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

TwitterCamp on June 21 at Chennai

Pic: tenz1225

Block the date, fellas. June 21st, Sunday. TwitterCamp cometh.

TwitterCamp is a one day unconference where discussions revolve around the concept of Micro-blogging and its various uses. It’s an open event. Pretty soon, a wiki will be set up where you can register your name and the topic you would like to speak on.

We have started the hunt for a venue that can hold 150 people. As of now, we have had a very enthusiastic response from US Technologies to help offer their office space as venue.

Calling good designers to help design a logo for TwitterCamp. Please let your imagination fly.

The event is the brainchild of The Knowledge Foundation, the non-profit group that has brought up BarCamp,, WikiCamp, MobileMondays etc.

TwitterCamp is a true unconfernce, meaning that anyone can participate and help out in organizing. If you would like to offer a helping hand, please send an email to ganesh @

Looking for TEDIndia Fellows

We all know that TED is coming to Mysore, India later this year. As part of the event, TED is looking to select 100 TED Fellows.

TED Fellows are remarkable thinkers and doers who have shown unusual accomplishment, exceptional courage, moral imagination and the potential to increase positive change in their respective fields. They can be innovators in technology, entertainment, design, science, film, art, music, entrepreneurship or the NGO community, among other pursuits.

The application to apply for a TEDIndia Fellow opened on April 20th and runs till June 15th.

The TEDIndia Fellows program will have international representation with a distinctly South Asian majority, with approximately 75% of the Fellows representing the South Asian region, and 25% representing other regions of the world. South Asia is defined as including the countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, Myanmar, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.

For more information about how individuals may apply for a TEDIndia Fellowship, please visit
. TED Fellows may apply or be nominated by another individual.

If you know a great person who fits the bill, please do highlight them. You can either directly nominate them or mention them in the comments below. Lets aim at bringing the hidden gems out in the limelight. Great achievers deserve the spotlight.

My First Advertising Experience

I got a call from Ogilvy & Mather, the advertising agency, saying that they are doing an advertising campaign for ChennaiLive and that they would like to feature me in the advertisement.

The first question that I asked Rangesh, the head of the project, was “Why me?”. Not that I was being modest but I was genuinely interested in knowing the reason why they had picked me. He then began to explain the concept. They had selected 10 people from various fields who have made a difference to Chennai and wanted me to be there from a technology/Internet perspective.

He then began to say who the other folks were.

  1. Benny Dayal, a popular cine playback singer who is part of A.R.Rahman troupe. He has sung for Delhi 6, Ghajini, Ayan and many more.

  2. Sarath Babu, the real life slumdog millionaire who after IIM A, decided to set up a food chain. He sold idlis when he was a kid. He’s now contesting the Lok Sabha elections.�

  3. Venkat Prabhu, Film Director who’s two films Chennai 6000028 & Saroja have been hits.�

  4. Pratap, Head, Human Resources, Sony Ericsson Asia Pacific

  5. Taara Rhine, Cultural Assistant, Allaince Francais�

  6. Swathi Iyengar, Tai Chi expert�

  7. Murali, Gold Gym, Fitness expert�

  8. Mahadevan,  who runs a Rs.400 crore food empire. Think Hot Breads, Planet Yumm, Wangs Kitchen, Zaras, Don Pepe, Benjarong etc.

  9. Chaitanya Rao,Chennai’s leading Fashion Designer,

An impressive list. It reminded me of Cerebrate, where we were aiming to rope in interesting folks from different fields.

I found it a bit fascinating when I was told that this was not a celebrity endorsement and that I will not be paid for it!  I guess they wanted to make things clear.
And so a couple of days later, the crew landed up at my apartment for the photo shoot.  It’s amazing how long a simple photo shoot can last.  Just for that one single photo, the shoot lasted over four hours. It would have lasted longer had it not been the setting of the sun that evening.  And this is not including the test shoot that was done a day earlier.

This makeup man has been in business for over 30 years and has worked on some of the biggest heros and heroines.  As he was giving me layers of paint and powder, we engaged in some interesting conversation about his profession.  By the time he was done with me, I was looking like a drama artist.

There was this instrument that the crew was constantly using. They told me its to check the light intensity and pretty much the same thing that the cricket umpires use.

The crew in action. There was a professional photographer, a visualizer, project coordinator, light boy and the makeup man. I forgot the photographer’s name but distinctly remember him to be a very affable guy who had an amazing smiling face. While he was shooting pics, he would engage me in conversation and crack jokes to get me to smile natually.

