Monday, August 25, 2008

Shellz Comes To Visit

Hpim0947aMy longtime friend and one-time business associate, came to visit us from New Zealand for a couple of days a couple of weeks ago.  Shelley stopped here in Nashville on her cross country tour through the US.  The Brown Circle stories were told and other new stories were told to the boys in delight! 

Thanks for visiting us, Shellz.  We had a blast!  We miss you already!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Googleguy Naga Naresh Karutura has just passed out of IIT Madras in Computer Science and has joined Google in Bangalore.

You may ask, what's so special about this 21-year-old when there are hundreds of students passing out from various IITs and joining big companies like Google?

Naresh is special. His parents are illiterate. He has no legs and moves around in his powered wheel chair. (In fact, when I could not locate his lab, he told me over the mobile phone, 'I will come and pick you up'. And in no time, he was there to guide me)

Ever smiling, optimistic and full of spirit; that is Naresh. He says, "God has always been planning things for me. That is why I feel I am lucky."

Read why Naresh feels he is lucky.

Childhood in a village

I spent the first seven years of my life in Teeparru, a small village in Andhra Pradesh, on the banks of the river Godavari. My father Prasad was a lorry driver and my mother Kumari, a house wife. Though they were illiterate, my parents instilled in me and my elder sister (Sirisha) the importance of studying.

Looking back, one thing that surprises me now is the way my father taught me when I was in the 1st and 2nd standards. My father would ask me questions from the text book, and I would answer them. At that time, I didn't know he could not read or write but to make me happy, he helped me in my studies!

Another memory that doesn't go away is the floods in the village and how I was carried on top of a buffalo by my uncle. I also remember plucking fruits from a tree that was full of thorns.

I used to be very naughty, running around and playing all the time with my friends. I used to get a lot of scolding for disturbing the elders who slept in the afternoon. The moment they started scolding, I would run away to the fields!

I also remember finishing my school work fast in class and sleeping on the teacher's lap!

January 11, 1993, the fateful day

On the January 11, 1993 when we had the sankranti holidays, my mother took my sister and me to a nearby village for a family function. From there we were to go with our grandmother to our native place. But my grandmother did not come there. As there were no buses that day, my mother took a lift in my father's friend's lorry. As there were many people in the lorry, he made me sit next to him, close to the door.

It was my fault; I fiddled with the door latch and it opened wide throwing me out. As I fell, my legs got cut by the iron rods protruding from the lorry. Nothing happened to me except scratches on my legs.

The accident had happened just in front of a big private hospital but they refused to treat me saying it was an accident case. Then a police constable who was passing by took us to a government hospital.

First I underwent an operation as my small intestine got twisted. The doctors also bandaged my legs. I was there for a week. When the doctors found that gangrene had developed and it had reached up to my knees, they asked my father to take me to a district hospital. There, the doctors scolded my parents a lot for neglecting the wounds and allowing the gangrene to develop. But what could my ignorant parents do?

In no time, both my legs were amputated up to the hips.

I remember waking up and asking my mother, where are my legs? I also remember that my mother cried when I asked the question. I was in the hospital for three months.

Googleguy2 Life without legs???...

I don't think my life changed dramatically after I lost both my legs. Because all at home were doting on me, I was enjoying all the attention rather than pitying myself. I was happy that I got a lot of fruits and biscuits.

'I never wallowed in self-pity'

July 28, 2008

The day I reached my village, my house was flooded with curious people; all of them wanted to know how a boy without legs looked. But I was not bothered; I was happy to see so many of them coming to see me, especially my friends!

All my friends saw to it that I was part of all the games they played; they carried me everywhere.

God's hand!!!...

I believe in God. I believe in destiny. I feel he plans everything for you. If not for the accident, we would not have moved from the village to Tanuku, a town. There I joined a missionary school, and my father built a house next to the school. Till the tenth standard, I studied in that school.

If I had continued in Teeparu, I may not have studied after the 10th. I may have started working as a farmer or someone like that after my studies. I am sure God had other plans for me.

My sister, my friend

When the school was about to reopen, my parents moved from Teeparu to Tanuku, a town, and admitted both of us in a Missionary school. They decided to put my sister also in the same class though she is two years older. They thought she could take care of me if both of us were in the same class. My sister never complained.

She would be there for everything. Many of my friends used to tell me, you are so lucky to have such a loving sister. There are many who do not care for their siblings.

She carried me in the school for a few years and after a while, my friends took over the task. When I got the tricycle, my sister used to push me around in the school.

