Chat with Thomas

admin   December 1st, 2012


Sharanya Haridas is the first person I interviewed in my life. She is a lovely girl, a  wonderful mix of different spectrums – Economics, Poetry and even Philosophy.  Question her on how she is able to balance all three and pat comes the reply that  poetry can live parallel to economics and just because you are into economics it  doesn’t mean, you can’t write poetry.

I asked her if she was a Leftist or free market economist and she replied that she  loves to be liberal. Her evident pride in 1991 liberalization is probably the reason  for her topic ‘Generation in Transition’, narrating how the post-liberalization  generation view modernization and tradition with a philosophical touch.

Her role models are many including philosophers Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzche as well as business woman Helen Gurley Brown. She likes reading as well, both prose like Malcolm Gladwell and Ayn Rand as well as Chicklit. She even loves contemporary Indian poems especially by Kamala Das.



Looking both intelligent and handsome at the same time, Vivek Karunakaran’s fashion skills were already at work. His favourite fashion designer is John Galliano because his designs always create some kind of a drama and is always new, different and even outrageous. He also loves Rajesh Pratap Singh’s clean and simple designs and thinks Rohit Bal is the Indian equivalent of John Galliano.

When asked what he likes about fashion, he says he would rather use the word ‘style’. He says that there is a style in everything – the way we eat, the way we dress up, the way we walk, stand, sit, the way our room is and so on. He says that he has issues with celebrities’ dressing up because they try to be who they aren’t. He says that celebrities don’t want to dress up stylishly as they think it is taboo and instead should take the lead in setting the trend.

Ask him what his other interests are and he says if not for fashion, he would be everywhere under the sun. He loves dancing, bartending, cooking and even bathroom singing. He is even trained in Latin American dancing!

His favourite movies are The Shawshank Redemption and Cinderella Man. He wants the youth of today to dream and take risks and believes that nothing comes on a platter.



Her profile called her as ‘illusionist’. When asked to explain that, she said they were people who  performed magic to entertain the audience. These tricks seemed impossible or supernatural but  were actually just science and technology. Illusionists were just entertainers.

In her talk, she spoke of hoe how people put their belief in something and not on themselves.  When  asked how she encourages education on such issues, she says that wherever she performs she speaks  of how her magic is just tricks – how one’s beliefs become one’s thoughts which become one’s  reality.

Having been into magic since her childhood, Suhani does not seem to have any regrets. She says  whatever she is today is because of the childhood she got. Instead of saying she wasted it, she  believes she leveraged it. Other than magic, she has started a mind-nourishing clinic in Goa, the first  of its kind in India. The centre treats stress, negative thinking and depression. She has also authored  five books and conducts seminars on mind-control and karma while also being a corporate trainer.

In her opinion, the youth in India today have the potential but are lacking seriousness. She says that  the earlier you get serious about your career, the quicker you make your career.



I asked these young boys how they got involved in app development. They replied  that from they were interested in computers since a young age. They started to  learn basic programming in java and then learnt android development when their  father bought them a Galaxy S3 android phone. Later they learnt iPhone app  development.

When asked who helped them on this journey, the boys said it was their teachers  and parents. They accepted that initially they did not receive any help from their  school but this soon improved. They said their father would tell them that  entrepreneurship and teamwork are always good and their mother taught them of  the Wright brothers building a plane. Even though these boys are into app development at this tender age, they are like normal kids in the classroom. It is only outside they turn into VP and CEO.

When asked how they came up with the idea of creating an app for traffic management, they said the increase in traffic today doesn’t let them to go school on time and they want to solve that. They have come up with an idea of crowd-sourcing traffic information instead of building costly infrastructure. In the future, they want to build tablets in the future and make it useful for rural India.



Her relationship with music began since the day she was born thanks to her parents always playing  music to her. She first learnt the piano, changing to singing only when she was twelve. For the last  two years, she has turned professional.

Maalavika is also into women’s empowerment and child development, saying there is a lot to be  done in these areas. She wants to start a forum for women and address their issues through that  while also researching what needs to be done for women.

Her album ‘Deceptive’ is releasing soon. She wants to convey that almost all things are deceptive. All  looks are deceptive. She says that in this album, she has tried out new kind of songwriting where  lyrics would have two sides to it, like looking at a thing in two different ways. She agrees the industry  is male-dominated and has a long way to go.

Her favourite music director is the Mozart of Madras, AR Rahman and she was born the year he took  the film world by storm!



The blame for her entry into sailing falls squarely on her mother! Her mother did Marine Microbiology in US and in which sailing was part of the course. When her mother came to Chennai,  she enrolled herself in the Royal Madras Yacht Club and Rohini stepped into the boat when she was only a year old. A water baby indeed!

She is involved in the Global Shapers Community as well, an initiative of the World Economic Forum because there was too much talk with no action. This community comprises of entrepreneurs and high achievers between their 20s and 30s who can think globally and act locally. They are yet to decide on the project on which they would be embarking on.

The sailing scene in India, especially with respect to infrastructure, is centred around Mumbai. Even the World Championship was conducted in Mumbai, where Rohini struck gold. However, weather often plays spoilsport in Mumbai. Though Chennai is well suited for the sport, few know of it since it is located in a remote area. In her opinion, more than infrastructure, awareness is needed as many do not know the sport exists.

Asked what she likes and dislikes about our country after having travelled so much, she says we often think countries like the US and UK have richer sports federations but often, athletes there face problems as well. Yet, the gender bias in India is high with people even predicting that she would not be sailing for too long a time. This makes her feel really sad. Yet, when compared to middle-Eastern countries, the scenario is still better. However, mentalities in our country need to change.


If you read his profile, you would know that he was first an English master in a  school and then he went on to advertising. When asked about handling career  change, he surprised me by saying he was first a lawyer. He says he got a lucky  break from this profession when he got a job as a school teacher in Darjeeling and so  The packed up to embark on this new journey. Later, when he found that he missed  theatre a lot, he quit to join a dramatics group but his father’s advise to enter the  corporate world led him to advertising. Having worked in both theatre and film, he  says he likes theatre as an actor but film as a medium of change. Om Puri is his  favourite actor as he enters the skin of the character and lives it through.

If he were to be the Education Minister for a day, he said he would promote virtual education now that NCERT has begun digitalizing its book content. India, in his opinion, has always taken the technological leap, jumping to mobile phones when landlines became difficult to come by. Tablets would be the delivery platform for such content and software will be used to monitor attendance levels of teachers in rural schools. His role model is his grandfather and he has immense respect for Mahatma Gandhi and Chacha Nehru, especially after acting like them. His favourite teacher is a Frank Youngman from Oxford who encouraged him to write.



Her profile says that she is one of the most inspiring young social entrepreneurs of our time, widely recognized by the Economic Times, CII and other corporate houses.

According to her, social entrepreneurship does not need a definition and is rather a more sustainable version of social work. She said her most difficult challenge was convincing her parents who asked her what she would do for a living, not considering this a full time job. When asked what she would do if she was given control over the Ministry of Child and Women Development, she replied she would ensure that grassroots projects get implemented and understand where the money that is being spent goes.

Apart from Protsahan, she says she was in love with the advertising world and today, is a consultant for corporate which provides her bread and butter. She adores Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert and singing. She wants the youth to follow their heart and not get scared. She advises against getting married at 25 and says there is nothing wrong in putting that off till you are 40.

It was great having all of them at TEDxYouth@Chennai. Hopefully, they enjoyed the event as much as the organizers did!

- Thomas Arun

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