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February 1, 2012 Jack of all trades SOMA BASU The Hindu YOUTHFUL ENERGY: Selvaraj Suthagar. Photo: S.James Selvaraj Suthagar on how Abdul Kalam fired his imagination His visiting card does not carry his name. It simply says: ‘F@YS – What service demands’ and lists two numbers. The moment he flashes the small black visiting card with fluorescent blue prints on it, something tells me he is the typical restless youth wanting to do too many things in one go. He confirms it: “My head is bursting with ideas, but I don’t have the matching time, money or resources.” Thirty-one-year-old Selvaraj Suthagar compels you to wonder how after failing Class X Board exams, he has become a multi-tasker racing against time. F@YS stands for “Friend at Your Service” and he means and stands by these words. “You just have to tell us what you want and we will be at your doorstep, ” he asserts. And his work can mean anything – from de-silting a clogged drain to painting your home, from arranging eco-treks into forests and hills to growing organic crops in your backyard, from painting vehicles to repairing electrical gadgets, from plumbing to rolling steel sheets at construction sites, from coaching youngsters in different games to setting up cricket bowling machines in malls, from teaching traffic rules and signals to reading road maps to students, from helping tribal people with basic amenities to adding to his collection of old bikes, gramophone and other antique items. It is this veritable assortment of odd jobs that he chooses, gets to do and also delivers, that take away some sadness from his life. It keeps him excited and happy as he looks forward to his next mission, which could be either in the adjacent lane in his neighbourhood or in the picturesque hill range of Theni or Sirumalai. “Born into poverty and having suffered all along, I am a self-motivated man today. I have understood that to achieve something in life is nothing but to have the interest and the drive to accomplish it, ” he says. For him, the journey began when he flunked Class X exam. “From Class V, I have been helping my mother to boost family income. She would do odd jobs in the Church and get Rs.150 a month and I would do things like fetching water for residents in apartment buildings or running some errands for them and earning few extra bucks. As a result, I could never focus on studies.” At 15, he shifted to Chennai and did a short course in operating cranes. But he joined as a cleaner boy in a Cottage Industries Emporium showroom. With a penchant for languages, he soon picked up a smattering of French, German and Spanish while interacting with tourists. Impressed with his determination and flair, the Branch manager posted him as caretaker of a showroom in a star hotel. From there, he moved on to IDBI Bank as a document verifier. “On my weekly off, I would go to the beach and play with the children around. Many days I would make some models with all thrown away cigarette boxes and other waste.” He was spotted by an employee of Satyam Computers and taken in as a Floor Supervisor for the office. Three months into joining, the then President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam came to inaugurate a new building for the R& D wing. “It remains one of my most memorable days as he ignited our minds and told the young employees to keep firing their imagination with new ideas and innovative thoughts.” Suthagar’s appointment letter was due to come when the Satyam fiasco happened. A colleague, who used to accompany him on some occasional treks during holidays, introduced him to Eco-Login, an initiative of some students of IIT-Madras, that incorporates social dimension to trekkers’ schedule. Their work matched his passion and he is now back in Madurai as the marketing manager of Eco-login tying up customized and theme-based experience trips with 40 exotic locations to choose from that range from adventure, wildlife, nature hotspots, rural and city circuits. “Travel is an uncompromising part of anybody’s learning. But I don’t find many enthusiastic people in Madurai, ” rues Suthagar, who is now busy visiting schools and colleges to help them plan their field trips and excursions. Last time he undertook a trip with 63 members of a family who were re-uniting from all over the world. “It was one week trekking and staying with tribal families in the forest areas of Periyakulam. This experience will remain with me, ” he says. Suthagar has now identified 30 tribal locations and formed a core team with each of the groups to coordinate such treks. “It is a fantastic opportunity to learn and also help them, ” he says. Right now, he is working with Paliyar tribe in a small village called Malaiyur, 18 kms off Madurai, helping them with medicines, clothes and coaching the tribal children. “I collect old and new clothes from people who want to donate. My mother and I wash and iron them before distributing them among the tribals, ” Suthagar shares. He has dabbled in so many things that it becomes difficult to keep track. In between, he also finished a diploma course in film technology from University of Madras and few other polytechnic courses. “I have a burning desire to keep on learning something new. You can trust me with any job, ” he smiles.
