Monday, February 16, 2009

Great Running Season with Team Asha

Finally the 2008-09 Running Season came to end at Auroville last Sunday and this also completes my one full year of running. It started with my first half-marathon exactly a year ago at Auroville and yesterday I did another one.

This also has been a great running year and my association with Asha has added that extra bit of a meaning to my running !

(With Asha folks at Auroville, Pondicherry)

It has been a truly great year and I'll be still running with Team Asha on and off. With this I'll now get back into cross-training to strengthen my knees and improve speed. The next running season will officially start off in August with the Hyderabad marathon.

There still a month left before I wrap all my donations for Asha. Thanks to one and all who supported my runs. I'll be back again next year !

Thanks to Anita and Sanjeev for the orientation on Asha (I'll again comeback for those Sandwiches), Santosh for all the run management, Siva Athreya for handling the cheques and everyone in Team Asha with whom I was directly or indirectly involved !

You can find the pics from my cam in here:

Looking forward to run next year again with Team Asha. Till then keep running and be healthy ! God Bless !

Team Asha rocks Auroville!!

Here is the email summarizing the efforts put in by the team at Auroville! Photos will follow soon!


Hi Folks,

Hope everyone has recovered from the run this weekend :) It was an amazing weekend and a fitting gala finale of Team Asha's training programs for 2008-09!!

I. Congrats Runners
II. Thanks to Auroville race organizers, New creation School
III. Thanks to RFL, B2F, Chennai Runners
IV. Thanks to Volunteers, Runners and Everyone else
V. Race reports
VI. What Next ?
VII. What Matters ?

I. Congrats Runners

Firstly, Congratulations to all runners for embarking on this wonderful journey and thanks for making the rest of us a part of it!

The marathon program has been Asha Bangalore's major fundraiser and has been instrumental in helping the chapter reach out to more grassroots efforts in India. The runners' efforts and contribution to fund raising really has shaped Asha Bangalore's ability to fund projects.

Here is the list of runners who were at Auroville and a very brief info on each of their efforts. You can read more about them on their runner pages (of course, if they don't have one, they will be setting it up soon :) ) -

Ananya team - Uddhav and the nine kids (Aruna, Basavaraju, Dinesh, Jayanth, Pramila, Priya, Selvi, Shashikala and Sowmya) had a great run! The kids made the entire trip lively and unforgettable for us. It is also inspiring to see the children train over many weeks for a 10K run and finish it strongly. We learnt a lot from the committed effort put by the Ananya team.
More about Ananya here -

Thulir team - Senthil did an amazing time of 4:10 for the marathon, shaving of more than 1 hour from his previous time at Kaveri. This in just a period of 3-4 months!! Rajammal, Devaki, Govindamma, Perumal, Vinoo and Ezhumalai performed very well and had a lot of fun too! A special thanks to the thulir team for the nice bamboo key chains they made for each one of us as souvenirs for the race.
More about Thulir here -
Anita Komanduri - She had a good run, though she missed a good part of the training. She helped our team a lot with the logistics!

Balasubramanian - Ever ready to help out in any demanding situation, Balu was at his awesome best again :) - He finished his 1/2 strongly and was around to help us all out.

I2 runners - Ravishankar Balasubramanya, Deepak Sanghi, Alok Ashtikar, Heera Ganjikota and Nitin Gupta have trained hard to run the Auroville marathon. They have already done great with the fundraisin and we are really hoping that they will hit their target soon! Alok had a tough race, but we are sure he will bounce back soon! Deepak did his best in a marathon!

Kanishka - Kanishka put in a consistent and committed effort through the training! He had a strong run and the 2nd loop like for everyone else was a tough one, that he strived through like always. It was an inspiring effort! BTW, he has gone way past his fundraising target already!!

Malini - Malini is a friend of my mom and a teacher herself. She came to know about Asha's efforts recently and just wanted to join the team immediately! She did a great 5K and would be helping us out as well. Malini's son Vikram was there cheering us as well and is inspired to help us out in different ways now!

Maneesha - Maneesha balanced work, family and running deftly to complete her training and the Auroville run strongly! It was really nice to have her as part of the team!

Manjula - With all the travelling on the job and a hectic work schedule, she still came out to run with us all and made the trip an enjoyable expreience! It was always fun with her around!

Melvin - Melvin did a good marathon on Sunday and though not based in Bangalore, has been training on his own to contribute to the team!

Nagendra - Nagendra did his first 10K run on Sunday and we are sure there is a lot in store from him! The kids and the team enjoyed his company at the games and anthakshari sessions :)

Narmada - With an ankle injury and a lot of missed workouts, Narmada was not sure about the start line. But, she took on the 10K bravely and finished strongly! It was an inspiring effort!

