Friday, January 19, 2018

An orphan shows the way

I recently edited a copy by my senior colleague Dharmendra Jore, about a courageous young woman, Amrita Karvande, who has become an agent of change in Maharashtra. She led Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and his government to create a quota in education and jobs, albeit a small one, 1 per cent, for orphans in the state.

Karvande had met him after she scored good marks in a state service examination, but could not secure a job as she did not have any documents to prove her caste etc. Orphans are denied welfare benefits in education and jobs as they don’t have a quota. She met Fadnavis and he was moved to do something for people like her. Her decision helped bring into focus another section of people who are alienated from mainstream society. The quota will not only help orphans who have to leave orphanages after 18 years of age to get jobs, but even minor orphans in education.

Karvande grew up in an orphanage in Goa. One of her interviews states that her father left her at Matruchhaya in Ponda, and that is how she has a name. It took me back to the time when I was growing up in Goa and my parents had taken me to Matruchhaya.

My earliest memories of the place are of course, seeing many children there. And then, as a woman and man walked out with a baby, my mother saying, “See, that baby now has a home.”

Later, a girl, not much older than me, probably 8 or 10 years of age, insisted she was “coming home” with us. She rushed out and got into our taxi and refused to leave it. My father and the orphanage employees had a tough task at hand, but they managed to convince her she would be taken home “next time,” and then she stepped out.

Going home. Many of the kids would watch as one by one many of their friends disappeared to this “going home”. The others obviously wondered when they would do so. Or worry why they hadn’t yet.

Opposite Matruchhaya, stands the school that my father, Narayan Athawalay, built solely on the strength of his editorials in the Daily Gomantak, which got thousands of Goans to contribute to it. The Lokavishwas Pratishthan’s school began as a residential school for the deaf and mute, and now includes visually impaired and mentally challenged children as well.

The orphans at Matruchhaya we learnt, were very interested in the children (at the school) not far from their institute. Like them, they too stayed there. But this would change during the holidays. The orphans would poignantly ask where those children in the school had gone. They had gone home.

The outcome of Karvande’s courageous meeting with Fadnavis will help many orphans. While the rules and criteria for the quota may need to be changed, it has given orphans the one thing that they need most, hope.
Books, TV and films may portray them, but society may never fully understand what orphans have to face. Thanks to people like Karvande, slowly this will change, and orphans too, will be integrated into society, 100 per cent.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Move government houses to Borivali

It’s a shame that a minister, Nitin Gadkari, has spoken to the Indian Navy in an insulting manner. The union shipping minister’s pompous statement to the Indian Navy, “We are in power and not the navy or the defence ministry…” reeks of irresponsibility. And all because the Navy approached him to seek land for housing.

Gadkari claims the Navy has objected to developmental projects in Mumbai, especially towards a floating jetty at Malabar Hill. Hence his salvo. He has refused to give the Indian Navy land for housing.

But Gadkari should realise the Navy and its concerns are more important than his pet BOT ‘Build, operate and transfer’ projects. He should also not tell the defence forces to do their job, because they always do more than it. Which is why it is upto the country to ensure that whatever else they need, is given to them without issues. Why do our ‘leaders’ fail to understand our soldiers are more important than infrastructure?

Housing is a big headache for the forces, which may or may not have spoken about it. Gadkari says he does not want to part with prime land in south Mumbai. He should realise that our country has most of its land because of our defence forces, not our political leaders. Speaking of which, why do politicians have to stay in government houses in south Mumbai? They can stay in official residences beyond Borivali. Maharashtra can be governed from anywhere in the state. Demolishing government residences in south Mumbai will free more land for developmental projects. After all, as the prime minister said, he is ‘pradhan sevak’. So are all other ministers. Why then do they need lavish houses in south Mumbai?

