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Monday, February 28, 2011

Goonj - Your Help Can Make All The Difference

Dear Friends,

This is a sincere request to you all for your help, support and that desire to 'Share A Smile.'

As my personal and professional self, I am working in close collaboration as a volunteer with the NGO Goonj, which has received the Real Heroes Award by CNN, the NGO of The Year 2007 Award and many more. We are doing a simple, yet extremely important collection drive. Your help and support will make many get the basic requirements of life.
What you can share:
Old or new but in wearable condition – Woolens, Sarees, Salwar Suits, Kurta-Pyjamas, Trousers, Shirts, children clothes, Bedsheets, Blankets
Of all size, in pairs (if possible, left and right tied together)
Utensils: Old/ New- Pans, Plates, Bowls, Glasses, Tawa, Spoons & Ladles, Cooker, Cups, Tongs etc
Stationery: Old/new school bags, lunch boxes, water bottles, Pen, pencil, sharpener, eraser, scale etc.
Paper: Newspapers, magazines, one side used paper.
Dry ration: Pulses, Spices, sugar, tealeaf, rice etc.
You can also contribute - Large quantities of surplus/waste cotton & hosiery cloth for making sanitary napkins & undergarments
To know more or to make any financial contributions, please log on to
Please feel free to get in touch with Rohit Singh of Goonj at 09833237678, mail him at, or get in touch with Arvind of Goonj at 09967890692, or mail him at
I would request you all to kindly have a look at the collection centres and understand how you can send across the items.
To know in detail what items you can contribute, kindly click:
DHL is providing free pick-up in Mumbai and suburbs till the 03rd of March. Kindly call them at 022-26585151 to see if they are providing pick-up in your area.
For a complete list of the Goonj collection centres, please click

I thank you in advance for your spirit and the belief that together, we can make a huge difference out there.

Have a great day.

And like I always believe in and say:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ

Happy Parenting!!!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Women In The Kitchen Day :D

So if you're wondering where and when this is happening, well, its going on LIVE today at my place :D

This Sunday, today, has been declared as a No-Woman-In-The-Kitchen Day by the men in my house this hubby and my baba.

So the morning began with a steaming cup of ginger chai, prepared by my baba....Ma n me sipped with our eyes closed...........(well, my parents are here with us for a couple of months and I must say that I have been getting a ready-made cup of chai each morning...lucky me!!!) :D

And now..even as Im writing this, they are still in the kitchen, huffing and puffing over one of my most fav dishes...Thai Green Curry....and I can get the mouth-watering whiff all the way here......

Ok now gotta go..the tummy really can't wait any longer you see :)

Lucky me Lucky me...
White steamed rice n Thai Green Curry ;)

Will update you about the heavenly meal later...tatazzzzzzz

*Pic in this post is for representational purpose only...Source: Google Images.

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Please Do Not Drink And Drive..Life Is Precious - Yours, And Others' Too

Just about an hour ago, around 01:30 in the night, I was working on my laptop. Everyone in the house had gone to sleep and it was really really quiet and peaceful in a way...what with the breeze coming in from the sea and the sky dotted with a few stars here and there...

I was looking out of the balcony once in a while at the sky, taking in the cool breeze on my face, taking in a nice fresh breath, and feeling relaxed....

Up here on the 23rd floor it was really quite calm...

Till there was this huge sound of a crash...I immediately knew from past experiences what this sound meant (I live on the Mumbai-Pune highway and I have witnessed many accidents right in front of my house). Without even wasting a second, I ran out to the balcony. By the time I reached there, the sound of the biker screaming and writhing in pain had already climbed up all the 23 floors and reached my ears...and pierced my heart...It was a shout I dont think I will ever forget...believe me, its still haunting me...

The bike was lying on the side of the highway and at first I could not even see the man. Then I saw this body in a light-coloured shirt lying twisted at the side of the road. He had been flung quite a distance from the spot where the twisted bike now lay. Of course there was no helmet. Immediately a few people began rushing out to him - mostly the night watchmen of our and the adjoining buildings, plus a few cars and bikers started stopping on the highway....

