Month: September 2001

No more striving

No more striving

Dr. Wayne Dyer, best-selling author of the book “Your Erroneous Zones” and a renowned psychotherapist, says that the secret of success lies in detachment. This phenomenon is often visible in the context of sports events, when a player, attached to the outcome of winning the game, often ends up on the losing side.

On September 19, 2001 state-level selection tournaments for Badminton were held at the Mulund Gymkhana.

Meenakshi Wagh, a seasoned Badminton player from Thane, was one of the participants. In her words, “The turning point of the tournament was the singles semi-finals”. Meenakshi had lost the first 2 of the 5 sets of the match and was already down 4-6. Her opponent, second seeded Kripa Telang, was at match-winning point.

At this point, quite unexpectedly, the tide turned in favour of Meenakshi who won three straight sets leading her to win the match and reach the finals against women’s top seed Archana Deodhar. “I found my flow when I stopped focusing on winning and started to play my natural game”, says Meenakshi. Meenakshi won the single semi finals 3-3, 4-7, 8-6, 7-0, 7-3. This was quite a turnaround.

It seems Dr. Dyer is right when he says, “Detachment is the only vehicle available to take you from striving to arriving”. Meenakshi went on to win both the singles and doubles finals and is now going to represent the West Zone for state level tournaments.

Age Mirage
What one does has little to do with when he does it. Take for instance Mrs. Pramila Rao, a 65-year old lady, who enthusiastically runs a nursery school at Thane’s Brindaban Society.

Mrs. Pramila Rao started the nursery school when she was 45. At the time, she had only 4-5 children. But the loving methods that she adopted in her new profession quickly made her popular among children. Within a couple of years, she had about 70 children in her care.

The distinctive quality of the nursery school lies in the “experience” of the children. Mrs. Rao firmly believes that “For young children, learning should be a pleasant, fun-filled experience – so much so that every morning, these children should look forward to it”. Focusing on a child’s overall development, Rao’s nursery, as it is popularly known, has a two-hour session each day, which begins at 9 am. Each day is packed with a variety of activities such as clay modeling, drawing, poetry or singing sessions, or even buttoning a shirt.

Each year, an annual day is held in CKP hall and children participate in stage shows, history plays and elocutions etc. From time to time a picnic is organized, giving the children an opportunity to see different places.

For Mrs. Rao, the school is her labour of love and although not a source of income, she earns a lot more by way of students’ love. “It is not the years in your life, but the life in your years that counts,” said Adlai Stevenson. Mrs. Pramila Rao has lots of life in her years.

Yoga for All

Yoga for All

On 9th Sept 2001, a different kind of Yoga workshop was held in Thane East. Shubhada Lele of Yoga Swasthya Kendra, Mahim, conducted the workshop wherein she explained the potential of Yoga in healing many different kinds of health problems. The workshop demonstrated Yoga exercises for individuals with specific health problems.

About 25 people, who have experienced the benefits of these exercises first hand, spoke about and demonstrated how these exercises helped them in dealing with their specific problems. Problems discussed and demonstrated ranged from the more common backaches, arthritis, blood pressure, cardiac-related and diabetes to rare but complicated asthma and paralysis.

The Yoga workshop was organized by Bhartiya Stree Jeevan Vikas Parisad (BSJVP), a woman’s welfare organization located in Thane. The organization, among other activities, runs a hostel for working women and a school for deaf and dumb. Ms. Bakula Tai Devkule, the 80-year old secretary of the organization, says, "I have been associated with this organization since its inception 50 years ago. It has been a wonderful experience as it involves service to the society, especially women. It is very satisfying."

Research proves that yoga helps manage or control many common physical and mental health problems such as anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, headaches, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, stress and other conditions and diseases

For the benefit of Thaneites, BSJVP has arranged for yoga classes to be held thrice a week by the Yoga Swathya Kendra. For more information, contact 5401184 or 4094415.

Relax – you are meditating.
Talking about yoga, meditation is considered the highest form of yoga. It is being increasingly recognised as a technique for controlling the mind and making it more peaceful, calm and focused.