But even if the Navy does not get more land for housing in south Mumbai, it is high time that its current residences there are rebuilt or repaired. Perhaps it needs more land to build new housing and shift those currently staying in dangerous quarters there. Most of their houses do seem very dangerous. Many houses for Army personnel are in the same condition. It is thanks to Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw’s vision that many houses were built for Army personnel, but they need urgent attention now. It is a sad fact that Indian defence personnel know that the Pakistani defence forces enjoy better attention in all these aspects.
It won’t make much difference if a developmental project does not take off in Mumbai. But it will surely be a matter of shame for all Indians if there is a mishap with houses belonging to our defence forces.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Urban bazaar

In many villages, there is the tradition of a weekly bazaar – a market where everyone comes and sells their produce or wares.
In our metropolis of Mumbai we have many markets, departmental stores, and of course, malls. But if we look for them, we too may find quaint little markets that give you the feel of those village bazaars. Here’s where you will find everything from costume jewellery to spices and utensils to plants.
There’s such a bazaar in my locality. A place where you can walk at leisure, and buy what you want. Sure, everything does not promise the kind of quality you are used to, but if you are lucky, you may come close to it… if you’re okay with that for once. If not, like me, just enjoy the feel of a village market in a city.

It’s in a small lane, this market. With stalls on both sides of the road, nearby housing societies' compound railings and even trees double up as stands for the wares.

Something for the kitchen?

Perhaps some bindis.

Or fake hair!

Also bangles, and baubles for the hair.

Ahem… bras too!

And there are always vegetables.

If its clothes you’re looking for, you’ll find those too. And woollens for the little winter we have.

The age of malls and online shopping is upon us. But sometimes, it’s strangely comforting to follow the old ways. To walk home with a bag of veggies after chatting with the vendor, instead of placing an order online. To hold costume jewellery and trying it on instead of paying for it online. Or simply, to walk in a little market watching others shop.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Pathare Prabhu wedding

I recently attended a relative’s wedding on the Pathare Prabhu side of the family. The Pathare Prabhus, as is known, are among the first settlers in Mumbai. They are distinct from other Maharashtrians in their language and culture. Their language is Marathi, but with usage of Gujarati words, as it is believed they came to Maharashtra from Gujarat in the 12th century. There is another story that says they came from Patan in Nepal.

They are known for their unique rangoli. They also have unique jewellery and even the type of saree a Pathare Prabhu bride wears at the wedding – kasbi - is different.
The wedding was traditional, and featured many of the community’s staples.

Some of the traditional parbhu jewellery includes the khelna, otherwise known as the waaki or bazu band, an arm band. See the bride’s mother wearing it.

My sister-in-law Ameeta Desai, the groom’s mother, is wearing motyache rui phula, a type of bangle. Most of her jewellery is made of pearls. Parbhus call the nath or nose ornament, the waali. Ameeta vahini is also wearing earrings called kaap.

See her gold veni

My other sister-in-law, Akshada Talpade, is wearing the kasbi saree, a Pathare Prabhu speciality. The border is handwoven jari work.

The bride, Shweta Kothare, in a pink saree before the phulabharna ceremony. This is a function held before the wedding, to get together the bride and groom and the new in-laws. The bride is given jewellery and clothes, and a festive meal is prepared. The bride is also bedecked with flowers.

Shweta in the saree given to her at phulabharna

Her sat or floral hair do. The traditional one has flowers in three colours.

The ankle-length floral mundawlya are also another Pathare Prabhu wedding speciality.

The newly-wedded couple, Akshay Desai – my second cousin’s son, and Shweta.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Dwayne Johnson Vrat = The Pebble Diet: Days 6, 7

It’s been a long time since I wrote about completing the Dwayne Johnson vrat. Yes, I did complete it. And successfully. I gained 12 gms.

Here is my breakfast for the final two days of the diet.
But sadly, gaining weight has always been a problem with me. Soon after I gained those gms, I had severe acidity and had to take treatment for it. I lost 2 kgs. So much for the vrat! But I may do it again.

Day 6

Day 7

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Dwayne Johnson Vrat = The Pebble Diet: Day 5

I think I've really taken to this eggy diet.
Today again I had fried eggs.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Dwayne Johnson Vrat = The Pebble Diet: Days 2,3,4

The diet is going on strong. The first day I didn't get hungry till dinner! But I think after that things are fine.

Day 2: I decided not to eat bread with the eggs.

Day3: Savoury scrambled eggs with green chillies, coriander and ginger.

Day 4: Savoury scrambled eggs again, with some appe.