Beggars at Traffic Signals: What to do?

We all keep noticing beggars in the cities we live in. We certainly see them often times at various traffic signals across city roads. Poverty is general is a problem in India since time innumerable. Many elections have been won by politicians promising eradication of poverty. But poverty seems to be staying. Of course, not every poor person is beggar. But beggars are certainly poor. By street side and even in trains, beggars are very common. Also common are beggars at the traffic signals on the city roads. They live on the footpath, under the shade of a tree or something. I see them all the time.

Like many, I go to work to Kharadi EON IT Park everyday and I see them at at least at 3-4 signals on the way. The moment traffic stops at these signals, beggars pop up from no where and they engulf you before you even realize. You see women, women with kids with them, kids themselves extending their arms helplessly, elderly men, many times disabled. And the sight is not pretty at all. At times, you feel pity about them, and some other times your hands automatically reach out to your pockets for them. You also see many times transgenders as well walking around at traffic signals and their typical actions, they ask for money. If you pay them, you get good wishes, else you don’t! I have seen many beggars displaying their displeasure if they are denied their rightful(!) donation by spitting, by saying something, or even at times thumping on the bonnet of the car. In earlier days, beggars would be happy with coin changes, but it seems they don’t accept anything below Rs 10/- note. Not sure if these beggars have forgotten that beggars cannot be choosers! These street-side families employing their young children in begging activities, is in fact, illegal and against human rights. But who cares about rights when you are not sure of what you are going to have for dinner for 10-12 members in the family? Even the traffic police at the these signals ignore them-understandably so they see them every day and all day. Sometimes, you wonder if this has become their business. We know that this concept made very famous by actor Annu Kapur in Hindi movie Gardish couple of decades ago. Depicting beggars in movies, cartoons, is also very common.

You wonder, at times, if you are not busy on a call while driving, or don’t want to divert your attention from jokes that radio jockey(RJ) on radio in your car is cracking, as to how they beggars land in to situation where they forced to get to streets for their daily bread, and most of the times their entire family? We keep hearing farmers committing suicides, many times, when their life is ruined by drought or other reasons. The ones who don’t, you wonder if they get into such terminal situation. I being associated with mental health awareness since last many years, I also know that many of these beggars are suffering from various mental health issues. I know one NGO who works for such street-side people who are severely suffering from such problems, who are abandoned, who are lying on the footpath, surviving somehow with petty sums they get from the passers-by. I have written about that organization here in the past. I also know one of my friends running a education session for children on the street side. We also have seen photos of many organization distribute warm clothing etc to these people during winter seasons. This and donating them petty sums are are temporary solutions. You will find them there again at the same place at the same time. The real question is how to solve this forever?

I don’t have answer. We, as society need to think about it. Our Prime Minister has started monthly radio program called Man Ki Baat(मन की बात). May be putting this problem across him and drawing some attention would help. Organization can help in rehabilitating these people who can be still employable, provided their mental health is fine. I being in information technology field, I can think of a brainstorming hackathon for solving this problem, may be of help. Can this be made part of smart city agenda, by the way? We need to think on how to make them part of the society by having them employable and earn their own bread.

Many of us who entertain foreign visitors, and who go by these streets, we  are ashamed of beggars’ sight when we walk or drive on those roads. I also have seen many times, in the foreign countries, homeless people, standing by traffic signals, with board/placard seeking help. The difference is only in the style, and intensity of the problem. But the problems are everywhere. There is a saying in English which says, a country can be understood by people at traffic signals.

Anyways, what do you think? How to change this?

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Ninasam Culture Course-Part#2

गेल्या ऑक्टोबर(म्हणजे २०१६) मध्ये कर्नाटकातील सागर जिल्ह्यातील हेग्गोडू येथे निनासम नावाच्या प्रसिद्ध संस्थेत मी संस्कृती शिबिरात भाग घ्यायला गेलो होतो. त्याबद्दल मी पूर्वी एक भाग ह्या ब्लॉगवर लिहिला आहे. आज दुसरा भाग सादर करत आहे. निनासम संस्कृती शिबीराचा(Ninasam Culture Course) भाग म्हणून दररोज(म्हणजे पाचही दिवशी) संध्याकाळी एक नाटक असे. एके दिवशी नाटकाबरोबर भक्ति संगीताचा कार्यक्रम देखील होता. हे सर्व कार्यक्रम शिवराम कारंथ नाट्यगृहात होत असत. शिवाय ते आम्हा शिबिरार्थींना, तसेच इतर नागरिकांना देखील खुले होते. ह्याशिवाय, मुख्य शिबिराचा भाग म्हणून दोन नाटकांचे प्रयोग देखील होते. हे प्रयोग मुख्य सभागृहात(जे खरे पहिले तर Intimate Theater आहे) झाले. ही सर्व नाटकं कन्नड भाषेत होती. ह्या ब्लॉग मध्ये त्या नाटकांबद्दल लिहायचे आहे

