Tag: Everyday Living

Train Travails

Train Travails

Mumbai suburban network is probably the densest in the world. Average peak hour loading of trains is in excess of 4500 passengers per train compared to a "design capacity" of about 1800 per train and "crush load capacity" of 2600 per train. Rush hour panic is a common sight. So is battling and wrestling by passengers who somehow want to get into the train. Jam packed compartments are a way of life and most regular travellers have become accustomed to the appalling conditions that they are subject to, twice a day. Yet, despite the sordid state of affairs, most passengers have learnt to keep their cool and maintain their sense of compassion.

Consider this. Last week, in an overcrowded CST-bound fast local Thane, people were grumpy as the trains were running late and the October heat was taking its toll. It was about 11 in the morning and there was hardly any place to stand. As the train began its journey, a middle aged man, who had boarded the train just before it left the station, collapsed. Noticing the man collapsing, the fellow travellers forgot all about their discomfort and tried to accommodate this ailing man. What followed were amazing gestures of compassion and kindness. First, the man was quickly offered a window seat, so that he could breathe some fresh air. Some people started speculating about the cause of his collapse. What if he has collapsed because of low sugar level?   Out came a candy from within the crowd. The man, who was still not speaking, was given the candy. Maybe it was due to dehydration, someone suggested. So bottles of water were offered. Finally, people even asked if there was a doctor or a medical student around, who could perhaps check for symptoms of heart problem or blood pressure. Within minutes, everyone in the compartment showed concern. What was heartening was the way in which an act of kindness by one spread contagiously and more people joined in to offer help.

The man finally got off at Masjid station, but not without thanking everyone for their timely help. One could make out that his gratitude was genuine. But then, so was the help of his fellow passengers.

The spoken word

The spoken word

The other day I was invited to a seminar on Marathi literature. The theme of the event was contamination of language. A lady guest was called to speak about the importance of using language in its purest form. Our enthusiastic guest, who began speaking in chaste Marathi, was vehemently protesting the use of English words in daily Marathi speech. The audience, mostly from Marathi-speaking families, was listening with great involvement every word she said. A few minutes into her speech and the lady slipped – she used a few English words in her speech. There was uproar in the audience as she embarrassingly tried to continue speaking. The organiser had a strange grin on his face – that which said, "Wonder why I agreed to this theme". The seminar ended with some interactive games on the same theme, where audience was invited to participate.

As we left, I pondered aloud, "Is purity of language really important in our daily speech?" Most people agreed that purity for its own sake is of no use. Language exists to communicate ideas and thoughts. As long as we are able to effectively communicate ideas, it should not matter how pure our language is. Often, we deliberately use a foreign word, because it helps in putting across the idea more clearly. As for maintaining the Marathi culture, there is written literature.

For those who still want to complain against the use of foreign words in our desi language, think about what Lily Tomlin, a world famous comedian-actress had to say, "Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain".

Substance Mania
The state government of Maharashtra has banned the manufacturing, advertising, storage and sale of treated and flavored tobacco (gutka) and pan masala. Yet, we all know that this ban has been ineffective in controlling the consumption of these substances.

Last night, I was traveling from Thane to Kanjurmarg in a CST bound local when my attention was caught by a teenager who boarded the train and occupied the seat in front of me. He was carrying a rather bulky sports bag and was fiddling with his cell phone throughout the journey. Judging by his appearance and the season cricket balls that he was carrying in his bag, I concluded that he was a budding cricket player who hailed from a rich Gujarati family. This young man, aged perhaps 14 or 15 years, was chewing Gutka. I wondered what compelled a young sportsperson like him to resort to this deadly tobacco variant that has destroyed millions of lives across India.

Needless to say that it was a disturbing sight. Despite the ban, young boys are able to source Gutka easily and this shows that the ban alone is a necessary but not a sufficient step towards regulating the consumption of Gutka. What is required is education, especially in schools and colleges, about the risk factors associated with these artificial tranquilisers. Gentle persuasion and de-addiction programmes would be more helpful than reprimanding the young addicts. So will helping them channel their energy into constructive hobbies and activities that will not only motivate them to live their lives healthily but also de-stress them from anxieties that are a result of our overly competitive education system.

