Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.

Moderating Panel Discussions on Passionate Leadership at India Leadership Summit 2012.

While I speak at many events and conferences, there are a few that I truly look forward to. The India Leadership Summit 2012 is one such event. The line up of speakers is truly amazing. Dr.Kiran Bedi (Magsaysay Award Winner, Core Member of Anna Hazare Team),  Dr.Satinath Sarangi (Leader fighting for Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims), Phanindra Sama (Founder,,  Sharad Sharma (Director, Movico Technologies and Ex-CEO of Yahoo! R&D ) to name a few. Some of my good friends like Rashmi Bansal (Best-selling Author), Vijay Anand (Founder, The Startup Centre), Purushotaman (Director-South, NASSCOM) are also there and look forward to catching up with them.

The event takes place at Sree Shakti Institute of Engineering and Technology in Coimbatore on 3rd March, 2012.

I was invited to moderate two panel discussions. The first is on “Passionate Leadership – The Story of Amazing Ascent by Fellow Indians” which features the following 3 inspiring individuals.  Scroll down for info on next panel.

Panel Discussion # 1

Muruganatham, Inventor of Low Cost Sanitary Napkin Machine

Mr.Muruganantham has made a powerful impact with his invention of low cost sanitary napkin making machine which won him the ‘Best Innovation National Award’ from the President of India.

He will speak on the personal journey of making the Sanitary Napking making machine. Also about Surviving versus Achieving.

Rajesh Bhat, CNN IBN Real Hero Award Winner, Rural BPO Entrepreneur

Rajesh Bhat, who is just 27 years of age, runs The Head Held High Foundation, which is turning illiterate villagers into BPO employees. “Our intention is to enable every villager, irrespective of whatever the background, caste, creed, religion to live a life of dignity with their head held high and give them an opportunity without charity,” Rajesh said. More about him here.

Rajesh Bhat will speak on his ‘Head held high movement’. What it meant to him when he won the CNN IBN Real Hero Award.

Babar Ali, World’s Youngest School Headmaster

Babar Ali is an Indian student and teacher from Murshidabad in West Bengal. He was called the “youngest headmaster in the world” by BBC in October 2009, at the age of sixteen.
Babar Ali is still a student himself, enrolled at the government-run Raj Govinda school in Berhampore, West Bengal.In the afternoons, starting at 4:00 p.m., he in turn teaches students in a school he founded in his parents´ back yard in Murshidabad. He had begun teaching at nine years of age, mostly as a game, and then decided to continue teaching other children at a larger scale.

Babar Ali will speak on the story of the hsi school, what inspired him to start the school , its challenges, and its success. He will also show a video presentation of his school.

Panel Discussion # 2

The second panel discussion that I will moderate is on the subject of “Passionate Leadership – The Story of Winning the Indian Turbulence” which has these two amazing individuals.

Anousheh Ansari, First Female Private Space Explorer

On September 18, 2006, Anousheh Ansari captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer. She also earned a place in history as the fourth private explorer to visit space and the first astronaut of Iranian descent. She blasted off for an eight-day expedition aboard the International Space Station as part of the Expedition 14 crew of the Soyuz TMA-9. This was the accomplishment of a lifelong dream for her. More about her here.

Anousheh Ansari will speak on The power of hope and imagination. Her experience of realizing a childhood dream of travelling to space. Stories of contributions to Space Exploration from Indians […this will act to motivate the young Indian engineers to consider space exploration as a career. ]

Madhan Karky, Computer Science Professor and Lyrics Engineer

Madhan Karky Vairamuthu is a lyricist, research associate, software engineer, and film dialogue writer. He is the son of poet and lyricist Vairamuthu. He is fast moving out of his father’s shadow by becoming an innovative lyricist. He has penned lyrics for songs in movies such as Ko, 180, Endhiran, Nanban, 7am Arivu etc. More about him here.

Madhan Karky will speak on his self-made breakthrough to the world of Movies. […the story of convincing Director Shankar to give an opportunity in Enthiran]. His tryst with Lyrics Engineering [..with atleast 2 examples of songs made through Lyric engineering]. And how he has been influenced by his famous father “Kaviperarasu” Vairamuthu.

The Hunt for the Vinyl Records

When I was a small kid, back in our ancestral home in Sooramangalam Village in Pondicherry, we had a LP record player. Not a gramophone but a modern (then!) player. My Dad and Uncle owned Record album holders (which looked like monstrous sized photo albums) with records of English, Tamil and Hindi songs.

As we grew up and moved houses, no one knows where the record player and the LPs are. My suspicion is that they are all discarded and must be lying in garbage dumps somewhere.

When I started my antiques collection, the LP records were firmly on the ‘Must have’ list. Five years ago, when I visited Moore Market to buy books, I noticed a few shops selling these records. When I made a visit there again, I was hoping that those shops still existed. I was not to be disappointed.

I went there on a week day at 11 am (that’s the time most shops open) and spent an entire day there rummaging through the collection.

The shop you see below is just one of the shops that the owner has. He has a few more mostly used as godowns stocked with records, piled up from floor to ceiling. I was spoiled for choice.

Most of the records I picked up were old English music ones. I also picked up a lot of old tamil songs featuring Sivaji Ganesan. The MGR songs LPs were sold at a premium. The owner tells me its mostly the aged AIADMK party workers who come and pick up the MGR records. My favorites were Rajini and Kamal records.

That’s me with my collection of records at my home. It’s a sizeable collection. Now, the onus lies in me to take care of them. While I own a gramophone, these big records cannot be played on them. I need to purchase a more modern record player. That’s next on my list.

More photos from the Vinyl Records hunt.

The complete list of all the vinyl records that I own. Each individually photographed.

