Mumbai Diary: Monday musings

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Rajdeep has a ball... and bat!
Celebrated journalist Rajdeep Sardesai kicked off his 50th birthday bash in style... playing his best-loved game at the Bombay Gymkhana on Saturday.

Television journalist Rajdeep Sardesai gets ready to give the ball a whack during a friendly 10-overs-a-side match on the eve of his 50th birthday at Bombay Gymkhana on Saturday. Pic/Shadab Khan
Television journalist Rajdeep Sardesai gets ready to give the ball a whack during a friendly 10-overs-a-side match on the eve of his 50th birthday at Bombay Gymkhana on Saturday. Pic/Shadab Khan

Rajdeep, the son of late India Test cricketer Dilip, completed his half century yesterday. For those who only know him for his crisp television reporting and anchoring, Rajdeep represented junior Mumbai teams as well as played for Oxford University in the 1987 English season.

He’s a first-class cricketer all right! In fact, during his brief FC career, he played against three players whom his father clashed with in Test matches England’s Derek Underwood, Dennis Amiss and Norman Gifford. At the Bombay Gymkhana on Saturday, Team Rajdeep Sardesai clashed with Team Shailendra Singh and the match ended in a tie after both teams totaled 65 in 10 overs. Among the several personalities was Cyrus Broacha who opened the innings for Singh’s team.

This newspaper’s friends big-hitter Alex Fernandes (off whom Rajdeep dropped a sitter) and former Dadar Union left-arm spinner Salil Shah too were part of the action. The 10-overs-a-side game was followed by a memorable party under the Gymkhana roof. It lived up to what was said in an email invitation to us: “Fabulous, spirited evening of solid fun and liquid refreshment!”

Tree’s company on this date
Sunderlal Bahuguna is closely associated with it, but it was actually women who first spearheaded the Chipko movement in the Garhwal hills, when deforestation threatened their homes and lives. March 25, 1974 is when the first women embraced the trees around their homes to prevent loggers from hacking them down.

Without trees, our future is bleak
Without trees, our future is bleak

As a symbol of non-violent resistance, Chipko became famous globally, and won the Right Livelihood Award in 1987. How sad it is then, that more than 40 years later, we seem to have learnt practically nothing from this path-breaking event. Trees are still being cut down, some of them even older than the generation gone by.

At the same time we complain of increasing heat, as we choke and gasp, sweat pouring down. What can we expect, when we are doing away with our source of oxygen (and other benefits)?

Benchmark for philanthropist
When you next stop for a short rest, or spot someone catching 40 winks, on a bench look for the name on it. It will be the familiar name of Ghanshyamdas Saraf the trust which has put up benches and provided drinking water facilities at railway stations.

Mahavirprasad Saraf
Mahavirprasad Saraf

And the founder of the trust, Mahavirprasad Saraf, has been featured in the Limca Book of Records for the fourth time, having set up the maximum number of public benches (20,000, to be precise).

Saraf set up the trust in the memory of his father, in 1959, and besides benches and drinking water, has undertaken a host of charitable activities from setting up a dharamshala (free rest house), to providing medical facilities for patients and enabling women’s welfare. What better way to be remembered, than with grateful thanks by the weary!

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