Month: April 2002

Colours of Life

Colours of Life

Well known Marathi stage actors Sanjay Narvekar (of Vaastav fame) and Bharat Jadhav are best known for their performances in "All the Best", a record breaking Marathi play. While Narvekar played the character of a deaf man, Jadhav played a dumb man. With their potent performances, Narvekar and Jadhav have earned the respect of colleagues and critics alike.

Last week, at a programme organized by Indradhanu in Thane’s Sahyog Bhavan, both Narvekar and Jadhav related a few colourful anecdotes ¬†from ¬†their lives.

Bharat Jadhav shared an interesting and touching story from his early days of "All the Best". He spoke about a taxi-driver who was driving a couple of rather belligerent passengers towards the theatre where "All the Best" was to be performed. Mumbai traffic being what it is, the passengers sensed that they might reach late for the show and in frustration, began cursing the taxi-driver. They used all possible expletives and expressed their displeasure quite aggressively. No no fault of his, the driver tolerated this abuse and maintained silence, driving patiently. But what made this self-control possible? Jadhav revealed that the taxi-driver was none other than his own father, who was feeing a sense of pride, driving these difficult passengers to his son’s play – never mind the name-calling and foul language that he was subjected to. After all the passengers were dying to see his son’s performance!

Sanjay Navekar too recalled an episode from his early days of "All the Best". This was about the time when he decided to move his residence from Vikhroli to Thane (Kalwa), as it made more sense to stay close to Gadkari Rangayatan.

One day, after he had relocated to Thane, Narvekar was returning home after a late night performance. He was new to this part of town, and was still not familiar with the streets. So, on his way he stopped at many points to ask for directions. One man recognized Narvekar and asked him if he was indeed ‘the Sanjay Narvekar’ from All the Best. "So whose house are you looking for?" the man asked him, to which Narvekar replied casually, "Mine". The man refused to believe him. He said, "You are never serious. Please tell me who are you really looking for?" Narvekar stood there, helpless and amused at the irony of life!

Happy Journey!
The other day, a colleague who was traveling in the 498 Ltd. BEST from Thane to Andheri, came across a rare bus conductor, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy his work. It was a hot and humid day but all through the journey, the conductor entertained the passengers while giving out tickets. In his non-stop commentary, he made references to all kinds of things – from Bollywood to cricket and politics. He cracked jokes and delivered famous dialogues, including a few from Kaun Banega Crorepati. He was apparently quite abreast of what is hot and what is not. The passengers were pleased and many of them wondered aloud about the pleasant attitude of the conductor.

This conductor’s disposition only proves that happiness is a state of mind and has nothing to do with either one’s destiny. It’s a choice we can all make, regardless of our current state of affairs.

All in the Mind

All in the Mind

Every morning, about two thousand prisoners of Thane Central Jail gather in the various barracks to participate in a special session. For an hour or so, the participants embark on a spiritual journey wherein they enter the world of self-discovery and god-realization.

The positive effects of the "Spiritual Awakening" Programme conducted by Prajapita Brahmakumaris have transformed a number of inmates. Incorrigible addicts have given up drugs, alcohol and smoking. A large number of them have turned to vegetarianism. Negative emotions like violence, anger and depression are increasingly being substituted by peace, harmony and inner-contentment. The once contaminated atmosphere is gradually paving way for a pure ambience.

This amazing transformational programme was initiated in July 1998by the then superintendent of Thane Central Jail, Ramkrishna Mahale, along with a few volunteers of Prajapita Brahmakumaris. Last year Thane Municipal Corporation honoured Mahale with the "Thane Bhusan Gaurav Puraskar" in recognition of his splendid contribution.

The first batch of the programme comprised of a small group of 20 odd convicts, including notorious gangster Arun Gawli and his group. The results were immediate and many members of this batch took an oath never to commit a crime again. Since then the number of participants has steadily increased.

Dr. Sudhir Bhatankar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner of TMC, who is one of the Gurus who conduct spiritual discourses in the Jail, provided many examples of convicts who were transformed. Like Balasaheb Nirmale who was convicted in the fake-currency case. Bhatankar says, "Nirmale was so influenced by the course that he vowed to dedicate his life to the welfare of others, after he serves his sentence." Today, Nirmale is a social worker helping a credit society based in Thane. Even after his release from the jail, he has remained a follower of Brahmakumaris."

Dr. Bhatankar also revealed an interesting fact related to a well-known dacoit of the yesteryears, Pancham Singh, who was completely swayed by the teaching of Brahmakumaris and surrendered himself to Jayprakash Narayan. Soon, he began spiritual preaching himself. In fact, Pancham Singh attended the inaugural batch of "Spiritual Awakening" programme in Thane Jail and gave a live account of his transformational journey – from a hardened criminal to a spiritually conscious human being.

The regular turnout at the discourses and the visible transformation among the participants made a strong case for making this programme a permanent feature of the Jail. Today over 2,500 inmates participate in the self-realisation programme.

According to Mayur Kapadia, another Guru, "Many members of the police staff observed the positive effects of the programme and asked for a similar programme for them and their families."

This is not the first time that meditation techniques have been used in correction centres. Spiritual meditation is fast emerging as the key to rehabilitation of lawbreakers serving in jails the world over. Perhaps the best example is that of Dr. Kiran Bedi, India’s first female police officer. When Bedi took charge as Inspector General of prisons, she introduced a meditation course in Tihar Jail and the results were simply remarkable.

The success of the "Spiritual Awakening" programme of the Thane Central Jail only proves what Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds."

Humane Project

Humane Project

Money donation for good causes is a great thing to do. But donating blood to save precious lives is perhaps the noblest of all donations.

