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

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Synchronicity At The First Step

There is synchronicity, I thought. Carl Jung said synchronicity refers to the concept that which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related. If you believe in them, your mind searches for meaning. 

The meaning exists only for you. Others may laugh it off, but you won’t.
It was one of those days.

My Rotarian friends and I visited the Angaon. Every trip to Angaon is an eye opener. We were there for tree plantation. A volunteer took me and a few others to the field where the trees were to be planted. Heavy rains had made the field lush green with grass everywhere.

I stepped on to the grass. I checked my steps. Fear gripped me as it does when I step on thick grass cover. A friend held my hand. He perhaps felt that I was extra cautious to avoid slipping and falling down. I avoided speaking to him. I was not afraid of falling down; I was scared of reptiles. It is unreasonable fear I know; the volunteer had walked ahead of me without even looking down at the grass. Fear is irrational, logic does not cure it.

With some courage I moved forward. The volunteer pointed to the spot where they had dug a pit. He asked me to put the sapling and cover its roots with enough soil. I did. I noticed familiar shape of leaves. ‘Karanja’ I said. The volunteer nodded his head in approval. The botanist in me understands it as Millettia pinnata or Pongamia pinnata.

But that is not how I relate to the plant. The deity which rules our family is ‘Karanjeshwari’ which was found in the bushes of Karanja plant. The Goddess is worshipped and derives its name obviously from the tree. I was given the Karanja sapling to plant. What a coincidence! Tree plantation was the first major step I had taken after taking over as President of the Rotary Club of Thane Metro. And it had begun with the very tree from which our family deity takes her name!

What was the divine message? Was it to take a step without fear? Or was it to indicate that for good work there will be celestial blessings? Or was it both? I would like to believe so.

The oil extracted from Karanja seeds is not edible; it is used as insecticide! Oh, perhaps I am reading too much in the coincidence. Be that as it may, it gives me immense confidence and energy to move forward with decisive steps to execute plans of our Club. Those plans which will impact lives of a few families. 

And I know you are supporting me, my fellow Rotarians, yet I appeal you to join hands with me. We have a long road ahead. We are short of resources, but we have big dreams. With this ominous beginning, I feel that the “universe is conspiring!”

Vivek S Patwardhan

Saturday, 8 July 2017

While Taking The First Step

There is always excitement about anything you do first. You have an inkling about what is in store, yet you are also aware that there would be unforeseen situations which one is not prepared for. 

It was the first meeting of my tenure as President of the Rotary Club of Thane Metro. AG Krishna Saraf attended the meeting to bolster my confidence, and his words were very soothing. 

I am aware that there is a long march ahead. The first decision which I expected to generate some heated debate was taken unanimously and without any resistance. That was a big surprise! It was about raising the membership fee to Rs 18,000/- per annum. Not a whimper of dissent? Wow! That beats me completely! I am touched by your support, my fellow Rotarians!!

It puts great burden on me to live up to your expectations. But only lucky persons face such a situation. On my part I assure you that I will give my best.

On a lighter note, I told AG Krishna that like him my profession also was concerned with ‘Interior Designing.’ ‘Interior Redesigning’ to be precise. He works on outer spaces, while as HR professional I work on ‘inner spaces.’ 

I never knew that my fellow Rotarians know that trade of working on inner spaces so well. They have, through their support and encouragement, touched my heart. I am acutely aware that the road ahead is not an easy terrain to travel. I have faith in my fellow Rotarians’ ability to stand by me through the thick and the thin. It is for me to take a quick step, the first step. 

And as Dr Martin Luther King said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Thanks fellow Rotarians and AG Krishna for being with me!

Vivek S Patwardhan