Thursday, September 18, 2008

Toybank's in town!

Toybank's first toy collection drive is on!

I thought it's always nice to get started by creating awareness in the neighborhood first. Hence the first toy collection drive is happening in my society next weekend :)

Hope we get loads of toys from everyone. These toys will be segregated according to age groups of 1-3, 4-7, 8-12 and gift-wrapped. They'll be given to NGOs providing non formal education to kids in and around Pune. We have already identified a couple of them who have expressed interest in taking the toys.

Anyone in Pune who's interested in volunteering for Toybank or anybody who wish to donate toys, gift wrapping sheets or stationery required for gift-wrapping, please contact me on

Volunteers from Bangalore, please write in to us at and if you are in Mumbai write to us at

Watch this space for more!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Akanksha Literary Fest 2008 - Pune

Well finally, I think things have started to fall in place.
I had thought my volunteering stint had taken a back seat in 2008. No, not anymore!

The Akanksha Literary Fest took place at Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, Range Hills, Pune on the 30th of August. Few of us from Tech Mahindra volunteered for this event through the CSR.

I had to leave for Bangalore the next day morning and I was so looking forward to an amazing drive with Kunal. So I packed all my stuff on Saturday itself! And then I headed for the event in SIMS at 2 30 a cloudy noon.

Akanksha is an NGO working with children on non formal education. Akanksha works primarily in the field of education, addressing non formal education through the various Akanksha centers in Mumbai and Pune and also formal education by initiating school reforms.

Children between level 1 and level 6 at Akanksha are taught English, Maths and value education. And children between level 7- 12 are taught career skills, leadership skills through programmes like Learning to Lead, Social Leadership and other empowerment programmes.

I had met Anupama and Reeves from Akanksha a month back when they’d visited one of the Tech Mahindra offices to let us know about mentoring opportunities in Akanksha. I was looking forward to meet them at the event as well!

I reached the venue by 3 PM. The event was scheduled to start at 4 PM but the volunteers were asked to be there earlier to help Akanksha arrange the event.

When I reached there, I saw a colorful display of various poems, stories, pictures and artworks written by kids from Akanksha hung up in one corner of the auditorium! I was smiling when I was reading through many of them :)

All the kids from various centers assembled at the auditorium at 4 PM. The event kicked off with a Drama which was about a Bookworm meeting various characters in a library :)

The exciting bookworm played by a member working at Akanksha thrilled the audience while meeting and explaining the characters like Birbal, Aladdin, Little Red Riding Hood etc who were all dressed up in the attires of the characters they played!

Bookworm also stressed the importance of a library and how we should ensure that we kept increasing the knowledge everyday.

This interesting drama was followed by poetry and drawing. Children were taken into the nearby 5 classrooms which were all named with different colors. The children were given various topics to start with their spot poetry. The volunteers helped the kids by giving them tips on writing and also by giving various ideas on the given topics.

After a 45 min poem writing session, there was Author’s chair where kids would read out few stories to the audience in their classrooms.

This was followed by the best bit of the event – the Lit Circles Skits, short for ‘the Literary Circles Skits’! A group of kids performed various skits like Wizard of Oz, Four friends, sending an important message on moral values that hard work & honesty are the only way to reap benefits.

After watching the wonderful skits performed by various groups, all the children came back to the auditorium. The wonderful literary fest ended with a story telling session by Sonali Adkar from Twist & Tales, Aundh, Pune.

Isn't it an amazing way to get back on track?
Pune...Here I come!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cruising through NH-4

Last week I and Kunal went on our first trip to Bangalore after our wedding. It was an amazing trip. All thanks to NH-4 and our new possession - a brand new Red Swift LDi :)!

We started off on a Sunday morning at around 5 30 AM. Kunal had all the essential R&D done about NH-4 for our drive from Pune to Bangalore. We made our way out of Pune in the early morning and hit the NH-4. Soon we drove through Satara & Kolhapur.

Reached the Karnataka border by 9 AM and then we came across a huge, wide reservoir near Nipani, Belgaum district. We stopped for breakfast for about half an hour and we were back on the road!

The Belgaum-Dharwad-Hubli stretch of NH-4 is awesome! It's a treat to cruise through this stretch at around 120 kmph. I was remembering the roads in Muscat for sometime :)

Like every good thing even NH-4 comes with its set of pros and cons. The bad part of NH-4 was here. This was from Haveri-Ranibennur-Davangere-Chitradurga. We saw some bad unfinished roads and too many diversions as well.

On this stretch we spotted huge number of windmills everywhere and sunflower fields adding to the lush green scenery with clouds in the background!

We stopped for lunch at Davangere and continued our drive hoping the road further on would be good! After a 3 hr drive, we stopped for coffee at Kamat, Hiriyur and yes the stretch till Bangalore was great!

We refrained from entering the Bangalore city through the usual route and instead tried the new Mysore Corridor and reached home at around 8 45 PM and our 15 hr journey came to an end!

Over all, this was truly one trip that I will remember for a long time now. With airfares being where they are and domestic air travel almost becoming out of reach, this experiment to try NH4 was definitely cool! All credit goes to my husband for making the smart move :)

After a 4 day vacation, we cruised through NH4 again and came back to home sweet home :). Its always good to be back home!!