shoes/tie – for example. If I don’t prefer wearing shoes and I am comfortable wearing chappals, why not allow me to? Why compel people to wear shoes, coat and tie in a country where temperatures easily cross 40 Deg. C? Isn’t this sadism?

Destination Infinity

Our Houseboat Trip @ Kerala


Once we were done with our chilly tree house trip on the hills of Munnar, we traveled to KumarakoamĀ for our houseboat trip. Ā Although we saw a few videos on houseboats of Kerala prior to this trip, we were not sure what to expect.

Personally, I loved this experience better than the tree house one because of the warmer temperature and the relaxed/lazy ambiance. All I had to do was sit down and relax. Of course, we also watched one movie šŸ™‚

Actually, we went to this trip before about 10 months. If I remember it right, we were sailing on a river that flowed through Kumarakoam.Ā From there we sailed to Aleppy, halted the houseboat on the shore there, spent the night inside the boat, and then returned to KumarakoamĀ on the morning, next day.

The houseboat is almost a mini lodge – Ours had a living room with TV, sofa, recliner chairs;Ā bedroom with AC, attached bathroom with geyser, kitchen and even a couple of staff members for driving and cooking! We had informed the tourist agent that we wanted veg food and theyĀ served some nice Kerala food for us.

Of course, the river on which the boats ply has scenic views, but watching different types of houseboats on the way was an experience in itself. Since there is not much you can do on the boat or in the immediate vicinity, a one-day trip should be sufficient.

If you were looking for an affordable alternative to hiring a private yacht, you should not miss the houseboat experience. Even if you can hire a private yacht, you should try a houseboat for the unique experience.

We loved it.

Destination Infinity

You can see a few photos from ourĀ trip in the above-embedded Youtube video.

‘Know Your Rights’ Information Session by Arappor @ Chennai

“Know Your Rights” is an information/discussion session organized by ArapporĀ this Sunday – Apr. 30, 2017. This event is free of cost to attend for anyone –Ā prior registration by filling up this online form is required.

Time: 3.30 P.M. to 7 P.M.

Place: Jyoti Indira Thirumana Mandapam, Ramasamy Street, Sri Devi Karumariamman Nagar, Valasarawakkam, Chennai – 87. (Behind Tanishq jewellery shop) (Google Maps link for location)

It seems Arappor organizes such sessions regularly. Refer to their Facebook page to know more about their activities and upcoming events.

In this event, the organizers are expected to share their knowledge on how members of the public can interact with Govt. officials and get things done more effectively without paying bribes, etc., among other topics.

Some sessions that you can expect at this event include,

  • How to use RTI – Right to Information
  • How to obtain driving license, etc. without paying bribes
  • How to take up issues like bad roads, open drainage, etc. with officials and how to get it sorted
  • How to safeguard our natural resources like water bodies
  • What are our rights with Police and how to interact effectively with them

For further information about this event, refer to this poster and this FB event page.

I will be going this weekend and will write a blog post covering the highlights ofĀ this event once I am back. Glad to support a good initiative through this blog. Ā I believe that a little contribution from all of us will go a long way in improving our democracy.

Destination Infinity

My Love for Biographies

Chennai-Puthaga-Sangamam-Biographies-Bought

These are the books (Biographies of famous personalities – in Tamil) I bought from Chennai Puthaga Sangamam exhibition at Periyar Thidal yesterday.

Every time I visit a book fair, I am always attracted to history/biography books. That’s strange because I didn’t have much of an affinity towards History during my school days. I started reading autobiographies only from the last year of my college. And I remember liking them instantly šŸ™‚

The first book I read was Emperor Napoleon’s biography. Then I read books about Hitler & Stalin and the Second world war. Then I read a few business biographies and biographies of Indian/World leaders.

Some of my favorite books include: I too had a Dream by Verghese Kurien (on Amul Cooperative), Biography of Steve Jobs,Ā  Iacocca: An Autobiography (Ford & Chrysler), Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia.

Some books like Straight from the Gut by Ex-GE CEO Jack Welch, although highly acclaimed, are just a collection of successful events in the author’s life meant for (their) personal satisfaction through self-praise. Some books like the one on Enron fiasco were too long to finish, and other books are written with a poor style and narrative without conveying much info.

If you want to read a non-fiction book that is as engaging as a fiction thriller novel read, ‘The Rise and Fall of Third Reich’ by William L. Shirer. This one is about the Second World War (from the German perspective) and it’s un-put-downable!

When I went to this exhibition yesterday and saw biographies, I decided to buy them instantly even though they are written in Tamil. Maybe because I’ve not been reading biographies of late and desperately want to read some. Ā I will try to summarize these books within 600 words in this blog so that you’ll also get an idea about the lives led by these interesting and famous personalities šŸ™‚

Destination Infinity

PS-1:Ā I have three books written by APJ Abdul Kalam in my shelf waiting to be read!! Note to self: Read them ASAP.

PS-2: What’s your favorite auto/biography? Whose life do you want to read about?

Being More Indian: Arranged Marriage

I consider arranged marriages to be an Indian phenomenon. Of course, it exists in other countries also, but Indian arranged marriages are unique – don’t you think?

As you all know I got married the arranged marriage way.

It’s not that I was against love marriage or anything. In fact, I fell in love as early as 5th Std. And that was the second time.

