The World Cup is here !!

Hey guys, what’s up! Today’s post centres around a historic event that’s taking place in my homeland, India. No, it’s not another Demonetization nor is it Baahubali 3, it’s the FIFA U-17  World Cup !! You’re probably wondering “What’s the big deal? It’s just U-17!There’s no CR7 Claw, The Flea isn’t racing around, Zlatan isn’t saying “Hail Zlatan” & Rooney isn’t showing the fist.” Well, need I remind you that every single one of them broke into their national teams through this iconic tournament at some point in time & today they are national, nay global sensations! Even the Saviour of England, Marcus Rashford & Kylian Mbappe, the dude who broke the transfer market both went through this tournament barely a few years ago!

But this post is not about how this tournament helped these icons find their spark, no it’s about how it’s lighting the football fever in India! True, tournaments like ISL & Pro Kabaddi league are revolutionizing the sporting landscape of India, But they still weren’t anywhere near the glamour & allure of the IPL. Indian football needed a silver bullet, an event so grand, that Football would take over the minds of everyone. And they got what they wished for & so much more.

Sure the Indian team did crash out of the tournament, but not before lighting hope in the hearts of every Indian football fan. You’re probably asking me”why are you celebrating the fact that your national team lost all three of its matches & scored only 1 goal?” Well on paper, India’s performance seems pathetic, but if you look closely, the Indian team played fantastically – considering the fact that this was India’s first FIFA related event! Not only did the performance of certain players impress Indians, they are now turning heads in the West as well, one Indian player’s signature is being sought out by both MLS & Seria A teams!

And you know why I’m even happier? ISL clubs & it’s players will be included the FIFA 18! No longer will Sunil Chetri be a free agent from an unknown country, he’ll be placed on the same pedestal as Robben! All this is a great achievement, not just for the Indian Football, but for the Indian sporting fraternity as well, as it shows the evolution of India from “Cricket Only” to “The Melting Pot of Sports”. And more good news is on the way, even as we speak, India is lobbying for the rights to host U-20 World Cup as well!

Sure, there is a long way to go, but finally, after decades of sweat & toil, the world of Indian Sports is coming into its own.

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The Rajapalayam Records

Hey guys, Welcome to my favourite type of post, A travel Post!

Today’s post revolves around my awe-inspiring trip (and I was going all alone, no parents!) to a small town by the name of Rajapalayam, about 560 km from my hometown, Chennai.

Many of you may not have heard of this spectacular place nor have any clue as to where it is located. Well if you looked at the emblem of the Tamil Nadu government, you would see the Gopuram (Gateway Tower) of the Srivilliputtur Andal Temple, a renowned temple throughout southern India. Well, Rajapalayam is barely a stone’s throw from this famous (Not just for the goddess but also for a tasty milk sweet called Paal-Guava) temple town.

My visit was from 27th of September to 2nd October (celebrated as Gandhi Jayanthi in India). Though it may seem as a short time span, trust me it was totally worth it & we would have stayed longer if not for the fact that school (damn!) came calling the next day. I travelled here with a 14-member team of MNS (Madras Naturalist Society) an organization in which I am the youngest life member. Our hosts were Mr.T.S Raja of WAR (Wildlife Association of Rajapalayam), Cool name right! and his team comprising of Mr.Gandhi, Santhosh Anna, Mr.Vishnu Shankar & Mr.Pranav  – they were absolutely amazing people who genuinely loved what they did & it was their company that we treasured the most during our stay.

So let’s begin the trip shall we? It all started at the Koyambedu Private Bus Stop in Chennai. The Departure time was 7:45 pm, seems simple enough doesn’t it? Well for me that time was like a timer on a time bomb! Why? I had sort of, kind of bungled up my packing time which resulted in me getting stuck in the middle of one of Chennai’s legendary traffic snarls. And to rub salt in my wounds, it was pouring cats & dogs. My phone showed that it was 5 minutes to board. Terrified, I leapt out of the car & then began a series of panic-stricken running towards the Bus depot, while carrying 2 massive pieces of luggage in one hand, babbling on the phone with the bus driver, trying to hold the bus as much as possible, all this in the middle of the thunderstorm of the century!Finally, thanks to the fact that Chennai’s traffic was as slow paced as a sloth,  I was able to catch the bus. Needless to say that I was drenched from head to toe, causing some of my fellow passengers to crack jokes on my part.

