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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

I am at the receiving end ~ Part 6

Help just arrives silently on tiptoes

Most of my friends, who know about my activities with Special children, express their desire to help, (almost everybody whom I have met have shown me that spark) but I am always at loss of words when they ask me how they can help, I truly don't know what to say and the first thing that comes to my mind is funding for the activities and giving monetary help to that school.

Money is the basic requirement for any project to keep afloat

But over the years I have realized that monetary help is not the only way that one can help , there are many more ways to show their support, which can done voluntarily or just by spreading awareness. Knowledge can be shared in many ways and there are many people out there who are not even aware that mentally challenged children can be trained and can contribute to the society if properly channelized.

It is just the matter of connecting the children through the right source, by creating opportunities for them so that they too can contribute in their small way and fit into the groove.

Word of mouth is the powerful medium of link

At this moment I would like to mention three of my FB friends who are doing just that.

Swagat Sen, who is documentary filmmaker and media fanatic, I know him from Ryze days when we used to share art and paintings on one art-forum. When he is not working, he spends lot of time reading, sharing links and spreading social messages on FB. I am so grateful to Swagat, for regularly spreading awareness about my school to his friends circle in biosphere.

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan, is a FB friend from Mumbai writers’ group. While most of the people spend their holidays, relaxing or enjoying with their family and friends, Raamesh donates his Saturday mornings voluntarily helping in the administrative work at school. He has become the integral part of the school and the teachers and students at school look forward to his regular weekly visits.

Pallavi Subramanium, a housewife from London and a very dear friend is the new entrant to my family of well wishers. She is the sponsor of one student and pays fees for the education, travelling and extra-curriculum activities of one child, making it possible for the child to avail of the facilities needed for training and education under an experienced teacher.

During this ‘Joy of Giving’ week, I take this opportunity to thank my friends Swagat, Raamesh and Pallavi for reaching out to special children and making a difference into their life.

Thank you so much!!

I am at the receiving end ~ Part 5

Colorful Wall of Love

The day I drove down the Tulsi Pipe road in Mumbai and saw those wonderful paintings on the wall separating the railway lines from a busy road, I wanted that art work on my school walls too. Art has a special way of lifting up the spirit and taking one to a spiritual mode. I was thinking of how lively children would feel with vibrant colors in the school, how by adding texture and form to the walls, it could enhance their visual element, and how good they would feel seeing their art work so loud and clear.

I called up Parag Gandhi (the member of the Wall project) to help me paint the walls of my school and he was most willing to help. He asked me to get in touch with his co-worker Dhanya Pilo, who would advise me on all the things that we would need before the real event.

I removed few pictures of the empty walls that needed painting, mainly the walls of the school facing the street. All the colors and materials were purchased and one Sunday morning, (on 20th September 2009) children, their parents and the locals living nearby were invited to participate in the wall project.

Parag Gandhi, Dhanya Pilo, Nitya Amarnath, Rachna Kapoor and their team arrived at school, with their creative ideas packed into their mind, not knowing what the final results would be. The vibrant colors and brushes of all sizes lay before them. The Special children, and their family and friends looked at them curiously...... waiting.....till...the first paint box was open,…. the colors distracted them and with the brush in their hands, the artistic emotions spilled over.

Soon all the children picked up the brushes and the box of paints, they dragged their parents to the wall overlooking the street and together they splashed the paints on the wall. The colors have a certain kind of magic, within one hour, more than hundred people were painting the walls, when there was no space left on the outside wall, they walked in and within four hours all the walls, inside out , were painted with motifs, cartoon characters, flowers, scenery .

What we saw at the end of the day cannot be defined in words….

Images of the day from school walls had a colorful story to tell...

Children were very excited to show off their work to ones who had missed the event.....there was surprised look from parents and teachers too who were feeling bad that they could not witness such a great event.

One child (sibling to special child) said, "I didn't know that we were going to paint a wall, I thought I am just going to see some people paint in a sketch book but I was feeling so good painting on the wall! It was so much fun!!"

The wall looks good and attracts the passerby.

