Month: April 2006

Walking Again

Walking Again

Henry David Thoreau once said, “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” Indeed, old age is a state of mind and if we choose so, we can retain our youthful outlook at any age. Amitabh Bachchan is perhaps the best example of someone who has kept living life to its fullest in spite of being on the wrong side of 60 and suffering several health problems that accompany aging. When he can do it, why can’t you? Of course you can. The good news is that advances in medical science have made it much easier to beat the health issues associated with old age. Take Arundati Khandkar, 65, a resident of Vartak Nagar. Arundati was suffering from severe knee arthritis and was grossly disabled for the past 20 years, during which she tried every possible treatment but with little success. Arundati had deformed knees that immobilised her almost completely. But today she is back on her two feet and is up and walking as normally as she did during her younger days.

The secret of Arundati’s newfound abilities in her legs is the new ‘knee replacement surgery’, a treatment that is becoming increasingly popular amongst the masses. In fact even former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee opted for it a few years back. After suffering for
years Arundati finally decided to consult Dr Sanjeev Jain, a Joint Replacement and Hip Resurfacing Surgeon, who recommended and then carried out a specialised Rotating Platform Flex (RPF) knee replacement surgery on her.

Arthritis of the knees is the world’s leading cause of disability. Besides being painful, it leads to difficulty in walking, reduced bending of knee, inability to sit cross-legged, and general immobility. RPF knee system is designed to provide high knee flexion. The conventional fixed bearing knee provides 100 degrees of flexion, which is not enough for everyday activities. The RPF knee is specially designed to safely accommodate up to 155 degrees of flexion in patients. This means that with appropriate rehabilitation, a patient can resume an active life style after total knee replacement – in other words, the patient can bend the knee enough to be able to carry out recreational, religious and other day-to-day activities such as prolonged kneeling, squatting and cross-legged sitting.

It’s not just the design but also the surgical technique that plays a role in enabling higher degree of flexion. According to Dr Jain, “Gone are the days when patients hesitated to get knee replacement done due to reduced knee bending after knee replacement. The RPF design and
the surgical technique will change the scenario of total knee replacement.” It is fortunate for residents of our city that such advanced treatment is now being offered by surgeons in here. Thanks to the RPF knee replacement remedy, Thaneites will age gracefully. Perhaps TMC should plan more Nana-Nani parks as we can expect an increase in the number of grandparents who will be out and about taking morning and evening walks.

Have a Summer Blast

Have a Summer Blast

As the mercury rises in the summer, excitement of students begins to surge too. After toiling monotonously for a whole year attending classes, going for tuitions, struggling with homework and finally cramming for exams, students look forward to this time of year, never mind the sweltering heat.

Granted, summer vacations are a great time to catch up with all those exciting activities that you have been dying to indulge in but were simply impossible to take up during the academic year: you would want to play your favourite sport, watch movies, go for outings and generally have fun. But even after you do all of this, you will find that you still have a reasonable amount of spare time that can and must be utilised gainfully.

Have a Summer Blast

Academically you move up one level with each passing year. But it is equally important for you to move up regularly with respect to your personality. And there’s no better time to do this than summer holidays. Unfortunately, most students end up doing nothing constructive during this highly fertile two-month period. But all is not lost. If you’re a student who has not yet made plans of how to make good use of your time this vacation, now is a good time to do so. The question that is probably cropping up in your mind is, "What should I do?"

We suggest that you spend some time this week in your own company and do a self-audit. Find out which zones of your personality you would like to work upon. Do a quick evaluation of your personality and ask yourself simple questions like the following: What are my strengths and weaknesses? Which new activity I would like to pursue? Which existing interest would I like to augment? This simple exercise will lead to clarity of thought and action. And once you’re clear about what it is that you want to do, you can proceed in the direction of putting into practice what you’ve decided.

There are many good ways to spend the next two months. Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful. This is in no way an exhaustive list and you can certainly come up with several creative ideas yourself.

Sign up for an adventure/sports camp
Look out for and sign up with one of the several adventure camps organised specially for school students. Such camps offer a wonderful opportunity for you to experience the real world first hand – away from the protective shield of your parents and teachers. If you’re a sports lover, then you could consider one of the various sports camps that train you in the sport of your choice.

Cultivate the habit of Reading
Supplementing/cultivating a reading habit is a good idea. Reading is a great way of building up a good thinking mind. You even become more creative, besides increasing your knowledge! So join a good library, borrow a few good books on the subjects you like and spend some time reading daily.

Avoid watching excessive TV
Watching TV is an inert activity and tends to slow down your wits. It’s also harmful for your physical fitness. Allocate a fixed time per week for TV viewing and resolve not to exceed this limit. When watching TV, make it a point to watch informative and educational channels like Discovery, Animal Planet and National Geographic.

Physical Activity
Engage in some daily physical activity routine. This is a good habit for life. Swimming, cycling, trekking or simply walking will go a long way in keeping you healthy and in shape.

Replace phones with personal interactions
A worrying habit among the youngsters these days is that they rattle long hours on the phone. Remember, it is much better to meet up your friends in person and converse one-to-one. Personal interactions enhance the quality of your conversations and, in the process, the quality of your friendships too.