ऑक्टोबर ८ च्या संध्याकाळी कालंदुगेय कथे(ಕಾಲಂದುಗೆಯ ಕಥೆ, अर्थ पैंजणीची कथा) या नावाचे शिलाप्पदिकारम (Silappadikaramतमिळ भाषेतील प्राचीन महाकाव्यावर आधारित निनासमच्या नाट्य-मंडळीचे (Ninasam Tirugata) नाटक होते. एका स्त्रीच्या पायातील पैंजण हा नाटकाचा विषय, म्हणजेच नायक(कोवल) आणि नायिका(कण्णगी) यांच्यामधील प्रेमात या पैंजणाची भूमिका म्हणजे हे नाटक. प्रसिद्ध कन्नड कवी आणि नाटककार एच. एस. शिवप्रकाश यांनी हे नाटक रचले आहे. वेगवेगळया गाण्यांनी, कर्नाटकातील हरिदास यांची पदे यांनी युक्त असे हे तीन एक तासांचे संगीत नाटक आहे. 

ऑक्टोबर ९ च्या संध्याकाळी अत्त दरी इत्त पुली(ಅತ್ತ ದರಿ ಇತ್ತ ಪುಲಿ, इकडे आड तिकडे विहीर या अर्थाने) हे हेसनाम तोम्बा यांनी दिग्दर्शित केलेले नाटक होते. हेसनाम तोम्बा(Heisnam Tomba) हे प्रसिद्ध मणिपूर नाट्यकर्मी हेसनाम कन्हयालाल(Heisnam Kanhailal) यांचे चिरंजीव. योगायोग असा की हेसनाम कान्हयालाल यांचे एक-दोन दिवसांपूर्वीच(ऑक्टोबर ६) निधन झाले होते. हे नाटक म्हणजे मणिपूर(किंवा एकूणच ईशान्य भारतात) मध्ये भारतीय सेनेद्वारे केल्या गेलेल्या तथाकथित अत्याचारावर भाष्य करते. भारतीय सैन्याला त्या भागात विशेषाधिकार(AFSPA) दिले गेले आहेत, त्याचा गैरवापर होत आहे आहे अश्या बातम्या येत असतात. पण सामान्य जनतेला काय भोगावे लागते आहे, हे नाटकातून अतिशय प्रभावीपणे दाखवले आहे.

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ऑक्टोबर १० च्या संध्याकाळी मालती माधव हे अतिशय हलके फुलके संगीत नाटक होते. भवभूतीच्या याच नावाच्या संस्कृत नाटकाचे कन्नड रुपांतर म्हणजे हे नाटक. याचे वैशिष्ट्य म्हणजे असे की हेग्गोडू गावातील अनेकजण यात भूमिका करत होते. नाटक संपल्यानंतर त्यांच्याशी बोलताना त्यांच्या चेहऱ्यावरील आनंद, या आणि आसपासच्या गावातील निनासमच्या नाट्यचळवळ बद्दल बरेच काही सांगून गेले.

ऑक्टोबर ११ च्या संध्याकाळी सुरुवातीला बिन्दुमालिनी या दक्षिण भारतातील गायिकेची भक्ति संगीत मैफिल झाली. त्यांचे कबीर, आणि सुफी संगीत आणि इतर भक्ति संगीतात त्यांनी श्रोत्यांना न्हावून टाकले. त्या नंतर अक्षयाम्बर ह्या नाटकाचा प्रयोग, बंगळूरूच्या ड्रामानॉन(Dramanon) या संस्थेद्वारे सादर केला गेला. हा मला अतिशय भावाला. कर्नाटकातील यक्षगान कला-परंपरा, त्यातील कलाकारांची मनस्थिती, आणि आजचा युवक यातील संघर्ष यात सादर केला गेला.