Meditation is best practiced in a quite spot, away from the pollution of the city. Yeoor Hills in Thane provides many such spots. That’s one reason why it has many privately owned temples such as Parmarth Niketan owned by Phadke family and Ram Mandir owned by Thakur family. But the most prominent among the places of worship is the Vivekanand Balak Ashram, which is frequented by numerous Thaneites, especially on weekends.

The Vivekanand Ashram has in its compound, two meditation rooms or dhyan kutir. These dome shaped structures are in fact huts, made from mud, mixed with cow dung compost. The rooms are a boon to visitors who practice the art of meditation and also for those who are trying to learn it. The location is perfect and the surrounding, tranquil. If you are a meditation enthusiast, it is worth a visit to this place. But even if you do not meditate, you will have an extremely relaxing and unwinding experience of being close to nature and your inner self.

Wise Advice
People from Thane are quite considerate when it comes to returning lost articles to their owners. There are many such instances known to this writer and memories of all of them came back recently when a Thane girl, Shilpa Tansale, who works for the National Stock Exchange in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), demonstrated one such act of consideration.

On Monday, this writer found his cell phone missing. This was after he was returning from an early morning appointment in BKC. On realising that he had lost his mobile, he did the obvious – he called up his own cell, hoping that whoever had found it would be thoughtful enough to answer the call and offer to return it. To his pleasant surprise, Shilpa, who had found the missing cell phone, answered the call and said that she was, in fact, waiting for his call. She gave him her office address, which is located in BKC, and the writer collected his mobile. When they met, he thanked her a lot to which she wisely advised him to be more careful in the future. Advice taken, Ms. Shilpa.

Nature Workshop

Nature Workshop

Lately, there has been a spurt in illegal wildlife trade in India. According to TRAAFIC, (Trade Record Analysis of Flora and Fauna), a division of World Wide Fund for Nature, the global wildlife trade is estimated to be USD 25 billion annually and, what many do not know is that a major percentage of this trade originates from India.

Unless the ongoing trade in wildlife and its derivatives is stopped, most species will be lost forever. A beginning can only be made if the consumer is made aware of the issue. And only if demand is curtailed will the illegal trade of our invaluable flora and fauna stop.

As India is fast becoming a channel for the illegal wildlife trade, we require concentrated efforts towards educating the people of India about the irreversible damage being done to our nature. As a part of its community awareness activities, HOPE has organized a one-day workshop on ‘Illegal Trade in Wild Flora & Fauna’.

Mr. Abrar Ahmed from TRAFFIC India will conduct the workshop. Also present will be Mr.S.K.Neeraj, Regional Deputy Director of Airport Customs (Wild Life Preservation), will also address the workshop on subject of ‘International Trade Protocol for Wildlife & Legal Issues’.

The workshop will be held on Sunday, September 16, 2001 from 9.30am to 4.30pm at:

Thane Maheshwari Mandal Hall,
Gautam Deep Building,
Near Bharat Sahakari Bank,
Thane (W)
400 602.

The workshop is open to all. Registration charges are Rs.100/-, which includes course material, lunch and tea. Spot registrations will be accepted. For details contact Deepa Rathi (5334353) or Shyam Ghate (5377263).

Silence Please!

On October 2, 2001, The Post SSC Students Association’s library, which is better known as the Almeida library, will complete 50 years. The library, which is mainly run by student members, was started by a group of young and enthusiastic Thane students in 1952.

The Post SSC Students Association was founded to promote academic, social and cultural activities for the benefit and welfare of the Post SSC level students of Thane. The association’s library, situated in the heart of the city, was first started in Dr. Almeida’s premises (hence the name, Almeida). In 1965, the association transferred the facility to a place opposite the TMC swimming pool.

Each year about one thousand students enroll themselves with the library to use the premises to study for their exams. The library remains open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Members spend most of their time in the library. Perhaps this is why, many members develop a special bond with the library and other members.