I thought they would take him to the hospital right away. But even after about ten minutes, no one was doing anything rather than talking amongst themselves and dialing numbers and taking down the bike's license plate number. I decided it could get late for the injured man and rushed down with my husband, to take him to the hospital if needed.

Some other people took him to the hospital even as we reached downstairs. We found out from the people there that the man was drunk, that he was not even wearing a helmet !!!! Nothing unbelievable... coz so many of you always drink n drive and nothing happens...isnt it?

My husband was extremely disgusted at the injured man...he thought it served him right, that a person who cannot his and others' life should somehow get punished at least once...maybe correct... but my thoughts were also with the man's family...who was waiting for him at home? Was he the young son of old parents? Was he the young husband of a new bride? Was he the loving father of a toddler? Who all were going to panic and run about and cry out hearing about his accident? Didn't he have anyone precious at home who he wanted to go back to safe and sound? I am still wondering about the scene when his family gets that one call telling them about the accident.. I hope and pray that he lives...

Only the other day I was in an auto with my three-year-old. The driver was an elderly man, careful and correct in his driving. Suddenly this speeding car came out of the other side, trying to speed away through a signal, and almost came crashing into us, its tires screeching...believe me, we were only a scratch away from a fatal collision....even though we were careful and correct, someone who does not value life that much was out there, almost leading us to a collision....thankfully we were not hurt....but not everyone is so lucky..

Life is precious...really.....and think about those who will receive that call if ever such a situation arises...please people...if you really love your family, do be a little responsible...

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, February 25, 2011

Are You A Toybanker Yet ?

I am sure you all loved playing with toys when you were young…..I am sure you had a favourite toy, maybe a few favourite toys….. I am sure you have loaded your little ones with all kinds of the latest toys available in the market out there….And, I am sure, you will continue to do the same….

Not an isolated case, are you?

Of course we all love toys, and now that most of us are parents and have our little ones at home, the moment a new toy is launched, we all run to get the latest addition for our little angels…..

As part of our ‘Share A Smile’ project, I happened to get in touch with this wonderful team of young and self-driven individuals, who, like us, not only talk about that much-needed change in the system, but, unlike most of us, are actually bringing about that change themselves.

Meet Shweta Chari….a young, full-of-life, energetic 20-something, an electronics engineer, an MTV youth icon nominee, and, at heart, still a child.

Shweta is the founder and CEO of Toybank, a bank with Toy Deposits and Joy Dividends, an idea that came into action on the 15th of August 2004, with a vision of reaching out to needy children through fun and play, using toys. The idea of Toybank started in a small restaurant in Mumbai. The year that they started operating, Toybank had 15 volunteers, were working with 4 NGOs and were reaching out to 238 kids in Mumbai. Today, Toybank has more than 200 volunteers, and has managed to reach out to 7000+ kids, as of 2010, and is working with 24 NGOs all over Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Delhi. Not only does it allow a person to donate toys from India, Toybank also has its reach in the UK, from where many ToyBankers have been showing their support to the noble cause.

Toybank’s ultimate dream is to place a toy in the hands of every child in India, and then, in the rest of the world. Shweta and her team understand the importance of toys and the role it plays in developing the psyche of a child. Hence, Toybank is very clear on what toys they WILL NOT accept: no lifestyle dolls, no guns, swords or any other such toy that can instigate violence or create discrimination of any sort.

What ToyBank does is really simple:
1. identify schools
2. inform kids about the right to play
3. toy collection drive in schools/corporates/housing societies
4. gift wrapping with volunteer support
5. identify NGOs, government schools for distribution of collected toys
6. plan an event and distribute collected toys to underprivileged kids

But through this simple process of collecting and distributing toys, ToyBank is today reaching out to more than 7000 kids, and with your support, one day they will soon reach their goal of placing a toy in each child’s hand.