Comforting Measures

Comforting Measures

On 15th August 1982, a group of socially conscious citizens from Thane got together to give shape to the Phoenix Trust, a social service organization for the rehabilitation of physically handicapped persons. Today, after twenty long years and a number of hardships, the Trust has grown into a sturdy social service organization which runs a "Rehabilitation, Occupational and Physiotherapy" centre. The centre offers treatment to the physically handicapped as well as orthopaedic patients and it primarily caters to citizens who cannot afford expensive therapy.

Equipped with modern physiotherapy equipment like Short-wave diathermy, Ultrasonic, Muscle stimulators, Tractions and Wax bath, the Phoenix trust centre is manned by visiting orthopaedic surgeons and well qualified therapists.

A cursory glance at services offered by the Phoenix Trust centre proves that it is a boon for the physically challenged people in Thane. The centre provides rehabilitative treatments to people with all types of disabilities i.e. polio-affected children, cases of cerebral palsy/hemiplegia/paraplegia, accidental cases and so on. Orthopaedic patients with problems such as spondyloisis, slip-disc and fractures are offered physiotherapy. For those in dire need, the Trust also provides appliances like walkers, crutches, wheelchairs on hire. All treatments and appliances are provided at very nominal fees.

The Trust regularly organizes check-up camps, lecture sessions and useful public exhibitions. For example, an exhibition on polio was displayed in various slums in the city and the surrounding villages. From time to time, the Trust carries out corrective surgeries on disabled persons with the help of sponsorships.

Tushar Pitale, Chairman of the Managing Committee says, "We chose the name Phoenix as it indicates the spirit behind the activities of the organization. Phoenix is the legendary bird which rises from the ashes. Phoenix Trust works to help disabled persons to rise above the problems by facing the challenges of life upfront, by braving the ignorance, indifference and even intolerance by the society."

Most members of the Trust are professionals from different spheres and offer their services free of cost. The therapists and doctors too provide their treatment on an honorary basis. The organizers of this Trust believe strongly that being blessed with the good lives themselves, they must extend some form of help to those less fortunate than them. The members of the Trust derive tremendous satisfaction from their services and want many more under-privileged citizens to benefit from the Trust.

Pitale maintains, "We believe that this sense of social commitment is the vital driving force that has kept this project running for the last 20 years."

The Phoenix Trust Centre is housed at the Red Cross Building in Thane and remains open from Mondays to Fridays between 6 p. m. and 8 p. m.

Reader’s Delight
It is believed that proliferation of the electronic media and the Internet implies the eventual death of the print media. But contrary to what many people fear, newspaper readership 5in India has in fact increased by ten percent, while the average television viewing time has come down from 85 minutes in 1999 to 82 minutes in 2002 (source: NRS 2002). This interesting piece of statistic was adequately substantiated by an interesting account related by Milind Ballal, former president of Rotary Club of Thane Mid-Town, at the opening of the "Free Newspaper Reading Stand" at the ST Bus Terminus last week.

During the function, Ballal recalled an episode that took place during the launch of a similar reading corner near Kalva Hospital a few months back. The then mayor of Thane, Ramesh Vaiti, who had been invited to inaugurate the center, was late for the function. Since the day’s newspapers had already been placed on the stand, a few citizens, who were eager to catch the latest headlines, started browsing. Slowly more people joined them and the stand was soon surrounded by people busy reading the various newspapers. When the Mayor finally arrived, the organisers had a tough time trying to clear the stand so that it could be officially thrown open. So much for the popularity of newspapers in the digital age!

Home Service

Home Service

Revathi Gogate’s circulating library is unlike any other. Instead of members visiting the library, books are sent to them. This is how it works: Each week members are allowed to borrow two books. Members choose the time and day of the week that is most suited to them. A library representative visits the member’s house at the designated time with a few books based on member’s preferences.

What started out as an experimental endeavour is turning out to be a successful venture. Revati Gogate is a booklover who owned a personal collection of around two hundred books. Just like any genuine booklover, she had an urge to share her wealth with others. This urge took the form of the library with home service. The library is a not-for-profit venture organized for the purpose of cultivating a closer relationship between Marathi literature and booklovers in Thane. Today, in less than a year, the library has a collection of four hundred books which is growing at a rapid pace. The collection includes novels, storybooks, biographies and books by celebrated Marathi writers like P L Deshpande, Gauri Deshpande, Jaywant Dalvi, and Venkatesh Madgulkar. Books are regularly added on the suggestion of readers.