(Disclaimer: You are going to read a lot of scientific gibberish so if you have a spinning head at the end of each para, don’t worry, it’s completely natural. Also these name of the species changes almost every year so don’t worry if a streaked fantail warbler become  a zitting cisticola)

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Day 1: Ayyanar Kovil

The 14-member team of MNS gathered at 9 am at Hotel Anandas, Rajapalayam to head towards Ayyanar Kovil, which is one of the key locations on the Western Ghats that skirts Rajapalayam. The trek started at the temple & was about 8 kms in distance. Near the temple was the residences of the forest natives (now more or less assimilated with “modern civilization”). We were accompanied by Mr.Karuppaiya, whose very spirit was interlinked with the forest & its residents.

Now Rajapalayam’s virgin forests were simply bursting with wildlife and a specific spot near a water stream had once recorded 231 species of butterflies (if that doesn’t seem astounding, well consider the fact that Tamil Nadu itself has only 306 butterfly species!). Among the species spotted by us, the presence of the Great Orange Tip, Common Banded Peacock and Blue Mormon (India’s 2nd largest butterfly) made this tiny piece of land seem like the famed Gardens of Paradise. As we moved on, our team could see different dragonflies and damson flies which were happily sculling near the water streams. The team stopped to take a detailed look at the symmetrical leaves and discussion on the significance of Maha Vilvam tree (a sacred tree dedicated to Lord Shiva).

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Now we naturalists are a peculiar bunch, something as tiny as a Pill Bug invokes a passionate discussion on its distinction with similar looking Wood Louse but the pug marks of a dhole/Palm civet doesn’t really make the crew jump up & down in excitement (to be fair, the group consisted of mostly bird & butterfly lovers). So anyway, after a series of slips & slides, we reached a pristine stream at the top of the mountain. At the sight of water, the group went berserk, each one trying to be the first to fill their bottles / swim / explore in the magical waters.

From there, we headed to a school named Chinmaya Vidyalaya run by Ramco Group
(now you know that I am not the most school friendly person on this planet but this school actually surprised me with its emphasis on nature & modern technology, two things which I feel are indispensable in today’s world), is spread over 36 acres. We were stunned by the presence of  800 yr. old African Baobab tree at the school. This behemoth of the forest stood at  80 ft. & had a diameter of 25 ft.

Later in the evening, Mr.Ramachandra Raja, MNS Life Member and a Senior Director of the Ramco Group hosted us with a fabulous dinner which was followed by naturalist Mr.Santhosh sharing his experience and photographs of birds and wildlife he has captured over a period of 3 years.

Day 2: Sastha Kovil

Sastha Kovil (yes another temple, this one in honour of Ayappa) was the starting point for our next trek, this was as long as 16km! The Forest Guard who accompanied us kept repeating the same thing throughout the trek “you should have come during Monsoon, you’ll see everything

Contrary to his statement, we did see quite a few bird & butterfly species, one of which, the Autumn Leaf Butterfly, caused quite a stir at it was the first time it had been spotted in Tamil Nadu!

In the night, some of us took the night walk, where we were fortunate to spot the Indian Night Jar and Mottled Wood Owl.

Day 3: Shenbaga Thoppu/Kattalazhar Kovil

This was an unusual trek as along with our team of 14, several locals were attempting the back-breaking trek to Kattalazhar temple to seek the blessings of Lord Vishnu, as Puratassi (the month in the Tamil Calendar) was sacred to him.

Brain Fever Birds welcomed us from all directions, which later was beaten by the Bonnet Macaque and Langurs. We also spotted some Grizzle Giant Squirrels which were endemic to the area. The Southern Birdwing, which is the largest butterfly in India was a sight for sore eyes as we completed the gruelling trek.

Energy & waistline lost during the trek was replenished thanks to a full banana leaf meal at the 100+ yrs old Hotel Kathiravan.

With due pomp & ceremony, we bid adieu to Rajapalayam at 5:30 pm via the Silambu Express, but the memories we made there can never be forgotten.