During this ‘Joy of Giving week’, I wish to show my appreciation to the members of wall project - Parag Gandhi, Dhanya Pilo, Nitya Amarnath, Rachna Kapoor – who helped us paint the wall of love

Thank you so much!!!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

I am the receiving end ~ part 4

                                            IBYS – The big brother

This is the week to show my appreciation to people who care……

Each time I go to Tenerife, I always visit IBYS (International British Yeoward School).

During my last visit, I made a power presentation of Swami Brahmananad Pratishthan for the group of IBYS students. After my power presentation, a 7-years-old young boy came up to me and asked me if he could help those children in India. I was so touched by his interest for those children whom he had never ever met that I cuddled him closer and explained to him about mental retardation.

The students were moved by my presentation, and they organized a boot sale and a fund raising program where they sold cakes, pastries and other delicacies made by them. Before I left for India, they invited me again to the school and handed over 500 Euros for the kids.

IBYS is the school for elite who have helped our school since last eight years.

In 2002 Mrs Linklater and Mr. Arthur (the staff members) decided to step in and give us a hand on our very huge project called “Project-50” which would enable an additional fifty students to be accommodated in our school for vocational activities. The expansion of our school meant a large expense for a brand new Vocational unit to be built on a totally new floor. The school under their guidance organized various bazaars , fairs etc and contributed partly for this project.

Since last eight years, our relationship with this school has matured. They helped sponsor our 'Go Green' project, whereby children are trained in gardening and are able to earn a little stipend by selling the sapling

For our children who were finding it difficult to use the public transport, IBYS collected funds and helped us to buy a mini bus for the school.

Over the period, their regular funds have been used to furnish the different classroom. As recent as in May 2010, kitchen articles were also purchased for our vocational unit.

We have two students who are sponsored by them; the expenses cover everything, education, uniform and activities.

During this ‘Joy of Giving week, I would like to show my appreciation to these 2 wonderful teachers, Mrs Margaret Linklater and Mr. Kevin Arthur, and the students of IBYS, who have sacrificed so much for a small school , in a distant land , a modest school for the mentally challenged which has really spent a long time struggling to stay afloat .

Thank you so much!!!

Monday, 27 September 2010

I am at the receiving end ~ part 3

FB status message has weight

One good thing I like about the facebook is the status updates.

I spend more than thirty minutes per day, reading my friend’s updates. “What’s on your mind?’ it says and I am highly amused reading the thoughts of my friends, sometimes in verse and sometimes in quotes. Some are funny, some are silly, some just crib and some are very informative.


Some status messages on Facebook have some weight and this I discovered when I saw Mayuri Shaarma’s status.

Her status messages are appreciated in blogosphere; they are witty and fun to read. Many people have suggested to her to jot down the messages for a future book sale (of that I am jealous, heheehehe, nah, actually envious)

During the Rakhi festival, she purchased some rakhis made by the kids of the Special School, these were simple Rakhis, some vibrant colorful threads with small beads meticulously strung together and she had loved them. One day she surprised me by posting her status message that mentioned me, “Earn some karmic points, by buying beautiful Rakhi’s from Swayam. Contact ‘Pushpa Moorjani’ for more details.”

This status had great results. Many of her friends hopped over into my friend list and many of her friends contacted me to ask for details. Such wonderful friends she has. Not only did they help in sale of Rakhis but have also been associated indirectly with the school. Her friend Jyotsana Kumar is blogger who writes regularly about the problems faced by the parent’s of MR Child, her blog is very informative and beneficial to the parents of our students and it is now linked with the school blog.

Her other friend, Mamta Khatiwala, who lives in USA, ordered more Rakhis than what she would need and paid generously for it, all this for the school that she has never visited but heard about it from Mayuri’s FB status.

What was more, she sold those extra rakhis to her friends and collected more funds for the school, her reason being that she would normally purchas rakhis in her home town for around $2-$4 and they were so pathetic. She felt cheated when she was forced to buy them because she believed that those were the left over Rakhi's that our Desi Bandhu's ( store owners) got from India and sold them there at premium price & people like them bought it as they had no choice.

