Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Real life hero


If you haven't watched the movie Taare zameen par, I recommend that you stop reading and watch it right now.If you do not understand Hindi, watch a version with sub titles. It is a movie which cannot fail to touch you in some way.The hero of this movie is a young child called Ishaan Avesthi who is dyslexic.

Imagine my surprise, when I came across a real life Ishaan Avesthi, when I was asked by Times of India, Pune to do an article on Dyslexia. While researching my story I discovered Anant. I was so moved by his life , I just had to tell you all. His life was eerily similar to the protagonist of the movie, including the boarding school bit. His dad was shocked to see him when he came to visit him--Anant was taunted, labelled, shouted at, beaten and if that was not enough, even put on anti depressants. His dad says he could not recognise him as his head was drooping, chin touching the chest, he had thin legs and a belly. He was looking so dead and expressionless.
I could only imagine what his parents must have gone through. I could feel Anant's pain when he told me that he learnt to answer prying questions about his marks--"Yes I got only 50%.Yes I failed." When my own son who is only 10, comes back from school after they have got an exam result I get calls from other moms asking how much he scored. I refuse to answer them (Most of the time my son would have got marks in nineties, out of hundred--and though I do feel happy I never tell other moms) I feel really bad for those children who are being compared constantly and I refuse to fuel it. Anant's mother was so strong and his dad was so supportive. Most importantly they had the courage to stand up for Anant and face society. They never compared him with his younger brother who does very well ,academically.

A person is so much more than the sum total of his marks. In India, increasingly academic excellence is given so much importance and toppers (especially the ones who make it to the supposedly hallowed portals of IIT) are glorified, almost deified. In such an atmosphere, I could only think of what guts and courage it must have taken for his parents to hold their own.

When you see Anant today, he is charming, confident and bears no scars (and is one hunk of a guy). He worked extremely hard to overcome his condition. I really admired his spirit. The newspaper article that I wrote had a word limit of just 450 words. So I had to blog about it.

What I have uploaded is the the published article (click on it to enlarge and read) which appeared in Times of India's Eastside plus, on 6th June 2008. It just proves that hard work and determination can indeed work miracles. If you want to make a difference in your life, you have to make that difficult journey and it all begins with a small step.


Talking of journeys in a different mode, I am going on one tomorrow. I am going here and am really looking forward to it. So I will not be able to visit your blogs or update mine for a while as I will have limited Internet access there. Of course I will be writing about it :)

See you all when I get back.

46 comments:

  1. My god !!! Are u visiting Egypt pyramids?? That is really wonderful. Have a wonderful time. Do come back with stories. :-)

    Cheers :-)

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  2. Wow!
    Hats of to Anant!

    Thanks to TZP, my perspective on dyslexia has changed a lot for the better!

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  3. Nice Post.
    Have a good vacation and tek care:-).

    p.s - u r going come back with a super TAN:-D

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  4. Karthik: yes, indeed i am going to Egypt.When you get time do read anant's story--It is so inspiring.

    k10:Yes--really hats off to Anant.

    Nancy:Am using a sun block with SPF 40.Will tell you how effective it was!;)

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  5. TZP is an amazing movie.. and it really moved me.. read his story.. salute to his spirit :)

    ( hez defenitely a hunk - he ridz a bullet... ;) )

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  6. hv a safe and enjoyable trip.. waiting for egyptian stories :)

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  7. It is the spirit that is to be applauded, both the lad's and his parents. Undaunted in the face of what surely must have been an uphill task all the way, it is admirable to observe their determination. He is a real winner.

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  8. And PS -- happy journey. Have a pleasant time in the land of pyramids!

    My keyboard is still thrilled, if you know what I mean, for some other reason!! Hgrhr opugog bffbdn!!!

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  9. I haven't met Anant till date in person, even though we from the same club (Roadshakers), but have interacted with him couple of times over gtalk..

    Now I want to meet him..!!
    That's the charm he has left on me..

    Heartfelt appreciation to you for coming up with such real life heroes..

    Keep writing..

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  10. This was so inspiring and equally touching. I must congratulate you on bringing it out here too....i'm sure Anant will be a proud man today.
    It is important for support...and it makes the others suffering from such a similar condition more positive and able to handle it better.

    Enjoy yuorself on your trip the Egyptian land....and bring back lots of memories.
    Have fun

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  11. xh: :)Yes yes--surely will write about egypt.

    Balu:True! Yes--tell your keyboard that euphoria has to last ;)

    Anish: Nice to meet you--have visited you :)

    Prats: Yes--very inspiring--hats off to his parents.

