Archive - June 2014

Race Against Time

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Meet Anirban Tarafdar, our Campaigner of the Week!

He’s challenged himself to complete a full marathon – the Hartford Full Marathon (in Hartford, Connecticut) in October 2014. That’s 26.2 miles of sheer determination and a whole lot of training going towards it. With his wife expecting to deliver their baby in July, this US-based marathoner has a tall order ahead of him. Currently juggling work and commuting with shared household duties, and making time for his family and fitness regime, Anirban Tarafdar is pushing his limits in a manner that has us awed.

Though he has been devoted to sports most of his life, etching out a regular timeslot for it has been a challenge. “Free time is hard to come by. Eleven years of working has made that apparent. Nowadays, whatever happens, I spend some time doing exercise unless my family needs me for something more important. I have programmed myself like that,” the 35-year-old shares. “I try to run 3-4 times a week and play tennis once a week. I use to play soccer on Friday late nights (11 p.m.) but had to stop because of my long runs over the weekend. I used to get hurt every now and then which hampered my running,” he explains.

Anirban’s association with marathons first began in 2005. “That’s when I first came to USA, to Tampa, Florida. I heard about a running group from a colleague and my interest was piqued. What inspired me was the human spirit to overcome the challenge of a long-distance run. During it, at some point the body gives up. Only those who continue to endure the pain and don’t quit reach the finish line. I think that is an amazing experience. I have run half marathons only but I am eager to experience the pain of 26 miles.” The marathoner has participated in 3 Half Marathons so far – two 10 kilometres and two 5 kilometres.

While following marathons, Anirban began to notice a trend – a lot of people would run to raise funds for a cause. “That gave me the idea. I had always wanted to do something for India. Since sport is my passion, I thought doing something for Indian sports would be perfect.”

“In the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the Indian participants did not even have proper clothes for the opening ceremony march past. I heard the television commentator remark that there were only three participants from a country of billions. As an Indian, it felt quite insulting.”

During the 2012 Olympics, Anirban came across a Facebook post by Olympic Gold Quest and got to know about their work to support Indian sportspeople. “Apart from a handful of sports, most Indian athletes do not get the necessary recognition and facilities. This is why I donated to Shiva Keshavan’s campaign last year. And why I did my own campaign and did my best to raise more funds. I am thankful to my friends who felt the same and supported the cause of Indian sports.”

“India does have the talent. If proper facilities and opportunity are provided, India can bring more medals in a lot of disciplines. If China can win so many medals in the Olympic,s India should be able to do so too. India should concentrate on Olympic sports. For example, swimming: if we have one champion swimmer he/she may participate in 4-5 events which will bring 4-5 medals. India should concentrate on events of these kinds to increase the medal count.”

Here’s to a brighter future for Indian sports. Here’s wishing Anirban all the best for the 2014 Hartford Full Marathon. And here’s wishing the Tarafdars all the best for the stalk that will be visiting them soon with their little bundle of joy!

 

Happy Football! Happy Birthday!

Chile v Australia: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Today is a very special day. It’s Ketto co-founder Varun Sheth’s birthday. Yep, mark it on your calendars, people! It’s a happy day!

Since we’ve been hearing a lot of the FIFA theme song thanks to Varun, we thought it would be befitting to have today’s post revolve around the World Cup. So in his honour, we present today’s FIFA World Cup-themed post. (Drum roll, please! And we wouldn’t mind some balloons and streamers either!!)

The World Cup isn’t just causing football frenzy across the globe. It’s also highlighting the goodness in people. One such heart-warming story is that of Australian footballer Mark Bresciano who was photographed helping a young escort on crutches tie his shoe laces during the pre-game fanfare. The photograph has spread like wildfire and is a wonderful reminder of how the players, though aggressive on field, are not ungentle otherwise. Cheers to that!