Toybank’s founder Shweta Chari is very clear on why the emphasis on toys. As we sit at a coffee-shop, facing the sea, she infects me with her vision and her enthusiasm, her smile lighting up her eyes as she talks about ‘her kids’ and why ‘TOYS’:

Debolina Raja Gupta: NGOs asking for clothes and money, yes, but how come toys?
Shweta Chari: Every kid has a right to play, it is a basic right that no child should be denied – a right to free play, a right to have unrestricted play time, and the luxury to have that feeling of owning that one object of desire, that magical thing called ‘toy’. There are hundreds and thousands of NGOs who are already doing a great job of collecting clothes and food and money and sending it to needy families. But if you talk about toys, how many street kids do you see out there who have a toy in hand that they are not trying to sell at a traffic signal, but instead, are playing with? Many schools and corporates donate old books and clothes, sometimes even money, but how many people have you seen who go out there and donate toys? Come on, remember the times when you were a child and had that one most-favourite doll, or that car, that was your constant companion, or that soft toy that you hugged and slept with? Remember how special that bond was? Can you imagine how your childhood would have been if you did not have even a single toy to play with?

Debolina Raja Gupta: And play?
Shweta Chari: Play is essential to development as it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing of children and youth. In fact, play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. We strongly hold the belief that every child, irrespective of his/her social and financial background, has the right to make the most of his/her childhood. While accessibility to a decent education is of prime importance, one should not overlook the importance of extra-curricular activities in molding the lives of these children as they evolve into strong, sensitive individuals. After all, these are the very same children who will represent the face of a better globe, a responsible globe. They may be living on the streets, but they are still little kids, and deserve to have some joy in their lives too.

Debolina Raja Gupta: So how does the collection system work?
Shweta Chari: We go to schools and talk to kids about sharing, about how there are so many children out there who have never had a toy, while these kids in school are so lucky. We tell them about the joys of giving, about trying to share a few smiles with other kids out there. We meet children from different classes and our approach to each age group is different, of course we need to talk in such a way that we can get across our ideas to the child in front of us. Once the initial idea is established, children and their parents help us in collecting toys. Many parents even take the initiative of calling us to their housing societies and we have our collections there. Sometimes, a parent invites us to their organization and we have a collection at the office.

Debolina Raja Gupta: What after the collections?
Shweta Chari: Gift-wrapping. Our volunteers help us with sorting the toys according to age-group and then gift-wrap it for the children.

Debolina Raja Gupta: How has the experience been after the donations?
Shweta Chari:
We soon realised that the children who were given the toys were impacted much beyond our expectation. They began to recognise that play was one of their core rights. They also began expressing themselves better and were more in tune with their lives and circumstances.

As per a TISS study:

Prior to a ToyBank event:
93% of the children that ToyBank reached out to felt abandoned and hopeless about their future
Post ToyBank activity:
45% of the children were playing with puzzles while 22% were attached to their toy cars.

Prior to a ToyBank event:
The happiness levels of the children and their parents were shockingly low. 80% of the parents complained that their children felt bitter, angry and agitated towards their environment.
Post ToyBank activity:
Clear indicators showed that through the toys they received from Toybank, these little ones became children again, happy just like children should be.

Debolina Raja Gupta: What makes you do what you do?
Shweta Chari: Street children are subject to malnutrition, hunger, health problems, substance abuse, theft, harassment by the city police and railway authorities, physical and sexual abuse. The fact that each day we meet and see so many kids around the slums in Bombay who are either homeless or left on the streets to fend for themselves, these kids that sit on the pavements playing with stones or broken toys or cycle tires, overwhelms us to immediately fill in that need, the need of a proper and a rightful childhood.

