#1 First, stop this one thing! #MyDearSleep

The previous blog — Prologue

‘Energy’ is required for performing action in the world. While there are so many sources through which we can acquire this energy, there is one constant source available for all of us — ‘sleep.

There is one more source which we commonly used to do, partially because they are easily available to us for years and partially because they really do the job getting the much needed ‘energy’ back to us. 

What we are referring to is also a religion for many people — there’s so much of emotion, bond and love associated with it!

These are none other than the nervous stimulants which we consume every day — simple the ‘coffee’ / ‘tea’.

Sorry for reminding you. Now, don’t go searching for a drink! 😣 Please continue reading..

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Coffee and tea: from rural to urban!

I spent the early part of my childhood in a rural environment surrounded by family and friends! Grabbing a coffee/tea is a part of every day routine both in the morning, evening (and whenever you get a headache),a very usual practice that I’ve noticed. 

The people whom I’ve seen working on the farms starting from 9 AM, usually get a dual break between their works (very similar to a regular office with desk based work) one at 11 AM and another one at 4 PM for drinking tea along with a snack. It keeps them going for another 2 hours till 6 PM as they wrap up their day!

But what I’ve experienced is a very early sleep/wake up routines in our villages — one definite reason is the lack of lighting that’s available in the night so there’s limited scope for moving around. The other reason is, most of people have cattle to take care for and they wake up so early (without alarm clocks)!

The early rising culture is naturally ingrained in a rural setting, despite of the multiple tea/coffee consumption that’s prevalent.

But, the context with an urban setting and the ‘Coffee’ culture here is totally different. With lights all around the day and night, we are seeing so many StarBucks / Cafe Coffee Day outlets, who serve as coffee in the middle of busy work /discussion / interesting conversation. The nervous stimulants are more than just ‘energizers’, they take up a very usual role in our day to day lives here.

As students start using these stimulants towards extending their sleeping hours, so they can study extra. People at work, are tuned to the coffee machines for any productive output, avoid pressure and to find relaxation.

During my school and college, though it was not an addiction, consumption of coffee/tea was very usual for me. I’ve worked for organizations which provided flexibility and ‘work from anywhere’ option, which helped to move around and work with the ‘coffee’ next to me!

It was all cool — until my sleep routine went totally upside down as I began experiencing as if I belong to the other side of the planet. I called myself ‘night owl’ — the idea of waking up early has never existed and that’s something I’ve never imagined I could do sometime.

Was so much used to the ‘Coffee’ culture, in the past few years — I’ve started noticing there is a huge difference in the way I go to sleep especially during those days I get a strong coffee, it is so difficult for me to shut down.

The pandemic has multiplied the issues — during these times I was working on my own — doing freelancing and building EduRiseGlobal from scratch experimenting on multiple things, growing the YouTube channel. The sleeping cycle went on to huge hit — one day I saw myself sleeping on the evenings, the other day I was sleeping on the morning, there is no set pattern and idea of sleeping during the night has totally gone!

As the lock downs were slowly lifted away, I still found myself in a place — difficult to come out of the improper sleeping routines. There are times, when I used to wake up for the whole night, simply unable to sleep — went and saw the Marina Sunrise and came back and slept till afternoon.

The biggest issue with the improper sleep routines, is what I referred in the beginning of the blog — ‘Energy’. You feel the lack of energy through out the day, which makes it impossible to do any productive work especially things that require you to move around.

While these challenging times were on, I got the opportunity to work in an environment that required me working out of the office, with the working timings set. The energy drinks such as ‘Tea’ and ‘Coffee’ were very common — in fact, during every office meetings ‘tea’ was offered and we had access to one of the best kind of coffee parlors in the city!

In the first few weeks of the work, as I was unable still unable to get a hold of my sleeping routines — I took a drastic step of not drinking coffee/tea as an experiment!

I consciously avoided consuming them during the meetings — the efforts has definitely started working on my favor — one of those days, as I was reading something around 10 PM, I felt something very unusual — I was dozing off from my chair. As I started noticing I’m feeling sleepy — all of a sudden I felt a huge sense of relief and freedom, now that I can sleep early, I can get up early, I can get back to work early, and the cycle can flow freely!

