Sunday, 20 August 2017

When School Teaches a Lesson

We went to Angaon School today. The weather was unusually unfriendly. It was raining incessantly.

We had decided to assemble at Korum Mall and then proceed together. Before I could reach, Sridhar had already arrived. I looked for him. He was standing under a canopy to protect himself from the rain. There is something about Mumbai’s culture – it teaches you to value punctuality.
As we chatted Pooja called up to say that Sandeep and she would arrive in three minutes. They did. Sandeep turned and reversed his car so that we can get in to it without getting wet. Then came Gopal, and Mondkars. Kulkarnis followed in their red M&M car.

I hopped in Kulkarni’s car. The road was not bad. We reached Angaon.
The school trustees were waiting for us.

Rotary Club of Thane Metro gifted an e-Learning product to the school. It is one of the best products, if not the best. It is also expensive – it costs over Rs 2 Lakhs.

In my brief speech I also announced that we were giving the contract for fitting two Solar Power Systems to Powermax Ltd. It is a contract worth Rs 15 Lakhs.

I mentioned that any Rotary Club will give you such products, and we had really done nothing different from other clubs. Our distinction lied in our approach. We are looking at partnering with the school to develop the character of students and not providing teaching aids or amenities.

This thought clicked with the trustees. Within our club we have a wealth of talent which can be utilised by the school in increasing the effectiveness of learning, or in educating the students. The trustees said they looked forward to long term association with us.

We have also learnt some important lessons. Firstly, there is no dearth of money if you wish to do good work – good selfless work. Secondly, things work well if you spend sufficient time planning it. Thirdly, listening to the ‘customer’ tells you what needs to be done.

We know these lessons. It is just that when everything works well, you rediscover them!

Vivek Patwardhan

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Why Interviews Entertain Us

Interviews are always very entertaining. Sometimes to the interviewer, sometimes to the interviewee, and rarely to both.
At our Club, not only the interviewer and interviewee but the audience also enjoy the interviews.
The rule is simple: Everybody must be interviewed so that we get to know the Rotarian better, but old Rotarians do bossing and get new members-Rotarians interviewed.
We interviewed Umesh Rungta. He is a finance and strategy man. What’s his hobby? [No marks for guessing] he collects coins – old coins I mean. The oldest coin in his collection is about 200 years old! And his daughter has now taken to the same hobby.

Gopal’s interview evoked laughter when he was asked how his wife will describe him in three words. Gopal Khanchandani is a person who laughs easily – he answered sincerely. Veena nodded indicating he spoke truthfully.
Marriage stories – ‘how I met my wife’ – never stop entertaining people. I won’t tell you any here.
Amrita Koli described her journey from learning to make tea to a culinary buff. She is a physio and specialises in aqua therapy.
Interviews, I believe allow us to satisfy our one desire we will never admit to. It is about peeping in the other person’s life. And we discover that each person has a personality which is kaleidoscopic.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Rotarians As Warriors

Col Rajan Phadke addressed our Club on Kargil War. The war stories are thrillers. They inspire. Kargil episode makes a great inspiring story, and Col. Rajan Phadke is a great story teller too!

Wars are destructive, and wars rarely end a conflict. Sometimes however, a war becomes inevitable. Such wars must be fought. And the warriors are remembered for gallantry. They are remembered for the courage and commitment.

Some wars have no animal or person as enemy. Take was against poverty for example, or literacy. Or the war against polio!

It is here that Rotary comes in. In a sense, Rotary is an army. It is an army of very committed warriors who are fighting many a social evil. And tis army is fighting to create a better world for all citizens.

Your Rotary Club will do its role in supporting good quality education by handing over e-learning kit to the School. And this is only the first step.
In real life, a war need not be a physical war. Fighting the devil inside our mind is the biggest of all wars. One must redefine ‘commitment’ for himself.

For this purpose, there is no better institution than Rotary. Do associate and involve yourself in every activity of our Club.

Vivek S Patwardhan

Saturday, 22 July 2017

When Poetry [Re] Enters Your Life

I casually suggested Surekha Mondkar to hold one session on poetry. We called it ‘Kavi Sammelan’ initially then changed it to ‘Kavya-Vachan’. Surekha readily accepted.
“Don’t read out your Limericks or Vatratika” my DW [Darling Wife] said, “It does not go with your age.” This is what happens to aspiring poets. They are brought down to terra firma with a thud!

“I am not reading my poems, Surekha is making her choice. She will decide.”

Surekha was completely engrossed in this assignment which she had enthusiastically accepted. She planned the program comprehensively.
She asked me to make announcements on WhatsApp and FB page. She discussed the seating arrangements, the way microphones were to be placed. And even when the snacks were to be served. Snacks and Coffee were served before start of the program to ensure that the poets in the audience did not write angry poems on the event. Smart trick!

Surekha is a total poetry person. Her study of Marathi poetry is deep and insightful. She covered who wrote the first poetry in this world. [Do you know? If you don’t, start attending Rotary Meetings, friend!]. She also talked about the first poetry in Marathi.

Then about various poets and their hallmark – Acharya Atre’s parody -‘Zhenduchi Phule’ for instance. That reminds me we also have a parody writer among us. Who’s that? Hemant Mondkar. He wrote it on demand! Way to go, man!

I expected him to write parody on a love song. His parody talked about his ‘Khane – Pine’, Dine and Wine in other words. Sir ji, what you did was interesting. And I understand you; I mean how you could have sung a song on beautiful persons in the presence of your DW who was chairing the show. That’s unthinkable!

Ajit Apte was a Chupa Rustom. He sang a ghazal, and sang it well. We never knew this soft and sensitive aspect of Ajit. Your image in our eyes has soared sky high Ajit. As they say, once a romantic, always a romantic!
We deeply suspect you must have written interesting poetry in your younger days. It is time to do some fact finding. Come Clean Ajit!

What amazed me was the number of persons who wrote poetry. And the variety of expressions. The choice of poetry, when they recited poems written by others also showed a rich appreciation of the finer points of ‘life and letters.’ Thane will soon be declared as the City of Poets.

Mrs Dhuru also read out her poems. She covered every day experience so well, and the metaphor of carom game was so well used.

The star was Ashwini. She read out her poems. Simple, metered, conveying feelings and using imagery so well. Pravinbhai pointed out that Marathi is her ‘mother tongue’ with a tongue-in-cheek comment he is known to make. No dispute there, Sir ji.

Mangala ended the show by reciting humorous one on the typical behaviour of various zodiac signs. Enjoyed!

And how we missed our kind hearted, sensitive Rotarian. Sandeep, I mean. Sandeep and I share a common feeling. Poetry not sung well drives us nuts literally [which goes well with Beer]. Well, more about it some other time.
Vivek S Patwardhan