Debolina Raja Gupta: Explain to me who and how Toybank is affecting?
Shweta Chari:
1.encouraging rich children to donate and giving back the lost childhood of the poor and underprivileged child.
2.street children get into immoral habits like drugs and alcohol abuse and go wayward at a very impressionable age, mainly due to the lack of attention from parents and society. They feel they are neglected and unworthy of living. Toybank tells them they are normal too and they have rights just like the rest of us.
3.we want everyone to take responsibility of their own actions. Individuals partnering with Toybank realize the importance of giving and their children, in turn, develop habits like caring and sharing for their society and the world as a whole. simple means of toys, the social mindset that society holds against street children or children of labourers, will be impacted. Both the toy donors, as well as the toy recipient, will understand the significance of respecting one another as human beings. giving a toy to a child, a child’s mind is free to think beyond its circumstances. The child feels cared for and feels one with the world again.

Its really amazing what ToyBank is doing and how they are touching the lives of so many young hearts out there. We are truly lucky to be on this side of the car window, imagine the life of those little ones out there, abandoned on the streets, alone, or begging and working as a toddler to support one’s family. Toybank has taken the initiative and is doing a lot to make this world a better place. But of course they need more support, your support. Help them in this noble deed by writing them a cheque, by organizing funds for them, by volunteering, by spreading the word. They need you.

Contact Shweta Chari at:
Call: 022-24458235

Go on, be a ToyBanker….and Share A Smile….

And like I always believe in and say:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sleuth (2007)

With only two actors in the entire movie, Sleuth is a 2007 film directed by Kenneth Branagh and is based on Harold Pinter's screenplay adaptation of the Tony award-winning play SLEUTH by Anthony Shaffer. The movie stars Jude Law and Michael Cainee, who had also starred in the previous movie adaptation of Sleuth way back in the year 1972.

Cast: Michael Caine as Andrew Wyke
Jude Law as Milo Tindle
Director - Kenneth Branagh
Music - Patrick Doyle

Running Time: 86 minutes

Plot: Two extremely witty and scheming men will fight it out through the movie, matching their wits with the other, fighting for a woman they both claim to love, a woman, who, interestingly, the audience will never finally meet. She will always be a voice on the phone maybe, an entity who is out there in the world somewhere, but never shown. The men fight out each other in a dangerous game of wit and words and scheming, a game that will result in some dangerous final moments.
Andrew Wyke is a wealthy old millionaire, an established writer with a highly intellectual mind. Wyke's wife Maggie is living with her young lover. This lover is Milo Tindle. Wyke is alone in a huge house, a house that is old and royal, a house with a lot of character and intensity in it, a house that will haunt the viewer for days after they have watched the movie. To this house comes Milo Tindle, to visit the old man (either on the invitation of Wyke himself or on the insistence of Maggie). What follows is a series of intellectual and twisted games and role-playing..with dangerous consequences.

The movie is amazing in the way it has been handled. A movie with only two people in it requires extreme merit from the actors and characters to not let the audience drift even for a moment, and that is exactly what this movie manages. Not for a second do you get the chance to look away from the screen. Each word, each sentence is full of meaning, each scene has a purpose, and every angle on the set and in the frame is essential.
The house where the entire movie is based is in itself a work of art. With the theme of the house as much modern and at the same time having that old-world charm, even while everything about the house is so modern, it looms large in the background and serves well to the plot.
Caine is brilliant in his character. He is distinguished, intellectual, full of that old charm that was once so popular among 'real' men of the years gone by.
Jude Law is of course too good to look at to begin with. For those who did not watch the older version, Michael Caine had portrayed the character of Milo Tindle in 1972 that Jude Law now does in 2007. Jude Law is exceptionally wonderful in his display of emotions. Charming, sexy, rugged and full of attitude on the one hand, vulnerable, scared, innocent the next moment, he portrays each emotion with elan and the utmost sincerity through the portrayal of Tindle.
The movie is a cat-and-mouse chase throughout, with both the characters keeping scores of who won which round. They use wit and words to hurt and humiliate the other, using double-crossing, planning, scheming and deception to the hilt. The movie is dark and claustrophobic, extremely smart and filled with that you-know-something-is-about-to-happen feeling.
The music by Patrick Doyle is haunting and perfect. It matches the mood and theme of the movie, providing character to the background and a feel to each frame.