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The ‘Tea’ test!

While my new sleeping routine was going fine for almost a month, during one of those days in the midst of work pressure, ended up drinking a ‘tea’ as an experiment. As expected I was unable to sleep for almost half of the night — the experience clearly proved that there is a clear difference when you stop consuming the nervous stimulants!

The ‘Hot Chocolate’ surprise!

Whenever I went to places like StarBucks, or some other Cafe — I tried choosing other drinks such as ‘Hot Chocolate’ over the regular Capuccino, but to my surprise they also took a toll on the sleeping routine, not to the extend of regular Coffee. But, any energy drink consumed at a higher volume can easily affect the integrity of the sleeping system in place.

These days, when I visit some Cafe, the first option on top of my mind — is to go for a fresh juice.

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A coffee is very powerful — once you start doing some research on the origins and interesting applications of the drink during the World War you will agree to the fact!

While it can easily power up our focus/motivation/energy instantly, the first step if you want me to suggest towards building a stronger sleeping routine, is to stop the nervous stimulants completely!

If you are so addicted, that you can’t avoid it completely, then the suggestion would be to — not to consume any of them after 12 PM of the day, so that the coffee/tea you’ve consumed in the morning loses its effect towards the evening!

Feeling tired -> Sleeping on time -> Waking up early -> Repeat. 

This is the goal we’re trying to achieve.

One thing I always remembered was: you can’t wake up early unless you don’t sleep early. You can’t sleep early unless you feel really tired. You won’t feel tired unless you spend all your energy. If you consume coffee/tea it will add up extra energy which will be an additional work for you!

But still.. I’m unable to find ways to spend all my existing energy through out the day in a work that doesn’t involve a lot of physical work! What do I do?

Let’s explore this the next week! 🙂

Have questions? Ask me right away on Instagram.

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Note: All opinions are my own. Writing this not as a medical expert, but as a human curious about experiments! Please use this just as an inspiration, if you need detailed information for a medical problem, consider reaching out to a physician.

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For extensive reading

Here are some interesting coffee-break / tea-break articles(you’ll see sleep as an important point in all the articles).

  1. Reasons Why You Should Not Start Your Day With Tea/Coffee: Here Are Some Healthy Options You Need To Know (NDTV)
  2. 10 Health Benefits of Living Caffeine-Free (Healthline)
  3. Dangerous effects of drinking coffee, according to science
  4. 7 side effects of drinking too much tea

#MyDearSleep — The Prologue

With the passing of every moment of the night,
All I aspire and need is only you.
But, the more I want to be with you,
The more you seem miles away.
I tried every tip and trick,
Only to realize they’re too small –
Compared to your penultimate nature,
And I no way can fool you.
Until I realized, the ultimate truth
Sleep is not about, preparing for life
But, life is all about preparing for sleep!

My Dear Sleep!
This one is all about you, and dedicated for you!

Launching #MyDearSleep

Excited to be  a new blog series — #MyDearSleep.

The series of articles will be featuring some of my real life experiences and experiments around sleep, and how I found the ultimate motivation to wake up before 04:30 AM every day, from being a person who can not sleep during the nights!

You can check out the articles every Saturday at 9 PM,

On my medium — www.aravindhan-in.medium.com

On my website — www.aravindhan.in

Good night! 🙂

“My dreams will fly.”

5 January 2022 – On another action-packed Wednesday, as I was quickly skimming through the multiple tabs of Google Sheets at the office (the TN State Project Office of School Education Department) – a notification suddenly got all my attention.

It was a message from one of my students who is currently studying Class IX (and whom I taught Class IV and V as a part of my Teach For India Fellowship 4 years back at Chennai Middle School, MGR Nagar).

She was sharing a poem that she has penned down on the title “Dreams can fly”. It was a nicely written one, and I immediately appreciated her for the efforts she’d put in.

Then came the surprise question, “Sir. I want to publish this poem. Please help.”

The poem originally written down.

The next thing I clarified with her, whether she wanted to publish online or offline. Her response was that she wanted to share it through online.

I suggested to try out websites like medium.com – where she can continue writing and publishing her poems and thoughts.

