गजाननकाका

गजानन गोविंद कानिटकर किंवा गजाकाका हे माझ्या वडीलांचे मावसभाऊ. त्यांच्या ठाण्याला राहणाऱ्या (पण मुळच्या कोकणातल्या) ताईमावशीचे चिरंजीव!

गजानन काका बरीच वर्षे कोकणातच राहिल्यामुळे माझे व त्यांचे भेटीचे प्रसंग फारच कमी आले. आधी तेय काही वेळा औरंगाबादला यायचे त्यावेळी मी लहान होतो. नंतर मुंबईला आल्यावर ते ठाण्याला आले असतील तर भेट व्हायची. पण मला त्यांची अगदी सुरवातीची आठवण म्हणजे ते आमच्या औरंगाबादच्या घरी होते तेव्हा. त्यावेळी मी खूपच लहान होतो.

त्यांच्या घाऱ्या डोळ्यांची आणि उंच स्वरात बोलण्याची मला भीती वाटायची. परंतु ते मला जवळ बोलावून हळूच खिशातून एक नाणं बाहेर काढायचे…आणि बॉलपेन घेऊन माझ्या छोट्या मनगटावर एक सुंदर घड्याळ काढून द्यायचे. घड्याळ काढल्यावर ते नाणं मला बक्षीस मिळायचं. त्यानंतर माझी भीती कुठल्याकुठे पळून जायची. आणि मी ते घड्याळ घरातल्या सर्वांना दाखवत हुंदडायचो.

gajakaka.jpgत्या काळात माझ्या मोठ्या आत्याचं (सौ मंगल आत्याचं) लग्न ठरलं. त्याकाळात त्यांनी औरंगाबादला एक उपहारगृह सुरु केलं होतं. त्यांचा अजून जम बसायचा होतं. कै. नानांनी विचारपूर्वक लग्नाच्या कामांची आखणी केली होती. त्यात त्यांनी गजाननकाकांना पुण्याहून येणाऱ्या पाहुण्यांच्या चहा-कॉफीची सोय बघण्यास सांगितले, आणि त्यांना हवं असलेलं सर्व साहित्य पुरवलं. झालं!! गजाननकाकांनी वऱ्हाड आल्यापासून ते परत निघेपर्यंत ही खिंड अगदी व्यवस्थित सांभाळली. त्या २४ तासात ज्यांना कोणाला चहा/कॉफी/दुध जे-जे म्हणून हवे होते, ते-ते त्यांनी स्वतः बनवून दिले! ही कामगिरी त्यांनी इतकी चोख बजावली की सगळ्या पाहुण्यांनी, ‘अशी सोय कुठे पाहिली नाही बुवा!” अशी प्रशस्ती दिली!

 

त्यांच्या ह्या कामसूवृत्तीला आणि सचोटीला मात्र उपाहारगृहाचं आर्थिक गणित काही जमलं नाही. दुर्दैवाने त्यांना उपाहारगृहाचा गाशा गुंडाळावा लागला. कालांतराने ते कोकणात त्यांच्या गावी, म्हणजे अडूरला रहायला गेले. नंतर उन्हाळ्यात त्यांच्या ठाण्याच्या घरी आले असतील तेव्हा भेटायचे. त्यांनी तिकडून आंबे आणलेले असायचे, आणि घरभर त्याच्या आढ्या लावलेल्या असायच्या.

‘अडूरच्या घरी या’ असे नेहमी म्हणायचे, ‘पण येताना कणीक आणा बरंका, कारण आमच्याकडे मिळत नाही. आम्हाला आमटी-भात चालतो, परंतु तुमच्या मुलांना पोळ्या खायची सवय आहे ना, म्हणून सांगतोय…!’ … हे सांगायला विसरायचे नाहीत.

काल ते गेल्याची बातमी कळली आणि मनात त्यांच्या आठवणी जाग्या झाल्या….कोकणी माणसाची सर्व गुणवैशिष्ठ्ये त्यांच्यात बघायला मिळायची. पु.ल.देशपांडे यांच्या ‘अंतुबर्वा’ प्रमाणे कधी त्याचं बोलणं मन विषण्ण ही करायचं…

हा अंतरबाह्य कोकणी माणूस आंब्याच्या पर्व काळात देवाघरी गेला हा ही एक दैवी संकेतच असावा!! हातावरच्या खऱ्या घड्याळाकडे बघून त्यांनी काढलेलं खोटं घड्याळ आठवलं!!

