Day 4 Papa’s 75th Birthday Celebrations and Mom’s birthday

Today is dual celebration time as Mom celebrates her 67th birthday today. We went to St. Joseph’s home in Bombay Central. This is the same place where we celebrated Kavya’s birthday last year and it was with a sense of deja vu that I entered.

This time we did not go to the creche as the children would be sleeping (1230 in the afternoon). We went to the lunch room straight and found children waiting for us to commence lunch. They mistook it as Kavya’s birthday and everyone rushed to wish her. Then the sister there clarified… They wished Mom a very Happy Birthday and then said their prayers. Then the elder girls (must be 14 to 16 years of age) came ahead and manned the utensils with the food (consisting of pulao, garlic chutney, gravy, batatawada, papad and a sweet item). The younger girls came ahead one by one with their plates and were quickly served the food. Then came the other girls who were elder maybe 10 years and more and they collected their food. There were about 55 girls in all.

Kavya and me stepped out of the hall to meet a young girl, Andrea who was a year younger to her. Shy she was but then children have their own way of getting around with other children so Kavya and she smiled and got started. Some other girls also came and one of them even recognised Kavya saying “She had come last year”. It was good to know that they do remember these little things.

Mom was really happy that she had the good wishes of so many people in the absence of her elders / parents. All in all it was time well spent. Kavya is keen to celebrate her birthday this year again at this same institution. Just that she wants to see the little ones as well so timings will have to be worked out in accordance to that.

Papa’s 75th Birthday – Day 3

Today Sunday, July 25, 2010….. we are now 2 days away from Papa’s 75th birthday. We (Papa, Kavya and me) had been to the Thelma J R D Tata Anand Kendra at Worli. This is a home for destitute boys started in 1954. They have a capacity of 40 boys and they had 33 inmates today with 4 expected to join them soon. Children greeted us when they opened the door. Age group was from 8 to 16 years. Just before us, the student of St, Xavier’s college had visited them and there were two young men who were distributing Cadbury’s éclairs to the children. The person in charge spoke in chaste Marathi and he showed us the facilities they have. A large dormitory in which were stacked mattresses meant for sleeping. They had cupboards on one side for the clothes. There was a huge shoe rack with shoes neatly stacked and all school satchels neatly arranged. They also had a computer room with 4 PCs and CRT monitors and children learnt basics of computers there every weekend as also a music room. We asked him what was the routine for today. He said being a Sunday the children would wake up at 0630 an hour later than the usual 0530. They would then have breakfast, clean up the dorms and have a bath and then study. The children assembled and said a prayer for Lord Ganesh and then each of them took their steel plates from the rack, washed them and lined up at the counter for their meal. The meal was daal chawal, roti and vegetables. Today they were also served bhajis (pakoras) and sheera (a sweet). Each of them got their food and sat on the tables and relished it with gusto. Just before they started they said a loud Thank You to us. While standing there briefly, you could see the paradox of life. They had 3 bathrooms between 40 of them and here we were with 3 bathrooms between 5 of us in the house. Their location is prime as they are located right next to Atria mall in Worli (common boundary wall) but that is another paradox. While standing in the lunch room, we were looking outside the balcony and what we say was the Atria Mall and the Navnit Motors showroom (India’s first Rolls Royce showroom). So people there were buying a car worth crores of Rupees and children across the wall were craving for food! We spoke to the person in charge there and the children were from single parents (but this was not an adoption centre) and also they had children coming from Child Welfare committee or such. They had one boy who cleared his SSC (Class 10) last year and this year they have 2 children appearing for SSC. After SSC what? They tried to place them with their donors in Pune or Mumbai as office boys or such hoping that they made a living for them in the future. Just hope they are able to make a decent living now and forever.

Day 2 – Dad’s 75th Birthday

Yesterday, July 18, 2010, we had sponsored meals for the homeless / needy through Sunday Friends. Sunday Friends feeds such needy people every Sunday and they do it with passion. Hats off to them! This was my 4th experience with them (Twice before at Don Bosco, then last month outside Amulakh Amichand School and then yesterday). They served Idlis and Medu Wadas with Sambhar and chutney to about 100 people at the Sai Baba temple at Chunabhatti. Kavya and me accompanied Papa. Papa started by serving a few people but then due to the delicate nature of the plates, Kavya and he backed off and I was serving them. It was a sight not to be missed. Each one finished every morsel of food served and they were hungry enough to ask for refills which we obviously gave. One rule they have is that you should eat whatever is served (not waste) and you are not allowed to take it home. That way all the needy people are served. After a couple of rounds, there were some more people who came in who were served with equal gusto by the team of Sunday Friends. Some people go the extra mile in spreading happiness. And in a way, I am glad to be associated with them even if it means this way. Normally the 75th birthday is celebrated by inviting friends and relatives over dinner coupled with some music and then some flowery speeches. I am so proud that Papa took this route. There is no music and there are no flowery speeches but yes there is a satisfied smile on the faces of people and that smile is worth much more than any of the dinners or speeches.

Dad’s 75th birthday – Make a difference

Dad completes 75 years on July 27th and he wished to donate for a cause / feed the needy. Since it falls on a Tuesday, we are visiting different places over the weekend. Today we started by visiting The Shanti Avedna Sadan in Bandra. This is an institution for the terminally ill patients suffering from cancer. These are patients who are awaiting their chance to pass into the other world and medicines have no effect on them.

It was touching to say the least. The inmates were young as well as old (For those who even read this and who are either smoking or are chewing tobacco / pan parag etc. please visit this institution and get to know what are the ill effects of this habit). The Doctor there was a very nice lady who showed us around and she was laughing and talking to the inmates ostensibly making them smile in their times of suffering. She would ask each and every patient if they had their lunch and then make some small talk which would bring a smile on their faces. I saw one particular man whose face was distorted beyond recognition thanks to the swellings all over the face. He was completely on liquids. There was a Kenyan man breathing heavily with his wife beside him reading what I guessed was the Bible. They could not move him to Kenya as the airlines wanted a doctor to accompany the patient. The doctor told us about how the old people were left behind and no one would come to meet them for weeks. The patient would naturally crave for some attention from his loved ones and so the doctor too would send messages but no respite. Then they would have to resort to the worst and tell the relatives that the patient was very critical and then only would someone show up. Same happens for the dead body. She has had to call the police to help out in getting the relatives to claim the body…..
All in all what I gathered was that the terminally ill craved for love when they lived and wanted to die with dignity. Worth a visit.