When asked why she chose to offer books at home, Gogate replied, "Members of circulating libraries often find that the books they are looking for are not available, making their trips to the library unproductive. The service we provide eliminates this aspect completely. Besides, once we know the type of books a certain member is interested in, we recommend good books to them." Old men and women find this service especially useful as they are spared the visit that many of them find cumbersome.

But circulating books is not the end of the agenda. To start with, the library has organised a gathering of members on Wednesday, July 31, 2002 in Sahyog Mandir at 5 pm. Vidya Bal, social worker & editor of Miloon Saryajani, a Pune based women’s monthly, will preside over the function. Members have been encouraged to bring along their friends and acquaintances who share their love of books. The event is open to all and lovers of Marathi literature can call Revati Gogate on 5447918 or 5400859 for more details.

Next on cards is a Reader’ Forum. This forum will attempt to bring together avid readers on a common platform so that they can plan and organise regular activities that will benefit the community and also spread the love of literature.

Spitting Disorder
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is a wise saying that is advocated by almost all religions. But unfortunately it is rarely put into practice.

As he was walking on the streets of this city last week, this writer had a disgusting experience. No sooner than he stepped out of the station that a dignified looking man spit out in front of him, almost nonchalantly. Two steps forward and another man repeated the same "spitting" behaviour. The two gentlemen did not even apologise. Is something wrong with our sense of hygiene and cleanliness?

Lack of sufficient laws make it extremely difficult to control the spitting syndrome among the insensitive citizens. Unfortunately, it takes something as dreaded a plague to wake up our sleeping administrators. When plague hit Gujarat, the world threatened to cut all ties with India. Suddenly awareness drives were seen all over the country urging citizens not to spit in public. But now that the threat is over, things are back to normal. People spit everywhere – bus stops/stations, beaches, parks, cinema halls, inside buses, outside temples and inside hospitals! One favourite spot for habitual spitters is the staircase. Invariably every staircase is decorated with red colour stains of pan. Several societies have come up with an interesting way to deal with this problem. They have put up picture of deities so that the god fearing individuals will refrain from the unhealthy practice.

The TMC regularly fines people who spit in public and collects an estimated Rs. 3-4 lacs every year. But it is virtually impossible to catch every defaulter. The only way out is to create awareness about the importance of cleanliness on a regular basis, which sadly is not happening.

Here’s an appeal to all readers in Thane: Never spit in a public place. The human saliva has a lot of micro organisms and spitting in the open makes other people vulnerable to infections caused by these micro organisms. If you have to spit, do so in a washbasin and run enough water after that so that all harmful organisms are washed away. Let us always keep our city clean.

Cold Response

Cold Response

A few days ago, a group of four visited a popular ice cream joint in Thane (East) and asked for branded ice cream cones. No sooner had they begun relishing their cones, than it dawned on them that there was something terribly wrong with what they have been served. The cones were completely soggy. The group complained to the shop owner, whose response was lukewarm. He just said, "It’s not our fault. The manufacturer is responsible." The group tried to reason with him and requested him to return the cones to the manufacturer. But the shop owner’s attitude was apathetic and he refused to attend to them. This tepid response from the shopkeeper set off one of the four and she decided that she was not going to be taken for a ride.

She asked the shopkeeper to her the ice cream stock as she suspected that products were not fresh and had probably crossed the consumption date. After a little resistance, the shopkeeper gave in and showed her the stock. Indeed the ice creams were all more than a year old. When she showed the "Best Before" dates to the shopkeeper, he refused to own responsibility. When, after a lengthy argument, the shopkeeper was still not willing to accept the cones back, she threatened to complain to the TMC’s Food and Adulteration Department. The man didn’t budge, thinking that she was probably issuing empty threats. It turned out that the lady actually knew an official from the food department personally and called him on his cell. After she explained the situation to him, the official asked her to hand over the phone to the shopkeeper and had a brief chat with him. We don’t know what the official said to the shopkeeper, but as soon as he hung up he was a transformed man. Not only did he apologise, he accepted all the cones back and promised to clear all the old stuff from his stock. The incident only goes to show that customers are often taken for granted. But that doesn’t mean that one must tolerate unaccepted behaviour. Remember that we are what we eat. Noted writer Virginia Woolf gave so much importance to food that she once wrote, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."