My life, I would say, was normal, as everyone treated me like a normal kid. I never wallowed in self-pity. I was a happy boy and competed with others to be on top and the others also looked at me as a competitor.


I was inspired by two people when in school; my Maths teacher Pramod Lal who encouraged me to participate in various local talent tests, and a brilliant boy called Chowdhary, who was my senior.

When I came to know that he had joined Gowtham Junior College to prepare for IIT-JEE, it became my dream too. I was school first in 10th scoring 542/600.

Because I topped in the state exams, Gowtham Junior College waived the fee for me. Pramod Sir's recommendation also helped. The fee was around Rs 50,000 per year, which my parents could never afford.

Moving to a residential school

Living in a residential school was a big change for me because till then my life centred around home and school and I had my parents and sister to take care of all my needs. It was the first time that I was interacting with society. It took one year for me to adjust to the new life.

There, my inspiration was a boy called K K S Bhaskar who was in the top 10 in IIT-JEE exams. He used to come to our school to encourage us. Though my parents didn't know anything about Gowtham Junior School or IIT, they always saw to it that I was encouraged in whatever I wanted to do. If the results were good, they would praise me to the skies and if bad, they would try to see something good in that. They did not want me to feel bad.

They are such wonderful supportive parents.

Life at IIT- Madras

Though my overall rank in the IIT-JEE was not that great (992), I was 4th in the physically handicapped category. So, I joined IIT, Madras to study Computer Science.

Here, my role model was Karthik who was also my senior in school. I looked up to him during my years at IIT- Madras.

He had asked for attached bathrooms for those with special needs before I came here itself. So, when I came here, the room had attached bath. He used to help me and guide me a lot when I was here.

I evolved as a person in these four years, both academically and personally. It has been a great experience studying here. The people I was interacting with were so brilliant that I felt privileged to sit along with them in the class. Just by speaking to my lab mates, I gained a lot.

'There are more good people in society than bad ones'

July 28, 2008

Words are inadequate to express my gratitude to Prof Pandurangan and all my lab mates; all were simply great. I was sent to Boston along with four others for our internship by Prof Pandurangan. It was a great experience.

Joining Google R&D

I did not want to pursue PhD as I wanted my parents to take rest now.

Morgan Stanley selected me first but I preferred Google because I wanted to work in pure computer science, algorithms and game theory.

I am lucky!!!...

Do you know why I say I am lucky?

I get help from total strangers without me asking for it. Once after my second year at IIT, I with some of my friends was travelling in a train for a conference. We met a kind gentleman called Sundar in the train, and he has been taking care of my hostel fees from then on.

I have to mention about Jaipur foot. I had Jaipur foot when I was in 3rd standard. After two years, I stopped using them. As I had almost no stems on my legs, it was very tough to tie them to the body. I found walking with Jaipur foot very, very slow. Sitting also was a problem. I found my tricycle faster because I am one guy who wants to do things faster.

One great thing about the hospital is, they don't think their role ends by just fixing the Jaipur foot; they arrange for livelihood for all. They asked me what help I needed from them. I told them at that time, if I got into an IIT, I needed financial help from them. So, from the day I joined IIT, Madras, my fees were taken care of by them. So, my education at the IIT was never a burden on my parents and they could take care of my sister's Nursing studies.

Surprise awaited me at IIT

After my first year, when I went home, two things happened here at the Institute without my knowledge.

I got a letter from my department that they had arranged a lift and ramps at the department for me. It also said that if I came a bit early and checked whether it met with my requirements, it would be good.

Second surprise was, the Dean, Prof Idichandy and the Students General Secretary, Prasad had located a place that sold powered wheel chairs. The cost was Rs 55,000. What they did was, they did not buy the wheel chair; they gave me the money so that the wheel chair belonged to me and not the institute.

My life changed after that. I felt free and independent.

That's why I say I am lucky. God has planned things for me and takes care of me at every step.

The world is full of good people!!!...

I also feel if you are motivated and show some initiative, people around you will always help you. I also feel there are more good people in society than bad ones. I want all those who read this to feel that if Naresh can achieve something in life, you can too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back To School

Alexkaden1stdayschool0808 Well, the boys are back to school.  August 11th was their first day back.  Today was the first full day back.  Alex and Kaden are really happy with their teachers - Mrs. Hudson (first grade) and Mrs. Murry (third grade).  My favorite teacher ever was my third grade teacher, Miss Maffei from Crim School in NJ.   

