Category Archives: wonder kids

Meet the youngest girl to scale Mt.Stok kangri

Kaamya Karthikeyan scaled the 20,000 feet Mt. Stok Kangri to become the youngest ever to do so

At age nine, this girl from Visakhapatnam has created a record by climbing the high ranges of the Himalayas. Kaamya Karthikeyan scaled Mount Stok Kangri ( 20,187 ft) on August 4 becoming the youngest in the world to scale the peak that stands at a mammoth 20,000 feet above sea level. Her success came after a gruelling summit climb of almost 12 hours followed by a descent of seven hours.

As she completed the arduous trek with her parents, her first reactions were: “It’s been a long day, yeah very long.” Twelve hours of walking through the night and early morning hours, she reached the summit at 9.45 in the morning. “There were about 40-50 other climbers who attempted summit on the same day, out of which only 15 including the four of us completed the summit,” she adds.

This Naval officer’s daughter had made it to the Mt Everest base camp two months ago, but Kaamya says this experience to Mt. Stok Kangri was very different compared to her previous treks.

“Firstly, as we land in Leh directly we are already at 3,500 mtrs above sea level, which is very high altitude. So we had to do a lot of acclimatization by travelling across Khardung La Pass (world’s highest motorable pass) twice. We then travelled across Chang La pass (world’s second highest motorable pass) and even stayed overnight at Pangong Lake which is about 4,300 mtrs. Secondly, unlike other Himalayan treks, the scene in Leh is barren and can get on to you if you don’t adapt,” says Kaamya’s father S. Karthikeyan, a naval officer.

Luckily, Kaamya enjoyed the terrain and especially the beauty of miniature, but brightly coloured flowers which are scarcely seen.

Overcoming challenges

However, the real challenge was the summit climb. This now has to be done directly from the base camp to the Summit and back as camping at the intermediary advance base camp was prohibited a few years ago.

“So now it’s a direct climb of about 1,100 mtrs lasting an average of 14-17 hours. A huge altitude gain, combined with an extremely long day at work has made the success on Stok’s summit extremely challenging,” her father adds. The celebration of the present trek is still pending as Kaamya is busy covering up the missed lessons and studying for the exams that started this week. Now after this long tough trek, the little mountaineer has set her eyes on higher goals.

“It might be Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Elbrus next! But I am sure to undertake ski training in January and participate in the Winter National Games,” says the student of class five of Navy Children’s School, Visakhapatnam. Next summers, she plans to undergo a mountaineering course to gain institutionalised training to prepare her for higher and tougher climbs. Speaking about her earlier Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek, she says, “The entire trek lasted for 14 days, during which we walked through dense forests, grassy plains, rocky terrain, snow and icy glaciers. The amazing views and backdrops that I witnessed compensated more than enough for the efforts put-in during the training.”

Born trekker

Also an accomplished swimmer, marathon runner, Bharatnatyam dancer and Carnatic classical singer, Kaamya’s trekking experiences started on a baby sling with her mother who would take her on treks.

At the age of three, she first started taking baby steps trekking through the Sahyadris holding her father’s hands during his posting in Lonavla. Her first Himalayan trek was to Chandrashila peak at 12,000 feet. Since then, there has been no looking back. This year, she stood first in the basic and intermediate snow skiing courses.

“The progress to this level has been long and gradual and not easy for sure. I’m fortunate that I was born into adventure, with my father, an accomplished mountaineer, skydiver, cyclist and runner, as my biggest inspiration. I treaded my baby steps in the wilderness at an early age of less than three, when I took to trekking in the Sahyadris with my parents. The beauty of the Sahyadris instilled the love for nature so deep in me that I began treasuring the patterns of butterflies and leaves more than expensive toys and clothes. I was hooked forever to Mother Nature,” says Kaamya, who has been giving presentations on her trekking experiences in some city schools and is looking forward to reach out to more children to motivate them.

“For me, the best part was that Kaamya never showed any signs of tiredness even during the tough summit climb and repeatedly kept asking only one question ‘Am I climbing ok? Is my speed good enough to summit on time?’ That was inspirational,” recalls her father and adds that, “such treks and outdoor activities have direct benefits on children like maintaining good health and indirect benefits like the ability to put in hard work, prioritising and scheduling requirements n life and a ‘never say never’ attitude.”