So the next time you are served food that you suspect is unfit for consumption, don’t resign yet – contact the authorities in your area and ensure that such practises are stopped. In Thane, you may contact the Health Department of TMC on Tel. no. 25332686

Ingredients for Success
Faith and determination are perhaps the only ingredients necessary to succeed. Consider this: last night while taking a stroll on the streets of an upcoming residential complex in one of city’s posh localities, this writer saw six small children probably aged between four and eight years, sitting on the Their schoolbooks open in front of them, these children were trying to study under the dim streetlights.

They were kids of construction workers living in temporary tents set up near the tall, half finished building they were working on. What was touching was the dedication reflected on the faces of these who, despite minimal facilities, were making a genuine attempt to study. Some of these kids help their parents during daytime, after returning from school. When we observe such kids working hard without so much as a trace of sadness on their faces, we tends to forget or at least lessen our own sense of misery or misfortune.

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.

Walking the wild side

Walking the wild side

Imagine walking through the wild terrain among thick tall trees with sunlight piercing the denseness of the jungle. Imagine camping near a beautiful alpine lake and swimming in its refreshingly cool waters. Imagine observing wildlife from close quarters during daytime and gazing at brilliant stars of the Milky Way during nighttime. If you are a keen naturalist or someone who likes adventure travel in wilderness areas, then this must sound really exciting.

A few days back, twenty two young boys and girls (fifth to ninth graders) set off for a nature trek similar to one described above. Organised by Thane’s Blue Whale Nature and Science Club, the trek lasted four days and made the young minds richer. Their journey began at Lonavala, from where the group walked fifteen long kilometres to reach Rajmachi, a hilltop village surrounded by forest. That night, Vikas Bhat held a star gazing session. Equipped with a telescope, he revealed facts about the various planets and stars. He also discussed the Big Bang theory and the current zodiac constellation.

The next day, Sriram Kohli and Chandrakant Bedekar taught the children the exciting technique of rappelling, which, for the uninitiated, is the art of descending from a fixed height (usually rocky mountains) using a rope. Later that day Ranganath Vare, conducted a session on snakes. He discussed the various types of snakes and revealed the method of identifying the poisonous from the non-poisonous ones. He even demonstrated the technique of catching snakes. The day ended with a fire camp.

The following day, it was time for some bird watching (the jungle variety!). The entire group was broken up into smaller sub groups and they dispersed in various directions. Silence is extremely important when observing wild birds so as not to scare them away. Once again, wild life expert Vare, identified the different species of birds, while the trekkers looked in awe. On the last day, before heading back to Thane, group leader Sriram Kohli demonstrated the purpose and usage of hiking equipment.

At the end of an adventure trek, one is physically tired, but is mentally and spiritually refreshed and ready to take on the world. That’s because nature has the power to recharge your emotions.

If you too are interested in unwinding, you may contact Sameer Sawant from Blue Whale Nature and Science Club on 5374953

Each day, electricity lights offices, runs machines and equipment and operates plants. But, each year contact with electricity kills or injures hundreds of thousands of people. In recent years, electrocution has risen to be the third major cause of death due to industrial accidents. In Maharashtra alone, more than 1500 deaths occur due to electric shocks.

You can never tell when contact with electricity will be fatal, but you can be sure it will always hurt. Ignorance of basic electrical principles and misuse of electrical equipment often results in accidents such as electrical shocks, burns, fires, explosions and sometimes even death. What most people fail to realise is that its not just monstrous industrial equipment that can kill or injure. You can also be killed by a shock from an appliance or power cord in your home. Despite these obvious dangers, electrical energy is perhaps the most taken-for-granted form of energy.

Last week Thaneites witnessed an electrical safety awareness drive being carried out at Thane Railway Station. More than ten thousand "dos and don’ts" leaflets were distributed among the public. A motor-cycle rally was also taken out, educating residents, shop-owners and industrial workers in the city. Banners, posters and placards were put up at prominent locations. All this was a part of the state-wide "Electrical Safety Week" programme being observed by the Energy and Labour Department of Government of Maharashtra. Large and reputed organizations such as TATA Power, Hindustan Construction Company and Otis Elevators supported the campaign by sponsoring the various parts of it.

The safety week campaign aimed to propagate tips on safe and correct usage of electrical appliances and machinery. Qualified persons held demonstrations on how to put out electrical fire, how to treat an electrocuted person etc and also gave other useful guidelines.

The message of this campaign was clear: To protect yourself, your family and coworkers, always practice electrical safety.

