Monday, June 08, 2009

Sight and Vision are so very different...

It is not often that we come across a personality who, after a brief interaction, impresses and affects your life in a profound manner. I had one such encounter yesterday (07th June, 2009) when I met Sabriye Tenberken ( . I met her at the Radio Play hosted by the International Institute of Social Entrepreneurship (IISE) for which I got an invitation since I am part of the radio business .

When Mr. Rajesh, the manager of the institute, sent me an invitation, I did not know anything about this. I thought it was a function at a blind school discussing the importance of radio for the visually impaired. Also, I like volunteering and hence thought it would be a chance for me to get involved. So with these thoughts in mind I traveled to the location of the institute. The road to the institute was a winding one, full of twists and turns and roads leading left and right. The more I traveled the more I was convinced that it was a blind school for children with visual impairment.

I could not have been more wrong. The gates opened onto a sprawling 2.5 acre campus which had a total of 5 buildings overlooking a the serene waters of the Vellayani Lake. All the buildings are state-of-the-art and completely eco friendly. The campus can house a total of 45 students who are given training for an entire year during which they learn the nuances of running a business and becoming independent for life.

And all this was possible due to the hard work and determination of one woman. She is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, a recipient of the Mother Theresa Award, and TV host Oprah Winfrey’s choice of “Eight Women Oprah wants you to know”. Her vision is to remove the taboos that are associated with any sort of handicap. She believes, and rightly so, that each of us are capable of changing the world and making it a better place to be in one small step at a time. The institute shouts its mission statement in everything it does “Do you have to have vision to be a visionary?” and it proves with equal fervor that vision need not be a hindrance to human development in any way!

Not only the IISE, but she has also built schools in Tibet, where she also helped to develop Braille script in the Tibetan language. This was in 1992 made the official Braille script for the nation. Apart from this she also swims, opens schools, learns new languages, uses a laptop, rides horses and also climbed upto the base camp of Mount Everest. So, what’s so great in doing all this? Nothing, except that she has been completely blind since the age of 12 due to a retinal disease!!

The passion with which she spoke to the audience… the passion with which she interacted with each and every one of the guests present yesterday… the passion with which she carries the light of her vision aloft… it is something that needs to be seen and experienced.

So, how were the Radio Plays that I had gone to listen to in the first place? They were OUTSTANDING!!! I listened in awe as the 5 plays filled the room with emotions and zeal. They were very proffesionalyy done by teams of 4 visually impaired participants. Over a 7 week period, they mastered the techniques of story, scripting, casting, recording, editing etc. And came out with works of art that truly deserve a larger audience. The topics selected were relevant and heatfelt. The execution was proffesional and the final outcome were 5 plays that the institute can be truely proud of. I felt humbled by the creativity shown by the participants. Each of the plays was better than the other in one aspect or the other. And it was so wonderful seeing the smiles on the faces of each of the participants... the happiness in what they were able to achieve in the short span of time alloted.

The world really needs more visionaries like Sabriye. And I wish her all the very best and heartfelt prayers in all the endeavors that she takes up.

(Please go thru the link, you will be as impressed as I was)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

OOH is not just a media problem!!

I work for a media company now (BIG 92.7 FM part of the Reliance ADA group; 45 stations across India) as Station Head for Trivandrum. I head the Kerala Market... essentially because there are no other BIG FM stations in the state which means I take care of the entire state, as far as BIG FM is concerned that is (Dont blame me for the sorry state of affairs there otherwise)!
I joined the company on the 4th of May, 2009 and ever since have been on a whirlwind tour of the length and breadth of India... Readers dont mistake me, its not that I'm an important Jet Setter in the company... its just that I have been booted from place to place on the excuse of training me. This ass-kicking took me to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and finally to Trivandrum.

Anyway, part of the groups business is OOH media... expanded, it is Out Of Home. Meaning, all those hoeardings that you see at junctions, Malls, Buses, Metros etc. the BIG company (on many levels!) has many of these assests that we rent out. (For advistising please contact me at 9020680385 :) ) Well its not easy business. With so many players in the business, its cut throat competition.

So, anyway when I reached Bangalore after 2 weeks on the road (literally!) I went on a shopping spree! I went to all those stores in Bangalore which screamed 60% OFF!! Even at those prices, most of the clothes were out my reach and having just spent a year doing my MBA and not earning did not help matters at all either! All the same, I managed to grab hold of my bag full of 1 Rupee coins and heaved it to the shop.

My friend who was with me all the time was obviously impressed with my high speed purchasing rampage. I was like a Rhino in a China shop! Or rather like a star crazy girl when her hearthrob hero enters the room... I bought everything from shirts to trousers to socks to undergarments! After doing this over quite a few shops and maxing out his credit card, he took me aside and councelled me, "Dude... slow down. These shopd will be here later too. You can buy all these clothes after you get your first months salary too! And since when did you start getting so finiky about the clothes you wear? From what I know of you, you wear just about any old rag that covers you!!"

"Dude..." I whispered, "Dont tell anyone, but this is what happens if you are OOH for 2 weeks at a stretch... laundry not done!!"