ऑक्टोबर १२ च्या संध्याकाळी शेक्सपियर मनेगे बंदा(ಶೇಕ್ಸಪಿಯರ ಮನೆಗೆ ಬಂದಾ, अर्थ शेक्सपियर येती घरा) ह्या नाटकाचा प्रयोग होता. हे नाटक म्हणजे शेक्सपियर वरील नाटककाराचे असलेले प्रेम/आदर दर्शवायचा एक प्रयत्न. एका दृष्टीने पहिले तर ती एक प्रकारची जिवंत डॉक्युमेंटरीच म्हणावी लागेल. त्याच्या वेगवेगळया नाटकांची चर्चा, त्यातील प्रसंग आणि पात्रे याचे सादरीकरण, असे एकमेकात गुंफून एक संगीतमय कार्यक्रम होता तो. शेक्सपियरचा एकूण प्रभाव आणि त्याच्यावरील प्रेमच म्हणजे हे नाटक. गेल्यावर्षी त्याची ४००वी जयंती साजरी करण्यात आली. त्यावर मी एक ब्लॉग लिहिला होता.

सुरुवातीला म्हटल्याप्रमाणे, या दररोज संध्याकाळच्या नाटकांच्या मेजवानीव्यतिरिक्त मुख्य कार्यक्रमांतर्गत देखील दोन आगळे वेगळे नाट्य-प्रयोग पाहायला मिळाले. त्यातील एक होता मुंबईच्या सुनील शानबाग यांच्या तमाशा थिएटर प्रस्तुत Blank Page हे नाटक. हे नाटक म्हणजे विविध भाषांतील कवितांचे नाट्यीकरण होते. मराठी, काश्मिरी, हिंदी कविता त्यात होत्या. नामदेव ढसाळ यांची एक कविता देखील होती. आणि दुसरे नाटक होते ओदिरी(ಓದಿರಿ) हे बहुचर्चित, आणि वादग्रस्त नाटक जे मुस्लीम धर्मातील काही सुधारणा याविषयी भाष्य करते. आणि वाद जो निर्माण झाला आहे तो मुहम्मद पैगंबर याचे या नाटकात केले गेलेले प्रतीमाकरण यामुळे.

एकुणात निनासम हे नाट्यक्षेत्रात काम करत असल्यामुळे, असा नाटकांचा उत्सव हे प्रमुख वैशिष्ट्य आहे. त्यामुळे मनसोक्त नाटकं पाहण्याचा, त्यांचा आस्वाद घेण्याचा येथे योग आला आणि धमाल आली.

पिंपरी चिंचवडची शिशिर व्याख्यानमाला

पुणे शहराच्या जवळच पिंपरी चिंचवड हे जुळे शहर १९६०च्या सुमारास औद्योगिक क्षेत्रामुळे उदयास आले. आणि एक बहुभाषिक, बहुराज्यिक, शहरी, ग्रामीण संस्कृती दिसण्यास सुरुवात झाली. एकदा का पोटाचा प्रश्न सुटला की इतर गोष्टी सुचतात. कला, क्रीडा, संगीत, नाटक, विचार प्रबोधन इत्यादि गोष्टीना चालना मिळू लागते. रोटरी क्लब हा पूर्वीपासूनच पिंपरी चिंचवड भागात उद्योजकांच्या सहभागाने समाज सेवाचे व्रत निभावत होता. १९९८ मध्ये रोटरी क्लबच्या काही सदस्यांनी पुण्यात जी  १५० वर्षाहून जुनी वसंत व्याख्यानमाला सुरु आहे त्या धर्तीवर एक व्याख्यानमाला सुरु करावी असा प्रस्ताव आला. डॉ. अच्युत कलन्त्रे, जयप्रकाश रांका, मनोहर दिक्षित(जे आमचे शेजारी होते) इत्यादींनी त्यात पुढाकार घेतला. व्याख्यानमालेचे पहिले पुष्प जानेवारी १९९८ मध्ये गुंफले गेले. तेव्हापासून ती गेली वीस वर्षे सुरु आहे, जानेवारीत विसावे सत्र सादर झाले. शिशिर ऋतूमध्ये(जानेवारीत) होत असल्यामुळे ही झाली शिशिर व्याख्यानमाला.

मी या व्याख्यानमालेचा अगदी पहिल्या वर्षापासूनचा श्रोता/प्रेक्षक म्हणून साक्षीदार आहे. या निमित्ताने या ओद्योगिक शहरात वैचारिक वृत्तीची जोपासना सुरु झाली. विविध पुढारी, राजकारणी, लेखक, विचारवंत, कलाकार यांचे पाय पाय लागले. संवाद सुरु झाला, आणि एक पोकळी भरून काढण्यास मदत झाली. चार दिवस वेगवेगळया व्याख्यानांच्या निमित्ताने प्रबोधन, आणि शेवटल्या दिवशी मनोरंजन असे व्याख्यानमालेचे ढोबळ स्वरूप असते. आजकाल मनोरंजनासाठी, प्रबोधनासाठी, शिक्षणासाठी असलेल्या अनेक माध्यमांच्या कल्लोळामध्ये, थेट वक्ता आणि श्रोता या मध्ये होणारा संवाद नक्कीच प्रभावी असतो.