Many people were of the view that the movie would be a remake of the 1972 hit. But it has come as a surprise to all that not only is this movie not a remake, it is in fact a brilliant new take on the original play. In Jude Law's own words - "A completely reinvented Sleuth. It didn't feel like a remake. I always loved the idea at its heart of two men battling it out for a woman you never meet."
Harold Pinter, the screenwriter of the 2007 version, had never seen the 1972 movie, nor had he read the original play or seen a theater adaptation of it, and none of the lines in the movie matched the ones in the previous version.

Sleuth (2007) is a Must-Watch...

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mumbai Police: An Institution of Shame - Refuse FIR In 03-Year-Old's Rape Case In Kalina School In Mumbai

In what can be simply termed as a case of cruelty and disgusting shamelessness by the Mumbai Police, the inspectors at the Vakola Police station Mumbai refused to lodge an FIR in the case of the 03-year-old's rape in her school, blaming instead the parents to try and sensationalise things!!!!

The Kindergardener was allegedly raped in her school on Thursday morning by her school guard in the school toilet. When the girl came out crying and bleeding profusely, a peon (Rekha Kamble) and teacher (Elison Mirinda) threatened her. Imagine..two women doing this to a 03-year-old!!! Life Imprisonment and death is not enough for these two.

When the child reached home and told her mother what had happened, the mother immediately examined the child and took her to the hospital to be examined. Doctors confirmed rape and the mother rushed the child to the Vakola police station, where a female inspector refused to lodge the complaint, dismissing the complaint as an attempt at raising an 'unnecessary controversy', even after examining the baby. For the next two and a half days the cops refused to lodge the FIR. Finally, on Saturday, with the intervention of Sion hospital, the police took the baby to the school, where she pointed out the man who had assaulted her.

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Murder Made Legal

I woke up to a beautiful morning yesterday and opened the paper, the cup of tea still sending those spirals of smoke up. And it was then that my day was ruined.

The front page carried the headline 'Three-Year-Old Raped In School.'

Who can have a good day after reading something as sick and demented as this?

I read on to know that the school in question was a school in Mumbai's Kalina area. The 03-year-old had been raped inside the school by the janitor and the teacher and peon had tried to cover up the incident. They had also threatened the little baby to not tell anyone about what had happened. It was only later that the baby's mother realised about the heinous crime.

Murder is illegal, right? But tell me something, how is it possible for the parents of this baby not to go out and kill this monster, who is out in this world of humans, waiting to pounce on our babies. Wouldn't it be a favour to society if this monster was killed? I am not sure if this monster has been caught or no, but I am pretty sure what the punishment should be - first the parents of the baby should be made to cut off his b****. And once he writhes in pain and cannot take it anymore, he should still be left there the same way, and then the parents should do the honour of killing him...

India Government - Wake up now...and make it legal for the parents or relatives of rape to kill these monsters !!!!! Its time you do at least something to save your children.....

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Kala Ghoda Festival 2011, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai

The Kala Ghoda Festival 2011 is on at Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, with creations as wonderful and thought-provoking as ever. The dates for the festival this year are 05th-13th Feb 2011.

Performances this year include names like Rekha Bharadwaj (Sufi/Bollywood), Sunidhi Chauhan, Sonu Nigam, Prem Joshua and Band (World Fusion Music), Paula Jeanine (IndiPop), The Amit Chaudhari Band, Dutch Jazz Expedition, Nirala Kabir, Ustad Fazal Qureshi and Friends (Percussion), Shaadarsh (Hindi Fusion Band).

From the year 1999, when it was first held, The Kala Ghoda Festival is today a major attraction for not only Indians, but also for the art-lovers from across the world. With its popularity increasing with each year, the festival attracts major names in the world of arts and crafts. From street plays to street performances, pottery to painting, artist model to craft and handloom stalls, the festival has it all. With lively stalls displaying products from different states of India on the one hand, and constant performances happening the whole day, the 09-day long event is a huge hit with students as well as the 'thinking' adult.

