Month: November 2005

Expressions of Love

Expressions of Love

Love and music are inseparable twins. Love is expressed best through music. Likewise, one of music’s biggest sources of inspiration is love. Last Saturday, about 60 students of Indian classical music experienced the awesome combination of love and music at a programme organised by the city-based group called Music Circle.

Renowned classical singer Rajashree Pathak was accompanied by tabla maestro P Mukundraj Deo in her rendition of thumri, which is a rich form of classical music that is romantic and devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl’s love for Lord Krishna. Pathak, who is a disciple of the legendary queen of thumri Shobha Gurtu, filled the air with the sounds of love like only an accomplished singer like her can. The students benefited immensely as they got the opportunity to learn the finer nuances of thumri.

Thumri Programme by Music Circle

While on stage, Pathak narrated what she called one of her fondest memories on stage. She was playing tanpura at a concert organised by the Indian Music Group. The two performers that day were her guru Shobha Gurtu from Banaras Gharana and Nirmala Arun, mother of the actor Govinda, who was also a renowned thumri singer from Patiala Gharana. Their jugalbandi (duet) was accompanied by the tabla maestros Ustad Nizamuddin Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain. “This event took place 25 years ago, but remains fresh in my memory. Even today I am spellbound by the reminiscence of that performance,” she said.

The 85-member strong Music Circle is run by senior students of Shri Ganesh Nritya Kala Mandir, where they learn performing arts like tabla, classical dance, or classical music. All programmes are managed by the member students, who organise one programme every three months or so. The group was formally inaugurated on 10 July 2005 at the hands of a veteran of Indian classical music, Lalaji Desai.

The idea behind Music Circle is to close the gap between the performing artists and the audience. In early days, the audience, often comprising students of music, interacted closely with the performers. But in these days of commercialisation of classical music, the artists perform on stage and have very little, if any, direct interaction with the audiences. “I felt that genuine lovers of the art should get an opportunity to closely observe, and learn from, performers who are talented but often unknown,” said Pt Mukundraj Deo, who is also the founder of the group. Deo is of the opinion that it is imperative for a student of any art to have a profound understanding of the art. “How can one render the highly expressive thumri unless you grasp its essence?” he asks.

Women of Culture

Talking about music, a group of women from Jai Ganaraj Society located in Ramchandra Nagar, Thane, were so disappointed with the remix and pop culture that has inundated our social and community gatherings that they decided to do something to preserve Indian culture.

Preserving Indian Culture

Instead of playing the routine remixed music at the annual social gathering that took place in their society, these women prepared and presented a cultural programme called “Maharashtrachi Lokdhara”, which showcased Maharashtra’s rich cultural tradition, its historical backgrounds, literature, music and art. The audience loved the programme and soon the word spread outside. In no time they began to get invitations to perform at other community events. Since then they have already given as many as 10 performances in Thane and Mulund.

The one-hour programme, which starts with Ganesh Vandana, depicts household activities of women in rural areas. Folk songs and folk dances like powada, mangla gaur, lavni, koli, dindi, and many more are staged.

The 12 women, most of who are aged more than 50 years, manage to find time to practise regularly in spite of their domestic chores or employment duties. That they don’t charge for their shows tells a lot about their dedication towards their cause of preserving Indian culture.

Each One Reach One

Each One Reach One

Losing a loved one is perhaps the most challenging of all tests that life offers. At such times it is comforting to know that even though our physical existence is a time-bound phenomenon, the mysterious and unseen energy called life is beyond the grip of time. In that sense, each one of us is immortal. One such immortal soul is Archit Chitre, a compassionate and visionary young boy, whose physical existence came to an end on 18 April 2000 when, at 16, he succumbed to cancer. But Archit lives on.

On October 22, 2005, which is Archit’s birthday, a trust named ARCHIT (Alliance of Real Creative Humane Individuals Today) was born. The trust, formed by Archit’s parents, will work towards fulfilling their son’s dream of a loving and caring society. The focus of the trust would be welfare activities for children in Thane.

Each one Reach One - Learning Project for Slum Children

Health, education, recreation, foster care and sponsorship programmes are some of the things on ARCHIT’s agenda.

The first of ARCHIT’s initiatives, called Child-to-Child Programme, was kicked off on November 14 (Children’s Day), in Thane. The programme helps children from the privileged sections of the society to become sensitised to their less fortunate counterparts and lend a helping hand to them. ARCHIT Disha, a learning project by Bhartiya Mahila Federation and led by Dr Gita Mahajan, was instituted in Jankadevi Slums at Pokhran 2. Around 50 slum children from various age groups were identified. These children don’t or can’t go to school for some reason or the other and will be taught by school- or college-going students from well-to-do families.

ARCHIT will provide them with books and other educational facilities.