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  12. have been a silent reader of all your posts and ve observed the impact they have on all who go through them, including me.

    TZP is one creation which goes beyond words. And to come across someone in real life as Avasti and who has overcome the hurdles mustve been inspiring and touching to say the least.

    Great that you get to meet so many people from so many walks of life.(both online and offline! :)) and gain so much from them, and with your own input share it with so many!!

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  13. It's a relief to see that dyslexia is getting accepted as any other diseases after TZP. I hope other special needs children also gets accepted like this..

    Have a wonderful vacation :)

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  14. Onlooker:Yes it was.Glad you decided to speak out.Thanks!

    Dhanya: Dyslexia is NOT a disease--it is a condition that can be overcome.Thanks!

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  15. Lovely post. Great to know abt Anant as well. Have a lovely time in Egypt.
    Have a wonderful vacation.

    PS: We are off to Spain tomorrow...can't wait

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  16. thanks for sharing:)...hats off to anant!

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  17. TZP is an awesome movie ya!
    n its amazing the courage n endurance such children n parents have.Thank god!The world doesnt make it any easier for em.
    i think as such the kids have it difficult.All this stress on bein good in studies n xtra curricular activities is unfair on 'em.

    n woooooooooow!thts some place ur goin on a vaccation to! Have a blast :)

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  18. I am like you too. I never discuss my child's academic performance with other parents, no matter how nosy they are. I just tell them I have not seen it yet and I am so busy & I really don't think KG performance has anyting to do with life success. Some parents have criticized their kids right in front of mine :(

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  19. I wanted to read the newspaper article, but nothing showed up when I clicked on the picture to enlarge it. I loved the movie 'taare zameen par' - extremely well made.

    Enjoy your vacation and looking forward to your report on your Egyptian adventure :)

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  20. Come baaack!
    Careful with the Pharaos and have fun!
    It's wonderful that you get to meet such interesting people in your work, isn't it?

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  21. Had to go back and search but got the article. As always, very well written. It's true that dyslexia is very poorly managed in this country.. A lot of the blame falls on society and parents themselves for givin up too soon on their kids. Hopefully, there will be change in the years to come

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  22. yours is an enviable profession, simply because you get paid to meet people and learn about them, and whats more, even write about them...i love meeting new people, my acquaintances are mostly bums - and i meet them in little taverns :)

    the story was quite remarkable. what inspired me most is that at times when the faith in media is at an all time low, there is still people who write meaningul things - thank you, i am proud to have known you.

    hope you have a great holiday. fancy destination i must say !

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  23. :)

    TZP has helped sensitise so many people previously unaware of this condition!

    and with strong family support and an even stronger will even sky isnt really the limit!!

    htas off to anant!! yes he is indeed a hunk!! :D

    cheers!

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  24. It truly is a heartening story one taht makes one feel some warmth inside. I'm belong taht school which refuses to believe that an IITian is more brilliant than a regular engg guy.. and dead against deitifying them. again there more such prejudices which i raise my voice against.. adn I shall do so.. whenevr someone dares to utter that crap.. freedom of choice at the cost of belittling someone else is nothing but infringement of the humanitarian of teh person to be appreciated and evaluated for what he really is and not what he appears to be!!
    enuf said.. i could perhaps go on and on... so i shall pause here today!!

    and you off to egypt??? am jealous of you!!!

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  25. It was so nice hearing about Anant. He truly is a real-life hero.
    I agree with you about the academic comparison part coz even i feel really strongly about it. It pushes kids into a different mental structure altogether, and at some point, they get habituated to comparing themselves with the rest(mostly better scorers) and suffer inferiority complexes throughout theri lives.
    Parents who compare don't realize that they're crippling their kids mentally.

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  26. Truely said mam. But in a way, healthy competition brought me to where Iam today....but how do you define healthy...??? GOK. And HIS life sets a beautiful example as to how parents can be supportive. Hats off to Anant mam. And you are going to Egypt....wow! Please say a 'hi' to the sphinx from me!! :-)Wishing you a Happy Journey mam

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  27. Just wondering...What was Anant's reaction to your article about him?

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  28. I agree that's it's important to encourage achievement in our children , but it is painful to (as the child) here yourself compared with others..especially if your marks do not reach the level which is considered 'sucessful' I alway struggled at school in Maths and other academic studies..and was constantly reminded that I was 'failing'..that never leaves me..and it sometimes prevents me still from atempting something new.

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  29. hi
    bon voyage
    come back and take the tag

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  30. wow... nice.