“I sincerely believe that God has his ways to pick people and bless them by sending opportunities as such!” says Mamta

How true!!

Blessed are those who get these opportunities to meet such people who connect them with the other world and lucky are the kids at my school.

During this ‘Joy of Giving’ week, I take this opportunity to thank these three young ladies.

Thank you Jyotsana and Mamta, Thank you Mayuri, IOU big time!!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

I am at a receiving end ~ Part 2

Power of Internet

Four years ago, much before I discovered Facebook, I was an active Ryzer. I took part in daily discussion at different forums and made many friends. Many times the friendship extended to private messages that had tightened my friendship with many people and they had seeped into my closer circles.

Inner strength and compassion can make one touch the person whom one has never physically met. The distance between two people depends on common interest. Two people sitting in the same room may be miles apart, on the other hand if one truly cares, the distance diminishes and all that matters is the interest in sharing the moments that lead to the common goal of happiness. The person who finds such friends is the luckiest one.

And I am truly blessed with many such good friends!!

Vimmi Jaggi (Vee Jay) is one of those friends whom I came in contact during those days, four years ago. She would send me private messages and we would exchange notes. She expressed her admiration for my work and wanted to help my school. One night I stayed up late to have long chat with her. I had never before spoken to any stranger online. This was my complete new experience. It was the first time that I realized the power of internet. I became aware that there are many people out there who can be reached by only ‘words’, that you don’t have to physically touch the person to see whether they care, that as long as you do things with a clean heart, the universe provides the opportunities.

I was hesitant to talk, I am not used to talking with strangers, I would only chat on msn with my family members and close friends who are spread around the world, Vee Jay was the first stranger to whom I spoke online and she made me comfortable and listened patiently as we discussed the activities of my school, Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan, Centre for Mentally Challenged; she was impressed and she ordered two hundred dollars worth of greeting cards and a painting in oils made by the children of my school. She helped sell those cards to her friends in USA and spread the awareness about my school.

Our friendship has come a long way. I have never met her till now, someday I will. Every time we chat, she will inquire about the school and their activities and she is very keen to visit my school when she visits me in Mumbai in future, someday. She has helped spread the awareness about this school to all her friends in her circle.

During this ‘Joy of Giving’ week, I take this opportunity to thank my friend Vimmi for showing me the power of internet and helping me spread awareness about my school to the unknown world.

Thank you Vimz , thank you so much!!!

Friday, 24 September 2010

I am at the receiving end ~ Part 1

The Joy of Giving week starts on 26th September and I have been at the receiving end.

I am blessed with well wishers who admire my work with ‘Mentally Challenged children at Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan’ and they have extended their hand, reached out to me and have helped me to certain extend in helping me follow my dream,

So what is my dream?

It’s a simple dream of empowering the mentally challenged to lead a better life. I can never change their physical handicap, it is something that they are born with and they have to learn to live with, I cannot even change their living conditions, actually I can hardly change a thing but this is my feeble attempt to bring a smile to their faces by trying to help them in which-ever-way I can.

And for this, I am grateful to my friends and well-wishers for their moral and their financial support.

The next week, during this ‘Joy of Giving’ week, I will dedicate one post per day to show my appreciation to my friends who have cross my path, turned back and walked a mile with me.

So, watch out this space………

Friday, 17 September 2010

Sweating over 500-rupee-note

source: banknotes

I was in two minds today, either go to ‘Arena Animation Class’ for Flash practice or go to school for some updates.

I am all ready at 12 noon, I wanted to go to ‘Arena’ but I know that the instructor may not even bother to teach me any new tricks on animation because he does that only every alternate days and today is not that day, so by the time I have walked out of my gate, hailed an auto, I say ‘Bandra Bus station’

I am lucky that the auto overtakes my bus in time for me to board it.

I settle in the front seat just behind the driver all set for the 90 minutes trip, the cool AC breeze just above my head has no regulator. *Oh dear*! I have my BlackBerry to keep me away from other distractions.

The conductor comes to my seat and I give him 500-rupee-note and tell him “Belapur, CBD.”

