Tag: Films and music

Ticketing Woes

Ticketing Woes

Daily, about 13 million passengers travel with the Indian Railways. No wonder, long queues are typical at railway reservation centres in our country. Especially in large cities, people often wait in queues for a very long time, sometimes as long as three hours. Come peak season, and this waiting period reaches its peak too. People line up from the previous night, to ensure that they get their seats/berths. Needless to say, that booking long distance railway tickets is a nightmare for most of us.

In view of this, it is surprising that it took the authorities this long to introduce a basic system that would ease up the chaos at the booking centres. But it’s better to be late than never. The Railways have finally put into action something that was long overdue. After introducing the LED-based token indicator system at the computerised reservation centre at CST, the same is soon being introduced at Thane. The arrangements are in place: LED screens, digital token screens over each window and long benches in front of all the windows, the last one is for people to park themselves comfortably while waiting their turns.

The token system would make "first come, first served" a reality at the reservation centres. This means it would be impossible for anyone to get a ticket issued out-of-turn. This out-of-turn business is particularly annoying when, during closing hours, the one who genuinely deserves the ticket is refused because of someone who broke into the queue.

The token system will certainly go a long way in reducing the discomfort faced by people. For one, the seating facility would be especially helpful in case of senior citizens and physically challenged persons. You can save time too. For instance, once a token is issued, you need not get confined to the booking centre. You could roughly estimate the amount of time it would take for your turn and go about attending to other tasks.

Although the token system would reduce the discomfort faced by the public at the reservation centres, it does not eliminate it completely. But there is good news: for those who have access to the Internet, you could book your tickets online through the IRCTC website. Just log on to www.irctc.co.in and register yourself. Once registered, you will be given a unique user name and password which you could use each time you wish to book a ticket. The ticket is dispatched to you by courier and normally reaches within 24 Hours.

Filmi Chakkar
A friend recently decided to venture out for a movie. He and his wife decided to watch American Desi. On scanning the day’s newspaper, they found that it was being screened at Vandana. They invited a few friends to join them too. It was the last show on Friday, and the couple reached there well before time to ensure that they get the desired number of tickets. On reaching the theatre, the couple found the ambience a little suspicious. They noticed a few "shady types" moving about the premises of the theatre. For a Friday night, there were hardly any crowds. Most importantly, the posters of American Desi were conspicuous by their absence. The duo soon found out the reason for the absence of the posters – the theatre was showing was some x-rated flick and not the film they intended to see. The newspaper they referred had made a blunder. Suddenly, the couple realised why they were the centre of attention – people around were wondering what such a decent looking couple was doing there!

Embarrassed, our friend quickly began calling all others he had invited, to warn them in time, of the faux pas he had committed. In the end, though all was fine. They succeeded in preventing the others from reaching the theatre, diverting them to a restaurant instead, where all of them shared a hearty meal and a hearty laugh at what had happened.

Rhythm of Life

Rhythm of Life

Respect for culture and tradition literally flows through the veins of our city, which is full of enthusiastic residents. We never lose an opportunity to celebrate cultural events, especially those with literary and artistic significance.

On October 1, when communities throughout the world celebrated the International Music Day (IMD), Thane city too participated in its own way. City based music institute, Nada Brahma, in association with Sanskar Bharti, organised a musical event called "Keyboard Workshop", at Sahyog Mandir.

The event, which aimed at spreading awareness about keyboard instruments, was graced by none other than the music maestro Naushad Ali. In a career spanning over six decades, Naushad has created some extraordinarily memorable music and won many prestigious awards including the Dadasaheb Phalke award in 1982 and Padma Bhushan in 1992.

During the show, great composer revealed some interesting tales from his eventful life, one of which really touched the audience.