After a few minutes, she came back and shared that she was unable to login to the website through phone, and it requires app. Then, I asked her download and use the Medium Android app.

And then I was caught up with the other works, and totally forgot it.

Post lunch, I received a surprise message – with screenshots of the poem, previewed on the Medium app, this time my student wanted me to review it before she publishes her first work online.

I told her to go ahead and publish – and also share me the link to the poem.

And then she shared this – https://medium.com/@pkbo2007oli/poem-cb39849eb72

She was also curious about how people will find her work, and how the Google SEO algorithms work. I explained this in a few sentences, and requested her to wait for sometime.

And then she finally concluded by saying – “I am so happy because I publish my own poem. Also I expressed my feelings through words and that became a poem.🙂🙂”

For a moment, I thought about seeing such a tiny child in Class IV becoming a blogger and poet now – I said to myself “Yes. Dreams will fly. For sure, they will.”

A poetic wish!

Two months back when I launched my first ever poetry book – ‘மழைக்கவிதைகள் – பாகம் 1‘, I wanted someone to write a preface for me since it’s my very first one. Without any hesitancy I gave a call to my Section Chair, Kumarappan sir (he has agreed to the same, and wrote a beautiful note) – almost an year ago, actually he was the one who inspired me to write poems in Tamil. During a normal conversation on a car travel, from the Section office to our respective homes, he shared about his work with Tamil poetry and literature. I was surprised and inspired to look at the enthusiasm to contribute to the mother language despite his commitments with academia and contributions to the technological arena.

Today, he is turning 60 and I thought of sending him a poetic wish in his own Tamil poetic style!

அறுபது அகவை தொடும் ஆதவனே!
அளப்பரிய ஆற்றலின் துண்டுதலாய் உள்ளூற்று ஆனவனே!
சங்கம் வைத்து மொழி வளர்த்தான் தமிழன் –
IEEE சங்கம் வைத்து இளைய சமூகம் வளர்த்தாய் நீ!

தமிழ் மண்ணின் புதல்வனாய் நீ, பாருலகின் அனைத்து கண்டங்களிலும் பொற்பாதம் பதித்தாய்!

அனைத்து கண்டங்களின் ஆன்றோர் மற்றும் Technology சான்றோரை,
Madras மண்ணின் முதல் MASCON மூலம் தமிழ் மணத்தை Hybrid-ஆய் வழங்கினாய்!

நீ உருவாக்கிய Madras அணியால் எத்திசையும் IEEE புகழ் மணக்கும்!
ஒவ்வொரு முறையும் நீ எழுதும் தமிழ் கவிதைக்கு மாணவர்களின் விசில் பறக்கும்!

உன் தொண்டும் அர்ப்பணிப்பும் ஆசிரியப் பணிக்கு பெருமை!
எண்ணிலடங்கா கவிதையெனும் பூச்செண்டு கொண்டு கூற முடியாது உன்னருமை!

நீ வாழ்க பல்லாண்டு! உன் தொண்டுக்கு என்றும் நன்றிகள் பல.

To all those moments of learning and laughter!

I think the best moments in life are those when you look back, you learn, laugh and cherish all at once! These are priceless moments which you should be thankful for. 😀

I’m gonna’ share a list of such incidents in this blog, dedicating to someone special on his birthday. Okay, so you will get introduced to Ashwin ji along the way!

#1 In the most obedient classroom I’ve ever seen!

The first time I met Ashwin was during the commencement of my Teach For India Fellowship in July 2016. I was coming back to Chennai after a 5-week intensive training at Pune, popularly known as ‘Institute’.

Though I had a time of 3-4 days on my hands to join my classroom at Chennai Middle School, MGR Nagar (as a class teacher for std 4 students) – I desperately wanted to to visit the school ever since the moment I landed in Chennai.

So, I called up Ashwin who was my previous Fellow (he taught the same students, as a class teacher for Std 2 & 3), and my school team, fixed an appointment with them right before the school ends at 4 PM.

The school was located approx. 2 kms from my house, so I decided to cycle all the way to the school, parked my vehicle outside the gate and then slowly opened the main door to find the ‘watchman anna’ there.