ARAVENU A SMALL SETTLEMENT AT THE TIP OF THE MOUNTAIN IN KOTAGIRI, ARAVENU IS FAMOUS FOR THE INDIAN GAURS WHICH ROAM AROUND THE SPRAWLING TEA GARDENS ALL OVER EVEN DURING DAYTIME. YOU CAN SEE THE WORKERS WORKING AROUND THEM WITHOUT POSING MUCH ATTENTION TOWARDS IT . SO, ADMIRABLY THEY ARE NOT AS DANGEROUS AS IN THE WILD. THIS TRIBAL VILLAGE IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FOREST AND THE VIEW OF THE DENSE, SCENIC MOUNTAINS AROUND WILL JUST TRANQUILIZE YOU.
MADURAI ECO TOURISM www.enquiry.maduraiecotourism.com (6 Nights, 7 Days South Indian Package Tourism) Day 1-Madurai Madurai is an energetic, ancient city on the Vaigai River in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Its skyline is dominated by the 14 colorful gopurams (gateway towers) of Meenakshi Amman Temple. Covered in bright carvings of Hindu gods, the Dravidian-style temple is a major pilgrimage site. Millions attend the processions and ceremonies of April's Chithirai Festival celebrating Meenakshi and Lord Vishnu. Day 2-Munnar Munnar is a town in the Western Ghats mountain range in India’s Kerala state. A hill station and former resort for the British Raj elite, it's surrounded by rolling hills dotted with tea plantations established in the late 19th century. Eravikulam National Park, a habitat for the endangered mountain goat Nilgiri tahr, is home to the Lakkam Waterfalls, hiking trails and 2, 695m-tall Anamudi Peak. The Tea Museum at the Nallathanni Estate presents the region’s history of tea production. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is an ecotourism site that protects numerous animal species. Northeast of town, Top Station is a 1, 700m-high overlook and trekking site with views over the mountains. Fields of blue Neelakurinji flowers bloom there once every 12 years. En route to Top Station, reservoirs at Mattupetty Dam and Kundala Dam are popular for boating and picnicking. Aside from Lakkam, the region's many picturesque waterfalls include Attukal and Chinnakanal. Day 3-Valparai Valparai is a Taluk and hill station in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, India. It is located 3, 500 feet above sea level on the Anaimalai Hills range of the Western Ghats. Day 4-Guruvayur Guruvayur, also written as Guruvayoor or Gurupavanapuri, is a municipal town in Thrissur District, of Kerala State in India. It houses the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple, the fourth largest temple in India in terms of the number of devotees visiting per day Day 5-Kochi Kochi (also known as Cochin) is a city in southwest India's coastal Kerala state. It has been a port since 1341, when a flood carved out its harbor and opened it to Arab, Chinese and European merchants. Sites reflecting those influences include Fort Kochi, a settlement with tiled colonial bungalows and diverse houses of worship. Cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, typical of Kochi, have been in use for centuries. St. Francis Church was the original site of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s burial when he died in Kochi in 1524. Santa Cruz Basilica is known for its pastel interior, including an imitation by Fra Antonio Moscheni of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper." Paradesi Synagogue, founded in 1568, features imported Chinese blue-and-white ceramic floor tiles. The surrounding quarter, once home to a large Jewish community, is now filled with antique shops and old spice warehouses. Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and later renovated by the Dutch, showcases vivid Hindu murals Day 6-Alappuzha Alappuzha (or Alleppey) is a city on the Laccadive Sea in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It's best known for houseboat cruises along the rustic Kerala backwaters, a network of tranquil canals and lagoons. Alappuzha Beach is the site of the 19th-century Alappuzha Lighthouse. The city's Mullakkal Temple features a traditional design. Punnamada Lake's snake boat races are a well-known annual event. Day 7-Thiruvananthapuram Trivandrum is the capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala. It's distinguished by its British colonial architecture and many art galleries. It’s also home to Kuthira Malika (or Puthen Malika) Palace, adorned with carved horses and displaying