ARCHIT’s primary objective is to encourage and facilitate children to form networks within their own locality and then take up issues of social relevance. The motto of ARCHIT is “Each one, reach one”. Several children have already been doing social work in their own small way. With ARCHIT’s support, these children can now go beyond their own capacity and offer serious assistance to those in need. For instance, on Children’s Day, another ARCHIT project involved a young girl from Lok Puram. Along with a her friends, Jennifer Augustine visited Jeevan Asha, a care centre for children of construction workers, where they interacted with the children there and understood first hand the problems of these children. Jennifer and her friends will now spread this awareness to a larger group and mobilise help in various forms. Another poignant story is of Neerja Randive, a class VI student from Sulochanadevi Singhania School, who visited a 96-year-old man in Vasant Vihar and has expressed her wish to “adopt” him. Abhishek Rajderkar, a class X student in Vasant Vihar School has taken the lead for a project called “From Children’s Day to Mother’s Day”. The project, which began on November 14, will culminate on May 8, 2006 on Mother’s Day, when children will appeal for the formation of an alliance of mothers.

The force behind the trust is Archit’s mother, who prefers to be called “Mit”. Mit, which in Hindi, means “friend”, is also an acronym for “Made In Thane”. ARCHIT is also supported by several adults, called mentors, who contribute in their own ways. Archit’s father Pradeep Chitre, Sulochana Kapil, Sarmishtha Chaudhury, Bharti Modi and so many more…the list goes on.

Thane can already feel the presence of ARCHIT and soon even Mumbai and Navi Mumbai will feel him. Mit says, “This is only a small beginning. Activities such as those undertaken by ARCHIT must extend beyond time and space, so that our children will continue the good work long after us.”

ARCHIT has extended an invitation to children from Thane interested in working for a social cause to identify, and bring along, one “underprivileged buddy” from their locality, who can then be supported by ARCHIT. Children can contact Mit on 55998815 or Sarmistha Chaudury on 9821521569.

Infant Saviours

Infant Saviours

Newborn babies are a bundle of joy for their parents and others related to them. But often, when the baby is born with medical complications, panic replaces the usual delight like it recently happened in Thane.

A three-day old infant gets ready for surgery. He is dressed like an astronaut to maintain normal body temperature.

About two weeks ago, a newborn baby boy brought immeasurable joy to his parents. On the third day, he threw up a little green-yellow juice, and the parents casually informed their paediatrician, assuming that it was normal for the baby to burp out liquids. The paediatrician, however, knew that this could be more complicated than it appears and he quickly recommended that the baby be brought for examination. The parents panicked and followed the doctor’s advice. On scrutiny, it was found that the baby had a severe case of mal-rotation, a condition where the intestines are not in the right position. In this baby’s case, his intestines had a turn of 270 degrees, and had to be operated immediately to avoid any danger to his life. The parents of this baby understood the emergency and quickly approved the surgery. Neonatal surgeon Dr Laxmikant Kasat came to the rescue and operated upon the baby, who is absolutely fine now.

This is good news for soon-to-be parents in and around Thane because in the event that your newborn needs immediate surgical attention, you need not rush to distant hospitals in Mumbai. Thane is now capable of handling neonatal emergencies. Hospitals like Kaushalya Medical Foundation Hospital and Lok Hospital are well equipped with NICUs and ventilators and a dedicated team of neonatologists to help in pre and post-operative care of the infants. What is more important is that Thane now has resident neonatal surgeons.

Neonatal surgeries are a highly specialised branch of medicine as they need extreme care. Neonatal surgeons operate under difficult conditions. Because of the baby’s susceptibility, the neonatal surgeon has to operate without air-conditioning. Also, these surgeries are carried out with minute incisions, a maximum of two inches, as the babies are very small, and the operation lasts for hours. “A neonate is a child who is between the ages of one hour to one month after birth. Operating such young infants is a supra-specialised job that demands extreme dedication, lots of tolerance, very good back up and is an extremely delicate job,” says Dr Kasat, a paediatric and neonatal surgeon who is based in Thane.

To understand the significance of having neonatal surgeon accessible at a moment’s notice, readers might find it interesting to know that paediatric surgery is a super speciality brand of surgery and paediatrics. To specialise in it, a general surgeon (MS) has to opt for MCh in Paediatric Surgery after passing MS in General Surgery. Only 50 centres in 12 states of India teach paediatric surgery, and Mumbai has seven of them.

Administering correct anaesthesia to tiny tots is also an exceptionally intricate task. Once again, Thane residents can heave a sigh of relief. Besides being equipped with facilities and surgeons, your city also has a few good anaesthetists who are qualified and experienced in giving anaesthesia to newborns.

Our society often equates doctors with God. And not without a reason. For parents such as those of the three-day-old baby boy who had to be operated for his twisted intestines, availability of neonatal surgery in Thane is no less than Godsend.