Another story from the FIFA 2014 host country Brazil involves not what happened during the match between Japan and Ivory Coast, but what happened after. Japan lost the game 2-1, and Japanese fans went on to show the world what true sportsmanship is all about. Though it was a disappointing day for the Japanese contingent, they went on to comb through their section of the stands as they filed out, and cleared up the mess they had made during the game.

We applaud the goodness in people and hope football culture inculcates more of it!

PS: And happy birthday, Varun Sheth!

 

Trumpeting for Elephants

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Often, to make a change, we need to start at the legal system. We need to get a bill passed for the cause. In India – and internationally – dealing in ivory was made illegal years ago. And yet today, our elephants are hunted and poached to the point of endangerment – in India, the rest of Asia and in Africa. The legal system has failed to protect the pachyderms.

What can we do in such a situation? Come together for the cause, of course! And trumpet it far and wide, if you’ll pardon the pun. We keep the fight on to protect the innocent. The state of New York is doing just that. They are working towards a bill to ban the import of ivory products and trade within the state. And they have celebrities lending their voice to it too.

Musician Billy Joel has remarked that though he is a pianist who requires a piano that often has keys made of ivory, there are more humane alternatives. Music is not more important than innocent lives.

The multiple-award winning actress Meryl Streep too has offered her support to the cause in a letter to the New York state governor, urging for the bill to be passed.

With celebrities using their fame to further a cause, and a government working towards a better world, the hope lives on that elephants will soon be off the endangered list and will thrive in their natural habitat.

Read more about the initiative here.

 

 

Reaching for the Stars

Jameel Shah is a self-made man who carved a life for himself in the city of his dreams – Mumbai. He moved from a tiny village in Bihar to pursue his dream – to see Bollywood stars in the flesh. His journey brought him to Dharavi, where he began working in the trade of shoemaking. Somewhere along the way, he stumbled upon ballroom dancing and – along with learning the dance and becoming a professional performer – he also began making dance shoes.

Today, Jameel has created a little niche for himself in the dance-shoe business and is a bit of a celebrity in his own right. How many of us can claim to have our own Wikipedia page or claim to have met Australian songstress Kylie Minogue?!

Throughout his journey, this young man did not forget where he came from. The small successes he’s seen have been shared with all back home. He’s begun an educational centre in his village (Doghra) to encourage others to reach for the stars like he did. He strongly believes in the power of education and wants to ensure others have the advantage of it as well. He himself has begun learning English to help him grow further as an individual and as an entrepreneur.

On a personal note, Jameel shares with Ketto that he refused to marry an under-aged girl and only got married after ensuring his bride was of legal age. This, he says, is something most of his fellow-villagers don’t bother about. He wants to set an example for his people and help them move forward.

We applaud this inspirational human being. May his tribe increase! Watch him as he shares his fascinating and moving journey on Tedx Talks.

NB: It’s in Hindi and is the most fascinating talk you may have heard yet!

 

For the Love of Joni

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This is for Joni….

This is a story about a young girl named Joni Mai from Essex, England. She just turned 8 years old on June 18th, 2014. (Happy birthday, doodle bug!) Joni’s fighting her second battle with a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma that affects approximately 30 people each year – mostly teenage boys. She is dealing with her cancer treatment with a strength and grace far beyond her single-digit years. And her family is doing all they can to help her through it all.

There’s a wonderful Facebook page called ‘For the Love of Joni’ that shares Joni’s progress regularly. There’s a website dedicated to her battle as well. They’ve had several fun events to help raise funds for Joni’s treatment  – a Christmas fete, a ladies’ night and an upcoming boxing match, to name a few. The one that caught our fancy was the ‘Jumping for Joni’ drive. This was a crowdfunding campaign that urged people to skydive to help raise funds for Joni’s treatment.

It’s a heart-warming story that’s building a community of supporters.  For the love of Joni, join in.

Join Joni’s Facebook community! 

Visit Joni’s website!

Kick that Butt!


A chocolate addiction can be a nuisance to shake off, but thankfully, it’s not too harmful. However, not all addictions are as easily written off. Alcohol, drugs and smoking, for instance, are addictions that are ultimately fatal. And while they’re on their way to becoming fatal, there are innumerable side-effects that adversely affect the quality of life.