collections related to the Travancore royal family, whose regional capital was here from the 18th–20th centuries. Mahatma Gandhi Road is the main boulevard, lined with art and antiques shops, carpet sellers and sari stalls. To the north, the ornate Napier Museum houses ancient Indian carvings, bronzes and natural-history specimens, while Sri Chitra Art Gallery holds miniature Indian paintings and work by lauded artist Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906). Nearby is Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, home to Bengal tigers, Asian elephants and Indian rhinos. To the south, the giant Dravidian-style Padmanabhaswamy Temple is dedicated to Vishnu, with a 7-tier entrance tower (gopuram). Along the coast are the popular beaches of Shankumugham and Kovalam. Day 8-Shenkottai Sengottai or Shencottah is a municipality in the Tirunelveli district, of Tamil Nadu, India. Spread over an area of 2.68 square kilometers with a population of over 26, 838, the economy of the town revolves around the cultivation of rice. Day 9-Kazhukumalai Kalugumalai is a panchayat town in Kovilpatti Taluk of Thoothukudi district in the Indian state of ... trade route from Kovilpatti to courtallam and sengottai.It became famous by the Thirupugazh hymns of Arunagirinathar. At the foot of the Kalugumalai a large urn-burial cemetery was found. However hundreds of urns were destroyed during limestone quarrying.
MADURAI ECO TOURISM www.enquiry.maduraiecotourism.com (6 Nights, 7 Days South Indian Package Tourism) Day 1-Madurai Madurai is an energetic, ancient city on the Vaigai River in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Its skyline is dominated by the 14 colorful gopurams (gateway towers) of Meenakshi Amman Temple. Covered in bright carvings of Hindu gods, the Dravidian-style temple is a major pilgrimage site. Millions attend the processions and ceremonies of April's Chithirai Festival celebrating Meenakshi and Lord Vishnu. Day 2-Munnar Munnar is a town in the Western Ghats mountain range in India’s Kerala state. A hill station and former resort for the British Raj elite, it's surrounded by rolling hills dotted with tea plantations established in the late 19th century. Eravikulam National Park, a habitat for the endangered mountain goat Nilgiri tahr, is home to the Lakkam Waterfalls, hiking trails and 2, 695m-tall Anamudi Peak. The Tea Museum at the Nallathanni Estate presents the region’s history of tea production. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is an ecotourism site that protects numerous animal species. Northeast of town, Top Station is a 1, 700m-high overlook and trekking site with views over the mountains. Fields of blue Neelakurinji flowers bloom there once every 12 years. En route to Top Station, reservoirs at Mattupetty Dam and Kundala Dam are popular for boating and picnicking. Aside from Lakkam, the region's many picturesque waterfalls include Attukal and Chinnakanal. Day 3-Valparai Valparai is a Taluk and hill station in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu, India. It is located 3, 500 feet above sea level on the Anaimalai Hills range of the Western Ghats. Day 4-Guruvayur Guruvayur, also written as Guruvayoor or Gurupavanapuri, is a municipal town in Thrissur District, of Kerala State in India. It houses the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple, the fourth largest temple in India in terms of the number of devotees visiting per day Day 5-Kochi Kochi (also known as Cochin) is a city in southwest India's coastal Kerala state. It has been a port since 1341, when a flood carved out its harbor and opened it to Arab, Chinese and European merchants. Sites reflecting those influences include Fort Kochi, a settlement with tiled colonial bungalows and diverse houses of worship. Cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, typical of Kochi, have been in use for centuries. St. Francis Church was the original site of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s burial when he died in Kochi in 1524. Santa Cruz Basilica is known for its pastel interior, including an imitation by Fra Antonio Moscheni of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper." Paradesi Synagogue, founded in 1568, features imported Chinese blue-and-white ceramic floor tiles. The surrounding quarter, once home to a large Jewish community, is now filled with antique shops and old spice warehouses. Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and later renovated by the Dutch, showcases vivid Hindu murals Day 6-Alappuzha Alappuzha (or Alleppey) is a city on the Laccadive Sea in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It's best known for houseboat cruises along the rustic Kerala backwaters, a network of tranquil canals and lagoons. Alappuzha Beach is the site of the 19th-century Alappuzha Lighthouse. The city's Mullakkal Temple features a traditional design. Punnamada Lake's snake boat races are a well-known annual event. Day 7-Thiruvananthapuram Trivandrum is the capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala. It's distinguished by its British colonial architecture and many art galleries. It’s also home to Kuthira Malika (or Puthen Malika) Palace, adorned with carved horses and displaying collections related to the Travancore royal family, whose regional capital was here from the 18th–20th centuries. Mahatma Gandhi Road is the main boulevard, lined with art and antiques shops, carpet sellers and sari stalls. To the north, the ornate Napier Museum houses ancient Indian carvings, bronzes and natural-history specimens, while Sri Chitra Art Gallery holds miniature Indian paintings and work by lauded artist Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906). Nearby is Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, home to Bengal tigers, Asian elephants and Indian rhinos. To the south, the giant Dravidian-style Padmanabhaswamy Temple is dedicated to Vishnu, with a 7-tier entrance tower (gopuram). Along the coast are the popular beaches of Shankumugham and Kovalam. Day 8-Shenkottai Sengottai or Shencottah is a municipality in the Tirunelveli district, of Tamil Nadu, India. Spread over an area of 2.68 square kilometers with a population of over 26, 838, the economy of the town revolves around the cultivation of rice. Day 9-Kazhukumalai Kalugumalai is a panchayat town in Kovilpatti Taluk of Thoothukudi district in the Indian state of ... trade route from Kovilpatti to courtallam and sengottai.It became famous by the Thirupugazh hymns of Arunagirinathar. At the foot of the Kalugumalai a large urn-burial cemetery was found. However hundreds of urns were destroyed during limestone quarrying.
South Indian Package TOURISM Budget price www.enquiry.maduraiecotourism.com (9 Nights, 10 Days South Indian Package Tourism) Day 1-Madurai Madurai is an energetic, ancient city on the Vaigai River in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Its skyline is dominated by the 14 colorful gopurams (gateway towers) of Meenakshi Amman Temple. Covered in bright carvings of Hindu gods, the Dravidian-style temple is a major pilgrimage site. Millions attend the processions and ceremonies of April's Chithirai Festival celebrating Meenakshi and Lord Vishnu. Day 2 –Rameswaram Rameswaram, is a town and a second grade municipality in the Ramanathapuram district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Blue coral cottage Rameshwaram, One of the best Hotels in rameshwaram, provides best in class services to make your stay comfortable and pleasant. Day 3 -Kanyakumari Kanyakumari is a coastal town in the state of Tamil Nadu on India's southern tip. Jutting into the Laccadive Sea, the town was known as Cape Comorin during British rule and is popular for watching sunrise and sunset over the ocean. It's also a noted pilgrimage site thanks to its Bagavathi Amman Temple, dedicated to a consort of Shiva, and its Our Lady of Ransom Church, a center of Indian Catholicism. Day 4 -Thiruvananthapuram Trivandrum is the capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala. It's distinguished by its British colonial architecture and many art galleries. It’s also home to Kuthira Malika (or Puthen Malika) Palace, adorned with carved horses and displaying collections related to the Travancore royal family, whose regional capital was here from the 18th–20th centuries. Mahatma Gandhi Road is the main boulevard, lined with art and antiques shops, carpet sellers and sari stalls. To the north, the ornate Napier Museum houses ancient Indian carvings, bronzes and natural-history specimens, while Sri Chitra Art Gallery holds miniature