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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The World Is Hungry: By Pritish Nandy (As Seen In Bombay Times)

Came across a very interesting article today, something very very close to my heart and something that me and my partner also do on a regular basis (though not on such large scale), along with some more people in other places. I don't know about many of you who would regularly be doing this, or would even agree to what is being said here, but if you ARE one of those who can relate to this article, do drop in a comment, would be lovely to know you .....

As seen in the Bombay Times edition of 19th October 2011, Wednesday. Article by Pritish Nandy.

It began one morning years ago. Rina put a bowl of water outside the window for the noisy pigeons that wake us up at the crack of dawn. Soon we had so many birds queued up on our window ledge that the bowls increased. Then Rangita put out some in her bedroom too. Birds of all kinds began to crowd our windows on the 24th floor. So Rina put out some grains. It disappeared quicker than we could put it out. So we put out more. But even that left us feeling guilty; many hungry birds still hung around, waiting. Now we feed them whenever we can.

Feeding the strays on the street came next. It started with Shabby, a beautiful white terrier abandoned by her owners when they left India. She greyed over the years with age and dirt. Living on the street isn't easy, particularly for a home bred pet, but Shabby was brave and we first noticed her because she chased every car that drove by, in the hope her owners would return one day, to take her home. No one came but over the years the strays on the street accepted her as one of their own. We started sharing our dinner with Shabby at night and then found it impossible to ignore her friends. So along with Shabby, came Sadhu, Moti, Puchku, Raja, Dushtu and a few stray cats. One day, the watchmen protecting a patch of land near the income tax colony met Rina and Ishita and requested them to feed four pups that a stray had delivered on the patch. So they also joined our family dinner. Three of the pups died soon after, from snakebite. Only Bhujan survived. Plus we discovered Patch and three legged Langdu from Pedder Road. And there's Pippa, the pretty snail we found in Moti's water pot who came home and settled next to a basil plant.

On her last birthday, the kids gifted Rina snaps of our entire family. These included all of them and the three current ones: Snarling, surly Rani, 11, who I found outside my MP bungalow in Delhi, her head bashed in, brains hanging out; gentle Mowgli, 4, who Rangita brought home half-blind from a film shoot in Ooty, where she was living in the trees among monkeys; and tempestuous Mojo, barely 1, a Lab with hip displasia gifted to us by our neighbours. An entire wall in our living room is dedicated to them and the others who have passed on. Magic, a rescued pom from Crawford Market; Mogambo, an abandoned boxer; Mambo No 5, another stunning boxer, born in Rashtrapati Bhavan; Mystic, rescued from under a car; and Mischief the tomcat who challenged all of them and ruled our home.

When our colleague Bobbie died, Candy and Sydney came home. But we were overbooked and had to give them away to Melissa who runs a shelter in Lonavla. Melissa left her Bandra home and settled in Lonavla, just to look after her many dogs. Even I had 42 rescued dogs once, in an ashram I built in Murbad. It was run by an old Englishman who I also found abandoned near Kemps Corner, begging for his living. But the locals in Murbad made his life miserable and one day he vanished. So now I have given the land to PAWS and Nilesh Bhanage runs his shelter there.

Wherever I look today, I find animal NGOs doing amazing work. Yet there's hunger everywhere. Stray cattle, dogs and cats roam the streets, scrummaging for leftovers. Hungry horses collapse, unable to pull their tongas any more. Monkeys trudge all day long, tied to a rope, begging for alms. Sick, emaciated bullocks pull overburdened carts. Once majestic camels lie sick and dying in Juhu beach. Elephants beg for food outside our temples. It's a sad, pitiful sight. Go to any circus pitched in the city in winter and see those once proud beasts cowering in captivity, just skin and bones, their eyes full of hunger, pain and helplessness. So, next time you throw away food or waste it, think of all those hungry strays all over this city. It's the cheapest thing to give away. Do it. Do it whenever you can.'

Mr. Pritish Nandy, thank you so much for sharing all this. I will forever see you in a different light from now on....

