Monday, November 30, 2009

From A Child's Perspective

After a day long of little work, little lazing... the best part of the day that I spend is probably some time spent with my little friends in the evening. These are kids from our colony who come out zooming on the bicycles after a hard day of schooling and instructions-to-follow all day.
And these kids come out zooming with an elan, they start calling each other and gather to play together. That's how I understand about their arrival and I jump out of the couch to meet them all. It is so much fun to see them all and listen to their innocent talks.

Yes, they do take out some time from play to chat with me :) They talk on various topics ranging from their hobbies to what they want to become when they grow up. They talk about the importance of playing for an hour at least everyday and they even know many things about following a good diet and the importance of having fruits, milk and few other nutritious foods! I am sure they can surely give a lesson or two to some of the 'i-know-all' elders! These smart little kids even quiz each other with the new lessons learnt at school.

Yesterday I was having some fun time with them and capturing their innocence in my camera. They sportingly posed for the camera and I loved that time spent with the gang. They all eagerly saw their pics on the camera screen and were very happy.

Later, our chatting resumed and that is when I got a very cute perspective about how kids develop a world of their own among themselves. "I did not have to learn the four-wheeler at all in the beginning. I directly started with the two-wheeler", was what one of them said very enthusiastically and proudly among rest of the gang. For a moment I felt I haven't catched the right words or something. The kids continued with their talks but, I was still wondering what exactly did that kid mean! In the meanwhile, they all had already zoomed out to take another round of their racing.

After sometime, one of them rode his bicycle from just next to where I was standing, still curious, and that is when I understood what the kid meant by a four-wheeler and a two-wheeler! For them, a four wheeler is a bicycle that has two supporting wheels and one without them is a two-wheeler! I was relieved that my curiosity finally mat the end but was amusingly wondering how these little kids think and relate to things around the big and yet undiscovered world.

One can definitely have a great time with kids around, and at the same time they unknowingly even provoke us to think about things we already know. There surely is a lot to discover from a child's perspective!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jai Ho

Both saffron parties joined hands with the Pawar baton,
And gave rise to the Pune Pattern!

They had then said, it is in public interest;
Or was it another way to manifest?

The common man understands their strategy,
As they are busy shaping their effigy!

Now, their political ambitions are to be saved from the burn,
So the Pune Pattern conveniently gets a U-turn!

They say it is in the interest of the public,
Or is it just another trick?

On the threshold of the polls, their wits start rising,
Believe it or not, but that’s the perfect timing!

Either this way or that way,
They never fail to make hay!

They joined hands for public interest; they parted ways for public interest,
To fool the public, one wonders; what is the secret of their zest?

To win the polls, is their goal;
They don’t realise, public suffers the toll!

Once together, later divorced;
In the process, common man is harassed and forced!

Their political math is revised for them to survive,
The turns and twists are as complex as a bee-hive!

They try and even test their gimmicks,
Nearing polls appear as political remix!

Once again they have a new trick to woo us,
This may have all possibilities to create another fuss!

We will queue at the polling booths as a sense of right and duty,
And later read the results over a cup of tea!

We will then get back to our tasks,
While politics will again behold new masks!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Maa Tujhe Salaam!

It is said that God could not be everywhere so He created Mothers! And rightly so!

Through our da-to-day life experiences, we observe number of occasions that humble us with the greatness of a mother. Be it our own mother, or somebody else's. A mother's heart beats with equal emotions and feelings for all.

I realised this very fact through a very unique experience couple of days back. After doing my day's work when I came back home in the evening, aai narrated an unusual incident that happened at home. A cat had entered aai's bedroom through the window with her just born baby in her mouth. She found the cupboard open and gently placed her baby inside it and left thereafter.

Aai and pappa started building their own guesses as to why the cat left her child in the cupboard. Maybe that was a safe place that she found for her child to protect it from the pouring rains. Besides, the place could also provide it with the much needed warmth that a new born baby needs. Whatever the reason was, the caring mother had definitely found a place for her child that would satisfy her concern.

On the other hand, aai was concerned too. She was worried about the kitten's safety inside the stuffed cupboard and also because there were all chances of anyone opening and closing the cupboard in a hurry, unaware of the presence of teh kitten inside. The best that they thought could be done is that to remove the kitten and keep it safely under a roof outside the house, but a little farther. Accordingly, it was placed on a mat outside, hoping that the cat could locate it though the place was changed.