By this time, the light was fading fast.  The crew brought out a shiny white material in order to reflect more light on to me.  They wanted me to pose with a laptop. But my laptop was at home which would mean losing precious few minutes. So, the photographer gave me his MacBook to hold.

And so, here’s the final ad.  Amazing how they can pep up things.   Notice the magical disappearance of the Apple logo.  You can see that in my photo but not in the Ad. Guess, its been morphed out.
Click here for a bigger version of the ad.  The text that accompanies the had has a few factual errors.  The copy intends to say I “run” Wikipedia India which is incorrect. Wikipedia is a community project and I play an active part in helping spreading its usage.  Have requested O&M to correct the text.
I had the first real ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the advertising world. The people here are creatively brilliant and at the same time, wacky.  They are also perfectionist to the core. The minutest angle changes and the slightest light correction matter to them.  Overall, the entire experience was fascinating. I’m told that the ads will go live sometime early next month.

Chennai Facebook Developer Garage

The first Facebook Developer Garage in Chennai takes place today (March 15th) at 2PM. Its a community event in an unconference mode where we get a chance to explore, get gritty, tinker, experiment, and test out ideas for Facebook Platform. The idea is to get our hands dirty, and explore fresh ideas and solutions.

The event is not just for hardcore techies but also for business folks who would like to know how to leverage social networks effectively. Social Networks can be potent tools for building online communities, PR, brand building, talent scouting & recruitment amongst others.

Thomas Jestin, who is the winner of the Facebook App Contest will be demoing his app. Philip Urech, a Swiss national, will present his experience on how United Nations used Facebook and social networks in their Nuclear Disarmament campaign.

Photon has been kind enough to offer their office space as the venue. Here’s the address.

Photon Infotech
No. 2/102, Photon Towers,
Old Mahabalipuram Road, Karapakkam,

Here’s the direction to the venue.

For more information on directions and venue, please call Vasanth at 98409 59948 or me at 98415 97744.

Here are the other logos that we designed for the Garage.

The Epicurean Encore

I vividly remember the first meeting with Jigyasa Giri & Pratibha Jain. It was a couple of years ago when they had invited me home for a wonderful spread of absolutely yummy home-cooked meal. The recipe for each of the food item was taken from their best selling, award winning book, ‘Cooking at Home with Pedatha’. The book went on to win the prestigious ‘Gourmand’ Award for the ‘The Best Vegetarian Book in the World’ in 2006.

The success of their first book encouraged them to publish their second book titled ‘Sukham Ayu’, a carefully researched book which is the quintessence of an ayuvedic diet. The book is a wonderful collection of recipes consisting of simple, vegetarian dishes with the goodness of Ayurvedic insights.

From left to right : Pratibha Jain (standing behind the podium) is a Ph.D in Languages and runs a language translation service. Jigyasa Giri (with the mic) is a Kathak dancer and choreographer. To her left is Latha Menon, documentary and adfilm maker and wife of Rajeev Menon, famed cinematographer and film maker. Next to her is Andrea Jeremiah, model, Jazz musician, singer, theatre personality and actress. Right most is me, singularly representing the male community, having been overpowered by a very eloquent, multi-talented, beautiful women.

When my turn came to speak, it was rather easy for me. I spoke from my heart. Not only was I impressed with Jigyasa’s and Pratibha’s passion for food and their ability to author books, I was quite impressed with their marketing ability. While writing a book is tough ( oh, just ask me!) , getting the book marketed is even tougher. I personally think that both of them did an outstanding work in using the Internet to get the word around.

They were also living my dream. I always wanted to document my grandmothers’ lives so that their rich experiences and fond memories can be passed on to my daughters and their kids. It always remained a wish list and when I meet someone who walked the talk, they instantly gain my respect.

The book is based on extensive research done at KARE, a health retreat in Pune. Dr.Prakash Kalmadi, Founder and Medical Director at KARE was so impressed with their first book, ‘Cooking at Home with Pedatha’, that he invited the authors to his retreat to start work on an Ayuvedic cookbook.

Just before the event was about to start at the Landmark bookstore in Nungambakkam, an old friend bumped into me. He happened to be there at the bookshop and when he learned that I was there for the book launch function, he asked me, “What’s the connection with you and cooking?”. He caught me off guard and I sheepishly replied, “Eating”!

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