Monday, March 5, 2012

Coimbatore teens take up Clickty Click challenge

 Schools in Coimbatore are paying serious attention to extra-curricular activities such as photography, after realising the talents and skills of their students.

Last week, a local organisation that helps orphans, hosted a photography competition called “Clickty Click” that had over 26 city schools participating.

One of the participants, who has even competed internationally, displayed talent and skill beyond his young years.

It was Varun B. from Yuva Bharathi School who stood first in the competition, for his long exposure click around a U-turn that captured streaks of light from passing vehicles. Premier Vidyaa Vikash School had the most number of participants; they took home the 2nd and 3rd prizes.

School coordinator N. Raja Lakshmi shared the need to inculcate this form of creativity in children. “It paves the way for better growth, so we always encourage our students with talents apart from academics to pursue them. It motivates them, so when we come across such talents like Narendran A. and Prakash K., we encourage them.”

Also present at the event was a class 12 student from Chinamaya International residential school in Coimbatore who stood out the most.

Akash Ghai has won several accolades even internationally. “My mother's a social worker and landscape photographer, so I grew up seeing her work and accompanying her to various photography and art exhibitions.

She was the one who encouraged me to hold a solo photography exhibition at the Alliance Francaise gallery in Chandigarh when I was 17,” said Akash. On his style of photography, he said, “I am different from other photographers, I possess a unique perspective. A photographer's strength is how his style differs from others.”

Akash further shared his interests, “I like art photography, photojournalism, portraiture and a bit of wildlife.

I enjoy photographing people the most. International exposure at a young age for any photographer is essential as it boosts confidence and acquaints him with the quality of photographs he should be making.

I've been part of exhibitions in India, Australia, Russia, Senegal and New York, and it feels great to be part of a global photographic community.”

World queues up to learn ayurveda in Coimbatore

For the last few weeks, Cinzia Catalfamo Akbaraly has been learning about and researching the different herbs used in ayurveda. The founder and president of Madagascar's Akbaraly Foundation is hoping to take ayurveda to the Indian Ocean island nation.

"I am exploring the possibility of this traditional Indian system being a viable alternative to modern expensive medicines. People there use herbal medicines. ayurveda will not be an alien concept to them," says Akbaraly, who has been studying ayurveda at Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (AVP) in R S Puram in the city.

Like her, a number of foreigners are coming to Coimbatore to do short-term courses in ayurveda and take the system back to their country. Most of them come to know about ayurveda after reading about it or visiting centres in their countries, and see the scope for a career in the field.

Holger Sehramm from Hawaii in the US says he is thinking of setting up a centre in his hometown once he completes his course here. He is doing a three-month course at AVP. "Many Americans and Japanese come to Hawaii to learn yoga. I learnt yoga there for 10 years but wanted to deepen my knowledge and get an introduction to ayurveda," he says.

An introduction is what these students get during the courses that run from three to 12 months. "In the given period, we may not be able to teach ayurveda in a comprehensive manner, but we are able to educate them and generate an interest," says Dr A Rajendra Prasad, assistant director, AVP. "Many of them return to learn more."

Though they get students from across the world, most are from the US, UK, South America and, more recently, Latvia. They also run an ayurveda college that trains people to be fully qualified ayurveda doctors.

Though many countries' laws may not allow doctors to practice ayurveda, a number of dieticians and nutritionists incorporate ayurvedic practices into their prescriptions. "ayurveda helps allopathic doctors see another perspective in treating patients.

For instance, a western doctor who thinks of conducting a knee replacement surgery may reflect on other options," he says giving the example of Simone Hunziker, a doctor from Switzerland, who came to the centre to learn about ayurveda. "He is now the president of the Swiss ayurveda Medical Academy (SAMA)," Prasad says.

Dr U Indulal, deputy director at AVP, says most students have already done courses in other countries. "They come here when those centres are unable to help them further," he says.

That's the reason why Deema Koval has come to Coimbatore all the way from Ukraine to learn ayurveda. "I went to some training centres there, but they what they taught seemed confusing and contradictory. So, I came to India to five years back to learn more about the subject," says Koval who plans to make a career of it.

Oliver Mulliez who was working in the hospitality industry now wants to start a yoga and ayurveda centre in Paris. He heard about yoga from his wife. "But my wife is a bad teacher," he smiles. "I am doing a six-month course here," he says.

Dorian Millich, an architect from Brussels, who is learning ayurveda for eight months, says yoga helped him overcome depression. "Since yoga helped me so much, I wanted to learn more about Indian systems and spread the good I received," he says.