“Give me the change, I won’t take your 500-rupee-note” he says

*What the hell* the bus ticket is Rs60 and he wants a smaller note? How can he not have a change?

“I have no change. My journey is long, you may give me the change at the end of the journey, and there is lots of time.” I say, as I fumble with my reading glasses.

“We don’t accept 500-rupee-notes” he says

Now this is news for me. A public bus does not accept big notes and they have no change? Are they afraid of fake notes that are doing the rounds in the city nowadays?

They want no risk.

*Thinking if those Babus will also stop accepting Rs500 in bribes*

“So what you want me to do? I don’t have smaller notes.”

“In that case you cannot travel in this bus.”

Huh? He is asking me to de-board the bus because I have bigger notes? *I have heard about people being asked to de-board if they have been pickpocketed and are not having any cash on them" but this? This is ridiculous.

I ask the girl sitting next to me to move over so that I can get off the bus. She is sorry for me and asks me to request the people in the bus for a change of 500-rupee-note.

*How silly it will look if I flash my 500-note, seat by seat, asking each commuter for a change?*

I am in no mood to draw the attention to myself, the bus is moving quite slowly, actually crawling, and there is too much traffic jam. I ask the driver to wait while a get the change from the shop outside.

None of the shops oblige. Nobody has 500-rupee change!! I never knew this was such a big note!

The driver is getting restless and refuses to wait.

*Go to hell* I wave out to him and he drives away.

Now I am desperate. I enter a fast food kiosk and he is willing to give me the change but, only if I give him some business.

I am not hungry, nor I am thirsty but order a bottle of orange juice.

With this unnecessary extra baggage of this juice bottle dangling by my fingers, I am too lazy for a long trip, I decide to go to ‘Arena Animation class’ instead.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

One Evening Out.....Offline

This is one of those evenings when my friends hijack my evening hours and wean me away from my computer screen.

“Actually speaking, evening is for strolling and socializing” (argues my offline friends) “its not for gluing on to the insensitive machine,”

Insensitive machine?? hmmn!! Well, they are unaware of the big range of activities of my dearest virtual friends with whom I have some 'mousy' fun round the clock, and otherwise also, I do have Saturdays reserved for my offline other friends, yeah! I do!! But still, this is one of those evenings when my offline friends insist that I walk down the stairs and interact with them out in the open air.


So I have two invitations today, a stroll by the seashore for an evening breeze and later to visit another friend for Ganpati pooja.

At 6pm I get one more reminder call to get me off my butt, and I say goodbye to my 'dahlink' machine and off we go to the Jogger’s park at Carter road.

It’s worth it!

The cool breeze and the beautiful sunset, the sky changing colors every minute with sun playing hide-n-seek games behind the clouds, throwing reddish to pinkish colors around the clouds’ lining creating an artistic pattern on the sky’s belly with harmonious reflections of sky on the sea below, such is the sight I bathe in.

We aimlessly walk around a circular, concrete path for next twenty minutes . At one node there was a gardener! a rabbit.. chewing up the grass….(recently I have been seeing animals at many public parks chewing up the over-grown grass, other day I even saw few donkeys on the road dividers chewing up the grass, creating a nice manicured strips in the middle of the busy road, I was thinking if the animals were purposely put there to save the cost of the labor and create food opportunities for the animal and get free fertilizers’ in return??)

After four rounds of the park, the beads of perspiration trickled down my back and I sat down facing the birds cage, watching the children play.. It’s a treat, indeed. A two year old child walks up the muddy path, her tiny feet slipping on minute rolling pebbles and she squeaks…aw!! her four-year-old brother runs and holds her hand protecting her from further scratches…and there is pleasure and joy watching these two kids and I am glad that I am here to witness this.

After one hour of such pleasures, we head towards my other friend’s home for Ganpati Pooja.

‘So very glad that you could come” says my friend with a friendly hug and I am led into her room that is occupied by Lord Ganesha sitting with flute( flute?? yeah, I am wondering too) , half of her room is occupied with the decoration for Ganpati with plates containing flowers, sweets, fruits, lamps, savories all spread in front on the floor. Pundit sits near the idol performing some rituals while there is CD music singing hymns in the background. I occupy the comfy couch and we wait till the room fills in with more invitees. (and devotees).