अगदी पहिल्या वर्षापासूनच विषयांची विविधता कायम ठेवण्यात आली. सामाजिक, राजकीय, कला, चालू घडामोडी असोत, विविध विषयांवर प्रसिद्ध व्यक्तींना आमंत्रित करून बोलायला लावले आहे. मागील वर्षी, २०१६ साली, स्मार्ट सिटीची चर्चा होती, त्यावेळेस परिसंवाद होता. द. मा. मिरासदार यांचे कथाकथन, पंडित हृदयनाथ मंगेशकर यांचे लतादीदी यांच्या विषयीचे मनोगत, संगीतकार यशवंत देव यांची ‘देवगाणी’, प्रसिद्ध लेखक अच्युत गोडबोले यांची शोधयात्रा, अनिल अवचट यांचे मुक्तांगणचे अनुभवकथन असे एक ना अनेक कार्यक्रम या व्याख्यानमालेच्या निमित्ताने झाले, आणि पिंपरी-चिंचवडवासियांना समृद्ध करून गेली आहे.

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शिशिर व्याख्यानमाला पिंपरी चिंचवड रोटरी क्लब

ह्या वर्षीची व्याख्यानमाला देखील अशीच भरगच्च कार्यक्रमाने झाली. उदघाटन विश्वंभर चौधरी यांच्या राष्ट्रवाद-काल आणि आज याविषयावरील व्याख्यानाने झाले. इतरही बरेच कार्यक्रम होते जसे नोटबंदी वर यमाजी मालकर, नर्मदा परिक्रमा यावर जगन्नाथ कुंटे बोलायला होते. मी शेवटच्या दिवशी गेलो होतो. त्या दिवशी प्रसिद्ध कवी संदीप खरे(आयुष्यावर बोलू काही फेम) यांच्या नवीन/जुन्या कवितांचा कार्यक्रम होता. त्या कार्यक्रमाचे नाव होते इर्शाद. कार्यक्रमात त्याच्या बरोबर वैभव जोशी हा कवी देखील होता. त्याची उत्सुकता होती. कविता वाचनाचे कार्यक्रम विशेष होत नाहीत. खूप पूर्वी पु ल देशपांडे, वसंत बापट, बा. भ. बोरकर कविता वाचनाचे कार्यक्रम करत असत असे मी वाचले आहे. त्यातील काही कार्यक्रमांचे दूरदर्शनच्या सह्याद्री वाहिनीवर पहिलेले आठवते. विसुभाऊ बापट यांच्या कुटुंब रंगलय काव्यात हाही प्रसिद्ध कवितांवरचा कार्यक्रम खूप पूर्वी पहिला होता. अतिशय अनौपचारिक पद्धतीने सादर केलें गेलेला हा कार्यक्रम काही विशेष रंगला नाही.

irshad

एकमेकांच्या तसेच प्रेक्षकांच्या(प्रामुख्याने मधूनच उठून निधून जाणाऱ्या) फिरक्या घेत हा कार्यक्रम झाला. प्रामुख्याने प्रेमविषयक कविताच सादर केल्या गेल्या. संदीप खरेचा आयुष्यावर बोलू काही हा कार्यक्रम पूर्वी व्याख्यानमालेत २००५ साली झाला होता.

असो. तर ह्या वर्षीची शिशिर व्याख्यानमाला, विसावे पुष्प, अशा तऱ्हेने संपन्न झाले. प्रत्येक वर्षी खरे पहिले तर, समारोप, ज्ञानेश्वरांच्या पसायदानाच्या गायनाने होते, पण ह्या वर्षी ते झाले नाही, का कोणास ठाऊक. इतकी वर्षे अशा व्याख्यानमालेचे संयोजन करणे ही सोपी गोष्ट नाही. मनोहर दिक्षित अधून मधून भेटत असतात, आणि त्यांच्याशी बोलताना व्याख्यानमाला आयोजित करण्यामागचे अथक प्रयत्न समजून येतात. ही व्याख्यानमाला आता पिंपरी चिंचवड भागाचा मनाचा तुरा बनली आहे. दिवाळी पहाट, आणि इतर अनेक सांस्कृतिक कार्यक्रम यापासून प्रेरणा घेवून पुढे आले आहेत, एक सांस्कृतिक चळवळ सुरु झाली. सुदैवाने या व्याख्यानमालेचे दस्तावेजीकरण झाले आहे. त्यांच्या संकेतस्थळावर पूर्वीच्या कार्यक्रमांच्या रेकॉर्डींग रसिक पाहू शकतात. पिंपरी-चिंचवड भागात इतरही काही कलाविषयक आणि सांस्कृतिक कार्यक्रम कित्येक वर्षांपासून होत आहेत(उदा. रविंद्र घांगुर्डे आयोजित करत असलेल्या संगीत सभा) त्याबद्दल नंतर कधीतरी.

