Month: June 2002

Alma Mater Beckons

Alma Mater Beckons

Despite the huge process of organizing contact details and trying to get people enthusiastic about meeting up again, school reunions are often a rewarding experience as they re-ignite many friendships and also provide oldies to return to their childhood, if only for a brief period.

On Sunday, June 23, 2002, Saraswati Mandir Trust’s Secondary School completed fifty years. To mark the occasion, students and teachers from the first few batches were invited to join in the celebration.

Teachers of the yesteryears took great pains along to organize the function under the guidance of the School’s founder, Ms. Vimalatai Karve, who is now eighty-one years old. One teacher, Ms. Champabai found out the phone numbers and addresses of her ex-students and contacted them personally to invite them to join in the Golden Jubilee celebration of the school. The response to her invitation was heart wrenching as students, who are themselves in their mid-fifties, came from as far as Ratnangiri, Kolhapur and Pune, to participate in the celebration. The spouses and children of most ex-students accompanied them.

The atmosphere at the School was charged with anticipation and delight as former students got an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and classmates. For a few hours, everyone present in the auditorium traveled 50 years back in time, when they first went to school as toddlers.

It was a sight to behold as balding men and graying women got transformed into eager little kids who recalled every little prank they played and shared fond memories of the childhood they spent together as schoolmates. One ex-student Aru Oak even suggested that in the next such reunion meeting, each of them should bring in their lunch-boxes!

The chief guest for the occasion was former Mumbai University vice-chancellor, Dr. Snehalata Deshmukh. While addressing the audience, Dr. Deshmukh recalled that her handwriting was so poor that she knew was destined to be a "doctor". She also related how one teacher was instrumental in helping her improve her handwriting greatly.

Most ex-students were visibly thrilled to see their own teachers again, as they declared their unchanging reverence for their "gurus" even after so many decades. Dilip Mulye said, "When I first received the phone call on Sunday morning, I was hardly expected Vimalatai to be at the other end. Yet, when she identified herself, it evoked the same fear and respect that it did, when I was her student. This shows the respect that she commands from her students, even after fifty years!"

The ex-students got together and presented each of the teachers who taught them with a memento as a token of appreciation.

As the function came to an end, it was an emotional moment for all present as they bid farewell to each other and promised to keep in touch. They also paid respects to their old teachers and sought their blessings.

Catch them young!

Catch them young!

It was a pleasure watching young girls aged between five and eight performing in front of the huge audience at Gadkari Rangayatan on June 16, 2002. The occasion was the "Aakaar", the annual day function of Payal Nritya Natya Academy.

The tiny tots performing Bharatnatyam displayed an amazing sense of synchronization in their movements. Despite the difficult body movements involved in this form of dance, the little girls carried off the show with finesse. The group also enacted a unique theme of Mathematics by contorting their bodies to make the plus, minus, division and multiplication signs.

The audience was obviously spellbound as few expected these young performers to display such remarkable grace. These days, when most kids seem to enjoy dancing only to the tunes of Hindi film music, the petite girls seemed like a fresh gust of air.

Among the prominent personalities present was renowned stage actor Anant Mirashi who praised the little performers no end. "I always thought that classical dance was difficult and was only meant for adults. But these girls have changed my viewpoint. What surprised me were the perfect expressions that they brought out on their faces."

Celebrated American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham said, "Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they’re great because of their passion." The passion for dance seems ignited in these girls!

Star Struck Stocks
Stock market fever has gripped a number of Thaneites. Day-traders or ‘punters’ as they are fondly called, dot not only the bylanes of Dalal Street but also sub-broking shops in Thane’s Naupada, Panchpakadi and Charai areas. Walk into one of them between 10 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. and the chaos just zaps you. A dealer furiously enters quotes for buying and selling on a computer terminal, connected to a nationwide network, for what seems like a million simultaneous voices.

The most striking aspect of the chaos is the many "techniques" employed by the punters to predict stock price movements, some of which are devoid of any logic. One such extreme method is the use of astrological tables.

Many traders in Thane use the position of stars and planets to predict minute to minute movement of stock prices. Based on these predictions, the traders actually decide to buy or sell. The enterprising ones have even started advising others. One such trader advises: "You can avoid many losses and maximize your gains by only trading when your planetary transits are favorable for speculating. When your transits aren’t right for speculating, it is best to stay out of the markets. Execute your trading plan when your personal cycles are right, and watch the winning trades roll." So the next time you hear about the stock market crash, blame it on the stars.

Shhh… Quite Please!

Shhh… Quite Please!

It’s late in the night and you have a Chemistry mid-term the next day. You’re trying hard to cram, using every gimmick you’ve learnt – mnemonics, flash cards, outlines – you even munch memory foods in desperation. Then unexpectedly a deafening sound of heavy metal music breaks the silence of the night and with it marks the end of your study-time. You know it’s no use reasoning with the apathetic neighbour to bring down the volume, so you simply give up all hopes of making it through the test as you have nowhere left to go.