Well, that’s all for today folks, thanks for joining me on this massive blog post & I Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, until next time, Goodbye.

 

 

 

It’s Tikki Takka time!!!!!

All those who love a good football match, please raise your hands!!!!! A vast majority of you would say heck ya because this Beautiful Game is celebrated throughout this Universe ( Uni= One, Verse= Song, so essentially One Song). Well some of us are great at playing the game but aren’t so great when it comes to managing( I’m looking at you Maradona) while others aren’t great players but are the greatest managers ever. Well I belong to the latter half, I’m certainly not up there with the greats like Sir Alex & Jose Mourinho but I am a mean strategist & my FIFA 17 records prove it!

But some of you would say ” That’s just a game, it’s very different in real life”, Well I agree with you so for the past few months, I had been pestering my class football team to let me manage them for just one tournament. Finally about 2 weeks back they had caved in & had made me their manager for an under 18 tournament that they were going for.

I was Super excited, it was going to be my first time managing a real team. So I decided to get a few formations & tactics ready. My friends were highly sceptical of my abilities(by highly sceptical, I mean Comments dripping with enough sarcasm to fill the ocean)This seriously unnerved me( as it was meant to) & I gingerly sent some pics of my formations in our WhatsApp group, seriously expecting them to treat it like a joke.

A 4-4-2 Football Formation

But to my surprise, The first comment wasn’t a GIF of laughter but was one praising those formations. This nearly caused me to faint! Several such comments were to follow & suffice to say that I was acting like someone had fed me Coffee & Red Bull at the same time, such was my level of joy.

The next day was D- Day so as to speak & when we gathered at the indoor stadium, we were given quite the rude shock, Every single one of the opponents was built like a bull & had beards that would give Santa Claus a run for his money! I went nuts! I ran around screaming” We’re all going to die!!!” about 50 times until my friends managed to calm me down. Taking a deep breath, I decided that the best course of action was to use our tactics & strategies to counteract their superior strength & pace. While my team was warming up, I was busy observing our opponents, learning their weaknesses & strengths & trying to see which formation would increase our chances of winning the most.

Finally with all my research was done, I briefed my team about what to do & made sure that each one of them understood their roles perfectly. But that wasn’t a difficult job because these guys were some of the best players in our entire school & had some fantastic footballing brains up in their craniums, so this was super easy for them to understand.

So prep done, we headed out to battle. We played 2 matches, lost one & won the other, but we didn’t to qualify as the team that had beat us had won both their matches, including ours, thus automatically qualifying for the semi-finals & nothing could have been done about it. Deflated we returned to the dugout where the two teams that played against us congratulated us! We were confused as to why they would do so when one of them explained that they were 2nd-year college students & they had never gone up against 14 yr olds who put up such a fight or had such efficient strategies. We were stunned for a few seconds but then we burst into celebration, due to the fact that we had beaten a group of 2nd-year college students( Ironically the scoreline in that match was 2-0) & had impressed another group of them.

Compliments flew around, each one crediting someone else for the win, my name included! But the kicker for me was that they declared that I would be their manager in every tournament from now on. Once more I fainted but not on cement flooring, instead of like an act of fate, on the green turf right in front of Sir Alex’s Painting.

 

 

How I taught my Grandmother YouTube

Hello world, it’s time for my 1st set of weekly posts! And this one is a kicker! The reason for this title is my own grandmother & my desire to create a more modern-day version of  Sudha Murthy’s award-winning book” How I taught my Grandmother To Read”, a delightful book whose rainbow colours were obscured by the monochromatic fact that we had to mug it up, just to get a measly letter on our report cards (Curse you Education System). Aside from the fact that my post which will tear up this decrepit system is on track to get published very soon, the inspiration for this particular post began about 2 days ago.

My Navaratri holidays had begun & I was in paradise, beating my friends in online FIFA 17 matchups, wanting to watch Kingsmen: The Golden Circle, Praying to God that both Lukaku & Dhoni should get an Oscar when I caught sight of my usually chatty & lively grandmother, looking sullen & crestfallen. So I walked up to her & so began the ensuing dialogue:

Me: Patti (Tamil for grandmother), what’s wrong?