Many years ago, when the musician was in London and was out of work for a few years, he faced a nervous breakdown. He consulted a therapist, who recommended a break from the city life. Naushad heeded the advice dutifully and decided to proceed to the woods, to spend some time with nature. The soothing ambience of the wild had a tranquilising effect on him and he found his rhythm coming back to him. It was during this sabbatical, that Naushad encountered his life’s most dreadful dilemma, face-to-face. One evening basking in the rays of setting sun, and immersed in ragas, the great musician suddenly found himself staring at the king of the jungle. Mercifully, he was armed with a gun, which he quickly removed from the case. But it wasn’t easy for him to pull the trigger. The musician in him wouldn’t let him "kill", yet his "evil self" was urging him do exactly that. In the end, his evil self triumphed, and he shot the lion. The musician confessed that though he was not a professional hunter, this episode helped him come out of the depression that he had been hounding him for months. "Perhaps, my deeply curbed emotions found an outlet. That was a line of treatment", said Naushad almost apologetically.

Little Flowers
Since the last 20 years, Garden School, a pre-primary school situated at Cherai, celebrates Gandhi Jayanti in a unique way.

The school teacher identifies a child who looks similar to the Mahatma. This child is then dressed like Gandhiji, complete with dhoti, round rimmed glasses, a clock at his waist and a stick. Once dressed, the little Mahatma is taught about the great man’s manners – his style of walking, speaking and interacting with people. This child then acts like Gandhiji while the teacher comments on all the principles that Gandhiji stood for. While his attire endorsed simplicity, the waist-watch signified the importance of time. His powerful messages always promote love over hatred.

Berneditt Pimenta, the school’s founder-principal said, "The children of today are so lost that they need a role model like Mahatma Gandhi. This celebration is a small effort on our part to instil in our children the love and respect for the father of the nation." Fortunately, parents too have been quite encouraging. Pimenta adds, "Some parents are so enthusiastic that the shave their child’s head for this one day."

In Gandhiji own words, children are the "flowers of God’s garden". The Garden School is doing a fine job of nurturing these "little flowers".

Swadeshi Sentiments

Swadeshi Sentiments

Each year, the Naupada Hindu Bhagini Mandal, a Thane based women’s association, organizes a week-long event called Varsha Vyakhyanmala, a series of discourses covering various spheres of life. People from all walks of life are invited to share their experiences with the audience.

This year, one of the guests was Madhusudhan Tamhane, the production manager of the historical film "Veer Savarkar". Tamhane also played the role of Superintendent of Police in the film. Being so closely associated with the film, he shared some fascinating anecdotes related to the making of the film.

The cast and crew of the film were in Pune, shooting the "Go Swadeshi" sequence. In the sequence, Shailendra Gaur, who played the lead in the film, was urging people to discard foreign clothes as a gesture of self reliance. People were throwing foreign-made clothes into a pyre specially kindled for the sole purpose of abandoning British clothes. When the filming began, one of the bystanders, who was watching the proceedings for some time, got so aroused by the speech of Veer Savarkar that he stepped ahead and threw his foreign-made jacket into the pyre! It hardly mattered to him that it was just a film being shot – his patriotic instinct caught up with him and he declared in public that he would never wear foreign clothes again.

Ironically, another incident related by Tamhane illustrates quite a contrasting set of values. During the filming of another sequence, about fifteen local men had been hired to represent a gathering. The scene was about Veer Savarkar protesting with the British against the death sentence announced for Madanlal Dingra, another freedom fighter. Once the filming was over, the crowd dispersed and the fifteen men who had been hired also disappeared – and along with them they took the jackets too, which were provided to them for the scene!

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.

Child’s Play

Child’s Play

Excessive cravings do not necessarily involve physical substances. Like the world’s most popular leisure pastime, television – an addiction that has enveloped all age groups. In fact, Newton’s law of inertia aptly describes a TV addict: A body at rest tends to remain in the state of rest. And if the body is of a child in front of the TV, then it is a cause for great worry.

The gravity of the situation can be judged by the results of a survey conducted in the US which states that a typical child watches an average of thirty-five hours of television per week! Along with a sedentary lifestyle, television promotes a whole host of equally disturbing behaviors: lack of creativity and stimulation, and the absence of family interaction, reading time, and self-motivated play time.

