Thursday, May 9, 2013

Digital Eyes and Runners Legs

I haven't blogged in a while and 140 characters don't come as easily as they used to. Not for lack of stories, experiences or thoughts. Perhaps too many of them. But there is one experience I had last week that seems to have broken the dry spell and I've been itching to tell this story.

Last week I met Raghava Peri, an extraordinary young man last from Bangalore. Raghava is special to me because he loves 2 things more than even I do: digital and running.

By day, he is a digital accessibility specialist at IBM; he makes IBM's online products and services more accessible for the differently able community. He uses JAWS, the screen reader, to test sites and works with user experience designers and developers to create accessible products. So, if you are visually impaired and have ever visited and have a good user experience, you can drop Raghava a line. He had something to do with that!  He also blogs and speaks at various conferences on digital accessibility (Google Raghavendra Satish Peri to find him!). Raghava is also a member of the Bangalore Runners Club (same club as my coaches Sindhu and Srini whom I have written about earlier).

Raghava does all this despite being differently abled (he is visually impaired and unfortunately his right eye got blinded just a few weeks ago). He told me he wasn't born blind and it's been a gradual thing. He spoke about this very matter of factly when we met over coffee and I had no idea until I read his blog that it was only recently that there was such a turn of events for him. We talked about IBM and digital marketing just like I would with any of you all. In fact, he is so smart, I plan to have him jointly present at an upcoming digital conference in June on digital accessibility, a topic that many of us in the digital world know nothing about but should.

I was particularly motivated by Raghava's recent post on his Auroville 10K Run experience. I've been running for about 1.5 years now and am just gearing up for Bangalore 10K on May 19th which I have been a little slack about because of the hot and muggy weather in Mumbai, but also I am taking it a little bit for granted since this the second time I am running that course so it just seems more familiar. The things that keep a runner going during a marathon like milestone markers (Big signs that say 1Km , 2Km..21Km) or the water station or the aunty who gives you a banana or orange or the pacer who happens to have dark chocolate on him and gives you a piece when you look winded.. Raghava doesn't get to experience any of these but if you read his blog the "chik chik" sound of dal in a bottle will forever be etched in your mind. I know that many people are inspired by him but, as an IBMer and a blogger, I am just really proud of being a fellow IBMer and honored that he reads my humble blog.

I must also really commend Coach Santosh and the Runners Club members for how they team with Raghava. It tells you so much about what friendships and partnerships are really about.When you read the comments on Raghava's blog you will see that his runner partners don't measuring their success based on how fast they run or the timing that they made, but rather that the pair crossed the finish line together. Raghava's strength lies in the fact that he takes people along with him without even trying. And he is destined to help many many people redefine success through teamwork vs. individual accomplishment.

Finally, I want to personally thank Raghava for giving me a wonderful reason to start writing again and an even better reason to run the best 10K I have so far. Cheers!

You can follow Raghava on Twitter at @artofvision and if you are ever in Bangalore, I encourage you to drop him a line and meet up! He will make your day!


  1. Hi Virginia,

    Nice & inspiring post. One correction.

    Raghava's Twitter handle is:
    @artofvision, not @artofivision
    (By mistake you have inserted an "i" after "f").

    You may want to make that correction in your post.


  2. Welcome back Virginia to the blogosphere! Have met Raghav various @indibloggers' meets. He is a wonderful guy, full of spirit with much realistic approach towards life. No wonder if he inspired you too :)

  3. Raghavendra s peri! 3 yrs ago I interviewed him for a motivational feature that I used to write at IBM DC. The monthly feature was called My Friday Story, which basically featured achievements of differently-abled employees at IBM DC. I was very inspired by him and we watched his TEDtalk together. Cannot forget him and a few others I met during my years in IBM.

  4. Sorry, I didn't read your entire post before commenting....was just too excited to have known the guy. Have you listend to his TEDtalk? Btw raghavendra had told me he wanted to pursue a career in writing. Not sure if he still has that dream.

  5. Raghavendra has shifted to Hyderabad