The moment I told that I’m the new Fellow going to teach 4th std, he was super excited, “Oh, you have come to teach in Ashwin sir’s class! Please come.. come.. come..”

And then I walked past the whole ground, crossed the HM room – noticed she was not there. Slightly popped into the classrooms, and said a ‘Hi!’ to my school team mates (didn’t speak much since they were doing the closing circles, which is how we close our classroom teaching during Fellowship).

And then went and stood before a colorful classroom – neatly painted, carefully arranged, with the most obedient students sitting on perfect postures, eagerly waiting for someone (or waiting to go home :P)!

The next moment – someone appeared in front of me with a gentle smile,

“Welcome, Aravindh. This is Ashwin, your previous Fellow.”

Ashwin also ensured that he came on the first official day of my Fellowship (the actual day I joined as a teacher), introduced me to everyone, and to the classroom (which he spent hours of time the before to again paint neatly) and finally handed over the classroom key which was connected to a guitar keychain. When I wondered why guitar, he said – “This is just to remember – there should always be music in the classroom.

May be an image of 2 people, including Aravindhan Anbazhagan and people smiling

#2 The fundraising kick starter moment!

Fast forward to an year – I was sitting with Ashwin and my other school team mates in the classroom opposite to mine, on a fine holiday – thinking and discussing about what do we do on the next year, so we can provide the best possible impact to the students.

Long story short – I started fundraising campaign with the target of INR 2 lakhs, with my efforts was able to raise somewhere around ~INR 40K in the first 4 months, then honestly I was clueless on how to move forward.

Initially, I was also a bit hesitant to ask people around, and then we decided to push it to the maximum because we had a very limited time (from that point, I had only one year of Fellowship left but the vision was so high).

But still, there was some level of hesitancy from my side – and I didn’t send a request to many people whom I know.

Then came this moment – when I noticed Ashwin sending the request to so many people request for support and he told me in a funny way – ‘See, I’m sending so many request messages to everyone. You should start going on this faastt!’

That’s the actual moment, I felt really confident and motivated at the same, we also received all the support from everyone (honestly, the fundraising was the best experience of my Fellowship, later I went to choose the same as my career with Teach For India for 2 years). In a matter of 3 months, we raised INR 2.4 lakh and did so many technology interventions in the classrooms! Want to know what we did, watch this video!

#3 Rehearsing the award script!

Fast forward to an year and half – I was sitting along with Ashwin at the only pizza restaurant that was open at 11 PM in the Vancouver City, Canada. (Facebook, #MGRNagar2Vancouver to know what happened during this trip)

I had to receive a IEEE Global award on the next day, and also need to deliver a 2 minute acceptance speech along. I was super nervous – though I had done so much of public speaking, this one is really huge considering the scale, and all the best of the academia, industry, and volunteer leadership will be present during the speech witnessing me.

I wrote a draft, a week back – and was rehearsing with Ashwin while we were waiting for the pizza (our first meal after entering the lands of Canada), he was as usual the calming force for me, listening to the whole thing with a smile – he also made sure that I drink hot water, considering I was having cold, because of the sudden shift of weather in Canada. (Watch the award speech here, and the video credits goes to Ashwin)

May be an image of 2 people, including Aravindhan Anbazhagan and people smiling

#4 Eating puliyotharai at the Kuala Lumpur airport!

Fast forward to an year – me and Ashwin was traveling to Indonesia to present our technology-driven educational project at an IEEE Asia-Pacific Conference, and we had a connecting flight via Kuala Lumpur to the Jakarta airport.

Ashwin brought home made puliyotharai as we started our journey from Chennai during the evening – but we missed eating it in the Chennai airport as we had access to the guest lounge and had some buffet food for the night.

We realized about the puliyotharai only in the morning, as we reached Kuala Lumpur, we had handful of time for the next flight.

While waiting at the airport, we opened the puliyotharai and ate it completely. It was so much of fun and the happy meal I’ve ever had! (As expected we didn’t get any Vegetarian food in the Depok city, we roamed around to finally find some restaurant, that’s another story!).