Aamby Valley City

Pune and surrounding area through which Sahyadri range passes north to south, has been hot spot for various organizations to setup resorts, luxury residential premises, to attract growing population of neo-rich, and ever increasing international tourists and visitors. Many of these places have sprouted in last the decade or two, have arguably damaged sensitive ecosystem of this area. Lavasa, around backwaters of Bhatghar dam near Pune, Aamby Valley City near Lonavala, which is surrounded by Pavana dam and also Mulshi dam backwaters, Hilton Shillim, to name a few. Another issue with such places is water usage, and depriving general public from their right to water.

Last month, I happened to visit Aamby Valley City, to be there as part of out team building activity(I have written about similar event at Garud Machi) . Aamby Valley City is built by Sahara India Pariwar. It was not my first time to this place. I have been there about 8-9 years ago for similar event, but was only a day’s visit. This time, I got chance to stay overnight there. Long time back, when I had visited a fort Koraigad which is on the edge of Aamby Valley City, I could see large expanse of the resort/township, and could notice a significant patch of deforestation, compared the surrounding area, which was quite green.

Anyways, we reached the place in the morning. Once cleared off security checks at the entrance, we proceeded towards reception. I noticed a huge sculpture of goddess with her roaring tigers. While we were checking in, we watched screens on the walls running videos of Aamby Valley City, telling various facts and figures about its facilities and features. We were allocated Burmese Cottage, which are made of wood. These cottages had separate occupations on the ground floor as well first floor. The view of the surrounding from the balcony was breathtaking.

The remaining part of day was full of learning for us. We had interesting trainer, Harrish Sairaman, accompanying us. His sessions on team building along with activities were quite engaging. His style of talking was captivating and kept us engaged. Later we learnt that he is trained hypnosis therapist too. We did most dreadful thing in the life, called Iron Rod Bending exercise, which was thrilling. He ended his day with electrifying talk on relationships, specifically, referring to pioneering work of John Kappas on relationship types such as E&P(emotional and physical). In the evening, we also experienced fire walking as well. Aamby Valley City arranges fountain, light and sound show off a man-made lake, which we got to witness when it got dark. The evening time was off into wilderness. And this is what I did not like about it. Aamby Valley City arranges dinners in these wilderness, along with regular band music with loud noise, which runs for more than 4-5 hours. I am sure this causes noise pollution, affecting not only locals around, but also wild-life in the forest area nearby.

Anyways, after dinner, I was walking around inside Aamby Valley City, late night. I was hoping to see night sky full of stars, since the area is far off from the city, but it was not be. The sky was cloudy, there was hardly any stars visible. The light pollution also could have played a role as well, as it is still a township, with lot of street lights on throughout. The morning walk next day, exploring surround area turned out to be fine. We also got a glimpse of houses which were gifted to cricket players by Sahara, after winning world cup few years.

With the year end celebrations around the corner, places such as Aamby Valley City would be overbooked soon, if not already. I only wish that people realize the damage caused to environment and locals due to such places and do something towards it.

बंगळूरूमधील कर्नाटक राज्योत्सव

कर्नाटक राज्य स्थापनेचा दिवस म्हणजे १ नोव्हेंबर आणि तो राज्योत्सव दिवस म्हणून राज्यभर साजरा होतो.  ह्या वर्षी कर्नाटक राज्य स्थापनेला ६० वर्षे झाली. मी त्या दिवशी योगायोगाने बंगळूरूमध्ये होतो, त्यामुळे मला कर्नाटकाच्या राजधानीत हा दिवस कसा साजरा केला गेला हे पाहायला मिळाले. त्याबद्दल येथे लिहतो आहे.

