Saturday, October 15, 2011

One more week to go.

Hi again!

I can assure you one thing, the IBM Corporate Service Corps program is anything but relaxing.

On Sunday, we attended the World Sight Day event hosted by Sankara Eye Centre. The event took place at the biggest mall in Coimbatore, Brookefields. We were specifically invited to participate in the "Experience Blindness" event - as part of a group of 20 people we got blindfolded, mixed together, and had to form a circle without using our eyes. I felt quite helpless with no sight! Check out the press coverage:
World Sight Day 2011.
Cordula, Saken, Lisa, Mercedes, Alex, and I went for an excursion to Ooty and Mudumalai on Monday and Tuesday. Ooty was beautiful. There was a wonderful rose garden that had no less than 500 different types of roses. Just walking through it took us about an hour. Thereafter, we checked out the summit at 8640 feet above sea level.
At the summit!
The Mudumalai National Park was our next stop. Unfortunately, we were not able to go for an elephant ride due to a rainfall. The good thing, however, was that there was a sightseeing bus ready to take us for a tour. Along with 30 other people - in what seemed like a former school bus - we set out for a rough ride through the jungle on a poorly conditioned gravel road. There was no way anyone could fall asleep, and if you did not have a back problem before getting on the bus, you were more or less guaranteed to have one at the end of the tour.

Our sightseeing bus.
The guest house was conveniently located in the middle of the park. It only had five rooms, and we were the only guests. The place was cozy, and there was even a watch tower for animal spotting. It was interesting how they had dug a two meter deep moat all the way around their property - a measure to keep the wild animals away. After a delightful night of sleep, we went for some more sightseeing with the bus!
The guest house where we spent the night.
Guided walk in the jungle.
The entire Corporate Service Corps team was invited to attend an event, along with the Bollywood star Vikram. The event was hosted by the NGO Siruthuli. It was impressive to hear how Vikram had encouraged people, throughout the region of Tamil Nadu, to plant more than a million trees so far this year. Afterwards, we got served a delicious dinner.

Inspecting a tea plantation.

The press conference was conducted on Wednesday. Saken, Benjamin, and I, as well as the IBM India spokesperson, Mamtha Sharma, represented the CSC India 12 team. This was my very first press conference, so I was a little nervous about it. However, it went pretty well! Here is some of the news we made:

The monsoon has just set in, more than a month delayed. One of the days it rained extremely hard, even the locals claimed so. It was emotionally moving to see how the streets and houses were flooded with a mixture of water and black water.
There was about 20 centimeters of water in the streets.
Even my room, on the 2nd floor, got flooded. So, I had to make a dam.

Yesterday, the highly respected ex-President, APJ Abdul Kalam, came to visit the Sankara Eye Center. We felt honored to get to meet a man of his caliber - as one out of 41 in the history, he has been awarded bharat ratna by the government of India. Everyone at the hospital was well prepared for his arrival, and there were police men all over the place. The ex-President addressed his speech to the youth, and how they will play a vital role in the eradication of curable blindness in the future.

Excited about the visit from the Indian ex-President.

Ex-President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr. Ramani.

Our project is moving toward its end. There is only a few days of work left. The design of the knowledge management system is about to be finalized. We have been able to identify an open source solution that will fulfill their needs. We are currently working out a detailed implementation plan for the hospital. In addition to this, we are preparing a presentation for the apex members (steering group) that will take place early next week.

Enjoying our bus ride.
Today, we went to the Town Hall area of Coimbatore to do some shopping. We decided to take the local bus which turned out well. We spent several hours exploring this area. The highlight was, without doubt, the fruit market!

Hard work.

What a lovely cat!

The fruit market.

The pool, again.
Stay tuned for next week's update!


#ibmcsc India