Sports and adventure brings discipline, confidence and focus in life and helps one excel in every sphere. Along with her physical development, Kaamya has been able to juggle easily between winning Spell Bee and Olympiad competitions and learning to play the piano, western and Carnatic music.

courtesy    The Hindu

Expressing himself through dance

12-year-old Saladi Eshan from the city is all set for his Kuchipudi dance performance this weekend. He is confident about pursuing his passion for classical dance and music alongside professional education courses. His mother Saladi Mrunalini is a versatile Kuchipudi dancer, choreographer and teacher. She was trained by Kuchipudi Guru D.V. Satya Kumar and Guru Vedantam Satya Narasimha Shastry.

Talking about her son, Mrunalini shared, “Eshan showed interest in dance since the age of seven. He used to see me dance and automatically make dance postures on his own. I was not very keen to teach him dance, being unsure of his future as a male dancer. But my husband advised me to encourage Eshan and teach him. For a few years we were in New Delhi where I was part of many social message-oriented productions encompassing dance and Indian culture. I have been a part of productions in almost all parts of India from Leh-Ladakh to Kanyakumari including the Northeast for Kanchenjunga Festival, Sindhu-Darshan, Khajuraho Festival, Brahamotsava Festival and Sharad Utsav. My colleague Rasheedi Hasan spotted Eshan’s good voice and started guiding him in music. After coming to Hyderabad, Eshan is taking Carnatic music lessons from Guru P.V.S. Seshaiah Sastry.”

For Eshan, dance performances made him a hero among his classmates and friends. “Whenever I perform in front of friends and classmates, they like my performance so much that they not only applaud during the programme but come and lift me up after! Even in my residential locality, children who have seen my performances started to learn classical dance from my mother. I love dance because I can express my feelings through it. Dance also makes me fit. My father encourages me and even told me how to walk towards the centre of stage before starting a performance. These are very small but important points to be taken care of for a successful presentation. There are many dance competitions in which I have participated and won first prizes. I also enjoy playing cricket in my leisure time and study about space, history and planets,” he says.

“There is only one life for us in which we can try and achieve many things. We may get 99 per cent support from our elders, but we need to make that one per cent effort to be successful in life,” concludes Eshan.

Hyderabad’s own little drummer

Arnav Kuppachi might look like your average 10 year old but when he begins talking his words precede his age.  He is very confident and talks like he knows what he is doing.  Especially so when he talks about his love for drumming. His parents Kalyan and Vavita deserve credit for where he has reached today. They spotted the “ sense of rhythm” in him early and encouraged him to take up music.  Luckily for Arnav his school too helped him dabble in various musical instruments like key board violin piano guitar and table before moving on to drums.

Recently during a World Music Day event in the city  Arnav was one of the youngest players.  In fact he stood out in the band as all the other members were over 27 years of age.  The way the little boy matched up with their experience impressed everyone in the audience.

“ I was first part of a band with members who were in my age group  but I wasn’t happy because they didn’t spend time practicing and weren’t taking it seriously” says Arnav explaining that for him drumming is a serious business.

In fact it was this interest that pushed his parents to bring out the best in his and provide him with good training.  “ All his music teachers in school always told us that he was a quick learner and we wanted to nurture the talent in him.  So we tried enrolling him in a class with Dominic  a well known drummer in the city. But Dominic felt he was really young then   he was just eight years old.  However today Arnav has been practicing for over a year and now Dominic sometimes feels that we should have started a bit earlier “  shares Arnav’s father Kalyan.

I love playing the drums more than anything else. I keep practicing as much as possible. I was nervous at the World Music Day event, but I think it went pretty well. Everyone congratulated me and it makes me happy that I achieved something  says Arnav who has been performing at several places in the city.

He has huge plans for the future and is now gearing up to join an in house band at Microsoft where his mother works.

Arnav says he wants to go on to become one of the best drummers ever.  “ I also want to learn table so that I can use both the instruments to create fusion music’ he concludes.



Leaping high into the air

Ever overheard a group of youngsters in your neighbourhood  huddling and talking about Ollies and wondered what those are?  The Ollie is the most fundamental skateboarding trick where the rider and board leap into the air without the use of the rider’s hands. With June 21 being the Go skateboarding Day enthusiasts from the city as young as eight year olds are gearing up to celebrate the day in all fanfare.