Patti: Nothing Vaageesh, I just feel so bored these days (Ok a bit anti-climatic but hey it’s the truth), there is no excitement in my life anymore.

So I thought to myself, how do I bring excitement into the life of someone who had seen more than seventy years of this world, when it hit me, she hadn’t seen the one thing that had turned Homo Sapien (wise human) into Homo Sapien Sapien (futuristic human), The internet! So I bolted upstairs, grabbed my laptop, a chair & prepared to send my grandmother into the world wide web.

This was easier said than done, it was an exhilarating & curious experience trying to explain to her this world which was like second nature to me but a conundrum to her. I enjoyed explaining simple concepts like Google to her & I saw that this was opening new doors for her.

The next step was, of course, the most popular destination in this Universe, YouTube. I was floored by my grandmother’s excitement about a place where she could binge watch just about anything from the weather to Trump’s toupee (I think this was due to the fact that I had used south Indian soap-operas as an example). She made remarkable progress, subscribing to half of South Indian TV’s YouTube channels, getting brand new material to discuss with her friends & generally getting a brand new lease of excitement. She is quite the multi-tasker, watching Big Boss, chatting with my aunts, skyping her relatives all at the same time.  I am astonished that her love of learning hasn’t diminished after so many years, it truly does inspire you to want to be the same when you reach that golden age.

I am planning to introduce her to WhatsApp very soon, but I am currently busy trying to explain to her why a mouse is called a mouse, so I have to go, till next time my people, till next time.

 

MUNing

MUN stands for Model United Nation & Muning, is an oratory skill, like debating, but what separates it from other such skills is the fact, that MUN is internationally funded & encouraged by the UN & is considered as an equivalent to joining a 2-year Cambridge English course, minus the sleepless nights, inane grammar & stiff British accents!

You may be wondering why I am babbling about all this, well I have recently just started Muning & it’s a fantastic experience! It’s so invigorating & challenging at the same time, you get to meet so many people & it’s literally a melting pot for ideas!

MUN simulates the operations of a real UN committee. What happens is you are given a country, say Ethiopia & a committee, like CCC (Climate Change Committee) for example & you are given an agenda i.e. what the committee has gathered to discuss. What you do is present your country’s stance on the given agenda. In a MUN, you become the delegate of our nation so your personal opinions or views don’t matter & frankly shouldn’t exist during the MUN, you must full & full follow your country’s perspective & opinions.

The idea is to help you see things from another’s perspective.

Now you must always prepare at least a week before every MUN, researching about your country, its stance on the issue, its allies, enemies, economic status & the agenda in general. Also, there will be delegates representing other countries so research about their countries as well.

Since MUN simulates UN procedure the whole session has formal phrases & codes that must always be followed, like referring to yourself in 3rd person, always using we, not I, with the permission of the Chair etc.

If you want more in depth & detailed info about MUN procedure, visit  bestdelegate.com

If you want to watch a Mock MUN, watch this:

These links will help you get a basic idea about MUN procedure but the spirit of MUN is not that, it’s in the camaraderie between delegates, the tough situations you are given, the amazing Chairs ( Not the furniture, the person who oversees the committee) the crazy antics of fellow delegates, missing school,😉 learning new information, your new perspective on the world, all this & more are what defines the very essence of Muning.

Granted, MUN does at first seem a touch too formal but once you get into it, you will find that that’s a small price to pay for rewards that will last through out your life. How? Well for all our “I just want a good paying job, a house & 2.5 kids” people, having 1-2 yrs. of MUN experience on your resume increases your chance of achieving what some call the American dream by over 40%! And yes, it isn’t restricted to 1st world countries alone.

But for those who joined MUN because they were actually interested, you are going to reach something greater than this my friends, you are not going to become a Corporate Mogul or an orange faced president, instead, you are going to be a part of an amazing Global Community of ideas, knowledge & harmony.

Toolkit

Hey guys so as you may have noticed, my blog has gone through somewhat of a sea change from changing the name to a brand-new style. Usually, when this happens, a slew of posts follow & then the blog goes dark. Well, this time I intend to break this vicious cycle. The research for my book is done & the 1st draft is set to start very soon.