Noel and Reva - Noel and Reva are one of the best dad-daughter running teams we have seen :) Reva helped out at the race and also ran her 5K! Noel fought through all the injuries for a nice finish at the half marathon distance.

Prabhu - Prabhu also did his first 10K on Sunday. His work demanded that he leave for Pondichery on Saturday night. So, he turned up by a bus at 4 AM on Sunday at Auroville - amazing commitement!

Pramod - Though pramod was there through the entire training season, unfortunately work demanded that he miss the Aurioville marathon for the trip to US. But, we are sure he will do great in the 1/2 marathon he plans to do next.

Pratibha - Not sure whats happening to her! She is getting better and faster, even with an injury. Look out for Pratibha in the amateur running circles of India!! She has become a lot more stronger with her running now and has helped the team's cause by fundraising a lot!

Priya, Shanavas, Ishaan and Sahana - Priya did her first 1/2 marathon at Auroville. I ran for a brief stretch with her and she really got me going when I was down in energy at that point! She did amazing well and its an awesome debut effort! Shanavas was plagued by injuries this time around. But, he was full of spirit for the team! The kids Ishaan and Sahana are adorable and did an amazing 5K themselves! It was quite a family outing!

Salil - Not a lot of us have met Salil. He is the silent crusader who has been running and fundraising strongly! We are sure he had a wonderful run!

Sanjeev - Sanjeev has improved a lot with his running! He has been biking 10-12kms every day to and back from work. All the effort showed on the run on Sunday! We are sure he will only get better!

Santosh - Besides having a really cool name :) - Santosh did really great at the half marathon. This was his first and he looked like a veteran runner doing it!

SarojaNTeam - My Mom, Dad and Bro were there again! Except for a late start they did great at the runs! They were very helpful and it was a lot of fun having them around! Personally, their support, interest and participation inspires me to keep going!

Satnam singh - One more of the silent crusaders, Satnam did great at his half marathon and has already fundraised quite a bit for the team!

Siva Athreya - We probably have to compensate this Professor of Statistics and mathematics, who is just free entertainment and fun - 24x7! Siva while keeping us all in high spirits, also does some back breaking work with treasury and accouts. The one thing he needs to figure out is - spoken kannada :)

Sridhar Srinivasan - Sridhar did great with his half marathon and has been involved with Asha projects (the government schools near banshankari) through his company's community affairs. Its really inspiring to see his efforts! Thanks for the late night car ride to Mithra!

Sriram - Sriram and Arthi are die hard asha volunteers and runners. Unfortunately, they couldn't make it to this trip. But, We are sure they will be back again soon!

Thushar - Thushar is only getting stronger with his running! He did a wonderful half and also helped the team with all the logistics and coordination!

Vibha - Vibha has been the most consistent runner in the training season for Auroville! We don't remember her missing even a single workout! The consistency and dedication showed in her strong showing at the half marathon on Sunday! Inspiring effort!

Vinodh - Talented in many aspects, Vinodh really showed his singing skills at the anthakshari rounds in the bus :) He is becoming a really good runner and brings a lot of energy to the team! We are fortunate to have him as part of the team!

II. Thanks to Auroville race organizers, New creation School

Thanks to the Auroville race organizers (Chandresh, Balaji, Sourya, et. all) for their really heart warming support and organization. You folks are unlike any race organizers we have seen in India! Thanks for accommodating all our requests patiently and for going out of the way many times. We understand that its a thankless job and takes quite a lot to organize an event of this big a magnitude. Kudos to you all for doing this with the runners in mind and doing it at such a low cost! We could go on and on about the sensitivity to the environment, runners, families etc. etc. But, it would be preaching to the choir - you folks meant a lot for us at the races!

Thanks to Shankar and the staff of New creation community and school. It was really very nice of them to host us and provide us food on Saturday and Sunday. We can't imagine how bad it would have been with logistics without their help! We are fortunate to have made some wondeful friends :)

III. Thanks to RFL(Arvind Bharathi), B2F, Chennai Runners

Thanks to Arvind Bharathi for providing us space in the RFL community and giving us the online registration support.

Thanks to B2F and Dr. Rajat for everything - providing our runners with training tips, gait analysis, treating and fixing their injuries, providing massages at the end of the runs, working with kids from Ananya on a long term ..and a lot more!

Thanks to Chennai runners(Karthik, Balaji, Ram et. all) for all the encouragement, medals and the wonderful networking! We have a lot that we can do together. Looking forward for more runs together!

III. Thanks to Volunteers, Runners and Everyone else

It really was humbling to see so many people put in so much of their time expecting nothing in return for themselves. None of the efforts would have borne fruits if not for the countless hours so many people put in behind the scenes.