The trip was so memorable, not only because that’s the last international one I’ve had till now (PS – COVID pandemic) – but we did so much of adventure in Bali including parasailing and scuba (which I never had the guts to do before!)

May be an image of 2 people, including Aravindhan Anbazhagan and people smiling

Also, we won the runners up in the project contest out of the 12 shortlisted projects across Asia-Pacific!

May be an image of 3 people, including Aravindhan Anbazhagan and people smiling

There are many more moments I could think of – like for example, anjarai mani BA flight atrocities, sabatha queue at the US embassy, but I think hopefully those are stories for the upcoming birthday’s.

Many more happy returns of the day, Ashwin ji! Have a blast. 😀

The losing game!

I have a huge fascination for the game of Chess ever since childhood, I got introduced to the game when I visited Chennai for the first time when I was 6 years old!

I started learning the game, as I started playing it!

I still remember in the first version of the game that I learned, in which we must play only with the pawns till all of them are available, you can only step into using the other options after you exhaust them.

After a while, I learned – you cannot attack and remove the kind when others are not noticing – you have to do that, only after you provide a ‘Check’. I used to fight with my opponents, who were much older then – saying like ‘you didn’t even notice that you’re king was on check. How am I responsible for you losing’ 😛

The last learning/rule I got to know was ‘castling’ (where we interchange the rook and the king, provided there is no piece in between, and the king didn’t move before)!

Well, that’s childhood!

Very recently, I picked up an interest to play the game online (credits to chess.com) – it is fun and interesting to play all type of games including timed ones!

While I’m able to play somewhat better these days, I’ve noticed a very interesting pattern with the way I approach the game and that’s what I want to deep dive on!

King of chess game - Free Image by Akshay Gupta on PixaHive.com

Winning and losing – are two possibilities that always exists when you are playing a game with an opponent.

While your knowledge and your skills play a crucial role on the outcomes you will see (winning/losing) – there is an equal weightage and in fact more credits that goes out to your opponent too! Meaning, let us say your opponent is super strong – even if you try 100%, there are 200% chances that you will lose. Well, read that sentence again! 😀

That’s not your fault. Losing is not your fault. It is just that you didn’t get the right training/exposure/experience towards tackling the super skilled opponent!

I remember playing so much of Chess with friends/relatives during childhood – and eventually 99% of the times I fail without having knowledge/strategy/experience.

Though, I know even if I play them again (and again), there are very less opportunities for me to win; but still, I choose to challenge them again!

With Chess, I never leave an opponent after losing – I keep on playing with them until I figure out what is the strategy they are following/identifying the mistakes of my own self, trying to correct it and at least win once.

For me, then, losing is an opportunity. As I did not get any formal training/coaching kind ‘of things – losing is the only opportunity that I used to have for myself, to improve my game.

In fact, if I look back – almost all my limited mastery with the Chess game came all from this attitude – you could call it perseverance, not losing hope, determination etc.

I call it – the love for losing a game. Yes, the sheer challenge in losing a game and trying to figure out what is wrong with the next time!

If we choose to play only the games, in which we win – we are not improving ourselves/nor challenging ourselves.

The losing games, teach us a lot more about ourselves, our game. It puts us on the spot and say, “Do you want to take up this challenging task again?”. And when say a ‘Yes’, we are making the best of the losing game.

The losing game matters! More importantly, choosing a ‘rematch’ after a losing game matter even more.

April 30, 2021. Wrote this post, as I look back on completing one year of leaving my full time job and decided to pursue things on own! 🙂

Metric’ulous life! | #OnePageStory

You won’t be surprised if I say, ‘metrics’ have slowly taken the hold of our lives.