For more information on electrical safety, you may contact:

Office of Electrical Inspector
Wagle Estate
11th Road,
Near Passport Office,
Thane (West)
Tel: 5821848

FACT FILE Some Dos & Don’ts of Electrical Safety (Issued by PWD, Govt. of Maharashtra)

  1. Use I.S.I marked or Quality Control certified materials and appliances.
  2. Get wiring and earthing (grounding) tested periodically by a licensed electrical contractor.
  3. Use fuse wire of proper capacity or use M.C.B. of proper capacity to avoid danger of overload or short circuit.
  4. Use E.L.C.B. to avoid accidents from earth leakage current.
  5. Use 3-pin plugs for all appliances
  6. Use only one plug in one socket.
  7. For fire due to short circuit, first switch off main-switch. Do not use water. Use dry chemical type fire extinguisher.
  8. Do not hang clothes on the electric wires.
  9. Do not allow children to fly kites in the vicinity of high tension overhead electrical transmission lines.
  10. Do not use pump-room, lift machine room and meter room as a storage room.
  11. Do not handle electrical appliances with wet hands.
  12. Do not put bare wires in the plug socket.
Colours of Life

Colours of Life

Well known Marathi stage actors Sanjay Narvekar (of Vaastav fame) and Bharat Jadhav are best known for their performances in "All the Best", a record breaking Marathi play. While Narvekar played the character of a deaf man, Jadhav played a dumb man. With their potent performances, Narvekar and Jadhav have earned the respect of colleagues and critics alike.

Last week, at a programme organized by Indradhanu in Thane’s Sahyog Bhavan, both Narvekar and Jadhav related a few colourful anecdotes  from  their lives.

Bharat Jadhav shared an interesting and touching story from his early days of "All the Best". He spoke about a taxi-driver who was driving a couple of rather belligerent passengers towards the theatre where "All the Best" was to be performed. Mumbai traffic being what it is, the passengers sensed that they might reach late for the show and in frustration, began cursing the taxi-driver. They used all possible expletives and expressed their displeasure quite aggressively. No no fault of his, the driver tolerated this abuse and maintained silence, driving patiently. But what made this self-control possible? Jadhav revealed that the taxi-driver was none other than his own father, who was feeing a sense of pride, driving these difficult passengers to his son’s play – never mind the name-calling and foul language that he was subjected to. After all the passengers were dying to see his son’s performance!

Sanjay Navekar too recalled an episode from his early days of "All the Best". This was about the time when he decided to move his residence from Vikhroli to Thane (Kalwa), as it made more sense to stay close to Gadkari Rangayatan.

One day, after he had relocated to Thane, Narvekar was returning home after a late night performance. He was new to this part of town, and was still not familiar with the streets. So, on his way he stopped at many points to ask for directions. One man recognized Narvekar and asked him if he was indeed ‘the Sanjay Narvekar’ from All the Best. "So whose house are you looking for?" the man asked him, to which Narvekar replied casually, "Mine". The man refused to believe him. He said, "You are never serious. Please tell me who are you really looking for?" Narvekar stood there, helpless and amused at the irony of life!

Happy Journey!
The other day, a colleague who was traveling in the 498 Ltd. BEST from Thane to Andheri, came across a rare bus conductor, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy his work. It was a hot and humid day but all through the journey, the conductor entertained the passengers while giving out tickets. In his non-stop commentary, he made references to all kinds of things – from Bollywood to cricket and politics. He cracked jokes and delivered famous dialogues, including a few from Kaun Banega Crorepati. He was apparently quite abreast of what is hot and what is not. The passengers were pleased and many of them wondered aloud about the pleasant attitude of the conductor.

This conductor’s disposition only proves that happiness is a state of mind and has nothing to do with either one’s destiny. It’s a choice we can all make, regardless of our current state of affairs.

Success Factor

Success Factor

Nervousness is uncomfortable. But according to motivational speaker Gil Eagles, "If you want to be successful, you must be willing to be uncomfortable." Indeed, great people have often attributed their triumph to the hardships and discomfort they face along the path to success. Padmashri Padmaja Phenani-Joglekar (remember, she sang Vajapayee’s poems) recently related an anecdote that confirms this attitude.

Padmaja and Milind Ingle were the chief guests of an orchestra concert held at the Gadkari Rangayatan on March 12, 2002. The theme of the orchestra was Hey Rang Jeevanache or The colors of life. The orchestra team was led by Rupesh Raut who also directs Marathi Sa Re Ga Ma on Alpha TV.