In its effort to provide good, healthy entertainment to children, Thane Municipal Corporation has recently installed a range of multi-play systems in thirty gardens around the city. Kids can now enjoy on the lovely new systems such as spiral slide, tube slide, roller slide, double spring wave slide, adjustable see-saw, climbing frames and many other interesting things. An estimated fifteen to twenty thousand kids visit these newly equipped gardens daily. TMC Commissioner K. P. Bakshi, Mayor Sharda Raut and other senior officers too have paid a visit to the gardens in the last few weeks.

Arihant Industries Corporation, the suppliers of the play systems, will also maintain them for the next two years.

Hopefully this network of gardens will play an important role in diverting the city kids away from the television networks.

First among equals
"Pandit Ram Marathe Smruti Din" is a yearly event that is extremely popular among music lovers of Maharashtra. People go to any lengths to reserve their seats in advance, lest they miss out the opportunity to see the show. This year, for the programme to be held on April 05, the plans opened on March 31. But the book windows of Gadkari Rangayatan, where the programme was to be held, had queues from the previous night (March 30).

This is not the first time that this has happened. The organizers too are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm displayed by the fans, year after year. In fact, it has now become a custom for the organizers to officially felicitate the very first purchaser of the ticket, as a mark of appreciation.

For readers who are unaware, Pandit Ram Marathe was one of the great classical vocalists that our country has produced. He was conferred with The Sangeet Bhushan title by the Government of Maharashtra and won numerous awards during his lifetime, including the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award in the year 1987.

Muscular Clash
Last week, TMC and the Thane District Body Building Association organized the Fifth Body Building Competition for the title of "Mahapaur Shree 2002" at Gadkari Rangayatan. 116 contestants from all over the state participated in the competition, which was inaugurated by Mayor Sharda Raut.

It was a fierce competition between bulging biceps and triceps, extra-tight waistlines and macho muscles. In the end, it was Uttam Saliyan from Jai Bharat Sports Club who won the title of the "Mahapaur Shri -2002". He also bagged the "Best Poser" award.

"Ugavata Tara" (Rising star) team trophy went to "Spurti Vyayam Shala", whereas runners up were "Jai Bharat Sports Club" at Kharegaon, Kalwa.

Although the competition lasted only for a few hours, the sweat and toil that went into developing those impressive muscles should not be discounted.

The participants of the "Mahapaur Shri" competition looked inspired by none other than the world’s most famous bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once said, "My definition of a sport is that it’s a physical activity that involves competition. Since bodybuilders certainly train and then compete, we are certainly a sport."

Bodybuilding is one of the most underappreciated sports in this country, and such competitions will go a long way in getting this sport its rightful place under the sun.

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".

The Fake Terrorist

The Fake Terrorist

Mistrust among the people is growing, as was amply demonstrated in a BEST bus recently. It was about 4:30 pm and the 496 Ltd. had begun its journey from Thane Flyover to Andheri Station. When the bus reached Mulund Check Naka, a passenger noticed an "abandoned" suitcase lying on the front seat. The conductor inquired with the passengers if the suitcase belonged anyone of them. When nobody owned it up, fear began enveloping the passengers.

Soon, everyone was heard discussing what action should be taken. One passenger suggested that the bus be taken to the nearby fire station. Another proposed calling the police. Few passengers even tried to recollect if they had seen the "terrorist" slipping away. Patience was running out and the bus was finally evacuated at the Bhandup Police Chowki stop and the conductor informed the police station. A constable came to investigate but even he refused to take the "risk" of touching the bag.

The "case" was finally solved when a man from the next 496 Ltd. got down and came running to claim the bag. It turned out that he had mistakenly left his suitcase behind as he got off from the bus at the Thane flyover, which was the last stop.

A worthy Successor
Padmashri Padmaja Phenani-Joglekar is a household name amongst music lovers in Maharashtra. Last week, Thaneites had the privilege of listening to some vintage Marathi songs in her inimitable voice. She was at The Gadkari Rangayatan as part of a charity show.