बेंगळुरूची परिस्थिती ही तशी थोडी मुंबईसारखी झाली आहे असे म्हण्याला हरकत नाही. मुंबईत जसे मराठी भाषेची, मराठी माणूस यांची गळचेपी कित्येक वर्षे झाली आहे, तसेच काहीसे बेंगळुरूचा बाबतीत गेल्या २५-३० वर्षात झाले आहे असे दिसून येईल. जसे जसे माहिती-तंत्रज्ञान क्षेत्र शहरात वाढू लागले तसे तसे शेजारील राज्यातून वेगवेगळे लोकं येऊन राहू लागले आणि त्यातून कन्नड भाषेची, स्थानिक कन्नड माणसाची गळचेपी सुरु झाली. हे सर्व सांगण्याचे कारण की ज्या तऱ्हेने शहरात स्थापना दिवस साजरा केला गेला ते सर्व पाहून त्यामागची ही पार्श्वभूमी आहे. तसेच नुकतेच घडलेले कावेरी पाणी वाटप प्रश्नाच्या संदर्भात घडलेल्या अप्रिय घटना, त्याच्याही आठवणी ताज्या होत्या. त्यामुळेही की काय, हा दिवस मोठ्या उत्साहात साजरा केला गेला.

सकाळी सकाळी आलेल्या इंग्रजी(The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Times of India) तसेच कन्नड(प्रजावाणी, विजय कर्नाटक) वर्तमानपत्रातून विविध लेख, इतिहास इत्यादी रकानेच्या रकाने भरून माहिती आली होती. तसेच दूरचित्रवाणी वाहिनांवर कन्नड भाषा, कर्नाटक राज्य यांची महती सांगणारी गाणी, चित्रपट यांची चालती होती. कन्नड चित्रपटसृष्टीमधील प्रसिद्ध नट राजकुमार यांची बरीच गाणी आणि चित्रपट ह्या विषयावर होती(राजकुमार ह्यांनी १९८० मधील कन्नड भाषेसाठी झालेल्या गोकाक आंदोलनात देखील सक्रीय सहभाग घेतला होता). बंगळूरू आकाशवाणीवर पुणे आकाशवाणी प्रमाणे दररोज सकाळी चिंतन हा कार्यक्रम प्रसारित होत असतो. कर्नाटक राज्योत्सावाच्या निमिताने त्या कार्यक्रमात विविध विचारवंत महिनाभर कर्नाटक राज्य, कन्नड भाषा, याबद्दल आपले विचार व्यक्त करताहेत. मी ऐन दिवाळीत बेंगळुरू मध्ये असल्यामुळे काही कन्नड मासिकांचे दिवाळी विशेषांक घेतले. त्यात देखील कर्नाटक राज्य एकीकरण चळवळीचे प्रयत्न, त्याचा इतिहास, आणि उत्तर कर्नाटकातील जनतेचा असलेला सहभाग याबद्दल सविस्तर सांगणाऱ्या खास पुरवण्या आलेल्या मला दिसल्या. कर्नाटक राज्य स्थापन करण्यासाठी झालेला लढा, एकीकरण समिती, त्याचा इतिहास याबद्दल देखील मी कधीतरी लिहीन. १९५६ साली जेव्हा राज्य अस्तित्वात आले, तेव्हा त्याचे नाव मैसुरू हेच कायम ठेवले होते. पण १९७३ मध्ये कर्नाटक असे नामकरण करण्यात आले, त्याबद्दलची माहिती आली होती.

बंगळूरू मध्ये नातेवाईकांकडे आमचा मुक्काम असलेल्या गृहसंकुलात देखील कर्नाटक राज्योत्सावानिमित्ताने कार्यक्रम होता. सुरुवातीला झेंडा वंदन झाले(लाल आणि पिवळा रंग असलेल्या कर्नाटकाचा झेंडा), सभासदांनी, मुला-मुलींनी कर्नाटक राज्यगीत(‘जय भारत जननिया तनुजाते जाते’ हे कर्नाटक माते), आणि इतर राज्य-स्तुतीपर गाणी म्हटली. वातावरण एकूण भरून गेले होते. बऱ्याच जणांनी वेशदेखील त्याच रंगसंगती मध्ये परिधान केला होता.