Received a Treasure Trove of Tarzan Comic Strips since 1957

Yesterday was one of those amazing days that rarely happens.  It all started with a simple tweet I received from Rajendran Dandapani, the Head of iGarage – the Apple-focused development team at one of my favorite companies, Zoho Corp.

Kiruba,  Heard you are gunning for a comic-collection record? Didn’t know you were a Tarzan fan. Have a trunkful from old Indian Express..

Rajendran had obviously chanced upon my Comics Collection website . I was happy to find another comic fan in Chennai and replied to him with this tweet.

Yes, Raj. Great to hear you are a Tarzan and Comics fan. Please guard those strips with your life!

I nearly fell out of my chair when I read Rajendran’s reply.

Kiruba, I meant – I am planning to give them away…

We spoke on the phone and fixed up a time to meet together at his residence in the evening. When I was warmly welcomed into the home, I was shown the treasure box. A carton filled with comic strips.

All the comic strips were neatly segregated by stories and years and packed inside polythene covers. Each of them were numbered. I could immediately feel the passion and love with this hobby was pursued.

A bigger surprise was to await me. I was introduced to Rajendran’s Dad. A very amiable man with a radiating charm, walked out of his room. He couldn’t shake hands as he walked out mid-way from his dinner. It was then Rajendran told me that his Dad is a huge Tarzan fan and has been collecting Tarzan strips since when he as a young boy.

Rajendran’s Dad spoke pristine English and articulated how he was a big fan of Johnny Weismuller, the 5 time Olympics swimming gold medalist who acted in Tarzan movies. Since his younger days, he would carefully cut the Tarzan comic strips that appeared in Indian Express and save them. This was a bed time story tool for his young son.

Its obvious where Rajendran’s passion for Tarzan came from. Raj says that the Tarzan comics helped build a close strong bond between him and his Dad.

As me and Rajendran continued to talk, I asked him the difficult question. It was clearly the elephant in the room and had to get it out of the way. How can he afford to give away the collection? After all, not only was there an humongous effort that was spent in diligently collecting the strips, there were extremely strong and deep memories attached.

I expected Raj to give a pained reply. Surprisingly he didn’t. Either that or he is very good at masking his feelings. He told me that they had made digital scans of the strips and now its easier for his kid to read them on an iPad. More importantly, there is a copy of each of those strips available online. Besides, the cartons were occupying space at his home and they were doing some serious spring cleaning.

As a comics collector, I have total respect for Rajendran and his Dad for what they have accomplished. When I picked the carton and walked towards the car, I had a heavy feeling in my heart. A feeling of deep responsibility. The carton not only contains years of comic strips but tons of memories and nostalgia. It carries an inexplicably bonding between father and son. I have to be a good custodian and pass it onto the next generation. That’s the best form of gratitude I can show to Rajendran and his Dad.

A Gramophone Comes Home

After months of searching, I finally selected a gramophone that I liked. Its actually a remake and not an antique. However, its a remarkably done remake. The only consolation though is that I exchanged the shiny flower horn for a real antique one (seen in dull brass color). This gramophone is a full working model and it plays great. We listened to ‘Kaadhalika Neramillai’ (one of my parent’s favorite movie) and surprised them last night. View the Album.

500 Words Before 9am.

If you had read my previous post, “Be a Producer, Not a Consumer“, you would have known why I’m a big believer of producing new content.

Producing new content can be in various forms. Writing. Photographing. Video recording, Podcasting, Designing. The idea is to be proactively involved in creating new stuff.

Among all these, writing is the most crucial and the most potent. While I loosely consider myself a writer and confident of my writing skills, I’ve been frustrated with my lack of dedication to actually park my arse and put pen on paper.

I found a solution to the problem, strangely, through my daughter. One day, I took her to a writing workshop for kids.  Since they didn’t object to Parents being part of the program, I stayed on.

Among all the techniques that they taught the kids, the most impressive one was the ‘Write anything for 3 minutes‘ task. The trainer told the kids that the rule was that they should not stop writing at any time. They are free to write anything that comes to their mind. It can be a story, an essay, an incident, an experience… just about any subject under the Sun. The writer reminded that they need not worry about about typos or grammar. The important thing is to keep writing.

I will never forget the sight of the 300 young kids in the hall, their heads bent down, focusing on the paper they were writing. For an entire 3 minutes, I never saw a single head bop up.  It was amazing how focused they were. More importantly, the kids felt satisfied that they produced something original. It kindled their interest in writing. And post this exercise, I could see a visible difference in their involvement in the workshop.

I was impressed. I told myself what if I tried the same experiment. So I tweaked the method to  write 500 words. And instead of 3 minutes, I made it before 9am.

The topic can be anything.  It can be a personal diary, a blog post, an article for a newspaper, a page for my next book, a tweet.  It can be a parts of all these. The important thing is for me to write. And to cross the 500 words mark.

True, not everything I write will be of good quality. It doesn’t matter. Remember, the experiment with the kids. If the trainer had told the kids to ‘Write an interesting essay within 3 minutes’, then 90% of the kids would have got stuck. They would be under pressure to not only to think of a subject but also under pressure to make it interesting.  I realized that the same thing applies to me. So far, I was pressuring myself into creating” meaningful” content. If I wasn’t sure how meaningful it is, I would invariably procrastinate. And slowly, I was losing the very habit of writing. Its shocking that in  the whole of 2011, I had written less than two dozen blog posts.

Now, the focus is on writing. Its on getting back into the writing habit. Getting myself into the groove. Once the habit sets in, I can turn my focus towards improving the quality.

It looks like the experiment is already working. I realize that I have just crossed the 500 words mark. 519 to be exact! And the time is just 8:22 am!

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