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

Debolina Raja Gupta

Out Of Your Cupboard And Straight To Their Hearts

A few days back one of my friends told me she had been cleaning up her house for Diwali and there was so much 'kachda' (rubbish) coming out of her cupboard that she didn't know what to do with it. I asked her if she was talking about old clothes by any chance.
"Of know, there were sooo many clothes there, clothes I didn't even wear in the last 5-6 years. I had them all this while to motivate myself to get back in shape and wear them someday. But you know how I love to shop. There's no more space in my cupboards to keep the new ones. So I guess Im just gonna throw these old ones away."

I occasionally collect such 'old' things and give them to orphanages or street kids. So I asked her if I could take these away.
"Oh wow, of course. Thanks dear. Now I will feel I have done something good on Diwali, that I have done my part." And she proceeded to put the pile of old clothes in a bag. "Oh, by the way, I have yesterday's leftover food. Actually my husband didn't like the taste..too salty for him, we got a new cook so I'm still training her. Why don't you take the food and give it away too?" She was smiling, thinking about the extra brownie points she would get for her goodness-meter on Diwali.
"No, I think I will let it pass. I'd rather cook something fresh at home and give them." I think she heard the distaste in my voice.
"No, I mean it is a little extra salty, but they are used to all this na (by they she meant the street kids)..And a little extra salty food is better than no food, no?"
Seriously????!!! "No. Thanks for the clothes."

I don't understand this mentality though. And I am glad I don't. what does it take to share a little of what you already have? A little meal prepared at home. Or maybe something to eat you buy from outside and give them. That doesn't mean you can hand down your garbage to 'them', just because they live on the streets. Just because they don't have any better options in life.

Your old clothes, old toys, books, blankets, things that were once used by you but now you use them no more. What's to think what to do with them? There is always an orphanage or a shelter near where you stay. Why can't you simply go there and give it? Or if you find that too difficult to trace, why can't you simply go out there and hand it to the many kids out there on the streets? Ever seen the joy on a little kids' face as he gets a new toy? So what if its already been used for years by your own child? In that little kid's life, it will forever be special...

And the worst are those who keep asking me if they can give me their leftover food for the 'Feed A Kid Every Saturday' thing that I do, and that many have already supported on FB and otherwise. To them, I would just like to say one thing: Would you let your child eat something like that? Something that is stale, too spicy, too salty, or just plain unhealthy? Something that can make a little child fall sick? As it is these little ones on the streets have a lot to deal with. Your making them fall ill is the last thing they need. So please spare them. And PLEASE don't even think of scoring on your so-called goodness-factor by dumping your garbage on someone else.

If you can share some love, go out and do it. Else stay at home.


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

Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, October 3, 2011

Im Taking Away Your Name, Even Though You're Not Mine

Many Indian women are celebrating today....reason?

The judgement:
'The wife has a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India (right to life) to use any name including her married name notwithstanding the fact that her marriage has been dissolved.'

The legal position thus clarified, the passport office finally reversed its earlier stand and issued a divorced Pune woman a renewed passport in her former married surname this week.

While this may come as a cause of celebration for many women, I somehow fail to see the logic and the 'fair play' in this...You've had your differences with a man you someday had loved, lived together with and shared your life with, but something happened down the line and you decided its best to move on. So what's the point of holding on to a name that you decided to give up already?

At the time of marriage, if you ask the bride what she is feeling most, chances are she will tell you she is going through an identity crisis - giving up the name she was born with, the name that gave her her identity, the name she was - and suddenly, she has a new name, a new identity, she is a new being altogether.

The name that tells the world you're a couple, that you're together, the name that you chose to share as man and wife. And when you decide to give up that part of your life, why is it that you would still want to hold on to that identity? Some women have pointed out that there's way too much paper work involved. But come on, just because there's a lot of government office running around to do and a lot of paperwork to fill, does it mean you keep that name as your identity, the owner of which was too difficult for you to keep in your life?

Maybe you would say Im being totally wrong here, but really, I can't get the logic of this, and if you do, kindly enlighten me more....

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

Debolina Raja Gupta