But the issue is, for a lazy guy like me, I expect a girl to walk into my house with a bouquet full of roses, knock the door, come inside my room and propose to me as I am working on my computer. Of course, I could turn my head towards her for a short while šŸ˜›

Now you have an idea how unrealistic my expectations on this topic can be.

Obviously, with such unimaginable hopes (for others), ‘love’ never happened in my life šŸ™‚

So the only option available to me (practically) was arranged marriage. In this institution, the best thing I like is, the bridegroom doesn’t have to do much. Parents bring the profiles, I shortlist them. Parents talk to potential bride’s families, I just need to talk once to the bride. Parents fix engagement, marriage, etc., I just need to be there.

In many ways, arranged marriage was made for people like me šŸ™‚

Although there is this enormous risk of marrying and living with a person about whom you don’t know much, somehow the majority of the arranged marriages click. At least in our circle, it does.

I was also fortunate to get a wife whom I (later) realized was a very good match for me, without being sure about it before the marriage.

Marriage has made me a more balanced and a more confident person. In fact, my life transformed from black & white to colour, bubbles & bells – literally. Don’t believe me? See the short video below for proof Ā šŸ˜€


Destination Infinity

This post was written for a contest sponsored by Lufthansa, the German airline company that owns the world’s second largest fleet of airplanes. As a part of their #MoreIndiaThanYouThink strategy, they greet their (Indian) passengers with a traditional namaste, they serve Indian meals & chai, they also provide Indian content – films, news & music to flight passengers. Have a look at their #MoreIndianThanYouThink initiatives from here. Also, don’t miss the below embedded Lufthansa TVC –

 

How to Keep Mosquitoes Away (Outdoor Mosquito Repellent)


Good Knight Fabric Roll On is a product brought to you by Godrej that’ll help keep mosquitoes away from kids (and adults), even in outdoors and large spaces. All you need to do is apply four coin sized dots of this liquid on any kind of fabric you wear – that’s it, mosquitoes will be repelled away from you or your kids for up to 8 hours.

Good Knight Fabric Roll On is a natural outdoor mosquito repellent made ofĀ citronella & eucalyptus oil that are known for keeping mosquitoes away. The company says since this product usesĀ citronella & eucalyptus oil for mosquitoes, it is made using plant-based oils – hence is 100% natural.

You’ll find some natural pungent when applied – if you find the smell a bit too strong, just apply it in areas away from the nose. The company says it is safe to use it on the skin as well, but it’s best to apply on a fabric. It seems the Good Knight Fabric Roll On doesn’t leave any stains on clothes and can be applied on any kind of fabric including silk, khadi, windcheater, and even bedsheets!

Family members might find it useful while going on outdoor trips like trekking, camping, beaches, mountains, etc. Or even in regular hotel rooms where mosquito repellents may not be available. It seems this product works even if you happen to walk in rains! It works on pets also – you can apply it on the collar fabric for dogs, for example.

Priced at around Rs. 75, one bottle is expected to last for 60 days if used on one person (four dots), every day. You can buy this mosquito repellent online from websites like Amazon or you can buy it from a nearby departmental store.

Good Knight Roll On

Of Making Animated Photo Slideshows: My latest Passion


The title says Making animated photo slideshows is my latest passion, not my latest venture. Actually, it’s both. But I guessed you may be tired of reading about my various (unrelated) ventures over the years. What to do, that’s how I am šŸ™‚

Anyways, the concept of this latestĀ venture passion of mine is simple:

Send me six photos taken during any special occasion (like a trip, birthday, function, etc). I’ll send you back a nice animated slideshow (video) made using the photos – like the one shown/embedded above. Since I am just learning the art & business sides of this venture, it is free of cost – for now.

So if you want to be one of my experiments bakras clients, send me six photos to this email address: animatedphotos.org@gmail.com

What are you waiting for? šŸ™‚

Destination Infinity

PS-1: If you decide to send me the photos, remember that I may take some time few days to complete and send the video back by email. I am mostly working on this over the weekends because that’s when I feel creative I have time. Besides, I am simultaneously learning to use the required tools.

PS-2: The IT project that I was doing for my school is now finished. So am back to full-time blogging and freelancing.

PS-3: If you have decided not to do anything, at least like my Facebook page šŸ™‚

If you have any tips/suggestions/ideas about this venture, please feel free to drop a comment below, as usual šŸ™‚

Why are ppl upset with Kaatru Veliyidai movie?

My guess as to why (some) people may be upset with Mani Rathnam’s latest Tamil movie Kaatru Veliyidai –

Men are upset because the lead character is shown to beĀ chauvinistic. Since people tend to idealize the hero, they are unable to accept imperfection. Besides, since men are chauvinistic in general (degree might differ) they get angry when their own (undesirable) trait is highlighted.

Women are upset becauseĀ they are unable to associate one among them (heroine) falling head over heels for a chauvinistic man in spite of knowing about his chauvinism. They feel that no woman should do such an illogical thing.

Movie review: The story is weak and slow-moving. Karthi’s characterization is inappropriate and sometimes not believable. There is not much of a role for capable supporting actors.

Aditi’s acting is very good and so is the scene setting, camera, and other technical aspects. ARR’s BG music is good, but songs (save one) are not that impressive. Ā Emotions work in some scenes. The prison escape sequences areĀ good.

Kaatru Veliyidai is watchable once – in theater. But don’t expect to see a Mani Rathnam movie – you’ll be disappointed. Think that some new director has made such an unconventional movie – you’ll feel much better while coming out.

Destination Infinity