During the show, the compere narrated an interesting anecdote about Padmajaji. Reporters at the New York Airport once asked Lata Mangeshkar which singer in her opinion was fit to be her successor? Lataji replied without hesitation, "There’s only one: Padmaja Phenani".

Recently, at a function in New Delhi, Padmajaji recited a few poems of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The PM was present too. The compere asked Padmajaji if she was nervous and overwhelmed by his presence. Ever humble and witty, she replied that India was indeed lucky to have such a sensitive poet-leader and that his presence and encouragement was re-assuring.

Once she started singing, she closed her eyes, as she usually does, lost in her melody, completely oblivious to her distinguished audience.

Wonder Kid’s Compassion
Amey Gawand’s compassion towards animals is really touching. This physically challenged child from Thane is extremely clever and won numerous competitions. His school friends have nicknamed him "the wonder kid" after Times of India carried a story on him last year with the same title.

When Amey was 6 years old, he created a profound impact on his father. Dr. Gawand, a self-professed, hard-core non-vegetarian, was preparing himself for his regular dish of chicken and meat, when Amey walked up to him and asked him a few straight-from-the-heart questions:

"Dad, can you give life to anybody?" "No", replied his father. "Then what right do you have, to take anyone’s life?"

"Fish, chicken… did they come and trouble you?" "No", said the doctor. "Then why do you trouble them?"

"Dad, I have seen small chicks gather under the hen for protection. This shows that they have a family. Would you like it, if someone troubles your family?" "Of course not, son" replied his father. "Then why do you trouble them?"

"If you really crave eating flesh, try eating tigers and lions. Why do you go after the helpless ones?" Dr. Gawand did not have an answer to this one.

Soon afterwards, he voluntarily left eating non-vegetarian food. His son’s questions had hit him real hard.

A hope for nature lovers
Of its many drawbacks, urbanisation’s toll on environmental balance is perhaps the biggest. But nature-lovers in Thane still have HOPE. Instituted by the Rotary Club of Thane, Here On Project Environment or HOPE, as its popularly known, is an active club of nature loving beings.

Don’t be too surprised if you see people of all ages, enthusiastically planting mangroves near the Kalwa Bridge. HOPE regularly organises such plantations, which go a long way in restoring and maintaining an ecological balance

A club dedicated to the environment, HOPE holds meetings every Saturday, between 7 and 9 in the evening. Environment experts, forest officers and HOPE members talk about their experiences and discuss future projects to deal with pollution, global warming, tiger conservation, illegal forest trade and more. These meetings are open for all and HOPE encourages nature-conscious Thane citizens to attend these meetings.

From time to time, HOPE also organises Nature treks and Workshops to teach new skills such as nature photography and garbage recycling.

The ever-increasing amounts of work in such fields require more dedicated members and HOPE invites collegians, housewives, retirees, and others with some free time to spare to come forth and join the organization. For more information, contact Shyam Ghate at 5422493.

"Good Health for Thane"
Yoga, which is enjoying growing popularity in the western countries, is also gripping Thane-ites. This can be gauged from the success of the Teachers’ course for Yoga conducted by Ghantali Mitra Mandal. This certificate course has initiated thousands of Yoga Teachers around the city since 1971. Young and old, from all walks of life, attend this course and then go on to spread the knowledge elsewhere.

The 10-week covers all the major aspects of Yoga, including history of Yoga, meditation, diet, the various asanas and pranayama etc. The organisation also holds focused programs on obesity, asthma, blood pressure and other stress related health problems.

Based on the tremendous success of these programs, the organization extended them new centres such as Gadkari Rangayatan, Sahyog Mandir and Shiv Malti Sabahgruh. The objective of the organization is to make the course and the programs available to as many people as possible.

Yoga is synonymous with stress reduction, and if practiced regularly, it is a very powerful healing and transformational tool. For those who wish to take the course or attend any of the programs conducted by the organisation, they may contact Ghantali Mitra Mandal at 5361349.