Indian paintings and work by lauded artist Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906). Nearby is Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, home to Bengal tigers, Asian elephants and Indian rhinos. To the south, the giant Dravidian-style Padmanabhaswamy Temple is dedicated to Vishnu, with a 7-tier entrance tower (gopuram). Along the coast are the popular beaches of Shankum mukam. Kovalam Kovalam is a small coastal town in the southern Indian state of Kerala, south of Thiruvananthapuram. At the southern end of Lighthouse Beach is a striped lighthouse with a viewing platform. Palm-backed beaches also include Hawa Beach and Samudra Beach. Heading south, Vizhinjam Juma Masjid mosque overlooks the busy fishing harbor. Inland, Sagarika Marine Research Aquarium displays technology used. Day 5-Alappuzha Alappuzha (or Alleppey) is a city on the Laccadive Sea in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It's best known for houseboat cruises along the rustic Kerala backwaters, a network of tranquil canals and lagoons. Alappuzha Beach is the site of the 19th-century Alappuzha Lighthouse. The city's Mullakkal Temple features a traditional design. Punnamada Lake's snake boat races are a well-known annual event. Day 6- Thekkady Thekkady is the location of the Periyar National Park, which is an important tourist attraction in the Kerala state of India.The very sound of the word Thekkady conjures up images of elephants, unending chains of hills and spice-scented plantations. In the Periyar forest of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India and spread across the entire district are picturesque plantations and hill towns that hold great apportunities for treks and mountain walks Munnar Munnar is a town in the Western Ghats mountain range in India’s Kerala state. A hill station and former resort for the British Raj elite, it's surrounded by rolling hills dotted with tea plantations established in the late 19th century. Eravikulam National Park, a habitat for the endangered mountain goat Nilgiri tahr, is home to the Lakkam Waterfalls, hiking trails and 2, 695m-tall Anamudi Peak. The Tea Museum at the Nallathanni Estate presents the region’s history of tea production. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is an ecotourism site that protects numerous animal species. Northeast of town, Top Station is a 1, 700m-high overlook and trekking site with views over the mountains. Fields of blue Neelakurinji flowers bloom there once every 12 years. En route to Top Station, reservoirs at Mattupetty Dam and Kundala Dam are popular for boating and picnicking. Aside from Lakkam, the region's many picturesque waterfalls include Attukal and Chinnakanal. Day 7-Kodaikanal Kodaikanal is a hill town in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It’s set in an area of granite cliffs, forested valleys, lakes, waterfalls and grassy hills. At 2, 000 meters above sea level, the town centers around man-made, star-shaped Kodaikanal Lake, bordered by evergreen forest. Rowing boats can be hired, and hikers and cyclists follow the 5k Lake Road path around the shore. Day 8-Ooty Udhagamandalam and abbreviated as Udhagai and Ooty is a town and municipality in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located 80 km north of Coimbatore and is the capital of the Nilgiris district. Wayanad Wayanad District is a district in the north-east of Kerala state, India with headquarters at the town of Kalpetta. The district was formed on 1 November 1980 as the 12th district in Kerala by carving out areas from Kozhikode and Kannur districts. Day 9-Kodagu Kodagu is an administrative district in Karnataka, India. Before 1956 it was an administratively separate Coorg State, at which point it was merged into an enlarged Mysore State. Day 10-Bengaluru Bengaluru (also called Bangalore) is the capital of India's southern Karnataka state. The center of India's high-tech industry, the city is also known for its parks and nightlife. By Cubbon Park, Vidhana Soudha is a Neo-Dravidian legislative building. Former royal residences include 19th-century Bangalore Palace, modeled after England’s Windsor Castle, and Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, an 18th-century teak structure.
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