Consider for an example, all the adults would’ve heard about these questions at different points in their lives.
(a) How many marks you have scored?
(b) How much salary you are going?
(c) How old are you?
(d) How many children do you have?
(e) How many years of work experience do you have?
Well, I’m not really what’s the original purpose of creating all the metrics that we see around today. Originally, they may have been created to help us understand the progress to our goals, track our performance, etc.
But, essentially they help us do one thing quite easily in our world today — To compare our metric with others quite easily!
Instead of working meticulously, we wish to work ‘metric’ulously, to see the results and to enrue that we are getting ahead of the others.
Metric can be a huge motivation at times — let’s assume a Cricket game without the scoreboard. Super boring right!
But you know what, in every Cricket game — they erase the scores once the game is over. However, the erasing part hardly happens in our lives! We stick to our metrics, we envision our metrics, we live our metrics, we showcase our metrics.
That’s one page. See you tomorrow!
One page is a metric too. A good start to the series, isn’t it? 😛

The power cut and the YouTube live! :)

26 September 2020

Around 6.15 PM, as I was wrapping up the EduRise Adobe Photoshop Workshop in தமிழ் – I was feeling quite happy, because I had the opportunity to work with the software after so many years. I loved doing graphic design – but I’ve always been a fan of Canva, because of it’s simplicity and elegance. In someways, there was still a ‘Photoshop hunger’ within me – so when we had a chance to organize the Photoshop workshop in Tamil, I took the effort to learn along with the participants too. <3

But then, I had the next commitment on my calendar block already – I have to do a YouTube live webinar for IEEE APSIT Student Branch – as part of the Showrunners of Futurity webinar series, on an interesting topic – Social Entrepreneurship.

I started editing the final draft of the presentation and the work almost got over by 06:50 PM! But, then something totally interesting had happened – there was a power cut!

I waited for a 5 minutes patienty – for my lights to turn back on. Apparently, the virtual set up I had – especially Wi-Fi is completely dependent on the electrical power. Without which, I have to only rely upon my mobile data – which is super slow.

The next step!

The most interesting thing in every crisis situation, is always the next step and how we overcome the problem we are currently facing.

I immediately started thinking of a plan B – of outsourcing the screen sharing and joining the call only through mobile (it wouldn’t have been an impressive plan, by then I didn’t know it’s going to be a YouTube live).

When I thought of informing the organizers, unfortunately – I didn’t had any of their contacts on my phone. So, I went to Instagram (they had posted a story of the webinar announcement with me tagged), and replied if someone from the organizing team can quickly give me a call. Meanwhile, I also wrote an email to them about the situation, along with the presentation.

Apparently, all these happened in a matter of 10 minutes. The time was about to be 07:05 PM, and the power was not yet back.

Within 5 minutes of my message on Instagram, I received calls from 2-3 volunteers from the organizing team, enquiring how they can help me out. It was quite interesting to see that all of them were pro-active, and they reached out when I needed a help.

I did a small brainstorming with them – and our final conclusion was I will be joining through mobile phone – only with an audio (I can’t do a video stream, because it’s dark because of power cut :P). Their host volunteer agreed to support me with the slides.

Only then I enquired, whether this session will be happening in Google Meet or WebEx – but they told me this will be a YouTube live!

I’ve had experience of doing an YouTube live in the past, the streaming usually happens through third party platform, for which you would definitely require a strong connection and a laptop.

But there was no other go, without power – so I had to agree to only-voice idea and according to me, I felt like the session won’t be much effective.

Thankfully by around 07:10 PM, when an other volunteer reached to me because of the Instagram message – suddenly the power was all back, the electricrical connection was restored!

After so much of crisis planning over the past 15 minutes, I finally felt relived. I conveyed the happy news to the volunteers, they’ve also felt happy that I can now join through laptop and do a full fledged webinar.

Webinar on Social Entrepreneurship!

The webinar went quite well. I totally enjoyed doing the presentation sharing my perspectives on Social Entrepreneurship and how anyone can get started with it from scratch. There was a lot of interesting questions too,

(a) Whom do you see as the ‘Steve Jobs’ of Social Entrepreneurship?

(b) How do non-profits attract talent without higher salaries?

(c) How was the experience of TEDx talk?

(d) Being compassionate is a skill or a mindset for Social Entrepreneur?

(e) What could Government or Society could do to encourage Social Entrepreneurship?

I had a lot of fun sharing my answers and interesting stories from my experiences.

The webinar and the Q&A session went till 08:45 PM, and I was thankful that the power didn’t go off again. #ThankYouGod

The Offline Chat!

And once the actual webinar was over – something very interesting happened. The organizing volunteers, had some interesting questions for me personally – regarding IEEE and other general questions related to the public speaking. It was more of a closed group offline chat, it was a wonderful and one of the interesting experiences to remember.