Unfortunately, the cat couldn't find her child and kept making rounds of our home and particularly the cupboard where she had placed teh kitten. We all were frightened about the kitten's whereabouts, as the cat kept knocking the window glass the whole night with a hope to find her kitten at the very place where she had kept it safely. Her number of rounds to our home were reason enough for us to realise the pain that the mother's heart was going through as she could not see her baby anywhere. She spent a sleepless night for her child!

We did not take it up seriously enough initially and thought that she will eventually stop looking for the child in the house and start looking for it outside. But, in the night when the worried cat-mother still kept a watch at our home through the very same window that she had entered, made my aai feel sorry for her and also made her guilty of commiting as grave a sin as to part a mother from its child. Often, we humans take the other species for granted (many times mistakenly or unknowingly) and consider that all will be well eventually. However, this very incident sent us in a shock and we cursed our inhuman act shown toward the poor animal.

The first thing in the morning that my aai did was, to make way for the cat inside the house and in teh cupboard for her to be assured that her child was really nomore present there. Aai then offered the cat a bowl full of milk to drink as she was sure that teh cat must have left all her hunger and sleep aside, in search of her child. My mother's guess was right and the cat drank all the milk in no time! After all, a mother's heart was understood by another mother, but sadly after the cat-mother had to undergo immense pain for the loss of her child.

Aai then asked the neighbourhood gardener to fetch the kitten from where it was kept, (a supposedly better place than its mother had spotted in teh cupboard)! The kitten was safe and sound and that left my aai with a great relief from any untoward incident that our wild imaginations were haunting us for the entire night (and also must have haunted the kitten's mother too, to a larger extent). The cat was not around, but aai was sure that she would visit our house once again, in hope! The kitten was placed on the mat at the entrance of our house, this time in the open and under all our vigilant eyes for the kid.

Within a splash of time, the cat appeared from nowhere and took away her child, far away from our sight. It was then that the cat once again showed us that a mother's heart beats for the well-being for her child, always!

This incident was an eye-opener for us and it made us realise that though we act with an intent to help others in our own ways, it might still prove to be a dampner for others. Mistakes happen unknowingly, but if we work toward rectifying it, there is no other way to put down the burden of the sin from our heart. Also, a mother knows what is best for her child, even a cat-mother!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Unposted Letter

Mr. Prasad Purandare
Executive Chairman, Enduro3

Subject: Refusal to accept the Certificate of Merit

Dear Sir,

I am Urmishtha Jagtap, participant of the Enduro3 adventure race 2009. I was a participant in the Amateur Mix category, team Nucleus. Firstly, I would like to congratulate and appreciate the National Education Foundation for having started such a race that includes non conventional sports for adventure lovers. It was a pleasure to have participated in the race and more so, having successfully completed it.

Throughout the race, it tested a great deal of our physical and mental stamina. The day we started practicing for the race until it ended, we kept discovering and redefining our strength – both physical and mental - and performance. Our goal was to complete the race by going on till the end. And, we were happy to have completed the race that was a self accepted challenge to test our endurance and team spirit.

However, there was one thing that let me down in the end. We were given the ‘Certificate of Merit’ on the 9h of February 2009. Our enthusiasm was still at the peak even after toiling hard for almost 40 hours in the mighty Sahyadri Mountains, when we were present for the prize distribution ceremony. It was a moment of pride for us to receive appreciation, which unfortunately turned out to be an embarrassment for our efforts.

After having distributed the first 3 awards for each category on stage, rest of the participants were asked to queue at the right hand side corner next to the stage to collect their certificates. That itself felt like being ridiculed! The team leader of every team was in the queue and was handed over 3 certificates each, which neither had a mention of the participating member’s name nor the team name and the category on it! It was in its real sense, a Prize ‘Distribution’ Ceremony. It had to be accepted with a pinch of salt, which gave way to involuntary tears in our eyes – the same guys who I witnessed as tough as a rock during the entire race.

