Month: November 2002

Ticketing Woes

Ticketing Woes

Daily, about 13 million passengers travel with the Indian Railways. No wonder, long queues are typical at railway reservation centres in our country. Especially in large cities, people often wait in queues for a very long time, sometimes as long as three hours. Come peak season, and this waiting period reaches its peak too. People line up from the previous night, to ensure that they get their seats/berths. Needless to say, that booking long distance railway tickets is a nightmare for most of us.

In view of this, it is surprising that it took the authorities this long to introduce a basic system that would ease up the chaos at the booking centres. But it’s better to be late than never. The Railways have finally put into action something that was long overdue. After introducing the LED-based token indicator system at the computerised reservation centre at CST, the same is soon being introduced at Thane. The arrangements are in place: LED screens, digital token screens over each window and long benches in front of all the windows, the last one is for people to park themselves comfortably while waiting their turns.

The token system would make "first come, first served" a reality at the reservation centres. This means it would be impossible for anyone to get a ticket issued out-of-turn. This out-of-turn business is particularly annoying when, during closing hours, the one who genuinely deserves the ticket is refused because of someone who broke into the queue.

The token system will certainly go a long way in reducing the discomfort faced by people. For one, the seating facility would be especially helpful in case of senior citizens and physically challenged persons. You can save time too. For instance, once a token is issued, you need not get confined to the booking centre. You could roughly estimate the amount of time it would take for your turn and go about attending to other tasks.

Although the token system would reduce the discomfort faced by the public at the reservation centres, it does not eliminate it completely. But there is good news: for those who have access to the Internet, you could book your tickets online through the IRCTC website. Just log on to www.irctc.co.in and register yourself. Once registered, you will be given a unique user name and password which you could use each time you wish to book a ticket. The ticket is dispatched to you by courier and normally reaches within 24 Hours.

Filmi Chakkar
A friend recently decided to venture out for a movie. He and his wife decided to watch American Desi. On scanning the day’s newspaper, they found that it was being screened at Vandana. They invited a few friends to join them too. It was the last show on Friday, and the couple reached there well before time to ensure that they get the desired number of tickets. On reaching the theatre, the couple found the ambience a little suspicious. They noticed a few "shady types" moving about the premises of the theatre. For a Friday night, there were hardly any crowds. Most importantly, the posters of American Desi were conspicuous by their absence. The duo soon found out the reason for the absence of the posters – the theatre was showing was some x-rated flick and not the film they intended to see. The newspaper they referred had made a blunder. Suddenly, the couple realised why they were the centre of attention – people around were wondering what such a decent looking couple was doing there!

Embarrassed, our friend quickly began calling all others he had invited, to warn them in time, of the faux pas he had committed. In the end, though all was fine. They succeeded in preventing the others from reaching the theatre, diverting them to a restaurant instead, where all of them shared a hearty meal and a hearty laugh at what had happened.

Sparkles of Joy

Sparkles of Joy

Diwali is positively the most exciting and joyful Indian festival. In cities and towns, the festival of lights is celebrated with a lot of vigour and enthusiasm. Children particularly revel during Diwali time as they wear new clothes, eat oodles of sweets and burst dazzling crackers.

However, not everyone has a bright and colourful Diwali. Most of us are oblivious to the large section of our country’s population who not only don’t celebrate Diwali, but are not even aware of it. As our homes blaze with diyas and fancy lamps, theirs are immersed in darkness. Their children haven’t seen a sparkler in their life, let alone light one. But when such children get an opportunity to celebrate Diwali in its full glory, we cannot even begin to imagine the extent of happiness and satisfaction they experience. It’s a joy to behold.

Thanks to Sagar Oak, a Thane resident, four class VII students from a remote foster home spent their Diwali in Thane and celebrated it just like others. Oak volunteered to bestow this opportunity on these rural boys after he came to understand of such a practice where a few underprivileged students are brought to the city and allowed to spend time with urban families.

For Vikram, Pritam, Amrut and Mahesh, memories of these four days would last a lifetime. Belonging to the Adivasi community (backward class), these boys had never seen Diwali until last Sunday when they were brought to Thane by a social worker, who left them with Oak and his family.