Talking about the same  Aaron Savio Johnson student of class III says “ I took interest in it after watching You Tube videos and pestered my father to get me a skateboard.  I started training professionally three weeks back but the experience is thrilling.” Further adding Savio’s father says “ it’s really difficult to see him falling while training but I try to stay strong and get accustomed to it  but his determination is commendable”. Another student of class III agasthi Chandrashekhar who’s into the sport says “ I have been into roller skating since I was four years old and now with skateboarding I find it really good. I am going to focus on it now.

It’s not just kids who are into skateboarding but many youngsters from the city who are into this sport are coming up with an event at Wall Ride Park. But the way they all fell in love with the sport is almost similar   through You Tube videos.  Sushant Kumar after completing BBA is into fulltime skateboarding.  ‘ I learned the basic from those videos and started pratising three years back”  he says adding “ it  was love at first leap.  Now whenever I get time I take part in competitions   not to win  but to learn tricks from other experts “.  He also adds “people generally think that it’s so much fun  but skateboarding is about maintaining balance while trying out new tricks”.

A member of skateboarding in Hyderabad group Adnan Jafar shares his plan for the day.  “ we will be gathering at the Wall Ride Park to participate in competitions.  It’s very rare that we get a chance to be together and we can’t miss this opportunity to try out new tricks at the new venue only dedicated for skateboarding “ he explains.  Adnan has been skateboarding for the past six years and thinks it is just right time for people to explore more of it.



Spelling whiz Akash Vukoti

Akash Vukoti from Texas was all set to appear for his first spelling bee competition. His hair was neatly combed  clothes were pressed and he had practiced hard  still uttering spellings and brimming with excitement.  For finishing touches he put on his diaper before he takes on people twice his age. He was two and a half years old at the time.

Last year the now seven year old won billions of hearts when he became the youngest person to compete in the Scripps National Spell Bee the most reputed competition of its kind in US.  Akash whose parents shifted to America from Nellore appeared on Steve Harvey’s  hit TV show  Little Big Shots for the third time earlier last week.

About how it all started Akash says “ I was about a year and a half when my uncle was feeding me and he spelt out the word spoon.  The next day he asked me again. Without expecting me to repeat it but I remembered. I also used to be transfixed with the magnetic alphabets on our refrigerator and my parents noticed this talent in me.”

His talent has kept Akash’s parents  DR Krishna and Chandrakala Vukoti on their toes.  “ when he was three Akash and his sister Amrita became the youngest sibling members of MENSA  an organization for people with high IQs.  Since we are homeschooling him we have to constantly update ourselves to be able to teach him “ Dr Krishna adding that one of their concerns was that he would not have interactions with people his age.  However Chandrakala says “ we get together with other kids who are home schooled for outings”.

As for his popularity Akash thanks Steve.  “ Mr Harvey is an amazing person and he introduced me to the world. Now so many people know me.  I feel great.”  So how does he deal with all the fame?   His father Dr Krishna says “ we always remind him that all this attention is temporary so we ask him to be friendly towards everybody”.  Akash can even read and write Hindi and Telugu fluently.

Meanwhile his father adds “ there was this racial undertone to spell bee competitions.  People would dislike Indian origin participants because they felt that they were being forced by their parents to study continuously.  Akash has broken this misconception. He just practices for one hour a day and some more when the competitions are approaching. He can make anything humourous and both Steve and Jimmy Fallon have said that they see themselves in Akash”.


The small wonder

If you have watched the trailer of Srinu Vaitla’s upcoming film Mister then you might have noticed a little Polish boy mouthing Telugu dialogues fluently. But this isn’t the only claim to fame that the seven year old Zbigniew known as Bujji at home has.  He’s also called Zac these days which is short for zbigniew Acharya Chertlur

For a long time now Bujji has been garnering attention on social media with his rendition of Telugu classics like Neeve Na [ which had gone viral with over four lakh views on Facebook ] and Na Hrudayam Lo Nidurinche cheli among many others.  NTR’s famous dialogue Emantivi Emantivi is yet another of his famous renditions.   What’s surprising every one though is the interest of the “ tella abbayi’ in Telugu cinema. It helps that Bujji has got his own little Telugu connect. His father Sharath Chertluru is a Hyderabadi who moved to Europe nearly two decades ago where he eventually met the Polish lady Ula Bujji’s mom.