संध्याकाळी बाहेर पडलो, तर ठिकठिकाणी, चौकाचौकात कर्नाटक माता म्हणजे भुवनेश्वरी देवीची प्रतिमेचे पूजन, फडफडता झेंडा, पताका यांनी सजवलेले मंडप दृष्टीस पडले. रस्त्यांवरील रिक्षा देखील ह्या निमित्ताने सजल्या होत्या. सरकारी कार्यक्रम तर होतेच(ज्यात भाषणे, कर्नाटक राज्य कला, संस्कृती, जानपद यांचे दर्शन देणारे कार्यक्रम), पण त्याच बरोबर प्रमुख आकर्षण म्हणजे राज्योत्सव प्रशस्ती पुरस्कार समाजातील विविध क्षेत्रातील व्यक्तींना त्यांच्या सेवेबद्दल दिला जातो. त्याचीदेखील माहिती ठिकठिकाणी आली होती. आम्ही नंतर जवळच असलेल्या मॉलमध्ये चर्चेत असलेला एक कन्नड सिनेमा पाहायला गेलो, ज्याचे नाव मुकुंद मुरारी, जो परेश रावळ अभिनित हिंदी सिनेमाची कन्नड आवृत्ती होती. तर मॉलमध्ये, सिनेमागृहात देखील राज्योत्सावानिमित्त सजावट दिसली. जाहिराती  दाखवणाऱ्या इलेक्ट्रोनिक फलकावर देखील कर्नाटक राज्योत्सव, राज्याचा नकाशा जो पिवळा आणि लाल रंगात दाखवला जातो, तसा आणि राज्यातील आजी माजी प्रसिद्ध व्यक्ती यांचे छायाचित्रे झळकत असलेली दिसली. दुसऱ्या दिवशी मी रेल्वेने चेन्नईला जाणार होतो, त्यामुळे रेल्वे स्टेशनवर गेलो असता, तेथेही मला कर्नाटक राज्याचा झेंडा झळकत असलेला दिसला. संपूर्ण नोव्हेंबर महिना राज्यभर काहीना काहीना कार्यक्रम ह्या निमित्ताने होत असतात. बेंगळुरच्या विधानसौधा भागात जावू नाही शकलो, पण तेथेही रोषणाई, सजावट असते.

महाराष्ट्रात मी अशा तऱ्हेने महाराष्ट्र दिन साजरा केलेला मला तरी दिसत नाही. आपापल्या सहकारी गृह्संकुलातून महाराष्ट्र दिन साजरा करायला काय हरकत आहे. मुंबई आणि इतर मोठ्या शहरातून मराठी भाषेची, मराठी संस्कृतीची गळचेपी होत असताना, त्याबद्दल जनजागृती करायला हा नक्कीच चांगला मार्ग आहे.

My dabblings with Japan

Well, well, this blog is not about my connections in Japan in true sense. I have never been to Japan yet. It is actually a blog about my experiences in various forms about Japan, without even stepping my feet in that land. I was tempted to write about all that when I reviewed very old book in Marathi titled Tokonama, by famous Marathi writer Prabhakar Padhye. It is also a blog about how I have been coming across various cultural elements of Japan. I am sure you will find it interesting.

As far my memory goes, my connection with Japan started with a classic television daily soap on Doordarshan(DD) which was telecast in 1990s. The daily soap was named as Oshin. It was very touching story of a girl who faces hardship of woman, right from her childhood. In 1991, I remember going to Mumbai for interviewing with a Japanese company called Recosoft and was interviewed by its CEO P S Chadha. Things did not work out for me that time, otherwise, I would have been living in Japan now! This company is still in Japan. Now I wonder how come Indians went to Japan and setup a company that time. Few years later, when I went to work in USA, I became friends with Abhijeet Diwekar from Pune. His father Ramesh Divekar, is credited to be one of the earliest persons who went to Japan, way back in 1960s and also who started Japanese language education in Pune as early as 1971.  While in the USA itself, in San Franscisco Bay Area, which is a mecca of world cuisine, I got opportunity to eat Japanese food item, sushi, in one of sushi bars.

The came the deadly Tsunami which Indian Ocean, Indian coast, islands of Andman and Nicobar in 2004. The Japanese word Tsunami, its meaning, and the what exactly happens during those events, was interesting to understand, and taking me back to Japan again. Around same time, I had joined Indology course at Pune’s Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth(TMV), where I learnt about their graduate and post-graduate courses around Japanese language. I was able to interact with some students learning Japanese, and came to know that Japanese is similar with Marathi in many ways, which was interesting to know. This helped me during my involvement in a project following year on making a software system work for Japanese language. I was involved in interacting with native Japanese translator in Japan and it enriched me in various ways due to interactions with her. The Indology course also had subjects around greater India or influence of India over neighboring countries, where impact of Buddhism and other facets of Indian culture in Japan were discussed.

Few years later, in 2010, our group of like minded people were learning Sanskrit under guidance of Prof V N Jha who has been former director of CASS. Through him we learnt about Japanese students in India learning Sanskrit, and also how it is being taken by Japanese students in Japan as well. In fact, we referred a Sanskrit Reader book authored by Sanskrit scholar from Japan called Hidenori Kitagawa way back in 1977. He was student in University of Pune before that.