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mr. Abs of Franklin - Week 1 Progress Report

Hockey20goal20usaPROGRESS REPORT - So far this week, I've lost 1 pound of fat.  My % is down to 22%.  (22.5% last week)

My weight is still 202.5 lbs. 

My resting heart rate was 78 bpm.  (84 last week)

My waist was down to 38 inches.  (39 last week)

I would grade myself a B on my first week's Strength For Life effort.  I've never felt so sore.  I worked out everday except I did not follow the plan on Saturday.  Instead, I spent 6 hours mowing, trimming the grass and trimming all of the hedges and trees in our yard.  I also made some mistakes in my workout schedule - instead of doing my Pull workout on Thursday, I did my abs/HIIT training that day.  I should have done that on Friday.  Oh well.  I still made great effort and kept to my eating commitments.  I find it hard to keep a journal - just finding the time to plan and fill it out is difficult.  Oh well, I'm on to Week 2! 

Baby Announcement

Pregnant We are proud to announce Krissy is 7 weeks pregnant with our third child!  The due date is April 3, 2009.  Our sons are 8 and 6.  We are really excited to be having a third. 

Many people have asked us if this baby was planned.  Our answer is "yes and no".  We were never certain we were finished, but we were not purposely trying to have a baby either. 

Every day we are filled with more joy about the coming baby.  We were just saying to each other today how right it feels to being having one more!  They are each such precious gifts from God.  Now, having older boys, we can even more appreciate starting all over again.

More on this in the coming weeks and months!  Krissy is already showing a little bit.  We are taking good care of her and making sure she stays healthy.  The first two were difficult with Krissy's blood pressure.  Pray for her. 

Friday, August 8, 2008

Manhood '08

Manhood_250w_no_shadowLast weekend was all about being a man and following The Man, Jesus Christ. 

My good friend, Bryson and a new friend, Lee, and I headed down to Atlanta on Friday for the annual Promise Keepers conference.  Bryson had gone last year, here in Nashville, and invited me to go.

Atlanta is only 4 hours away.  You would think if we left at 10am CST we would have plenty of time to get there by 6:30pm EST - the start of the first session.   We left a little bit late, 10:30 or so.  We still had plenty of time.  We stopped for a light lunch, Bryson and Lee also had Starbucksbananajavachip_2 Java Chip Frappuccino's at Starbuck's on the way.  Notice, I did not partake in the frap party.  This boy was sticking to my SFL plan.  While Bryson and Lee sucked down the calories, I meekly drank my water, in the back seat.  Poor me.  Nobody gave me any sympathy.

We leisurely arrived at 3:30pm and checked into our hotel - The Stone Mountain Inn by Marriott in Stone Mountain Park.  I believe the hotel is the original hotel in the park.  This hotel offers a beautiful view of the mountain.  We enjoyed that view on Saturday and Sunday mornings especially.  We enjoyed our stay there.Stonemtn3 

Anyway, after freshening up a bit, we made our way to Promise Keepers, which held its event at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.  All was going well in the drive until we made a couple of key wrong decisions which led to our being 45 minutes late to the event!  Yikes!  Before we arrived at PK, we had already been all the way to the other side of Atlanta, travelled through the city and back out east again until we finally reached our destination.  We missed the first worship session and the first speaker. 

Needless to say, we were a bit stressed and not relaxed that first night.  We arrived just as the George W. Bush imitator arrived (can't remember his name).  He was funny.  The best speaker was Josh McDowell.  The event was running late and he decided to cut his message short.  We were disappointed only that he didn't continue.  It was a great talk!  Very inspiring.  (I bought the audio from all the speakers).

The next day, we started off bright and early with our first meeting at 9am.  We knew how to get there this time.  We were actually a few minutes early.  My favorite speakers of that day were Richard Blackaby, Bishop Larry Jackson, Dan Seaborn and Comedian Cleto Rodriquez.  Bishop Larry Jackson's message was particularly convicting.  Bryson, Lee and I had a really memorable conversation over lunch about his message.  It prompted us to have an honest, real talk about issues we deal with personally and as guys in general.  We prayed for each other.  It was an important moment of our weekend.  Dan Seaborn was very good - his imagery of us as guys carrying around our wheelbarrel was very impactful.  Cleto had us laughing our heads off. 

Most memorable worship songs of the weekend were: Let It Rise, I Am Free and Speak Oh Lord.  I recommend downloading them on iTunes or emusic if you want mp3's. 