‘ When he was just two and a half years old I realized that he has an amazing memory power. He was singing a Spanish song he had heard randomly and he didn’t even know the language’ says Sharath  Zac’s father. “ By the age of three and a half Bujji knew names of countries and their capitals could name discoveries and that’s when I first taught him the shlokam  Suklam Baradharam.  He learnt it very quickly.  Since then I continued teaching him Telugu songs. He doesn’t understand the language but easily grasps the lyrics” shares Sharath.

Bujji claims to be a Pawan Kalyan fan because of his good fighting. In fact he recently watched the actor’s latest release katmarayudu and shares that he was blown away by the movie and loved the song  Jivvu Jivvu.  I also like chiranjeevi  Mahesh Babu Salman khan and Varun Tej. When we were working together he specially ordered a pizza for me he says talking of Varun Tej soon after he starts singing Ye Divi Lo Veesinga Parijatamo

Mister might be his debut in a feature film but Bujji has starred in several commercials across Europe. In fact his father Sharath is a photographer himself and has been instrumental in giving the little boy a presence on social media.  “ He can browse what he likes but of course  we monitor him.  He’s also got immense knowledge about Indian mythology only through online search. He bought his own Xbox too with his earnings.  We are so proud.  He loves Facebook.  In fact it was through social media that writer Gopi Mohan spotted him and eventually Mister happened  he explains.

Studying in class III in a school in London  Bujji already knows what he wants to do when he grows up  become an actor. His father tells us that he makes short films too.  “ He has a camcorder which he uses to shoot films on his own.  I am the scapegoat as I have to star in them’  says Sharath with a laugh.  He adds “ he sings well and we’ll soon train his in carnatic music.  Let’ssee where destiny takes him.”

Courtesy    Deccan Chronicle


With the wind in his sails

Fourteen year old Durga Prasad’s story is one that will surprise and inspire you. The boy from Rasoolpura did not let obstacles get to him, rather he sailed through all that life brought to him.

Now after participating in several events including the Monsoon Regatta and Telangana Open .  Durga Prasad who has been learning sailing since 2014 will be representing the country at the Asian Sailing Federation Youth Games to be held in the UAE.

“ I didn’t expect that I would get selected. It’s all because of the support and push that I have been getting from my coach Suheim Sheikh and The Yacht Club of Hyderabad. This is the first time I will be boarding a flight and I am excited” says the Class X student of Udbhav School in the city. Interestingly in 2014 Durga was selected by his school to be part of a group to learn sailing and that’ s how it all began.

Not only did he overcome his fear of water sports as he took to sailing but he did so well that he is currently ranked third in the Under -15 category in India.

“ I used to read articles about sailing. I was afraid of water sports earlier  but when I got the opportunity to sail and noticed the safety measures that are taken.  I was not afraid anymore. Gradually I started liking it and overcame my fear “ he says.

However that was not the only challenge he faced.  “ we are very poor. My father Erra Lingam works at a photocopier unit and my mother Erra Sarala is a sweeper at a bike showroom” says Durga.

But that never stopped him from dreaming big.  He adds “ In spite of that my parents encouraged me to take up this sport.  Now that I am representing India at an international event  my parents are very happy.”

The young boy would practice after school hours from 4 to 5 pm on weekdays and from 9.30 am to 6 pm on weekends.  “ I would come back home and finish my home work since studies are also important. The principal of my school also supports me a lot. She often checks on my practice and how I am doing professionally”.

He continues  “ my coach [ Suheim Sheikh ]  has been my pillar of support. I would not get  a few things right in the beginning but Suheim sir would not mind teaching me again. Even when I would not finish first during competitions he would encourage me by saying that there are many other championships and I shouldn’t get disheartened. “

Durga also adds that his neighbours at Rasoolpura have no clue about his achievements.  “ My neighbours don’t know the value of pursuing sailing. They think that I am wasting my time, as they have no clue about the sport or the opportunities. I want more people in Hyderabad to take up sailing “ he says adding.  “ I feel happy when I am on water and I also get into the competitive mode.  In future I want to bag a gold medal at the World Championship and make my city and country proud. I am confident that I will be able to achieve it “.



Courtesy    Deccan Chronicle