I can go on and on..but, being the lazy person I am, I will state it as bullet points (In no intended priorities)

* Sanjeev's mom volunteering at the races and cheering for the team
* Ranjitha and Kanishka's mom cheering us and helping the team!
* Vandana's cheering support, professional photography and nice songs at the anthakshari rounds!
* Pratibha's husband's timely car rides for us
* Anu and Krishna's support for coordinating the running efforts for thulir
* Shashi, Uddhav and Ananya's support for coordinating the running efforts of Ananya
* Sujatha's photography and cheering support for the team.
* Sudarshan and Meghana's cheering support for the team.
* Guruprasad's volunteering, running and cheering support for the entire team!
* Asha SV runner Venkat's support and running for the team!
* Abhishek, Rahul, KP, Sachin and Mohan Babu for putting up with such a noisy bunch in the bus and for the support towards the team's efforts
* Asha Austin volunteers/runners for the T-shirts, resources and support for the team
* Asha Bangalore volunteers for spreading the word, logistics, treasury and all the 'behind-the-scenes' work!
* Families and friends of Asha volunteers and runners who contributed their time

Everyone's efforts formed the impeccable support structure for the entire team. Thanks!!

IV. Race reports


Before you start thinking that this was not a big deal, please do type up your race report! It was a big deal for the rest of us!

A race report could just be a simple account of events during your race or a complete video coverage! Do what you feel like , but think of it as your 'thank you' to all the support you got! So, please do thank all those who supported you ;) - you could email your race report to me or the group. We would compile all reports and send it out to the team and post it in the blog.

V. What Next ?

1. Team Asha runs - lets try and keep the team runs going. Until the next season starts, we will meet informally for an easy run in the weekend. The plan is to tie it up with volunteering/visiting some asha supported efforts in and around Bangalore as well.

2. Dr. Rajat, B2F and Santhosh are starting a new initiative. This is not yet associated with Team Asha. You can know more about it here -
We will be starting a training program for the Sunfeast 10K (May, 2009, Bangalore).

VI. What Matters ?

Does the PR on Sunday matter ? Does the drop out of the race on Sunday matter ? Does just the race on Sunday matter ? Some of us were there physically and some were not. Some of us ran the race and some didn't.

But, what matters is we did it as a team all the way through. What matters is that none of us will quit running whatever the result. Ironically, what matters most is not "us" - Its not about you, Its not about me - We all signed up to be a part of this team. We all fundraised for the same cause we believed in. Crossing the finish line on Sunday wouldn't mean a lot if we don't cross the fundraising targets.

(For Team Asha)

P.S: Please forward the mail to anyone I might have missed out. If I missed out on anyone, it really isn't intentional and definitely not to belittle the efforts - just an oversight on my part!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Trip to Ananya.

On Saturday, January 31, folks from Team Asha in Bangalore had a run with the Ananya kids. Here are the folks from Team Asha who were there: Noel, Kanishka, Pramod, Sriram, Vibha, Alok, Vinodh, Thushar, Balu, Manjula and Santhosh.

Ananya is a learning center in Bellandur that works with children who have dropped out of mainstream schooling (primarily due to learning disabilities or behavioral disabilities). It was started in March 1998, by a group of individuals concerned about the dearth of schools that provide relevant and meaningful education for the underprivileged children in and around Bangalore city. Even though the Indian constitution guarantees free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14, there are no schools that the poor can choose from. Either the schools are very good, but expensive and therefore beyond the reach of the underprivileged, or they are free but have poor physical facilities and offer a standard curriculum which is dull and boring. Most children, who drop out of school, do so because the schools do not cater to their special needs. Education in such critical context has no meaning or relevance to these children. It does not provide them with the required skills to overcome the social traumas or the emotional and physical hardships they face everyday. Asha had supported the initiative in it's early stages till 2003. Though Asha Bangalore has not supported the school financially, we are still in touch with the co-ordinators. You can learn more here -

Asha's project page -
Ananya's Blog -

About 10-12 kids from Ananya will also be running the 10K distance at Auroville this year. They have been following a schedule and training for the run over the last few weeks.

You can read more about our earlier trip and the story of the play ('Hope for the flowers') here:

After some initial confusion about the directions, we made it to the school and started a little bit late. All of us got out on the run which was in a loop of 6kms. The kids were full of energy! They distributed amongst us to make sure none of us got lost :) - Some of the kids were blazing fast and had a lot of fun. 8 year old rajesh was the youngest in the group and kept us entertained! Shashikala was quite good and natural at her running as well. Some of the Team Asha folks did a few more loops as we tapered down this week for the upcoming Auroville marathon. After the run, we all got together and there was a spontaenous call for a game of volleyball. Slowly, almost everyone around joined the game! We had quite some fun with a very well fought tight volleyball game. George is one of the teachers at Ananya who encourages all kinds of sports at the School.