During the show, Padmaja told the audience about her brief meeting that she had had, with the orchestra team just before the show had begun. "The talented group of individuals said to me that they were feeling nervous with the thought of performing in my presence. I think this is the sign of greatness in the making", said the accomplished singer. She went on to relate how she once asked Pandit Bhimsen Joshi if he ever felt nervous before his shows, to which he had replied, "I feel nervous before every show – I feel it is my first time, every time."

"Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain", said Ralph Waldo Emerson. The orchestra team performed brilliantly that evening and the applause they received in return dissolved their nervousness and fear!

Train travails
The numerous platforms at Thane Railway Station often leave suburban travelers in a state of confusion. For instance, a CST slow local in Thane can depart from four possible platforms (1, 2, 3 and 4).

Fortunately, Thane city has been a beneficiary of good corporate citizens. After sponsored signboards on traffic signals, we now have sponsored train-time indicators.

Last week, suburban train travelers in Thane city were pleasantly surprised to see digital time indicators put up outside the station. This means that people rushing to work early morning, will be able to decide which platform they need to rush to, even before they enter the station.

While this may not seem like a big deal, it will certainly make a difference to the thousands of Thane residents who depend on local trains to travel to their workplaces. Often, a delay of just a few seconds leads to missed trains and late attendance (And frequent late attendance can be a costly affair – it can cost you your job).

Helping hand
Yet another example of the generous nature of corporate citizenry in Thane was demonstrated recently by a supplier of school uniforms.

Last week, Kalpavriksha Marketing Pvt. Ltd. adopted 32 students from 16 schools of Thane (2 from each school). These students, who have been nominated by their respective schools, are financially weak and the company has decided to sponsor their entire education-related expenses. This includes their school fees, uniforms, accessories, stationary and books.

These small acts of kindness can be best described in the words of the famous broadcast journalist, Charles Kuralt, "The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines".

Healthy Competition

Healthy Competition

Normally, the word competition has a negative connotation. But often, competition serves the noble cause of encouraging people to perform better. Like it did on February 17, 2002 when more than two thousand students from as many as fifteen schools of Thane participated in an inter-school competition called Kalpakala 2002.

The event was held in the campus of Saraswati Secondary High School and was organized by Kalpavriksha Marketing Pvt. Ltd. Mayor of Thane, Ramesh Vaity, presided as Chief Guest.

With categories ranging from essay writing, drawing, fancy-dress, elocution and one-act plays, students got ample opportunity to display their talents. The audience too was enthralled as they got the opportunity to see some highly gifted children perform.

The highlight of the day was the Fancy Dress competition, where a young boy called Yash Dhruv from Bhagwati Vidyalaya had become "pollution" personified. Wrapped in newspaper, his message was quite meaningful: "Kill me, else I will kill you!" Another young girl had dressed up as The Statue of Liberty with a message about the dreadful day of September 11, 2001. The elocution competition had a physically challenged child who performed as if he faced no discomfort.

"We believe that such competitions boost the confidence of participants and also gear them up for tougher competitions that life may offer in future. That’s the real objective of organizing such an event", explains Dr. Umesh Khede, President of Kalpavriksha

The prize distribution for the event will take place on March 10, 2002. But, regardless of which students are felicitated, everyone was a winner!

Everyday Miracle
Often we encounter episodes of miracles that reaffirm our faith in that higher force that is constantly protecting and guiding all of us. George Bernard Shaw said, "Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles."

Recently, Mrs. Jyotsna Phadke from Thane experienced one such mini-miracle.

In October last year, Mrs. Phadke suddenly found her gold chain (Devi’s Mangalsutra) missing. In spite of a massive search operation that followed, the chain was not to be found. Later she realized that she had mistakenly left the chain in the flower container in the Puja room. But it was too late, as by then, these flowers (nirmalya) were already disposed of.

Having tried everything possible to locate the missing mangalsutra, Mrs. Phadke finally lost all hope of finding the gold chain.

Then, last week a strange thing happened. Mrs. Phadke’s was overlooking her 18 month-old grandson who was playing with water in the porch of their duplex apartment, when she suddenly spotted her missing chain – in the flower pot! And the chain was absolutely intact and clean. At first Mrs. Phadke could not believe what her eyes saw. Slowly it dawned upon her that she had been witness to a rare phenomenon – a miracle.