Develop new interests
Consider developing new hobbies or expand the scope of existing ones such as painting, drawing, music, cooking, writing, acting and so on. Many of you may not venture into a hobby for the fear of being ridiculed or because you think you’re not good enough. Steer clear of judging yourself and simply take up the activity irrespective of how good you are at it. Remember you’re not competing with anyone, and there is no justifiable reason to deny yourself the joy that comes from doing that which you fancy.

So go ahead and make a new agreement with yourself. Eliminate a weakness, acquire a new hobby, improve your knowledge quotient and transform yourself in positive ways. Then, when the new academic year begins, your newfound personality will be all set to conquer the world.

Triple talent

Triple talent

Rajesh Vilas Shinde is 17 years old and studies in Class VII. His father doesn’t have a permanent job and works as a daily wage earner. His mother works as a housemaid. Rajesh also has two sisters and a brother, all of who attend normal schools. According to his teachers, he is a good student and takes active interest in studies. He loves playing cricket and chess and is a good swimmer, too. Last year, he finished first in the 400-metre race at the district level. Rajesh also contributes to his family’s wages by selling newspapers during his vacations and making Ganesh idols

Sixteen-year-old Jeetendra Dinanath Yadav is also in Class VII. His father sells vada pav on a street side cart, while his mother is a housewife. He has four younger brothers who go to normal schools. Jeetendra is interested in judo, karate and cricket. Each year he actively participates in stage performances, especially dance and drama, in his school’s annual day function. Everyday after school he helps his father in his business.

Annu Rakesh Pandey is a 14-year-old girl and is in Class V. She has an elder sister and a younger brother who attend normal schools. She stays with her father, who is an auto-rickshaw driver, while her mother stays in her native place. While Annu loves playing outdoor games, she also takes care of domestic work and helps her mother in stitching clothes.

Rajesh, Jeetendra and Annu are students of Thane’s Kamalini Karnabadhir Vidyalaya, a school for the hearing impaired. But the trio have more than just their hearing disability in common. For one, they come from the lower economic strata, where existence is usually hand to mouth. For another, their disability and social background notwithstanding, they display enormous talent.

The three are extremely talented in drawing and have, on more occasions than one, surprised the peers and teachers by demonstrating an exceptional ability to create award-winning illustrations. What makes their effort special is that the school does not have a drawing teacher. So, in spite of no formal training whatsoever, the three win all the drawing competitions in which they participate.

Their school is situated at Jijamata road in Thane East and has 60-odd students suffering from hearing impairment. The school has trained teachers in routine subjects, but being run by an NGO trust, it cannot afford to appoint a drawing teacher. Moreover, they don’t get too many opportunities to demonstrate their talent.

Archana Nare, the principal of the school says, “These students can’t participate in many inter-school competitions because the parents can’t afford participation fees. So they have to remain content with competitions that are organised by various NGOs in our school.”

The purpose of this story is not to highlight the exceptional talents of three hearing impaired students, but to underline the importance of determination and self-confidence. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some use their weaknesses to give excuses for not taking any initiatives and then blaming their misfortune for everything that goes wrong in their lives.

Others count their blessings and focus on their strengths, converting every obstacle into an opportunity to prove that success is the result of an attitude, not of luck. The triple talents of Kamalini Karnabadhir Vidyalaya focus on their strengths – the dexterity of their hands and the imaginative power of their minds. Only time will tell if they will make their mark in the world of art. But one thing is certain – if they continue to believe in themselves, their self-confidence is sure to take them places.

Dressed to Thrill

Dressed to Thrill

Judging competitions involving children is always difficult. But when the participating children are those who need special care, the judgement becomes even more challenging. Ask Suneeta Jain and Ashwini Shinde, who recently judged a fancy dress competition with 70 special children participants held at the Jiddh School in Thane on March 29, 2006. Jain, a psychologist working with Hiranandani Hospital and Shinde, a teacher, found themselves struggling to decide between the participants, all of who displayed enormous talent, their disabilities notwithstanding. In fact, judging these participants was even more difficult because the different types of challenges that each child faces. A few examples should help you understand their predicament.

Dressed to Thrill - special children particpating in fancy dress competition

One girl participant dressed up like a chicken in full white clothes complete with wings and a beak. Any guess what she was depicting? Bird flu! Then there was a child who had become a scarecrow, her hands held upwards, and her head in a black bag. Red lips were painted on her midriff and two artificial hands were stuck on her waist as she danced to the music, looking perfectly like a scarecrow. Yet another participant, Vikram, blessed the crowd as he walked on stage in his saffron attire of a pujari. Manali had become a sage who chanted mantras and performed a puja. A Shivaji Maharaj look-a-like arrived on stage in the typical darbari style. And Lord Hanuman had great fun jumping around the hall and on the stage just like the monkey-god. Each participant was a sheer delight to watch and the audience was fascinated, even as they encouraged the participants when they came on stage.

In the end, three winners had to be selected from five age groups. The prize comprised a cash component, a medal, a certificate and some gifts. But every participant received a participation gift. Two parents, who had helped their wards in dressing up, received surprise gifts for their creativity and enthusiasm. The fancy dress competition was organised with the help of the Inner Wheel Club of Thane Hills.

The special children are a treat to watch. Often, their performances leave us thinking about the determination with which they challenge their disabilities. William Shakespeare said, “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” These children, challenged by nature-inflicted adversity, embrace it with open arms, teaching the rest of us a lesson or two in life. No wonder they are called special.