Month: April 2004

Hungry Kya?

Hungry Kya?

The success of Gurinder Chadda’s "Bend it like Beckham" made Aloo Gobi one of the most popular Indian dishes around the world. A friend who is in the US reveals that ever since the release of the film, she is asked for an Aloo Gobi recipe more than any other recipe. On a more serious note, the last decade or so has seen Indian cuisine gaining prominence around the world. I am told that regular US grocery stores have started to carry Indian spices and other dry shelf ingredients and also ready to eat Indian dishes.

One reason for the growing importance of Indian recipes can be attributed to its multiplicity: delectable regional fare like Punjabi, South Indian, Malwani, Sindhi, Maharashtrian Bengali, Gujarati, Rajastani and many more. Just like last year, Thane residents will be able to experience the grand concoction of cuisines from around India at the Food Fiesta 2004. The one-of-its-kind food exhibition will be held between April 30 and May 02, 2004 at Ghantali Grounds. Organised by Thane-based Renaissance Corporation, the exhibition will display an assortment of recipes, with special focus on "Child and Nutrition."

Tushar Pitale, founder of Renaissance, says, "Food Fiesta 2004 is a food festival and like any other festival, it’s an occasion for people to come together to enjoy. In our country, food habits vary geographically as well as demographically, and this exhibition will bring together this diversity under one roof."

The exhibition will also include stalls on modern cooking appliances, kitchen sets and everything else related to food and cooking. Pitale explains, "Modern appliances and equipment have become necessity in today’s fast life and Food Fiesta will provide a platform to display such products."

To give the exhibition a holistic appeal, several supporting events have been organised. For instance, there is a Healthy Baby Contest on cards. Then there is a cooking competition for mothers – their entries will be judged on the nutritious value it offers to the children. To encourage participation, entry fees to the contests have been kept very nominal. The three-day agenda also includes counselling sessions by paediatricians and dieticians, which will be free to attend and will offer a wealth of wisdom. Garnishing the main course would be events like Kids’ Fashion Parade, Cookery Demonstrations, lucky draws and so on.

In line with its theme of "Child and Nutrition," the exhibition will be inaugurated by celebrity children from Thane – those who have achieved recognition in the spheres of academic, cultural and sports. These children will also be felicitated on the occasion.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food’" said George Bernard Shaw. Whether you are a foody as described by Shaw, a parent who wishes to provide nutritious food to his child or simply a health-conscious individual, Food Fiesta is worth a visit. Entry to the exhibition is free.

For more information on food stalls, counselling sessions and other details of the exhibition, readers may contact Tushar Pitale on 25400399.

Nightlife of another kind

Nightlife of another kind

Last Wednesday, about 120 children, aged about five years, spent an entire night in their school, away from their parents. No, they were not being punished. They were participating in a Jagran. It wasn’t a religious gathering but programme specially organised by Saraswati Mandir Trust Pre-Primary School, Naupada for the students of senior kindergarten. The objective of the keeping such little children away from their parents was to instil a spirit of independence among the kids. And from this count, the programme was an absolute success – not a single parent had to be summoned by the teachers throughout the night. In fact, one little girl, even though she was running temperature, insisted that she attend the programme, which she did, and was just fine.

The evening began at around 8 pm when children were asked to gather in the school premises, after dinner. Keeping in mind their tender age, the teachers had made all arrangements and had organised various programmes for making their stay entertaining and enriching. All the teachers played an important role in organising and designing the programme’s agenda and their efforts deserved to be commended because the programme was organised in such a way that the little kids just did not feel sleepy nor did they become cranky. In fact, they enjoyed every moment of their staying awake.

The programme began with Saraswati Puja, which is traditionally performed before the start of any educational initiative. A variety of fresh flowers, brought by children, were used to create the image of Saraswati. Afterwards, the children were provided an opportunity to perform an act of their choice: singing, dancing, story telling, mimicry and so on. The highlight of the evening was TV and stage artist Eknath Shinde, who graciously accepted to perform a few items for the little children so late in the night. He also gave them a few basic lessons in music composition, which the new to the children. Another novel activity that children participated in was star-gazing, thanks to a parent of one of the children, who volunteered to share his knowledge of stars and planets with the children. Groups of around 10 students were taken to the terrace one by one where they sat through a session of gazing the stars, planets and other heavenly bodies.

The kids also learnt to feed themselves under the guidance of their teachers. They peeled potatoes, sliced tomatoes and onions, and prepared delicious bhel which everyone relished. Later, a special video screening of The Adventures of Pinocchio and Ramayan elated the children. The night was long, yet surprisingly none of the children created any fuss. Throughout the night, the children played several games with teachers and principal including a round of Antakshiri. According to one of the teachers, "Almost all the children were awake until 4.30 in the morning and 25 odd stayed awake the whole night!"

Every night, as soon the clock strikes 10, most parents nag their children to change their clothes, brush their teeth and get to bed and most children resist doing that, wanting to stay awake as long as the adults. No wonder these pre-primary children of Saraswati made the most of their opportunity to stay awake in the night.

Have fun and learn too!

Have fun and learn too!