There is a certain kind of vibrations that uplifts the mind to the higher zones, filling me with the kind of feeling that is difficult to explain.

I am not an idol worshipper, nor do I visit any religious concrete structures for spiritual contentment, I don’t follow any rituals nor chant any rhythmic verses, I have always found spiritual strength within me, it is something that is there within and can be felt every moment, it is the harmony within oneself that helps me communicate with outside world in a pleasant way and but here I was, staring at Ganesha’s eyes and feeling the profound joy.

The pundit immersed the flower into the container of water and sprinkled the drops up in the air, lighting the lamps with camphor in one lamp and oil into the other, he started chanting prayer, then suddenly, the blasting music from CD ranted the aarti “Jai Ganesha, Jai Ganesh, Jai Ganesha deva. Mata teri Parvati, pita Mahadeva” The music so loud that I thought that Ganesha was uncomfortable too..(I was thinking of all the ear specialist in that area who would have a fantastic business after the festival) I am sure all of Mumbai could hear it, plus the heavenly abodes up above, where all other Gods reside. Why didn’t they allow punditji to chant the aarti instead? Had he forgotten his lines? The aarti went on for next twenty minutes with each person in the room taking their turn to hold the plate containing the lighted oil lamps and swinging it in front of the idol of Ganesha. Soon the room was filled with too much smoke from camphor. So much smoke in the room that any asthmatic person (like Dimple Khanna in movie Debangg) would have met an instant death. Everybody in the room was chanting the hymns with teary eyes.

And then there was silence.

But only for a moment and then it was punditji’s turn again to chant more hymns. Flower petals were distributed to everybody and they all threw the fist full aiming at Ganesha but not really succeeding, there were many flower petals on my head too.

The delicious part was the Prasad, (of course) a banana, an apple, dry spicy channa, modak, dry bhel, chikki, dhokla, veg cutlet, stuffed patties, coconut chutney. Yum!!!

Hmmn!! skipped dinner…and back into my virtual world. Hahahaa!!!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Elements in our nature

During one of the sessions at the workshop that I was attending on Management Development Program, we were divided into five groups representing five elements in nature: Space, air, water, fire and earth.

Each group had to write the qualities most suitable for that element.

The groups came up with wonderful results

The characteristics of space could be free, creative, curious, mysterious, limitless with no boundaries

That of fire is heat, uncontrollable distruction, aggressive, rising upwards, bright light, contagious. Can spread easily, calmed by water

The characteristics of water is free flowing, mingles with anything and get molded in it, always flowing downwards, creative,

Those of Earth is stable, firm, trust-worthy, firm

And that of air is free, creative, adventurous, daring, and open to ideas, more accommodating, universal and versatile.

These characteristic were then compared with humans and how the presence of elements in person shapes the person’s character. That explains that why we can jell with few people and other we cannot tolerate. A person with more of 'air ' element is more creative and he might find it difficult to understand the person with 'earth' element who may be stubborn and with strict values.

It is easy to be tolerant to people if we just understand what elements are stronger in them and what is the reason behind person’s behavior. Our personality is the combination of five elements, some elements stronger than the others. If we work against our nature then there is conflict and then stress and then depression.

We then wrote a bit about ourselves and I made the list of my own characteristics

Looking within, I discovered that I am creative, I cannot repeat anything twice, many times people ask me to make the same food I cannot reproduce the same taste…I like to lead and inspire people, I can make decisions independently. I am caring and more accommodating to other’s needs and am willing to walk an extra mile to make somebody smile. I am outgoing type and love adventure, like to try new stuff and am willing to take risk. I make few selected friends and look for long durable friendship. I never talk to people just for time-pass, I would rather read a book. On the negative side I am too sensitive and sometimes a recluse.

Thus, I discovered that I have more of air and water element. I keep away from people with fire element, because I hate loud noises and aggressive people and those with earth element who are stubborn and unwilling to go with the flow.

So, what element is stronger in you??

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