Saturday, August 15, 2009

Independence Day and Dad

My Dad, who was recently hospitalised for 4 days for heart problem was back home the day before. He was the one who started the Flag Hoisting ceremony in our society when we moved to Mira Road almost 6 years ago. Patriotic songs are played since morning followed by flag hoisting. This has grown over the years into recognition for children who pass their exams with flying colours. And recently even mini sports are held in our compound. The entire function ends with distribution of sweets and snacks. Now children look forward to Independence Day and Republic Day every year. Nowadays even the SP and/ or local political leaders come to our to preside over the small function. The percentage of Muslims in our society and area is on the higher side. But those who feel that Muslims are less patriotic than other Indians, our society / building should serve as an eye opener to them.

Though this has been happening all the while, what especially made me recall and narrate about the Flag Hoisting ceremony has it's own significance. The society members give a lot of respect to my Dad as he's an ex -RBI AGM and helps a lot in organising the entire event. This is replete with his speech and announcements and encouraging words to children interspersed with his own little shairi and poems (which he's started writing after retirement). This year too Dad was approached for his suggestions and help. Obviously he was to do the announcements too. But last Monday we took him to the hospital and he was admitted for almost 4 days. He's been advised less exertion. Today, he got ready for the function which is held in our building compound. The arrangements this year were done while he was in hospital and later, resting at home. He put on the tricolour badge and went straight down. We advised him not to exert himself too much. He proudly announced, 'I am going for the kids'.

After a while, we heard his voice on the mike! 'Uh oh'!, I said to myself, 'Who can keep Dad away from the mike, especially on such a social occasion?'. I called my Mom, who was already on her way downstairs. 'Yes', she said. 'I know'. There was pride and happiness in her voice. My brother went down to take pictures. Because Dad likes pictures of all important events on record. My youngest brother had almost reached home from Pune for the weekend. I told him Dad was announcing yet again! He waited and watched before coming upstairs. Dad was chatting with the SP, who was the chief guest for the event. Dad will be Dad. And to think that he was in hospital just two days before (including one day in ICU) and some relatives were still coming home to enquire about his health. Who will believe the same when they watch him thus?!

This takes me back to my childhood at RBI Quarters at Mumbai Central, where flag hoisting was always an event like this. The colony was vast and had a playground, a garden, a pvt Marathi school (has been replaced by a community hall now), a dispensary, a store and benches to relax. Those days the Marathi school students used to prepare some songs for the event. Patriotic songs used to be played since morning followed by flag hoisting. The event was mostly attended the top notch people in RBI. Having the Governer of RBI as the chief guest used to be an honour. It is on one such Independence Day that we also met Dr Manmohan Singh, who was the Governer then. A highly intelligent but quiet and humble person. He's still the same as he used to be. Power has not changed him, thankfully.

Then in the evenings, Dad used to take us to Flora Fountain, Churchgate station and Fort area to show the buildings illuminated for Independence Day. The spirit still continues.....

Sunday, August 02, 2009

It's finally open!

It's finally open - finally! Yes, I am talking of the Mira Road Skywalk.

Amidst the confusion after the news which appeared in TOI that the skywalk opening was stuck due to some pending issues between MMRDA and Western Railways, the much awaited skywalk is finally open. It was open to the public yesterday (1st Aug, 2009). Everyone seemed pleased and happy walking on it. Some were seen clicking pictures. There are 5-6 security guards along the entire stretch. People were seen asking asking them several questions. As I clicked with my mobile, I could see some people smiling back at me in proud acknowledgement. The excitement of the people on the skywalk was worth noticing. Some just stood there, taking a look of the surroundings from the walk-way. It was nice walking on the Skywalk instead of the ground as the station area is congested with hawkers and with mud in the rains.

This is Phase I of the Skywalk, which opens from the new ticket counter and ends on the footpath opposite Corporation Bank. Phase II work is still on. Hope it will be completed soon too.