It’s that time of the year when students enrol for various workshops, camps and short-term activities that keep them gainfully occupied through the vacations. In keeping with the trends, city-based student-welfare NGO Jidnyasa is organising three science workshops, for different age groups.

Science is not merely a subject, the workshops aim to prove. These workshops will enable students to grasp the importance of science in daily life. They will attempt to explain to students how science touches every aspect of our existence. Called Hasre Vidyan or "Fun with Science," these camps intend to generate an interest in science that goes beyond textbooks, through simple experiments/observations that demonstrate basic scientific principles. The objective is dual – fun and learning. Surendra Dighe, Founder of Jidnyasa, says, "We want to show students how mothers are the best scientists and kitchens, the best laboratories. The best way to learn and appreciate science is to see it work in our everyday lives."

The first workshop, for age group of seven to nine years will be held from 14 to 17 April, for three hours daily, between 9 am and 12 am. Participants will be exposed to "kitchen experiments." They will explore basic phenomena such as dilution, solvency, water and salt solutions, concentration etc.

For the age group of 10 to 12 years, which will be held from 18 to 24 April every afternoon, the agenda will be slightly more complicated, though the fun element will remain, For example, principles of physics such as the difference between same weight but different volume and same volume but different weight and the why’s and how’s of it will be explained.

The third workshop will be for senior school students, between ages of 12 to 15 years, and will be held from 25 April to May 01. These students will be taught slightly advanced principles, involving application of science to everyday life, for instance, how domestic appliances, both electronic and electrical, work; how to maintain them and even repair them and so on. These students will also be taken to a few factories in the city for a first hand feel of a real workplace.

The instructors at the workshops will comprise of science teachers and actual professionals. For instance, one medical doctor, say, a heart surgeon or an orthopaedic specialist, will conduct an hour-long session called "Know your Body" to help participants understand the basic biological aspects of existence. Similarly, for domestic appliance maintenance and repair, professionally trained electricians and electronic engineers have been invited.

These fun-and-learn sessions will be held at "Exploratory," the science laboratory project that Jidnyasa set up with the help of TMC a few months ago. It is situated at Municipal School no 12, Tembhi Naka, Opp Sujoy Hotel. Students interested in enrolling for these workshops may call 25403857.

Happy Birthday Dear Doggy!

Happy Birthday Dear Doggy!

They say every dog has his day. But on 25 March, the students of Jidd School proved this statement to be more than just an overused cliche. The special children celebrated the first birthday of their favourite dog, Kutti and made her day special.

The celebration was complete in all respects. The main hall was decorated and a special cake was ordered. Before the cake cutting ceremony, the principal of Jidd School, Shyamshree Bhonsle, performed an aarti and applied tikka to the birthday girl, who was dressed up in new clothes. The cake was cut amidst all the singing and clapping, followed by bursting of the huge balloon that was full of chocolates. This was followed by a round of gifts for the dog. One class had brought her a cap, while another got her a pack of Marie biscuits. In keeping with the spirit, the therapists and teachers also brought her a gift: a pair of glares. "We wanted to make this a truly fun occasion for the children, and so we did all that could to make them happy," said Minal Lonkar who trains the dog. As Kutti has learnt to shake hands, each student individually wished her "Happy Birthday."

Kutti is a female Labrador who has been with the students of Jidd School since June 2003. According to Lonkar, Kutti is perhaps the first official therapy dog in India, to be used in a school to improve behaviour patterns of its students. "Kutti provides companionship to these differently-abled children and her presence has positive effect on their emotional and spiritual well being," believes Lodkar.

Kutti, which literally means small, is the youngest of the three siblings. Her siblings are also in Thane, growing up in a factory. Asked how she thought of keeping a dog in the special school, Bhonsle said that she got her inspiration from the TV channel Animal Planet, which often shows how trained dogs have positively affected the behaviour patterns of handicapped children, old people and special children. Kutti stays with Bhonsle and accompanies her to school every morning, returning home every evening. Bhonsle adss, "Kutti is used to this schedule now and looks forward to attending school every morning. Yet, as a precautionary measure, we keep her in my office and allow her to be with the children only during therapeutic sessions, in the presence of trained therapists."

Teachers’ Excursion
As children spend their vacations having fun, NGO Jidnyasa thinks that teachers deserve to enjoy too. So this year, in addition to the Himalayan Adventure Camps for students of class X, they are organising an "Eco-Adventure Tour for Teachers." The objective of this 14-day tour starting 12 May through 26 May is to learn while having fun and then pass the knowledge acquired on to the students.

The participating teachers will first stop at Dehradun, where they will visit several research institutes of national and international fame such as The Forest Research Institute, Geological Society of India and Survey of India. The Forest Research Institute Dehradun, is one of the oldest institutions of its kind, and acclaimed the world over.

After this the teachers will travel to Mussorie where they will spend four days in a forest camp and will study flora-fauna and also do a nature trail in and around Mussorie. The final segment of the tour will involve a visit to important places of worship such as Bradinath, Hrishikesh and Haridwar. Teachers interested in joining the tour may contact Jidnyasa on 25403857.