Usually, in F2F events, once the event is over – I always find sometime to catch up with the volunteers, and it used to give me a lot of inspiration and happiness to interact with the people of similar interests and passion. But, this was usually a miss at the virtual events, where once the talk is over, you say a ‘Bye!’ close the session (and miss all the fun)!

We ended up chatting for around an hour and I promised them I will visit Mumbai soon (after the COVID is over).

With Prathamesh, Kaushal, Shyam, Rakshith, & Radnyi.

The hindsight!

When I was just looking back of how it all started with the power cut – what I assumed was totally different. I felt gratitude for everything that happened – in fact whatever I felt was also reflected on my response to an interesting question – “Being compassionate is a skill or a mindset for a Social Entrepreneur?”

As a part of my answer I was saying –

“If you start thinking on this moment – this moment we are in, I have an Internet connection. I have electrical connectivity, today I have all these things, today I have a wonderful host, that’s why I am able to deliver this webinar. It’s not that I’m contributing something really big – there are so many factors that are helping me out in what I do really – if you can really feel that, you will naturally have a lot more gratitude for the people around you.”

Yes, in a tentative life all we need is gratitude! Gratitude to electricity – for coming back on time xD.

Overall, it was an amazing and fulfilling day.

#Turning26 and first time on Instagram live!

Birthdays are always special to me for so many reasons – it helps me to reconnect with my friends and family with their wishes and blessings most importantly, it also helps me to reflect over the progress I’ve made and help me set new goals and bucket list for the upcoming year! It also reminds me of the fact that I am growing old. 😛

But, in my opinion, celebrating birthday in 2020 is a really challenging task! The world is going through a pandemic and face-2-face meetings are not possible at all. But as we get used to the ‘new normal’, there is some scope for enjoying the celebrations in virtual which I leveraged yesterday!

Birthday celebrations last year! #Turning25 With the students of SITE Tadepalligudam, AP.

Do you want wait for the things to happen and then react or do you want to stand up and act?

This was the fundamental question – I kept asking to myself over the past one year, specifically. If we wish to have fun, or feel happy, or aspire for our dreams, it can’t happen by accident – but one needs to take necessary actions by their own efforts to get those things done!

So, thought of trying out to do something ‘new’ this year, I decided do something from my end – for the #Turning26 – doing an Instagram live! Also, the other fact is that so far I have done YouTube live, Facebook live but I’ve never been on an IG live, a social media platform, which I’m quite active on!

The poster I designed and launched the previous day!

So, how did it go?

It turned out to be an amazing experience yesterday. An Instagram live session can be a real fun! The platform is really interactive – you can watch the comments and the reactions live, which is wow (very similar to Facebook, but there’s something unique about IG).

I wanted to share some of my experiences and interesting moments from the past year with them, and also wanted to keep some time for their questions, some unplanned activities, etc.

I was also very happy to note that IG live allows us to add people in the videos, Ashwin ji joined me on live and shared his wishes all the way from Canada.

Some of the stories and experiences I shared as highlights –

  • How #Turning25 started? The celebrations at AP and flying all the way back to Chennai on b’day.
  • How a monkey snatched my specs within milliseconds at Bali, Indonesia! The story of Money Glass 😛
  • The most use(d)less thing of the past year, the passport!
  • Sharing some reflections from the recent books I’ve read – First, Break All The Rules in English and Thanmeetchi in Tamil!
  • The MGA YP award, showed it on the camera for the first time, as I was hoping to get a picture with it at the Sections Congress in Canada, which eventually went virtual.

I also answered some questions around –

  • Who is my role model?
  • Who is my favorite student?
  • How much do I miss the MGR Nagar school?
  • What are my goals and things to do on 26? (which I listed towards the end of the blog)
  • When am I getting married? xD

When it comes to unplanned activities, I ended up singing songs from the different languages, as my friends wanted to do –

  • Samajavaragamana from Telugu (I hope I spelled it right)
  • Vayamoodi summa iru da from Tamil
  • Tera hone laga hoon from Hindi (I killed the song, literally!)
  • Malare from Malayalam

Finally, I shared some of the lessons which I learned from life –

  • Playing long – Life is more like a test Cricket, the more time you stay on the crease, the more it’s good for your team
  • Doing something that’s close to your heart – How I ended up starting ‘EduRise Global along with Abdul
  • How failures can teach you the important lessons!