त्यांना आमची आदरांजली…ईश्वर त्यांच्या मृतात्म्यास शांती देवो ही प्रार्थना.

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Performing Arts Festival of IIT Bombay

Out of many interesting events happening on the campus, the one which I enjoy the most is the ‘Performing Arts Festival’ or PAF as it is popularly known! This is a brilliant concept and I just love the format. To begin with, it is just another ‘inter hostel competition’. However, it goes much beyond that.

The objective is to perform a theatrical act. Few hostels come together to make a team and submit their entry. Based on the number of entries, the PAF committee announces the schedule. The act involves ALL departments of the theatre, such as: script writing, art, production, music, acting, voiceover, light, sound, direction etc.

Panorama_PAF

However, the most crucial criteria to set up the act is the stage which is provided…it is a huge area to be covered by the props and lights. This is another reason, that the actors in this act DO NOT have microphones. They simply mime on the stage with a lip movement, and the voice over is provided by the actors in the front. The stage property is huge. Earlier, a stage with many levels was found challenging, however, in recent times, the production has graduated to many new and spectacular ‘heights’! We have seen a double storied building with an external staircase and galleries, line of control with watch towers, and even a moving train on the stage!

mainlights_paf.jpg

The music team performs LIVE and lends the necessary audio effect to the whole act. The voiceover artists scramble through the script papers, and the limited number of microphones made available!

All in all, this activity is a nice example of team spirit and creativity. Months of preparations come to an end after the act is over! Few glimpses of yesteryears years PAF for you: https://gymkhana.iitb.ac.in/~cultural/web/index.php?key1=larger

 

T007: Kolkata (Part 2)

After a hectic but exciting day at yFactor conference, it was time for me to start back! I got in to the car and was heading back to the airport. I was accompanied by a senior professor, who was to get down on the way. He was a perfect person to get a suggestion for buying some sweets. He suggested Balaram Mullick sweets on the way. He guided the car driver to the entrance, and suggested that I can take as much time for my ‘sweet’ shopping, while they park the car in the adjacent lane!

BalaramMullick.png
Source: TripAdvisor

I entered this ‘Mishti Magic’ shop, and was absolutely clueless, about what to buy! I was simply looking at the display of mouth-watering delicacies, when someone tapped me on my shoulder! I turned to see a gentleman asking me, “Are you Dr. Sameer Sahasrabudhe  by any chance?”. “Yes! off course I am”, I smiled and shook hands with him. He was beaming by now and said, “I am happy to meet you, since I am a participant in your online course currently going on the NPTEL platform!”. He introduced as a professor from Techno India, and was visibly excited to meet the online instructor in person. In no time he went to the counter and got me a cup of Nolen gurer Souffle, which was the speciality of this outlet! I had a short discussion, before I realised that the people in the car outside were waiting for long now! I asked for recommendations to be packed, bought them, and bid him a good bye…not before I clicked a selfie with him and his colleague!

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THis was not the first time that I experienced a ‘celebrity teacher’ moment, but it was first time I experienced it outside Mumbai! and it was special…too bad that I am unable to remember the name of this gentleman.. please help me getting him!

Nevertheless, the course on NPTEL is getting over this week, and I will get the list of ALL the participants. Hope to get it there!

T007: Kolkata (Part 1)

Last month my friend and ex colleague Agnijeet called me and requested to deliver a lecture at a conference organised by his institute. I did not ask for more details at that time, and realised later that the date is amidst my Pune travel. However, I managed to squeeze Friday for this visit, and join back for a day on Saturday.

Also, the SIU campus at Viman nagar came in handy for me to literally’ walk up to the airport in 10 minutes. Kolkata was just about to get going, when I landed at 8 AM! The venue was the beautiful Birla Industrial & Technological Museum. I was early, and could have a look at some of the nice exhibits!

The event was: yFactor: the annual conference of NSHM. The program kickstarted with a panel discussion about ‘Women in media’, a fitting topic to mark the International Women’s day! Met some of the stalwarts in the media..! Bachhi Karkaria, Dilrukshi Handunnetti, Nirupama Subramanyam, and Anuradha were curt, and clear about the status of women in media!

 

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I had the opportunity to share the stage with some stalwarts! The senior media professional Dr. Raju, Tejas Gandhi (fashion designer), and Cyrus Dastur (Shamiyana film club). The topic was interesting: Creativity in digital age! We shared our views and also had a fair share of differences! All in all it was quite interesting experience.

