Same Day. Four years back.

I had written this for my dad’s 50th birthday- 4 years back! Ironically, it makes much more sense to me today! That time it was a sentiment, but today it is vehemence to be – him! Here goes it…

 

Because you are so full of respect for your elders…
…I have learnt that the best classroom is at the feet of an elderly person!

Because of your practical approach to life…
…I have learnt that ignoring facts do not change the facts!

Because of the naughty side that there is to you…
…I have learnt that it is not necessary to “Be Serious” to be serious about life!

Because of your living-by-the-minute attitude…
…I have learnt that expectations and apprehension of the future lead you nowhere!

Because of your perfect playing of roles – “Sir” and “Dad”…
…I have learnt that to fly high, you need to be firmly grounded!

Because of your strength and firmness in any situation…
…I have learnt that fear is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real!

Because of your child-likeness…
…I have learnt it is still possible to be 5 when you are 50!

Because you are YOU…
…I have learnt that i still have a lot to learn!

i(am)MAD

Oh yes totally! iMAD – I Make A Difference – is a Nashik based youth organisation, working hard to bring smiles on the faces of the lesser privileged kids in the society, and are striving to equip them to retain the smiles for the rest of their lives.

Simply put, it is really only that!

But there is an entire process to it. The beauty of this process, because we are relatively new, is the flexibility of the ideas and their execution. There are no set rules or pattern in the way learning is delivered – it is done in the best possible way that we know at that moment. And that not only is fun, but is much more productive than a pre-set traditional unidirectional way of doing things.

How is it different from any school or tuition out there, you may ask! The program is driven by 20-something volunteers, who even now are victims of the dull monotonous education system. We all have 20 years of experience of being ‘schooled’, and hence are well aware of what not to do with these children. With that out of the way, it is just innovation and creativity in making learning fun, making it a dialogue, a discussion, in injecting the thirst for knowledge, in all-round development, in exposure to the ways of the “real” world, in empowering the kids, and fabricating them to be passion driven human beings.

And this  organisation is led by someone who practices what he preaches, since Siddhant was merely 20 year old civil engineering student, when he started this organisation, and made it tremendously successful in very less time. It grew from a 5 volunteers organisation to a 150 volunteers organisation is less than three years!

We currently have three centres in Nashik, and have been invited to start a fourth one as well. We work in seasons of 3 months, twice a year, considering the exam and vacation schedule of the kids. In the remaining six months, we analyse our methods, discuss our ways of tackling different situations, and how can we better them. These are more crucial months, because this is where our foundation for the next season is laid, not only in terms of syllabus planning, but also in the way it is delivered.

Apart from all the sessions we have at personal level once a week, we are trying to make an impact in their lives on an everyday basis. Consequently, we are working on installing iCOMP – a computer with all the relevant data included, and made accessible in more fun ways to the kids in their hostel premises. More on that later.

All I can say, with personal experience, is that it really is just a farce thinking that we are making a difference to their life, while in reality, those few hours are just an investment to a fulfilling and enriching experience we have, which in due course shapes us as leaders, as people and makes a world of a difference to our lives. I bet every volunteer will second that.

PS – If you are in Nashik, and are interested to join us, or can help us in any way possible to you, please contact the president of iMAD Siddhant Borade – 9545861100.

A Very Colourful White-Wedding!

A few days back, I attended a traditional Belgian wedding. I was so excited when Bruno (well, that is another story about how he is family) informed us about his wedding! Of course travelling to Europe was like a side-effect of it, but this highlight turned out to be so much fun!

I felt the contrast in an Indian and a Western wedding right from the beginning. Having come from a kattar Marwari family, and attended a lot of these great fancy Indian weddings, dressing for a western one was so different! How can you attend a wedding without wearing things that do not weigh double your weight? That’s blasphemy!
Anyway, all formal prim and proper, we left for the church. We did not understand anything that happened there, since it was all in French, but the kiss signaled that the main part was right there! Yes, I am smart that way! It was so nice of Bruno to say a part of his speech – that is not elaborated in the movies – in Shudh Hindi. Very heartfelt, we were so touched! Love you, bhai! 😀

What came later was a great surprise!
The wedding party then shifted to the outdoors, at a resort nearby, and was called – The Sunmount Festival.
There were these funky badges, and entry bands tied around our wrist at the entrance. Custom made neon glasses were all over the place. Champagne was served at the entrance, with tables already laid out with snacks. Every family member was given like an ID card with their name and title written on it! It was a bright sunny day in Belgium – a celebration in itself!

A full-day event was planned, with a few stand-ups, photography session, video session, dance party et al lined up. Bruno composed and sang a song for Carolina, while playing four instruments simultaneously! How wonderful that was! A very helpful Italian family member of Bruno’s helped us with all the translation, and made us feel so much at home! In fact everyone there seemed thrilled to have us, coming from so far for the event, and were so helpful, so courteous, that it did made us feel like a part of their culture, their family.

We spent the entire day at the ‘carnival’. The photography session took place in the backdrop of a tree, with funky props to choose from for everybody – right from bows to mustaches, tiaras, bunny ears they had it all!

We left tired. We left happy. We left with good memories, a different experience, and with prayers for the bride and the groom.