Here’s a video about the last addiction listed – smoking. It has an unexpected twist that makes for good viewing.

This post is dedicated to all the smokers out there. We understand your addiction. We aren’t judging you. We ARE trying to support and inspire you. Here’s hoping you’re able to ‘kick butt’ soon!

 

 

A Giant Step for Womankind

This small step for man equates to one giant step in the quest towards a better world for womankind. 

No number of posts will quench the need to talk about the issue of sexual harassment and abuse. Not until the issue is resolved, at least.

Women are constantly harassed in so many ways. We may be able to make a ruckus about it if it causes bodily harm. But what would you do if you were subject to – or if you saw someone being subjected to – a disgusting comment or stares that you know are not meant to be harmless?

This is a short but oh-so-impactful video that shows how one small step will go towards making a big difference. This one step, if made by all who generally turn a blind eye, could create a magnitude of change in the attitude towards women. This is something that needs to happen. Here’s to a better world.

 

Gooooal!

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Let the trumpets sound! Let the drums roll! It’s a goooooooal!! In more ways than one! Well, we’ve got some incredible news to give. Two of our campaigners – rifle shooters Ayonika Paul and Pooja Ghatkar – have reached their goal thanks to the benevolence of the beloved, respected, generous, amazing, most dignified of human beings (yes, we love him madly) Amitabh Bachchan!

The two super athletes are part of the Medals4India initiative being run by the NGO Olympic Gold Quest, under whose auspices these and other athletes – like discus thrower Vikas Gowda and speedwalker KT Irfan – currently are. Ayonika and Pooja have campaigns running on Ketto to raise funds for their training towards the Commonwealth and Asian Games. Thanks to Mr. Bachchan, the ladies need look no further for financial support.

Let us add here that Ayonika Paul brought home a bronze medal in air rifle shooting at the World Cup just a few hours back!

Here come some more medals for India! Thank you, Amitabh Bachchan!

Check out the story in the news:

The Times of India

The Indian Express

India Today

IBN Live

Zee News

Watch the campaign video that had Amitabh Bachchan tweeting past midnight!

Want to be as cool as Big B? Support Vikas Gowda and KT Irfan! Let’s get all our athletes to the Games. Let’s win India more medals and glory!

The Life-Changing Bicycle Ride


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They say the French know how to live la bonne vie – the good life. This is not untrue. In fact, that may be why these Irish folk have chosen to cycle from Paris to Nice – to raise funds for their charities and help spread the good life vibe to all those they’re raising funds for.

So as the accordions play La Vie En Rose in the background, let us introduce today’s wonderful life-changers – the cyclists of Paris2Nice.

Each of these wonderful participants takes up the challenging bike-route from Paris to Nice to raise funds. There’s a lot of determination involved!  On June 20th, all these folks will be coming together for a fun barbeque night to raise funds once more. But this time, instead of a bike ride, there’s “great food, celebrity chefs, a silent auction, some fun, games and dancing till late!”

Sounds like this party has all the right ingredients!

Time to start a cycling campaign in Mumbai?!

The Hand of Joy

In tune with Sunday celebrations is this happy video of a hand. Yup, you read it right. It’s not a typo. The star of this video is a hand that goes around Mumbai spreading joy and reminding us that our religions and stations in life may differ, but we are ultimately all human. That we are all made of the same basic elements.

This is not a new sentiment. Several hundred years ago, William Shakespeare too observed in his play The Merchant of Venice: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?”  Yes, we do. We are all fundamentally the same.

And so, without much further ado, we present this happy video of the faceless individual who reminds us that we are one, and any one of us could make the difference. Let’s spread this wonderful message – like the great Bard, and the creators of this video, and many other souls who have stood for the greater good. Let us also help spread the sentiment of unity, empathy, understanding and humanity.

Do your bit. Spread the word.