When they first arrived in the city, they were wearing tattered clothes and dilapidated footwear. One of them had actually turned up barefoot.

This was their first visit to a city and, needless to say, they were stunned. The huge crowds, packed suburban trains and people all over the place made them nervous. They were unable to comprehend the fast paced life and the chaos that has become a part of urban life.

As they settled down, the uneasiness paved way for awe. They found themselves wearing new attire and being treated to rich food. Oak said, "These children are not fond of sweets. Though they were impressed with at least one dessert – Ice-Cream! They were pretty curious about how it is made."

In the evening, they gazed in wonder at the Diwali blitz all around. Firecrackers made them edgy initially. But soon they began to enjoy the buzz of activity all around. To them, rockets and other similar sparklers lighting up the sky were particularly delightful.

The host was quite pleased with the discipline of these deprived kids. "They did not create any fuss during their stay. In fact they taught a few good things to me and my family", admits Oak. Like when Oak took them along to visit a friend, these boys behaved like perfect little gentlemen. They even washed their own plates after eating, insisting that they do that back home. This gesture so moved Oak that he too followed the example set by the young boys.

Although extremely thrilled with their four-day stay in Thane, the kids turned down the invitation to visit again next year. They emphasised that they would rather that their fellow mates get an opportunity to experience a few sparkles of joy.

An Act of Play

An Act of Play

The Thane unit of Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Parishad (The All Indian Federation for Marathi Theatre) organised a competition of one-act plays on October 27, 2002. Held at the Marathi Grantha Sangralaya this year, the event is a wonderful grooming ground for local talent. The One Act Play Festival is an opportunity for up-and-coming acting talent to present their work in public and to have it adjudicated in public. The contestants compete not only for prizes but also for a chance to go to the bigger league: Professional theatre, television and films.

One-act plays are the theatre equivalent of a short story or a short film: the scope of their plots and their themes is limited. A typical one-act script follows a small cast of characters dealing with a specific set of circumstances through a brief period of time. It has all the conventional elements of theme, plot, character, and dialogue. It tells a story, albeit a short one, has a definite beginning, middle, and end, and shows significant change or growth in the main character. An audience invests less of their time viewing a one-act, so scripts can be more adventurous in subject and far more flexible in form.

The response to the festival this year was extremely encouraging. In fact, the organisers had to freeze acceptance of entries as the number of participants had grown beyond what they could manage properly. MP Prakash Paranjpe who was the chief guest, said "Usually, there are about 40 odd contestants each year. But this year, we had 68 contestants. The tremendous response is exciting and encouraging." Pleased with the response, he announced that this contest will now be held consecutively for next five years.

Paranjpe was not the only one who was impressed. The esteemed judges of the event, senior director Vijay Monkar and playwright Anuradha Soman expressed their delight too. So happy was Monkar with the performance that he declared off the cuff that he would conduct a free one-day workshop on acting for the upcoming talent.

Based on their age, the contestants were divided into two groups: Group one for contestants between 15 and 25 years and group two for those over 25 years. There were 41 contestants in the first group and 27 in the second.

Throughout the event, the audience was heard applauding performances and nothing motivated an artiste more than a round of applause. Add to this the fact that there were eminent personalities present among the audience and they too expressed their satisfaction with the performances. For instance, director Prakash Mahajan, who is scouting for some new faces for his next movie Maaza Aangaan Maaza Kshitij, said, "After watching the performances today, I am quite certain that I will find the right performers."

Prajakta Bhagwat from the first group one was awarded the first prize in her category. The judges appreciated her original theme of village life as well her performance. The first prize in the second group went to Datta Chavan who enacted a scene from famous Marathi play Ranangan.

Abhijit Bhagwat, Shweta Ghodke, Sunil Jagtap and Santosh Palav were the other prize winners. There were consolation prizes too, which were won by Katpesh Deokar Sarita Darekar and Harish Pagare. The prizes were given away by the senior theater director Keshavrao More and TV actor Eknath Shinde.