That night, we shopped for shoes.  Bryson and I got great deals on shoes - I on tennis shoes, Bryson on cool brown running/walking shoes.  It was tax-free weekend.  I think I paid $12.50 for mine. 

StonemtnlaserThat evening, we watched a fantastic laser light show at the base of Stone Mountain. I thought Sandi Patty was going to explode when she was finished singing her version of the Star Spangled Banner.  I kept thinking this would be a great place to share with my family on a long weekend. 

That night we played a heated game of Phase 10.  Whoever won, was to be served breakfast the next morning by the loser.  It was close, but I ended up winning and Lee ended up losing.  The next morning, Lee went over and above the call of duty by serving both Bryson and me. 

Stonemtn2That last morning, before we headed home, we ate a huge breakfast - especially me.  I love buffets.  I was so full!  Right afterward, we headed up for a hike up Stone Mountain.  It took Bryson and Lee 20 minutes.  It took me 22.  I just couldn't keep up.  A combination of me being out of shape and having a full belly.  Anyway, the view was spectacular at the top.  We enjoyed that for about 30 minutes and headed back down. 

Stonemtn1As a reward for our hiking, we jumped into the hotel pool and cooled off.  I looked like a redneck with my jean shorts and underwear - I forgot my swimshorts.  Soon after, we checked-out and headed back home after taking one last shot in front of the engraving on Stone Mountain. 

On the way, home we each shared 3 things we were going to do differently as a result of our experience at Promise Keepers.  I'll share mine here:

1. Take this week to spend 2 hours at the end of my day in focused play time with the boys - whatever they wanted to do.  This is their last week before school begins next week.  I've paid special attention to them this week.  We've played Phase 10 together (not without fights), practiced punting, passing & kicking the football together (Alex is going to compete in that this fall), played some video games together on the computer, played chess together, read books together and just enjoyed some good conversations.  Today, we're going ice skating at Southern Ice Arena and tomorrow, we're going to a Nashville Sounds game.

2. Spend more focused time with God throughout the day.  This means being in relationship with Him.  Feeling His love for me.  Talking to Him.  Hearing from Him in prayer and silence.  And, just being in reverence of Him more.  I believe I've done that.  I've been listening to Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper as well. 

3. Daily showing and telling my wife what I appreciate about her.  Finding something to encourage her with.  Pray with her more.  We've had lots of good prayer times.  Also, not criticizing her at all.  Instead, praising her, trusting her and showing my appreciation for her.  I think she's noticed the difference and it's helped us in our marriage this week.  I feel closer with her than ever!

Thank you, Bryson, for inviting me to come with you this weekend at PK.  It was a weekend to remember for me.  I can't wait for PK 2009!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

God Hugs

Krissy said to me today that I have changed her view of God.  Now, when she pictures God loving her, she envisions the way I hug her.  We both cried when she shared that with me.      

The Dark Knight

Darkknight_promo1I saw The Dark Knight last night.  Phenomenal storyline.  Fantastic acting - particularly from Heath Ledger as The Joker.  Nonstop action and drama.  Very well done.  What saddens me is that Heath was so caught up in his role that he saw no other option than to take pills and anti-depressants to recover from his role.  On an earthly level, I can understand, but on a spiritual level, I'm left feeling sad.  He will be lauded and you can be sure he'll win the oscar for his role.  It will be bittersweet.  Another precious life wasted and gone.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My Quest to be "Mr. Abs Franklin 2008"

AbsofsteelI just finished the HIIT/ABS workout.  Day 2.  In addition to doing the workout plan, I also played tennis the last two mornings.  I hope I haven't been overdoing it.  My body is a good sore, not overdoing-it sore.

The abs workout is tremendous.  My stomach muscles were really worked on this exercise.  Shawn Phillips is supposed to be "Mr. Abs USA" 2004 or something.  I can see why.  Maybe I can be "Mr. Abs Franklin" 2008!?

Anyway, since I already had my Base Camp, it really has been easier to continue eating healthy.  I remember doing Body For Life and really hating it the first week - probably because my body wasn't ready to start.  I was worn out after week 2.  This time, with SFL, I've been able to ease into the workout and eating part much easier.  In fact, it's almost easier to eat with the Transformation plan because I'm not cutting out as much. 

Vitamix5200We bought a new Vita-Mix blender at Costco the other day.  I really want to get some nutrition shakes/smoothies to drink/make right after my workouts.  Nothing would feel better!

Sorry I haven't written in a few days.  I was at Promise Keepers with my good friend, Bryson and a new friend, Lee.  I'll write about that next.