We then had a hearty breakfast of Idlis, Sambar, Chutney and boiled eggs! We also had some tasty filter coffee. We discussed about Ananya's efforts over breakfast. Uddhav (teacher at Ananya and avid runner) gave us a brief history of the school and its efforts. He also narrated his experiences and how he became a part of Ananya. We also discussed the recent efforts of Asha and B2F (back 2 fitness) in involving itself with children through running. Some of the kids have also expressed themselves through art and drawing. One of the kids drew about her jogging experience :). We went through the work of many kids and also browsed through the informative charts put up in the dining space.

The school next door was an 'international' school holding its sports day competition. The principal of the school was going on and on with a long speech on the need for more physical activity :) - then they conducted many events like the 100m sprint for LKG kids etc. It was quite a contrast to what was happening at Ananya!

We chatted with the kids for a while and got to know more about their backgrounds, their aspirations etc. Later, we clicked a lot of photos and it was time to bid goodbye! All the kids wanted us to stay for longer and play cricket with them! But, we all had to go and it was unanimously decided that we all will meet up again for a similar run-together next Saturday!

You can see the rest of the photos here:

These are the volunteering opportunities available at Ananya for those interested (as sent by Uddhav from Ananya):


27/2, Devi farm,Chikkabellandur Village, Varthur Hobli, Sarjapur road, Carmelaram Post, Banglaore-35

1. Day: Monday
Time : 11 am to 1 pm
Venue: Ananya campus
Activity: Morning Movies
Description: Watch a movie with the children followed by a discussion. (During this time we have a staff meeting while the children arrive from their homes):

2. Day: Thursday
Time: 10.30 am -- 1.00 pm
Venue: VS Dental College
Activity: Visiting the dentist
Description: A group of 10 children go to visit the dentist at VS Dental College near KR Market. A new group goes every Thursday morning. After the children have had a check up, some children go through remedial treatment if they need to. The volunteers are expected to escort the students from Ananya to the Dental College, or receive them there, and see them off at the KR Market bus stop after the check-up.

3. Day: Monday to Fridays
Time : 5 pm – 7 pm
Venue: Ananya campus
Activity: Homework and Tutoring
Description: Any weekday evenings convenient to the volunteers can help a group of 10 children with their home work and tutor the tenth standard students. The students are taking the following exams: Economics, Science, Kannada, Social Studies, Hindi, Business Studies, and Mathematics.

4. Day: Saturday
Time : 11 am to 6 pm
Venue: Ananya campus
Activity: Games and Sports
Description: Anytime! The volunteers can play games and sports that inculcate a team spirit and sportsmanship ( cricket matches, hockey, football etc.) at the campus. They are welcome to stay for lunch and beyond.

5. Day: Saturdays
Time : 11 am to 1 pm
Venue: Ananya campus
Activity: Computer Classes
Description: The volunteers conduct computer classes in our computer lab consisting of 10 computers. Our resident staff will help with the curriculum.

6. Day: Anyday
Time : Any time convenient to volunteers
Venue: Any place convenient to volunteers
Activity: Fund raising
Description: We need help with networking and fundraising. Volunteers can help build a network of Ananya supporters who in turn can help fundraise or create visibility for Ananya.

7. Day: Anyday
Time : Any time convenient to volunteers
Venue: Any place convenient to volunteers
Activity: Web site updating and maintaining
Description: We have a website and we need help updating the website periodically and maintaining it so that the latest developments and information is available to the visitors to the site.

8. Day: Saturdays and Sundays
Time : 11 am to 1 pm
Venue: Ananya campus
Activity: Mentoring
Description: We want mentors for our children. Mentors who are there for the children—to talk to them, listen to them, be a part of their lives and occasionally socialize with them, help them make informed choices, take decisions and widen their perspectives.

9. Day: On Activity days
Time : Depends on the activity
Venue: To Ananya campus
Activity: Transportation
Description: The volunteers (if they can drive or arrange transport) can drop the 12-15 children off to campus from the following activities:

o the Karnataka State Hockey field near Divya Shree Chambers, Langford Road at 9. 00 am) on Wednesdays after their Hockey practice,
o on week days (except Thursdays) from Jayanagar 4th T Block to the campus from the Table Tennis coaching at 6.30 pm.

10. Day: Saturdays and Sundays
Time : 11 am to 1 pm
Venue: Ananya campus
Activity: Outdoor Activities/ Campus Cleaning
Description: Volunteer at any of the outdoor activities as and when planned. Help with gardening or cleaning the campus.