As yet another academic year begins many students will face a situation similar to the one described above. While some students can study despite the disturbances around them, most need a quite and peaceful atmosphere to be able to concentrate.

For such students, a good public library is what the doctor ordered. Carl Rowan, a prominent African American journalist once said, "The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history."

Fortunately, students residing in Thane city can seek such liberation at the Indian Library. The 24-hour study rooms of the Indian Library are a boon for serious students. Six reading rooms spread over six thousand sq. ft., over eight thousand reference books, computer and internet facilities and an air-conditioned conference hall make Indian Library a unique self-study centre. Students putting in long study hours can get a much desired break at the canteen and recreation room.

The spick and span ambience of the entire library favours the serious students. The management takes every care to maintain discipline without creating an unfriendly atmosphere. Considering the facilities, the membership fee is quite reasonable. Though privately owned, the management runs the library as a social institute, not as a profit-making venture. Sanjeev Malhotra, one of the founding brothers believes that education the only hope for the future and his family is only trying to repay the society in a "small but meaningful" way.

A couple of weeks ago Indian Library was selected to participate as one of the panelists in the World Digital Video Conference organized by, and held at, the American Centre. It was the first video digital conference of its kind aiming to bring libraries around the world on a common platform to discuss issues and share ideas pertaining to managing a library. Among the other panelists from the city were the American Centre Library and British Council Library. The conference was a resounding success with Indian Library getting acclaim and appreciation from all other panelists for its excellent contribution.

The significance of a good public library was described aptly by Mark Twain when he wrote, "A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them"

For membership details, reader may contact Sanjeev Malhotra on 5474648/5476328.

Time for Fun

Time for Fun

When it comes to school kids, high temperatures of summer can do little to dampen their enthusiasm. But it’s hardly their fault. After months of homework and cramming, when these overworked kids find all the time in the world to do what they love the most, their energy levels seem to suddenly quadruple.

One way these kids channelise their high levels of summertime energy is by engaging in summer camps. Every summer, thousands of children participate in such camps the world over. These camps range from two to three day activity camps to intensive three-week sports camps. For most kids, these camps are a wonderful experience as they encourage physical fitness, improve skills, enhance coordination and self-esteem and give children valuable lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, self-discipline and hard work. And, for a child in love with a particular sport, it gives him a chance to play to his heart’s content.

Hundreds of kids from Thane are also making the most of their vacation by enrolling in the various summer camps. Take the badminton camp organized by TMC and led by Shrikant Wad, renowned Badminton coach from Thane. The camp, which is being held at Dadoji Kondeo Stadium, attempts to train students in a holistic way. Besides physical training, students are advised on various aspects of competitive sports such as importance of proper diet, exercising techniques and also mental strength. The latter is courtesy psychiatrist Dr. Anand Nadkarni.

According to Wad, "There are many aspects which differentiate a summer camp from regular coaching, the primary difference being the attention span. Kids are able to devote their undivided attention to their chosen activity, due to which they can undergo stringent training."

There are numerous benefits of sports camps. Not only does such a camp let children focus on a sport they love, it helps them become proficient at it and gives them an opportunity to gain new perspectives on the sport.

Such has been the impact of Wad’s camp that eleven-year old Zamaan Kazi from Kolhapur has decided to stay back even after the summer camp. Zamaan, who came to Thane specially to participate in this camp, says, "I am willing to wash my clothes and do my dishes if that helps me settle here. If I have to make my career in Badminton, I have to sacrifice something". This is just one example of how such camps impact children.

Around the Campfire

It’s not just sports camps that excite children. Some children prefer activity (adventure) camps over sports camps. Activity camps, especially the overnight ones, have their own advantages. Besides making new friends, which is possibly the best benefit of all, activity camps are where children often develop new interests, which often give birth to lifelong passions and sometimes even careers

Eight-year old Karran Kharas from Sulochana Devi Singhania School participated in a four-day multi-activity camp at Khopoli last week. The camp was organised by the World Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Organization (WFSKO). Apart from the regular camping schedule, this camp also held swimming competition and dance sessions. They taught the campers self-defense techniques and also organized a Karate Championship. According to Anita Kharas, mother of Karran, "One advantage to summer camp, especially, overnight camp is that it helps a child in developing sense of self esteem and independence. Being away from home for the first time is a big step for most children. No one reminds them to brush their teeth, wash their hands or comb their hair. They must do it themselves. And when they do, it boosts their self-confidence tremendously".

Well, camping does seem have worked in favour of Karran, who became a "Black Belt" in the Karate Championship organized during the camp.