In 2011, I came across a book titled Tottochan. This book had a story about child education expert in Japan who adopted unconventional methodologies almost half-century ago. The book was written by student of hers who carried his legacy further. This gave a further peep in to Japan, and various issues around education that time. The same year, I also attended a Japanese performing arts event in Pune Rokugu about which I have written here on my blog. In the meantime, I attended couple of exhibitions in Pune, organized by groups of various organizations such as Consulate if Japan, Japan Foundation etc, where I came across person from Pune named Jayant Sathe, who has been having a hobby of making Japanese dolls, exhibiting them at those exhibitions. There seems an interesting tradition of art of making dolls in Japan. Here is a photo of one of the dolls I purchased from him.

While watching that dolls exhibition, I came across Geisha dolls, and was introduced to rich history and tradition of Geisha women in Japan. Around the same time, in 2015, I came across famous book titled Memoirs of Geisha which landed itself into controversy. The Geisha depicted in that book, later came her own book titled Geisha of Gion, which also became bestseller. I have both of them, and yet to read them.

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This year, that is in 2016, I came across three references to Japan tradition and history which I have enriched me further. First one was about a Japanese armored marshal arts sport called Kendo. One of colleagues in the USA has been learning it, and during his recent visit to India, he made it a point that he visited few places where there Kendo associations, for practicing purposes. Here is a YouTube video, if you are interested to know as to what it is. The next two are news items I came across in the newspaper. One is about a village in Japan called Nagoro which has earned a recognition for itself as town of dolls. This started by one woman who started making dolls, scarecrows and placed at various places in her village, which was being deserted by the population to migrate to cities. Now this is a problem China is also facing, and India will soon face, turning, villages to ghost villages. The next one was about a rice paddy art depicting Lord Ganesha in Pune. This art is a not traditional art, but seems a recent trend, in Japan, as a promotional event, at a place called Inakadate in Aomori region, has interesting history on Wiki. There was another interesting news recently. Japanese aid to Ajantha-Ellora caves is well-know since quite a few years now. As part of next phase, it is decided to setup a model Japanese village around the area, with a joint venture between state government and Wakayama region of Japan.

Anyways, I think I should stop here, rambling about Japan now. I am sure you must have come to know how eager I am now to visit Japan and I hope to make it soon!

200 not out!

Hurrah!! This is my 200th blog post. I realized it when I was blogging the other day, and WordPress page showed that the number of 199. I had realized the past milestones, but then I decided to celebrate feat this time. I am happy that I have come so far, still roaring to go. This is my new found passion-Writing! I know did not celebrate my 100th blog post which occurred sometime back. Not sure why I did not. For those who are curious to know which was my 100th post. Here is the link to it: my 100th post-this was related to smart city initiative. Since I am talking of milestones, I have dug out few others which are my 50th post-about goodreads.com portal which is about books, and my 150th post-about Murty Classical Library related controversy!

Anyways, some history now. I started this blog in March 2009, around the same time when I started on my own-free lanced/consulted at the beginning, and later formed a software company and got taste of entrepreneurship. Early part of 2009 was period of turmoil for me with lot of ideas, thoughts spinning in my head. I think, the blog also was born out of that. I did not blog first 5 years, ie. till 2014, may be because of my other occupations and partially may be because I had not, as yet, found that knack of writing, and even did not start enjoying, I guess. My score on blogs posts per year was well below double digit number till end of 2014. Let me give you a peep into the stats:

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I think I have picked up on blogging after I finished my first ever foray into translating a book, work for which had gone for almost 2 years. The book got published in Dec 2014, and I started to write about it and various other topics on my blog. This was turning point for my blog, in terms of keeping it live with content. I slowly started getting kick out of it. After getting content to the blog-site, waiting for feedback and stats grow is fun thing to get hooked into. You have made it fun and exciting for me with your comments and feedback. The power of medium like blog is really limitless. I am sure every blogger experiences them. Let me mention here some moments of gratitude for me.

I had written about a lesser known Urdu poet and film song writer Madhosh Bilgrami after my visit to his house in Talegaon. One of his long time friends, Bala Menon, who lost his contact, was able to regain it, due to my blog. And I am so happy about it. Ecology and environment are dear to me. I keep writing about it. Once I wrote an article about water pollution in the lakes of Bengaluru and also in the rivers of Pune. One student doing research on this topic, found my blog useful. My passion towards theater is expressed in various blogs related to that topic on my blog. Someone named Chaya Bhagwati from Bengaluru, who is studying theater wanted to use material from my blogs on her desertion which she was preparing.

My intention is to keep blogging, on various topics and many more as I get introduced to them in the time to come. I am enjoying it, hope you are enjoying it too! Need your support and following to grow it bigger and engage into shared knowledge and opinions. Miles to go before I sleep!