Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ruma Roka the down to earth pioneer

The video of Ruma Roka blew me away. Such simplicity, such passion, sheer determination to do something for people who need it most and are the most neglected part of society.
She is all heart and conveys that with her simple words and gestures.
Rare would be a person who does not get infected by her enthusiasm.
We happen to live in Noida and I am determined to go find her and make my contribution to the cause of helping those who are differently-abled.
If she can do it so can we all.
All we need is the conviction that it can be done.
Ruma is working toward developing employable people who would be a success wherever they may go to work.
She has lit the spark. We need to keep it going and make it into a full blown fire that will light people's lives.
Thank you Ruma.

Franklin Templeton Investmentspartnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cheese in Illinois

Ishita was extremely happy to be studying in Illinois University at Champagne Urbana for her student exchange year.
Her room in the hostel had a Microwave and a mini fridge. These two trusty companions helped her to feed herself for the entire duration of her stay at the university.
She is thrifty and vegetarian to boot so with the limited choices available she was happy to fend for herself and in the process experiment with food.
She has always been in a structured environment where food has been the last thing on her mind as it magically appears when it is time to eat. :)
In Illinois it was another story.
She bought the groceries, stored them and used them to feed herself.
While she was still new, she bought a carton of milk which had around four liters of milk.
She consumed some of it in the first few days and then noticed that the rest of the milk in the carton tasted funny.
Those days Skype used to keep us connected for hours at a stretch every day. She asked me what could have happened and how she could fix it.
I told her she could make cheese with the off color milk.
She had a small half litre borosil bowl that was her one all-purpose utensil.
She began by taking some milk in it and putting it in the microwave with some lime juice added.
Soon she saw cheese in the bowl, drained the whey and saved the cheese. She was elated as it tasted good and was something that she could recognize, use and eat.
It was almost as if she was the first person in the world to make cheese from milk.
There was plenty more where the first batch came from. She did it again and again till all the milk was used up and she had a big mug full of cottage cheese.
Oh, she was so proud for not having wasted the milk and having a supply of cottage cheese that she relished over the next few days. On bread, in her mixed veg salad, and just like that.

She did set the fridge to a lower temperature and none of the other cartons that she bought later turned sour or were made into cheese.
That first carton had taught her a lot.
Good lesson for the price of one milk carton.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Letters in a sand storm

Parveen and I have been inseparable since babyhood. I don't remember how and when we first became friends. We just have been. This is a fact that has been accepted by all around us. They let us be.
This incident is from when we were around seven years old. I was visiting them in Nasirabad, a small town near Ajmer, deep inside our beautiful Rajasthan.
I can see many sandy hills around in my mind's eye even though I could not find them later when it visited Nasirabad as an adult.
One day, my uncle, parveen's father wrote many letters to friends and family, sealed them and gave them to us to post in the letter box which was some distance away.
We left together, parveen and I and walked toward the letter box. We were absorbed in telling each other our endless stories and were not paying much attention to the letters in my hand.
Suddenly a gust of wind came and tore the letters away from my hand.
We ran to catch the letters that had immediately taken on a life of their own and scattered with the sandy wind. If we ran one way, we saw another letter blowing tantalising away the other way. We managed to catch two of the letters with great difficulty and the other two I think were just no where to be seen. They were borne on the sand storm to a destination chosen by the wind.
We were terrified at this fiasco and did not know what to do.
Self preservation won, even at this young age. We posted the two left over letters And came back home quietly. No body asked us and we did not tell that some of the letters had Been lost.
Many days pased. Our worry lessened and we went our way normally.
I came back to Delhi to my own home with the secret safe.
Many months later when we met again, we told uncle of what had happened that day.
He said that he had wondered why he had not received replies to his letters.
He asked us why we had not told him then. He could have just written more letters to replace the lost ones.
We had no answer to this logical question and just stood quietly with lowered eyes. The sand storm had literally stolen those letters from us.
I can still see ourselves running wildly in the sand storm trying to catch those elusive inland letters.
This just cemented our friendship even more.