The whole live session lasted for ~40 minutes, and I also made the video available on IGTV, for people to see later. The recording can definitely not match the live session, but it’s one good memory to look upto!

On an interesting note – one of my junior IEEE volunteer, Vishwa from Hyderabad, called me after the live and told me he had exam on the next day – he was stressed for the whole day studying, and he enjoyed watching the live and felt more calm. Apparently, he joined using his brother’s live, and he is not using he refrained using his own IG, because of exams.

Small feedbacks like this add a lot of value to what you do, and I felt wow!

What else had happened?

Apart from the IG live, there was also a bunch of other interesting things – I received calls and a bunch of messages on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn from many of my friends, I replied to all of them – it was a lovely experience to reconnect with them again! 🙂

An interesting gift from Mahendran sir & Lavanya ma’am! I read the book within 2 days.

A group of my friends from IEEE, Sudharshan, Vinod, Pooja, Saurabh, Sharif, Adarsh, Akhil and Vignesh – prepared an interesting set of videos and showed it to me surprisingly on a video call – it was wonderful to see some old pictures and videos of mine being compiled with some compelling music. Sharing the videos here –

Big thanks to them for taking the efforts to make the day special for me! <3

Things on my bucket list for 26!

When asked about my goals for 26, I shared the following things on the IG live!

  • Hitting the bed at 10 PM everyday!
  • Being more fit and healthy
  • Growing my YouTube channel (please subscirbe).
  • Learning more about Entrepreneurship, innovation and business through action!
  • Doing an IG live at least once in 3 months!

Apparently, I went to bed exactly at 10 PM and had a good sleep! Public bucket lists are always good for a reason.


Much gratitude to everyone who remembered me and sent me your wishes on the special day. I felt humbled, energized, and motivate to do more things in 26. Thank you once again! <3

On another note – I’m also committing to write more blogs in the upcoming months, let’s see!

Time travel! :D

15 August 2017 – Around 8 AM in the morning, my flight landed in Chennai after a overnight trip, starting from Sydney 🇦🇺 with a connecting flight at Kuala Lumpur 🇲🇾. This was post attending the largest IEEE event – Sections Congress 2017! My physical energy was low, but my motivation levels were sky high.

This was also the time I was working as a Teach For India Fellow at Chennai Middle School, MGR Nagar. I don’t want to miss a single experience with my students, was was rushing to come out of the airport – so I can go and participate at the Independence Day celebrations happening in my school! The program usually gets over at 11 AM, if you go by that time you I know at least, I will get 🍫 for sure!

It took me a while to finish off the custom clearance, they were heavily understaffed on that particular day, because many officers were on leave due to the Independence day, holiday! Somehow when I finished the process and moved out – I noticed that time was already around 9 AM and unfortunately my phone got switched as well. (I didn’t had an international charger back then, in fact I realised the need for an international charger only during that trip).

I took my backpack, caught a metro from the airport to Ashok Nagar then took a local auto for the last mile straight to school. Thankfully, I went ahead of time – happened to see a few performances and enjoy the day with my students! It was definitely one of the memorable experiences for me and I was happy that I made it to school, instead of the old plan of going to home!

People at my home were highly frustrated with my behaviour of not coming to home directly after a trip – but that’s fine! I escaped with the excuse, that my phone was switched off 😛

15 August 2020 – I was in my home but I had no other go! For the first time (in the times I remember) – I had to be in my #home for the national independence day celebrations due to COVID restrictions! 🇮🇳 It always used to be fun on this day, interacting with students – sharing about our country and its heritage, participating on celebrations. 🙂

But I don’t want to miss the fun – hence decided to go virtual. Researched and made a YouTube video on the topic – “#74facts about India” for our 74th national independence day celebrations.

You can check it in the link below, and I’m sure you will find out a lot of interesting insights about #India. Do let me know what you find out new!