Made a lot of new friends, and left the venue to catch up the flight back! An interesting incident was waiting for me on the way to the airport. More about it in the second part… coming soon!

T006: Pune

This visit to Pune was part of my monthly schedule where I visit Symbiosis University for a week. But then I realised that it is going to be much bigger than that, since I am going to have two interesting things during this very trip. The first thing was a LIVE session for the NPTEL course I am co-instructor for; and the second one was a one day short trip to Kolkata to deliver a guest lecture!

The LIVE session was planned on the Thursday (March 7, between 3-4 PM). The team at the Symbiosis Law School at Viman Nagar Campus, made all the necessary arrangements for me to go LIVE. It was the time, and I began my session. It was wonderful experience to receive queries, comments,
and suggestions from the participants of the course.

The video can be seen below. I have my friend Dr. Tanmoy De, who shared his experience about the course planning stage. He and his colleagues came up with an outline for an interesting course on Rural Marketing!

In addition to this interesting experience, I got a chance to relish, one of the best ‘Misal‘ served in Pune: The Shrimant Misal! It is one of those things that has to be experienced, and not just to read, hear, or see! The reason why I mentioned that ‘I got a chance’ is because, although I visit the SIU campus on Senapati Bapat Road, so many time,s I always missed the chance to visit this place…but not this time. I got hold of my friend Kailas Rode, and actually managed to keep our date with the awesome Misal!

Shrimant Misal, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune

The restaurant uses brass utensils to give a royal look to their presentation. In addition every dish seems carefully crafted to make it tasty, tempting to eyes, and wholesome! The signature dish is the ‘Shrimant Special Misal. This consists of a spicy sprout curry, condiments, chopped onion, a piece of lemon, some carrot slices, potato curry, fried papad, curds, and the bread! I was amused to find a rare traditionally maharashtrian sweet: a peanut laddoo. The dish is served with an unlimited supply of the spicy curry called as ‘Tarri‘. The taste was just right (spicy, as it should be), and the curds offered the right balance to neutralise the spice!

All in all, it was a good sumptuous snack that made our day!

T005: Madurai: A long wait

After the enchanting visit to the north, I got a chance to visit the south in the very next week! This time Madurai was the first halt. A 6 day long FDP was organised by the famous Thagarajar College of Engineering, at Madurai, and I was supposed to be there for a session on the 5th day and also on the concluding day (16-17 February)!

I flew early morning from Mumbai to Chennai, and was quite time consuming on the account of the recent attacks at Pulwama on 14 February. I then changed over to a plane headed towards Madurai. It was a short trip, and I was planning to catch some sleep, since I had left my home around 3:30 AM! I woke up to realise that we had landed at Madurai, and (as usual), I saw many of the passengers scrambling to get out of the plane as early as they can. This took a while, and there was no sign of the gates opening.

I could see that the passengers were now visibly (and vocally) disturbed, and started questioning the crew. Since it was mainly in Tamil, I could not participate, but could understand (and also share) their emotions. Somehow, it got resolved and we were out of the plane. As we were walking through the jet bridge, I realised that the volumes of the agitating passengers calmed down suddenly. I looked outside, to see a heart warming visual!

A coffin was being off leaded from a small military aircraft. The coffin was covered in tricolour, which made all of us realise the gravity of the matter… it was the body of a brave martyr, which was being received at Madurai.

Image Courtesy: The Hindu

As I came out of the gate I could see a lot of grim faces. Garlands, Indian flags, and placards bearing the name of the brave soldier. As I got in to the cab sent by the college, I saw a large crowd waiting on the road, and all over the parking area of the airport. My driver asked, “Flight was late Sir?”. “A little bit”, I replied, getting inside the cozy car.

He then told me that the people gathered all over the area, were the relatives and friends of the martyred soldier. They had come over to get him back to his village, where he was supposed to be cremated. He also added that they have been waiting for his body to arrive for last few hours, not aware of the exact timing of the military aircraft.

The driver put on his belt, and said, “Let us go, you are already late”, and was about to push the horn. “Wait!” I almost shouted…”Please don’t press the horn. Let us wait and see him go off”.

I just realised how, we often overreact to something which is happening for a genuine cause!

Read more about Flight Lieutenant K. Praveen in these articles appeared in The Hindu and The Times of India.