Happy Makar Sankrant!
I woke up to find new blooms on the tuberoses... and a pale orange hibiscus shyly blossoming. I also spotted my beautiful golden oriole on the jungli jamun tree. Yup. It's Spring! The birds, flowers and bees know it. And they are celebrating! Shouldn't we....??
D-Day.... rather, make that M-Day tomorrow morning. It's about participation.... not winning some race. Fellow feeling scores over medals. I'm all set - so are my girls, Arundhati and Anandita.
This appeared today in the Asian Age \ Deccan Chronicle....
Mumbai does give a f***…..really!
It’s official: Mumbai is right up there alongside international cities with heart.You just wait and watch the show tomorrow! I am talking about the Mumbai Marathon, which over the past seven years has grown into a robust property that does the city proud. ‘Run Mumbai Run’ will be the most heard chant on Sunday morning as thousands of enthusiasts take over the city and make a run for it! I shall be one of those mad people - creaky knees, pounding heart,painful corns and all. Why do I do it?Read on.I actively look forward to subjecting myself to this annual ritual\torture because it’s worth it. Simple.But much beyond the unbeatable thrill of pounding those roads with other Mumbaikars ( for that one, manic, magical morning, every person becomes a Mumbaikar) there is some other, hard to describe prod. I think I got my asli answer at a press conference on Thursday. The focus was on the philanthropy angle of this strenuous exercise that has now become one of the hottest marketing properties in Asia. One of my co-panelists (ex-banker Sunil Rawlani), broke down at one point when he was asked about his own involvement as a prominent donor . He said the seminal moment came most unexpectedly one day as his car stopped at a traffic light and a young girl, no higher than the car window tapped on the glass and asked for alms. He ignored her ( as most of us do) hoping she’d go away. But she was a pretty persistent kid. Soon, seeing that she wasn’t going to get anything out of the guy, she started to doodle on the thick layer of dust covering his window. And what did this child of Mumbai’s mean streets draw? Take a guess… go on. What would a homeless street child’s ultimate fantasy be? A roof over her head, of course! She drew a house! Sunil turned his head idly to check whether the ‘pest’ was still there… yes, she was. But her entire concentration was on drawing a tiny house on a rich man’s dusty car window! He found himself in tears… from that day on, an entirely new spiritual quest took over his life… a quest that continues to this day. He decided to work for underprivileged children and touch as many lives as possible in the most meaningful way. He picked his cause well – he picked CHILDLINE . What a coincidence. It was exactly the same NGO I’ll be running for, and have been running for over the past few years. In my case, CHILDLINE picked me! And I am so grateful.
We keep reading tiresome homilies on ‘corporate governance’ and ‘giving back to society’ We shrug and move on.Yaaawwn! Who needs those over- used clichés? In reality, we are desperately looking for Indian equivalents of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, as if being anyone or anything less than these two global Charity Champions is a major crime. We talk about desi corporate honchos and local industrialists being kanjoos… not doing enough for the poor. We feel ashamed of our billionaires and try to send them on guilt trips for not dishing out enough dosh for the needy. Really, we should put an end to this nonsense. The act of giving is an intensely private matter and we should stop all the huffing and puffing about our rich being callous. Let’s get off their backs and ask ourselves what we are doing in our individual capacities? Not everybody can be an Azim Premji and stun the world with mega scale philanthropy .Not every tycoon can follow such an example and part with wealth as effortlessly. I am no apologist for our fat cats… but come on guys, our billionaires are not entirely heartless. They have their own ways of sharing wealth…ways that are not obvious or that they may not wish to publicise. Let’s not insult them by insisting on grand public gestures. Giving is in every Indian’s dna. Our shastras emphasise that ‘daan’ is a vital component of self realization and moksh. Every religion in the world stresses on charity as a means to redemption. Our Big Boys and Big Girls are doing their bit – I assure you. Getting corporates to part with money in the old days used to be a pretty humiliating experience. Today, they see it as an opportunity to pump up their own images and do some good as well. I used to abhor making those ‘It’s time to open your purse strings, folks’ calls and was certain I’d lose the few friends I had and be declared a persona non-grata in the city. Imagine my delight these days - I have people calling to ask, “How can we contribute?” This is a major shift. It shows our attitude towards supporting worthwhile initiatives has changed significantly. They say, the more you run, the better you feel. Combine that with - the more you give, the mellower you become - and it’s a win-win situation for all.Mumbai needs a makeover desperately. She is like an item girl who requires another ‘hit and hot’ song to get those eyeballs. The Mumbai Marathon provides just such an opportunity….and Mumbai ki jawaani gets a fresh boost as thousands of energetic runners cross the Worli Bandra Sealink in search of that magical ‘aha’ moment at the finishing line in front of the historic CST.
‘Bhago Mumbai Bhago’ is one ‘naara’ that gets our people going like no other. I don’t mind sounding silly and smarmy boasting like this but Mumbaikars are a special breed. Nothing keeps us down… nothing can, nothing will. Somehow, the Mumbai Marathon encapsulates this indomitable spirit in the most electrifying way. Soon after the 26\11 Terror Attacks, the organizers of the marathon weren’t sure how Mumbaikars would respond. Would they stay away, too scared to emerge on a Sunday and risk another attack ? Not a chance! The show had to go on… and did.
Take that, you guys! While Mumbai… errr…. gives!!!