Hellen Keller once said “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much”. Well-structured, productive, and healthy communities bring out the best in people. Meet Rituraj Vasant Karthik, a community builder who is making it easy for people to explore their dreams through his community called “Hyderabad Kites”. Karthik dons multiple hats. He is a marathon runner, cyclist, social activist, adventure lover and above all a community leader.
Karthik shared his life story with HatkeStory which is nothing short of brilliant. Today, the “Hyderabad Kites” Team actively supports 26 different communities across various interest areas. Be it music, dance, lake restoration, running, photography, cycling and what not!
Flashback to when you were a child. Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born and brought up in a place called Undrajavaram, Andhra Pradesh. My Father is a doctor and Mom is a health supervisor. I was a very timid child. I spent most of my childhood confined to the Govt. quarters within the hospital premises where my parents worked. I was put in a hostel when I was in my 7th class. I used to have an inferiority complex when I initially joined the hostel. However, the leader and organizer in me sprouted from my passion for dance.
I loved performing on Chiranjeevi’s songs trying to copy his dance moves. I got my first recognition for a dance performance on the occasion of Annual Day of my school called Kakatiya in Bheemavaram. Apart from dance, I used to actively spend time on pencil sketching as a hobby. Social Science was my favorite subject in school.
What is Hyderabad Kites?
Hyderabad Kites is a passion exploration group that helps you explore your dreams. It is a platform for every community and every doer. We participate in tea (Think, Enable and Act) meets for discussions on topics like stress, addiction and how to tackle them. We currently support 26 different communities. We believe that goals are more easily reachable when we explore our dreams together as a community. Here, every member is a leader. We compare us to ourselves. Hyderabad kites has many verticals based on the particular group’s passion and common thinking.
Why the name Hyderabad Kites?
I loved making kites from newspapers and distributed them among my friends when I was a kid. The stronger the thread, the higher the Kite can fly. I believe the Kite’s thread is like our skills and the Kite itself is like our dreams. Every person has a unique skill and there is a need for a platform to help people pursue their passion. We direct people to the right communities to pursue their passion. Hence the name Hyderabad Kites.
You are an active marathon runner. What led you to start a runner’s community?
After graduation, I started my career as a sales engineer for Air conditioners. I later pursued digital marketing and was a digital marketing instructor at an institute. A tragic accident in 2014, was the stepping stone to my journey to become a marathon runner. It was late night of Nov 16th 2014 when I met with a major accident. A lorry hit my bike while I was traveling to meet a friend. My kids and my wife flashed in my mind and I was desperately shouting for help on the road.
I suffered serious fractures in my ribs and major damage to my leg. I lost a major chunk of muscle on my leg. The Doctor said I was pre-diabetic and they would have to amputate my leg if it doesn’t heal. That is when I started taking care of my health. I couldn’t imagine a life without a leg given my passion for dance. I started walking everyday despite bleeding. I did everything I could to keep myself healthy, pure and fit. It took me 2 years to become fit to run a marathon. There was no looking back after that! I started a running community when I found a group of people who were enthusiastic to change their lifestyle.
How has running changed you as a person?
Running has taught me to wake up early in the morning. I have fair knowledge on what to eat and overall good lifestyle habits. I used to weigh over 110 kg when I met with the accident. I haven’t had white rice in 2 years. I compensate nutrients with other types of food. You are what you eat. Our daily food habits greatly affect our mental state as well.
I have completed 1000 km of running in less than a year and 120 km of barefoot running. I completed 10 km runs 25 times, 42 km Full marathon, and 50 km endurance ride to name a few.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I take inspiration from people like Prasad Wadeppally (clocked 10,000 km on his cycle in 100 days), Vijay P (Founder of Self Actualizers group in Hyderabad), Gangadhar Panday (President of Babul Film Society NGO), Dheeraj Surapaneni (Founder of Hyderabad Adventure & Trekker’s club) and many more. I continuously self-evaluate to improve myself.
I used to volunteer and attend classes at Sri Sathya Sai trust to improve my soft skills. Many people want to do Social service, but can’t because money is necessary to drive things. I used to visit orphanages and rehabilitation centers where I understood the power of communities. I observed that negative forces, if channeled into positive energy can make a lot of difference in our lives. To turn Negativity to positivity, there is a need for activity.
What are your achievements?
I am really proud of successful Fund Raisers that we organized for a noble cause. “DANCE 4 Ayushi by Shravs” and “Music 4 Pavan” were fundraising events to raise funds for treatment of these kids who were suffering from leukemia. We also gathered funds as part of “we 4 Kerala” campaign.
Apart from this, we got widespread support from people across Hyderabad for our social initiatives. I am a good cook. So, I made lemon rice at home and we as a community distributed food packets along with the blankets to the homeless in winter. You can connect with us and follow our work on social Media.