For those who are wary of blood donation for the fear of contracting undesirable diseases, please note that improvements to the blood collection process have made giving blood today safer than ever. In addition to the mini medical examination, which makes sure donors are healthy, a new needle is used for each blood donation, and once it is used, the needle is destroyed.

In fact, studies suggest that blood donation is a healthy practice as each donor passes through the mini medical test – there have been cases when high blood pressure among certain individuals has been discovered during the process of blood donation. Preliminary studies have also found that heart attacks and other cardiac problems were less common in men who had donated blood compared to men who had not.

Now that you are aware of the rewards that accompany blood donation, you may want to make your self available for this noble deed. Fortunately, the Rotaract Club of Thane East (RCTE) has pioneered a project called "Lifeline" – an enduring blood donation drive for the benefit of the poor and the needy. The RCTE has committed itself to help those in dire need of blood and cannot afford to pay massive sums that are needed to buy blood.

Manish Kotwani, member of RCTE says, "We have tied up with Pooja Blood Bank in Mulund, wherein we deposit the bottles on an ongoing basis and these bottles would be mobilized to help the poor & needy on a 24/7 basis. In this endeavor, we would be able to serve the community better if we are able to get help from responsible citizens."

So if you or any of your friends are interested in donating blood, please contact Manish Kotwani on 540 1004 or email thane-east@rotaract.org

Trunk Call
Kahlil Gibran, one of the greatest poet-philosophers humankind has seen, wrote "Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. We fell them and turn them into paper, so that we may record our emptiness".

Nature lovers in Thane would be happy to know that Thane Municipal Corporation has taken up a tree counting and surveying drive in Thane city. Along with M/s Environment and Biotechnology Foundation, the TMC has already surveyed eighty thousand trees over ten wards.

Commenced on March 15, 2001, this massive crusade aims to collect detailed information about the city’s trees so that they can protect endangered species, improve the quality of others and weed out degenerating ones.

The survey will collect information based on several interesting parameters. Class, species, genus etc. will provide botanical information. The survey will also determine the age of the tree using a scientific approach. In fact, this campaign has helped find trees that are as old as one hundred fifty years. Other parameters of information such as height, area of growth (forest, road, private property, lake etc.) and medicinal quality would also be recorded. Areas that have potential for tree plantation would be noted too. Students of Botany would benefit greatly from this kind of data.

But perhaps the most important information that this campaign would provide will be that of the optimum number of trees required for tackling the grand problem of pollution. The authorities plan to use this vital information to create and enforce laws on tree-destruction.

The project is expected to get over in June 2002.

Child’s Play

Child’s Play

Excessive cravings do not necessarily involve physical substances. Like the world’s most popular leisure pastime, television – an addiction that has enveloped all age groups. In fact, Newton’s law of inertia aptly describes a TV addict: A body at rest tends to remain in the state of rest. And if the body is of a child in front of the TV, then it is a cause for great worry.

The gravity of the situation can be judged by the results of a survey conducted in the US which states that a typical child watches an average of thirty-five hours of television per week! Along with a sedentary lifestyle, television promotes a whole host of equally disturbing behaviors: lack of creativity and stimulation, and the absence of family interaction, reading time, and self-motivated play time.

In its effort to provide good, healthy entertainment to children, Thane Municipal Corporation has recently installed a range of multi-play systems in thirty gardens around the city. Kids can now enjoy on the lovely new systems such as spiral slide, tube slide, roller slide, double spring wave slide, adjustable see-saw, climbing frames and many other interesting things. An estimated fifteen to twenty thousand kids visit these newly equipped gardens daily. TMC Commissioner K. P. Bakshi, Mayor Sharda Raut and other senior officers too have paid a visit to the gardens in the last few weeks.

Arihant Industries Corporation, the suppliers of the play systems, will also maintain them for the next two years.

Hopefully this network of gardens will play an important role in diverting the city kids away from the television networks.

First among equals
"Pandit Ram Marathe Smruti Din" is a yearly event that is extremely popular among music lovers of Maharashtra. People go to any lengths to reserve their seats in advance, lest they miss out the opportunity to see the show. This year, for the programme to be held on April 05, the plans opened on March 31. But the book windows of Gadkari Rangayatan, where the programme was to be held, had queues from the previous night (March 30).

This is not the first time that this has happened. The organizers too are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm displayed by the fans, year after year. In fact, it has now become a custom for the organizers to officially felicitate the very first purchaser of the ticket, as a mark of appreciation.

For readers who are unaware, Pandit Ram Marathe was one of the great classical vocalists that our country has produced. He was conferred with The Sangeet Bhushan title by the Government of Maharashtra and won numerous awards during his lifetime, including the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award in the year 1987.

Muscular Clash
Last week, TMC and the Thane District Body Building Association organized the Fifth Body Building Competition for the title of "Mahapaur Shree 2002" at Gadkari Rangayatan. 116 contestants from all over the state participated in the competition, which was inaugurated by Mayor Sharda Raut.

It was a fierce competition between bulging biceps and triceps, extra-tight waistlines and macho muscles. In the end, it was Uttam Saliyan from Jai Bharat Sports Club who won the title of the "Mahapaur Shri -2002". He also bagged the "Best Poser" award.

"Ugavata Tara" (Rising star) team trophy went to "Spurti Vyayam Shala", whereas runners up were "Jai Bharat Sports Club" at Kharegaon, Kalwa.

Although the competition lasted only for a few hours, the sweat and toil that went into developing those impressive muscles should not be discounted.

The participants of the "Mahapaur Shri" competition looked inspired by none other than the world’s most famous bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once said, "My definition of a sport is that it’s a physical activity that involves competition. Since bodybuilders certainly train and then compete, we are certainly a sport."

Bodybuilding is one of the most underappreciated sports in this country, and such competitions will go a long way in getting this sport its rightful place under the sun.