I personally feel, it was not fair on NEF’s part to give away blank certificates to us. We certainly did not deserve such a sour end to one of the most special chapters’ in our adventurous life. It felt as if we were being given some hand-outs for being present there. Simultaneously, there was a queue at the opposite side of the stage for snacks and tea/coffee. There seemed no difference between those who were in line for the snacks or the ‘certificates’. A little bit of efforts in penning down our names on the certificate is what was expected, which would have been gladly accepted like a pat on our back by the organizers.

Also, we had called the volunteers to confirm the timing of the award ceremony and we got different answers from different volunteers. Someone said it was at 18:30, someone asked us to come at 19:00. Following the discipline of time is an essential part of any adventures, races, sports, competitions – from the very beginning till the very end! And, especially when the ceremony was to be held on NDA’s land!

We had reached the venue sharp at 18:30, anticipating the strict discipline that would be followed. But, the repeated assurances of ‘please be seated, the show will begin in a short while’, made us wait for an hour an a half until the show commenced at 20:00 hours. I wonder if the participants were deliberately asked to come early whereas, the chief guest was told some other time. This cloud of doubt shadows the mind because the chief guest was from the army, and at least they are strict followers of time.

I do not know what have others felt about the whole thing, or if they felt anything at all. But I hope that my feelings are taken in the right and true sporting spirit. This letter is not meant in disregard of anyone in person. This issue could be a trivial one for NEF, but it was quite disturbing for me as a participant, and which can be a matter of different perceptions for either one. I should have written immediately after the event, but let it down every time I started to write. However, I had to write to you some day to express what I strongly felt.

Rest, it was a pleasure to have participated in and completed the race despite being opposed from home. Wishing NEF lot more adventurous years ahead for our quest for more adrenaline.

Cheers and Regards!
Urmishtha Jagtap

P.S. : Attached herewith is the Certificate of Merit that was handed over to us.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Breaking the Glass Ceiling - Gradually, but Definitely!

Indian politics witnessed history on 3rd June 2009 when Meira Kumar took charge as the first woman Lok Sabha Speaker! The country has had a golden period when women dared to come out of the clutches that binded them just for homely chores. It beholds an even better future to embrace many women firsts in varied fields! It gives a sense of pride to see the top 3 positions of our country are headed by women! Pratibhatai Patil, our President; Meira Kumar, Lok Sabha Chaieperson and Sonia Gandhi, President of the ruling party at the centre. Not only that, we have women heading other parties too, and also women who chair some of the important positions in active politics.

Our country also boasts of many ordinary women have gone out and outshone their male counterparts with their extraordinary talent and determination. Traditional beliefs of society that many fields of works are male dominated, are now changing as women are seen penetrating there too. There are many examples of such leading ladies who have left the other sex in awe. Indira Gandhi, Dr. Kiran Bedi, Lata Mangeshkar, P.T.Usha, Bachindri Pal, Barkha Dutt, are just few names that came across my mind randomly as I am typing. There are many many more...

Besides, women whom I have come across in my life have made lasting impressions and kept me wondering about the might of woman power! Right from my mother to women who have attained the peak of their carrer to selfless social workers and even those who work as domestic help! Be it any field. Politics, sports, entrepreneurship, activists or academics. Women have broken the glass ceiling and are still moving ahead.

However, the other side of the life that is imposed on women, is equally darker. Some sections of society still deny an equal living status for women. And that is not restricted to the rural areas, but has sadly also spread among the urban sections. The ugly dowry system still prevails in our society and many innocent women are victims of selfish desires of many. Ordinary, yet deserving women still have to face shut doors to many achievable opportunities, which are a result of either social or family bindings.

But, there still seems to be some hope for such women as the nation is progressing toward a bright future.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Remembering Chapalgaonkar Sir

A young, promising, energetic journalist as Vyankatesh Chapalgaongar was known for, it was sad to hear the tragic news of his untimely death that made headlines ... of the man who always strived to get to get to a logical conclusion of any news story he clinched!

Belonging to the same fraternity, I have always had respect for Sir, who was scaling new heights in this field and was unoubtedly one of teh finest marathi journalists'. I have never had an opportunity to meet him personally, but the charizma that would reflect from his persona as we would watch him reporting from the front was enough to understand his passion for his work, which I have been hearing since college days while studying mass communication.

It was a terrible jolt to hear news of the mishap that took place. May his soul rest in peace!