It’s been very difficult for me to concentrate on my book & this blog as I have entered my 1st year of high school aka 9th standard. And with the ”reform” by the CBSE, the number of exams & chapters to study is simply mind boggling and is proving to be a serious brain drain for students, I’ll elaborate on this in a separate blog (this subject is a very special one to me so you can expect some in depth details, ideas & comments)

But now since my Navaratri holidays are fast approaching, I have some free time & intend to use it to the fullest! But what after Navaratri? Well, my exams will resume & I will have a shortage of time but rest assured, I guarantee that I will post at least 2 topics during the weekend.

This was meant to just be an update post but it’s starting to go into several regions of interest so I will just roll with it. The reason for the name Toolkit is more of an instinctive one rather than one triggered by an incident. Toolkit represents a desire I have had to make my blog be like a toolkit for life & its posts, various tools which may entertain and or help you.

Well, that’s basically the preamble to what you can expect from this place in the coming weeks & I hope you are as excited as I am for this new beginning!

I would like to finish this update with a quote by Maria Robinson –“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending”

My second marathon

Hi guys, I’m back with another new experience to share with you today. It’s about my 2nd marathon!!

The marathon was organized by TiE Chennai to celebrate entrepreneurship & also to venerate the TiE Global Summit which was to take place in Delhi (India) for the 1st time. The marathon had two categories, 3 KM & 5 KM. The event was to take place in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, the home ground of Chennaiyn FC (A popular football club in ISL. They have sort of acted as a replacement for CSK). Now, before I get into all the nitty gritty of the event, I would like to talk about something remarkable that I saw while I was there. Now don’t expect me to say something crazy like Aliens singing & dancing or Batman enlisting me as his new sidekick (Though I would’ve loved for that to have been true).

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What really wanted to talk about is concerning a dog. Yes, you read that right, a dog! Now this dog had been watching the marathon from the start all the way to its end & even joined in at the last. So if a dog could write about this event, this is how I think it would.

Yawn!!! Good morning world.

Hey what’s going on today?!!!

(Looks around) What the heck are all this humans doing here today & that to this early! It’s not 1 of those loud ball kicker days, is it?

But those infernal things are never this early & they’re never this many humans around my potty line. Hmm! Why are all of them gathered around that big stand thingama jiggy? And why in the name of Bhairava are they wiggling their tails & paws all over the place??!

And they’ve brought their cubs too! Humans are weird but their cubs are even weirder! Some of them wear weird bits of the “Stone that burns & freezes” in their mouth & others wear objects of the “Stone that bends like water” with the “Stone that sees through all” within it! Another group douses themselves in “Smoke that chokes”. The list goes on & on.

Now what’s this, they’ve all gathered & are listening to a person, who judging by his midriff & the 2 stones he holds, appears to be their alpha. He is growling into 1 of those stones which has greatly magnified his voice, so much so that the other humans have stopped peering into their “Stones that Show the Lights of others” & started listening to him. He is madly gesturing towards my den & when he finishes, there is a thunder of approval from the other humans. I suspect that he is planning to drive me & my brothers from our home so that the humans may raze it down & build another one of their queer mountains of grit. The other humans must be here to assist him in this & the cubs have been brought here for their first lesson in human greed. I can’t let this happen! I’ve lost enough of my brothers & sisters to these maniacal humans.

Oh no, they’ve readied themselves into a pack! I must hurry (Runs down from the stands) Arrgh, Bow! Bow! Bow! (Stop! Stop! Don’t you dare touch my home or there will be severe consequences) (Sees them running) NOOO!!! Stop! Don’t you dare! What’s this, they’ve all turned away from my home!! Ha-ha, run puny humans, run for you can’t defeat me!!! (Lops to his seat) I’d call that a success!!

But wait, why are they running around on my scent trail again & again! This is one the weirdest things I’ve ever seen humans do! Ok this is getting very boring, I’m going back to sleep!( Wakes up later) What they’re still going !!! And some of them are wearing shiny versions of the “Stone that burns & freezes” on their necks & dancing about in joy! Well maybe I should help these remaining humans finish their chase of stone. Well better go now .

Well see you, bye!!