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The Mumbai diaries: Monday musings

Blossom Café in Ghatkopar takes customer service seriously. Actually, we should say, with tongue in cheek. A detailed sign posted inside the café, for the benefit of any customers who take the time to read through it, has homilies about maintaining hygiene, politeness, traffic manners, waste disposal and so on. It is conveniently in point form and customers can enjoy a lecture in print while they wait for their orders to be served.

Another sign advises customers to have patience and understanding; maybe it is to pre-empt customers' anger in case of wrong orders.

The café's philosophising even has a practical twist. One sign put up on the wall reads, "Empty pockets teach you a million things in life; Full pockets spoil you in a million ways." Looks like they want customers to empty their pockets - at the café, of course - and learn valuable life lessons!

An ad for a portal for a scheme
If that headline leaves you bamboozled, you're not alone. One of our colleagues recounts how his neighbour brought a recent issue of a Marathi newspaper to his house, asking him to explain a half-page advertisement it carried. 

The ad was for the state government's employment website, www.maharojgar.gov.in, and it explained in detail what resources and information one would find on the website. The gist of the ad was that people need not stand in queue, do the rounds of employment centres, or have to deal with middlemen any more.
Our colleague's neighbour, however, asked, "Where in the ad does it say that they will give us employment? Or how we can get a job?" On learning that this was merely an ad explaining the benefits of the website, he felt a little let down, and remarked, "Half page just for this? All they had to do was take out a classified ad and print the website's URL."

Day in the life of… UNICEF ambassador for South Asia
Five thirty am in Mumbai... Still, dark and the birds are just beginning to chirp... And amidst this early morning serenity there is hustle and bustle outside the residence of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar.

The UNICEF ambassador for South Asia is getting ready to leave Mumbai bright and early to travel ( drive himself) almost six hours into the interiors of Ratnagiri district and interact with children in a remote school there. Snehjyoti Niwasi Vidyalaya is a residence school for visually challenged boys and girls and is run by a friend of Sachin's mother.

Asha believes that the most marginalized and vulnerable are children living with different abilities and challenges.

Appointed UNICEF ambassador for South Asia in November 2013, Sachin is committed to engaging with children as he believes they are the future and agents of positive change.

At the school, Sachin spent quality time with the children, playing games and listening to them sing and motivating them with encouraging words. Amidst all this he also shared with them the importance of hygiene and sanitation. It was a pleasure to see him show these children how to wash hands with soap in the right way. He was so engaged in the process and even took a promise from the kids that they would spread this important message as much as they could.

The children at school were full of awe and delight when they met with Sachin. As one child narrated, "I pinched myself to believe if this is actually true. Is Sachin really here in our school, so far away from Mumbai. He came here just for us. This is the happiest day of my life and I will do whatever Sachin says.".

"This is a humbling experience for me. To be amidst so many children who are visually challenged and yet so full of positive energy. I believe children are messengers of change and can take this message far and wide," shared Sachin.

It takes a lot to bowl the Little Master over and these kids did it.

The art of ageing
For many people, reaching their twilight years can mean having a lot of time on their hands. Some do volunteer work and some help out in the family. But there are always those with time on their hands, and one group of "silvers", as senior citizens are colloquially called, have a sort of club of their own.

These Dombivali residents gather at an area called Virangula Katta between 11 am and noon, and discuss current affairs, each others' problems and other issues, and even celebrate birthdays. There are about 130 members in this group, and now they have begun contributing Rs 200 per head per year to meet sundry expenses. Some of the club members are as old as 90. So one can imagine that there is a lot of shared wisdom there. 

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