The library provides students with an environment that is extremely well suited to studies. The association has slowly developed stock of reference books of academic interest. Textbooks of all faculties up to post-graduate level are available. Books are readily available for reference and there is very little distraction. It is easier to discuss a difficulty with a fellow member, as at any given point in time, there are at least a few students from the same field present in the library.

Extremely popular among students of Thane, the Almeida library has had more than 25,000 student members spanning its 5 decades of existence. Many of its erstwhile members have done extremely well in their respective professions, in India as well as abroad. As a gesture of gratitude, many ex-members extend assistance to the library, both financial and otherwise.

The association organizes guest lectures, exhibitions and often, social service activities too. For instance, each year, on 15th August, a blood donation camp is organized in its own premises. A sapling plantation drive is also organized on the same day.

Beginning October 2, 2001, the association has planned a yearlong schedule of events to celebrate 50 years of its existence. The association urges all ex-members of the Almeida library to get in touch for any contribution they may like to make.

Determination Personified

Determination Personified

Ameya Gawand’s strength of will is a source of motivation for those who know him. Despite all odds, he lives an absolutely normal life and this is what makes him a truly special child.

When you first meet him, it does not even occur to you that he is a child who can barely see and whose right side of body is paralyzed. Within minutes, this gifted child wins over your heart. As a child with severe disabilities, Ameya comes across as an extremely bright and "normal" child.

Ameya’s stamina is infectious and his warm friendliness is heart warming. Once you’ve been with him for a while, his innate talents slowly come to the fore. First, you are treated to his wonderfully colorful drawings, each one reflecting a promise of a great artist of future. Then you are informed that he won the first prize at a national competition organized by The Maharashtra State Council for Child Welfare. Little surprise, that.

Amu, as his loved ones fondly call him, is a natural speaker. His near perfect diction has won him several awards in elocution competitions; both inter school and those organized by his own school. "He delivers his speeches with such passion that his audiences are often left spell bound and in tears", says his father, Dr. Nityanand Gawand. "But he can also make people laugh. His sense of humor is terrific. And his stock of jokes never ends. I think he is a natural entertainer."

He has collected a pile of certificates for other activities too. A sizeable assortment of trophies and cups adorn his living room. He won four consecutive fancy dress competitions organized by the Rotaract Club of Thane, until he crossed the qualifying age, when he could no more participate. Amu excels in recitations, story telling and mimicry and never tires of performing in public. Not the one to shy away from people, Amu is always ready for a public performance. Even guests at home are entertained for hours together.

In school, Amu sets an example of a well-behaved and obedient child. His teachers love him and he has been fortunate to find some exceptional teachers in his childhood. His mother, Sai, is quick to praise Ms. Pimenta, whose contribution has been instrumental in his development as a confident, mature child. She is grateful to Ms. Mahajan for her love and affection towards Amu. Ameya’s parents are also appreciative of Ms. Korde, the principal of Saraswati Vidyalaya, for her continued support and encouragement.

Another striking aspect of his personality is his ability to reason. Amu’s power of reasoning is so strong that it is difficult not be moved by it. His conversations with his father reveal this child’s deep and philosophical mind, and his extremely sensitive disposition. His love for animals is heartrending and his ambition is to be a vet, so that he can be near to animals and help them as much as he can. Accepting that Amu’s wisdom is far beyond his age, his father says candidly, "living my life with Amu has been so full of fun and learning".

Amu’s faint vision has never bothered him. He surfs the Internet and watches TV, albeit from real close. His rather weak right side does not prevent him from playing cricket and winning matches. And he is now learning classical music. Interestingly, his father says that Amu has never complained about his lack and has always demonstrated a resolve to triumph over life’s trials.

Amu’s parents are extremely proud of their child. But, their emotions cannot be felt by any of us. They have preserved Ameya’s first effort at writing. "For me, it was a great achievement of a child who was virtually sightless", says his father, with moist eyes. Every hurdle that Ameya overcame has given his parents a reason to celebrate.