    I love the movie too :-)

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  31. I must be the only one who hasn't got around to seeing the movie yet (but I do plan on buying the DVD asap).

    Anyway, kudos to Anant. He rocks completely.

    And have fun in Egypt. Say Hi to the Sphinx ad see if you get posed with any riddle (or was that someone else who gave the riddles)

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  32. Truly, TZP is a wonderful movie opening up so many eyes in India. I work with children who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities all the time. It is so heartening to see the kinds of services and awareness there is in the United States about these disorders. I only hope and pray that more and more people in India begin to understand how these are just some glitches that can be overcome with the right kind of assistance.

    Enjoy your trip!

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  33. Have fun in Egypt. I loved TZP. I am bit dyselexic. In school evryone said i was careless. My is aminor case . after marriage it is my hubby who said I was dyselexic. it is tough. u never realise it.

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  34. Anant's story is intriguing me, I must read it.
    As for you and those pyramids, you will fit right in as the Queen of the Nile!
    xoxo

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  35. Hi Peetri. So great you write about dyslexia. I will check out the link I am very interested. My husband is dyslexic and my son is severely dyslexic and I know all about the struggles. In this competitive world it is a pain. Good that you don't go along with it. My son is socially a lot better than my daughter who is very academic, so I always point that out to him so they both have their own strenth

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  36. A wonderful post! Good to know that awarenes for dyslexia is increasing in India.
    About school marks, I remember, my parents also never asked anyone about their marks. And rememeber my father asking me to go play badminton the evening before my maths board Exam! Hard work yes, but not at the cost of other things in life which are also important.
    It was a great pleasure to read your blog. Maybe also, because I do not stay in India (and also no where with a big Indian community). So, I guess you will come in my very small list of blogs to read, to keep in touch with india. :)
    Hope you have a wonderful trip!

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  37. Gr8 blog about the living hero..of Dyslexia!
    Do post about Pyramids and tell who did built it?Aliens?!!

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  38. wow, nice post. i'll be looking forward for another great story.

    von voyage! ;0)

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  39. as a teacher i feel so much rests on the way we(teachers treat students like anant).parents sometime turn a blind eye and fit and push their kids into the same mould!!!

    TZP has been a wakeup call....a big one

    happi holidays

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  40. Very touching post. Being a parent makes u that much more sensitised & emotional when u read about kids like Anant. I still cry & cry every time I see TZP.

    Hope u are having a great holiday in Egypt.

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  41. Monika: Yes--TZP does open eyes.We just got back from Egypt.

    Gazal:Thanks.Yes TZP has done a lot.

    Iriz:Coming right up :)

    Sri:Yep--my next post.

    Marja:i can only imagine your strength.

    PG:Thanks for visiting.Yes we did have a great trip.

    Gillian:And you will fit as the Queen of Hearts :)

    Mocha: I admire people like you.

    Solitaire:Would love to read about your experiences of working with them

    SMM: I will :)

    Raaji:Thks.

    Uma;Will do.

    Niall:Sometimes the scars of childhood run deep but as long as we are aware we should try to move on.

    Arvind:He loved it!!

    Punam:I agree with you 100%

    Sam: Yes--but the general atmoshere is one of acceptance.

    Mama-mia;Shall tell him you said so too :)

    Dharmabum:Yes--I'm lucky that way.

    Roshan:I hope so too.

    Devil Mood: It is truly wonderful.

    Pink dogwood:Dont know why it did not enlarge.It is enlarging for me--if you are really keen i can mail it to you.

    Revathi:Yes it is sad how some parents push their kids.

    Pavi:True--very unfair on kids.Thanks--we did have a great time.

    Broca, Smoking Joe:Thanks!

    Chitra:Do tell me about it!I'd love to hear your travel tales.

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  42. amazing job on the story..!
    this guy was lucky he had such supportive parents.. cant imagine the hell other unfortunate kids go thru..

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  43. Hi preety...thanks for showing this link to me..It has fueled my intentions and desire to succeed in life...The story of Anant's life is certainly a message that we can achieve anything in life if we want to provided we work hard...I will always remember this article and will always remember Anant as a role model..

    Cheers,
    Vinay

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  44. i've seen TZP with my frinds one day when there was no power at office n we're lucky to have it playing at a nearby theatre...we were in such fun mood but were crying within no time once the film started rolling...i hate comparing kids marks too...mayb one reason is coz i've had mine compared all thru my childhood n absolutely hated being sometimes better n sometimes worse than others...

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