Interestingly, the Kala Ghoda festival is organised by the Kala Ghoda Association, which is a Non-Profit organisation, and states its objectives as 'physically upgrading the Kala-Ghoda sub precinct and making it the Art District of Mumbai.

The sub-festivals feature visual arts, dance, music, theatre, cinema, literature, lectures seminars and workshops, heritage walks, special events for children and a vibrant street festival.

The entire place is converted into a fun and artistic place, the setting similar to that of a 'mela' or local fair. Be prepared to be surrounded with artisans showcasing their creations, stalls selling local state food, artists sketching instant portraits, musicians performing, workshops being held and many more such art and literary happenings.

When: Early February each year, please check exact dates.
Entry: FREE
Venues: The event is held at venues that span the Jehangir Art Gallery, The National Gallery of Modern Art, The David Sassoon Library, Max Mueller Bhavan, Elphinstone College, The K R Cama Institute, the M C Ghia Hall, the street area of Rampart Row, Azad Maidan, Horniman Circle.

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, February 4, 2011

'There Will Be Chaos If I Resign' - Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak

From the burning land of Egypt comes President Hosni Mubarak's latest cry - "I want to resign, but there will be chaos if I resign now."

In a clip by ABC News, the 82-year-old ruler and looter is seen saying "I am fed up with being President and would like to leave office now, but cannot for fear that the country would sink into chaos."

Rubbishing the claims that his government is responsible for the recent anti-Government protests, Mubarak has blamed the main opposition party the Muslim Brotherhood for the unrest. "I am troubled by the violence we have seen in Tahrir Square for the past few days but the government is not responsible for it" ABC News has quoted the President as saying. "I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other. I don't care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt" said Mubarak as violence escalated on the 10th day of wave of protests across the country.

On the possibility of his son Gamal being his successor, Mubarak said it was never his intention to have his son follow him into office, ABC reported. Pledging his loyalty to Egypt, he said, "I would never run away, I will die on this soil."

According to United Nations estimates, more than 300 people have died since the unrest broke out on the 25th of January, with close to 4,000 injured. The Egyptian prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, apologised for the deadly clashes and promised an investigation into the violence.

Voice of the Protesters:
1. He is never to be supported by any person of the population. He is a killer.
2. Mubarak is a terrorist, not us.
3. Dr Kamal el-Helbawy is a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood based in London. He says the offer is more of a threat than an opportunity. They are threatening as well. If you lose this opportunity, there is no other way. So this is a threat. Secondly, the Muslim Brotherhood were banned for many, many years and all the time during the regime of Mubarak for 30 years and now they are in trouble and the revolution is continuous and the people would not like to see only Mubarak departing but the whole regime that was involved.
4. ABC Middle East correspondent Ben Knight told Radio National the attacks have been stepped up, with Mubarak supporters and officials harassing journalists in their hotels. "A group of pro-Mubarak supporters managed to get into that hotel and were looking for foreign journalists. That situation, I understand, ended without too much incident but perhaps what is even more worrying since then is that the state authorities have been going around to the hotels. One journalist has reported the authorities burst into his room, six of them, went straight out to the balcony looking for broadcast equipment, didn't find it and then came back in."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Mubarak: "Hear the cry of people and their extremely humane demands. Meet the people's desire for change without hesitation. In today's world, freedoms cannot be postponed or overlooked. We are all mortals. What matters is to be remembered with respect."

On U.S. President Barack Obama’s apparent calls for his resignation, Mr. Mubarak said he told his American counterpart, “You don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now.” He, however, maintained that Mr. Obama is a “very good man.”

Already, the unrest has stilled normal life in Cairo. Trains are stopped, schools are closed, and banks are shut. Scarcity of commodities and further hardship to people will aggravate the already tense situation further. There are indications that the situation could flare up to an ugly civil war between the pro-democracy people and Mubarak supporters. If that happens, it will definitely take the country back by a few decades, and the recovery, both politically and economically, would be painful and slow.

- Debolina Raja Gupta