Such is the determination of this young soul that he once participated in marathon race, some two years ago. His physical disability did not stop him from completing the race, though he fell down a few times while running. When you hear such stirring accounts of courage, you are led to conclude that Amu is not handicapped; he is simply more challenged than the rest of us.


Another feather in Thane’s Cap

Another feather in Thane’s Cap

Thane is matching Mumbai in civic amenities. After wide roads, and neat-looking signboards, Thane now has user-friendly signals.

You have seen motorists who often wait impatiently at traffic junctions for the signal to turn green, and when it does, they are caught unawares. Similarly, when the signal is green, there will always be a motorist who is within reach of the signal and tries to speed up as much as possible to triumph over the signal before it turns red. This results in all sorts of things: sudden brakes leading to screeching sounds, general hysteria and sometimes, even accidents.

Well, last week, Thane motorists were in for a pleasant surprise. At a particularly busy traffic junction, (the one between Jambli Naka and Dr. Ambekar Chowk), the traffic signal pole was crowned with a digital timer. The timer indicates the time left in seconds, for the signal to change from red to green and from green to red. This is good news for both pedestrians as well as motorists as there will less anxious moments at traffic junctions now.

Generations of enthusiasm
Thane’s Hanuman Vyayamshala, an institute for sports, has been in existence for more than 75 years. The enthusiasm of the students and teachers of this institute is most contagious and this pretty apparent during the Ganpati festival.

Each year, the students of the institute participate in organizing the Ganpati celebration right from the beginning. The institute organizes elocutions, fancy dress and other cultural competitions. This is a time for a get-together of all associated with this institute. Current and ex-students fervently participate in all the competitions and preparations begin days in advance. And mind you, some ex-students are now senior citizens.

A rare phenomenon of cooperation is on display during the entire 10-day festival. Take for instance the prasad. Each day, a few parents volunteer to take the responsibility of making and contributing prasad and consequently, a variety of items are offered to the lord.

The visarjan or farewell is also an affair to remember. Hundreds of students and ex-students, their parents and teachers play lezim and dance to the melody of songs praising their Lord.

Lokmanya Tilak would have been pleased by the way this institute celebrates its Ganpati festival. After, his objective in initiating Ganpati festival was to bring people together.

Friendly mix up
A group of friends were dining in an upper class restaurant. One of the lady members ordered for a clear lemon drink and was served the same in a clear glass. As a standard practice there were waiters topping up the half-filled and empty glasses of water on every table. One of these waiters approached the table of this group of friends and started filling water in their glasses. Without much thinking, he added water to our lady’s clear lemon drink too, thinking that it was water. Two of the friends noticed this slip-up, but smart dudes that they were, chose to keep quite and watch the fun.

Soon afterwards, among the jokes and food, this girl sipped a little of her diluted drink, and her reaction to the taste was rather funny. The two friends, who knew the secret of the sudden change in the taste, burst out laughing and then revealed what had happened. The whole group laughed and even those sitting on other tables were heard giggling. When the waiter’s oversight was brought to his notice, he too smiled nervously, and then brought a fresh drink for the lady.

Celebrating Ganpati with a Big Bang

Celebrating Ganpati with a Big Bang

There are many different decorations and themes put on show, yet the Pitale Family’s Ganpati is perhaps unlike any other you would have seen. That’s because the Pitale family celebrated Ganpati with the Big Bang!

The theme, as you guessed it, is the evolution of "life on earth". There is a decent show organized, complete with lighting and sound effects. The show starts with the occurrence of the Big Bang, some few billion years ago. With the help of lighting effects, it goes on to describe the formation of galaxies and stars, and how the Sun and the Earth came into being.

The show informs us about how life first began – how amino acids converted into proteins and RNA/DNA and so on. Colorful slides illustrating different stages of evolution are then shown, with a brief explanation of how life evolved from one stage to another. After the show gets over, you are richer with the knowledge of how unicellular forms evolved into invertebrates and vertebrates, reptiles, dinosaurs, mammals and finally, modern age animals and human beings.

