Mumbai Diary: Wednesday Whispers

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

A helping hand across the seas
India and Nepal are neighbours even when away from the sub-continent, and the recent earthquake in the northern country evoked a visceral response from the India Students Association (ISA) in far-away Bowling Green State University, Ohio. It’s a small town of 30,000 people, and the association has just over 200 members.

The candle-light vigil at Bowling Green State University
The candle-light vigil at Bowling Green State University

But when the earthquake occurred, the association got together quickly and dashed off permission letters to university bodies to first host a donation table at the Bowen Thompson Union building, and then hold a candlelight vigil in the central oval. Both needed special permission as this is also exam week.

Led by outgoing ISA president Devansh Shah, incoming president Dhiman Chattopadhyay (both of whom have moved there from Mumbai) and incoming vice-president Shrinkhala Upadhyay (who is from Delhi), as well as many others, the team got together with the 14 students from Nepal who study there.

Through the day they collected more than $2,500 — that’s about 2,50,000 Nepali rupees. The university has a total of 18,000 students from some 50 countries, according to Chattopadhyay. Chattopadhyay, who was editor of Sunday mid-day before he moved to Ohio, says, “We went with the slogan ‘one dollar can feed a family’ and ‘donate a dollar, save a life’.

Students donated what they could — lunch money, beer money, money kept for a special date. Touching moments, like a guy who put his hands into his pockets, took out all the change that he had and emptied it into the box, were the highlights. Some faculty chipped in too, with bigger sums.

Since this was sudden, there was almost no publicity possible apart from email, Facebook posts and Twitter updates, However, the local students’ newspaper BG News and the TV channel BG24 both tweeted our appeals, and on day two we had a lot more students donate. Then on day three we held a candlelight vigil attended by over 100 students, staff and faculty. More money came in.”

The association has sent the funds to Nepal through the International Red Cross. As Chattopadhyay says, “The amount is small, but I guess it shows the spirit of 14 Nepalese students and some 150-200 Indian students who, with the help of hundreds of not just American students and faculty but also students from various other countries, have managed to raise money for the Nepal quake-affected.”

Digging causes phone silence in Navi Mumbai
Monday evening and it was bye-bye to telephone and internet connections of the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) in Rabale and Mhape areas of Navi Mumbai.

Digging has put paid to MTNL lines in Rabale and Mhape. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar
Digging has put paid to MTNL lines in Rabale and Mhape. Pic/Shrikant Khuperkar

The reason concrete construction work on the road near Rabale telephone exchange, which has resulted in cables snapping and the death of about 3,200 MTNL lines. As Monday was a holiday, the security staff at the exchange asked the road workers to wait before digging, as MTNL officials were not present.

However, say the staff, the contractor’s people did not heed their request and went ahead with the digging. Assistant site supervisor Madan Pednekar told us that they had sent a letter to MTNL last year about the cement concrete work to be undertaken, and that their cables should be moved aside, but nothing had been done.

According to MTNL General Manager (Navi Mumbai) Nandlal Sachdev, when the actual work started the contractor should have ensured that it was done under MTNL supervision. However, he said, “We are trying our best to get the lines restored in two days’ time.”

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