The real impact, though, is created at the end of the show, with a forceful question put to the audience. The lights go off, and a voice speaks, "But the question remains: Are we going to promote evolution to make this planet a better place to live in or are we going to destroy the delicate workings of billions of years of evolution and throw the earth back into the dark spaces of the universe?"

Then with a solitary light focusing on the Ganpati sculpture, the voice over urges, "Let us all pray to God to give us the wisdom of staying on earth without destroying it".

Although just a family celebration, the arrangement is professional, and the effect, lasting. "It’s a family effort", says Tushar Pitale, who developed the entire concept. An engineer from IIT, Tushar reveals that everyone in the family contributed to the effort in his/her own way. His wife and daughter worked on the artworks for stages of life. Tushar’s elder brother, Mandar, was the mastermind behind the lighting and electrical arrangements.

But this is not the first time that the Pitale family has celebrated Ganpati in such a fashion. Last year, they revealed the secret behind the rainbow. They had created a fully automatic mechanism to produce a rainbow in the living room. "We put optical and mechanical principles to work", says Tushar. In 1999, the year of the solar eclipse, they chose to recreate the eclipse in their house. Ganpati is a time for coming together of friends and relatives and the Pitale’s make the most of this occasion. Besides disseminating valuable information to all visitors, this gives them an opportunity to work hand in hand in a meaningful way.

Their mini-shows are so impressive, that each year, after the festival gets over, they find a place at a number of science exhibitions. For instance, the solar eclipse show was exhibited at a science exhibition organized by the Rastriya Balvigyan Parishad at Jawar. This year’s Big Bang show too is in demand. Mr. Surendra Dighe of Jignyasa Institute, has "booked" the show for an exhibition in Palghar.

Ganesha of All Things

Ganesha of All Things

The Shivgarjana Mitra Mandal in Thane’s Utalsar area is known for its original themes for Ganesh Chaturthi festival. The association has won an award from TMC every year since 1987, for the creative and imaginative decorations.

Each year, the association erects the Ganesha pedestal with innovative items. This year, the theme is "good health through medicine". The pandal has been built in the form a "hospital" using various medical items such as Tablets & Capsules, Tonic bottles, Injection Syringes, Distilled water, Glucose bottles etc., The hospital is complete, with ICU and OPD sections. Even a miniature ambulance is parked outside the hospital.

The decor can be summed up in one word: wonderful. The expression on every visitor’s face is that of awe. The rear side of the pandal has a Ganesha idol depicted in capsules of different colors. A Ganesha idol placed in the "ICU" has been created using a hot water bag, ice bag, glucose bottle, and stethoscope, injection, scissor, needles, gloves, cotton and kidney tray.

Mr. P M Rana, president of the association says, "We take the Ganesha Festival very seriously. It is a time for community celebration. We try to use this opportunity to spread a social message for the betterment of our society at large".

Another highlight of this year’s decor is the group of posters put up across the pandal with health related messages ranging from as simple as importance of cleanliness to the ill effects of smoking, drugs and alcohol. Even AIDS and Polio have been covered. According to Mr. Rana, "These messages are aimed at the youth and teenagers who are in an impressionable age."

The discipline maintained at the pandal is quite commendable. In 1999, the Police commissioner of Thane presented them with 1st prize for best public security. "It has always been a joint effort of all members of the association", says Prasad More, one of the active participants of the association.

In the past they have used such varied articles such as pencils (sponsored by Camlin), Key chains, earthen pots, school stationary items, toys, chocolates and pearls. In 1998 they had created a chariot made out of concrete slabs. They have been fortunate enough to find some sponsors who supply these items free of cost.

Once the celebration is over, the products used are either given back to the supplier or donated for a good cause. For instance, the toys used in 1993 were donated to a school for handicapped children. 15,000 pencils, sponsored by Camlin, were distributed among the various Adivasi children all over Maharashtra. In 1999, school stationary was distributed to various municipal schools in and around Thane.

Such acts of kindness are rare and this is undoubtedly what the spirit of festival is all about.