Sunday, December 20, 2015

A lunchbox of love served daily

A lunchbox of love served daily

CARE FREE An ordinary man from Borivli’s IC Colony, Maark D’Souza has turned dabbawala, feeding the area’s elderly free of charge

My favourite tiffins are Saturdays’ and Sundays’, because there is meat or fish in them. And I love it when they serve biryani. PERDITA D’SOUZA, 85, a widow who lives alone in IC Colony, Borivli, and has her meals delivered to her by Maark D’Souza daily Maark has been doing a wonderful job. It is rare to find people like him. His tiffins are a life-saver for senior citizens who can’t cook their own meals. JIMMY DORDI, 76, in charge of Borivli centre of NGO Dignity Foundation Maark’s tiffins make me feel like someone cares about my well-being. He is like a son to me. RAJKUMAR CHADDHA, 74, widower
MUMBAI: Every after noon, Perdita D’Souza, 85, waits for her doorbell to ring. She is never disappointed.
PRATHAM GOKHALE/HTMaark D’Souza (left) with 85-year-old widow Perdita D’Souza who lives in IC Colony, Borivli alone. Maark delivers a tiffin to her house every day.
At 12.30 pm, punctual and smiling, Maark D’Souza arrives carrying a tiffin box of still-steaming rotis, sabzi, dal and rice.
He smiles, chats a bit, picks up yesterday’s empty lunchbox and leaves. It’s been a daily ritual for two years. But Maark, 57, is no caterer. He delivers free meals to seniors who are too old or frail to cook for themselves.
It’s an idea he came up with three years ago, on Diwali.
“My wife and I thought Diwali would be an auspicious time to start, and a good time to spread a little festive cheer,” says Maark, smiling. He adds that losing his parents at a young age — his mother when he was 5 and his father at 26 — taught him their value. At a time when his mother would have been 75 and his father 85, he now cares for others in the same age groups.
“Food is a basic need. We couldn’t afford to buy them their medicines, but at least we can ensure that our seniors go sleep with a home-cooked meal in their stomachs.”
Maark started with six seniors in his neighbourhood of IC Colony, Borivli. Today, he delivers his fresh hot meals to 35 seniors daily, seven days a week.
He funds his initiative entirely himself, with the earnings from his real-estate agency and the tuition classes his wife Yvonne offers at their home. “Yvonne is my constant support,” Maark says, of his wife of 32 years.
“When Maark spoke about wanting to do something for senior citizens, we knew free tiffins was the best thing we could do,” adds Yvonne, 54. “We already had a cook. It was just the matter of telling her to make more food.”
Many of his seniors say they find it hard to imagine what they would do without him.
“I can’t go out much because my knees and ankles ache, so I can’t shop for groceries or even cook for myself,” says Perdita, a widow who lives alone. “During my search for a tiffin service in IC Colony, someone referred me to Maark. I went to his shop and spoke to him. I told him I could pay, but he said, ‘Use the money on your medicines instead’. Finding Maark has been such a relief.”
Maark’s tiffin service isn’t just about free food either. He makes sure he talks to each recipient — inquiring about their health, asking after their families, helping them fill out forms, pay bills and get to doctor’s appointments, even driving them about in his car.
“It gives me a sense of happiness to be able to help. They seniors are my family now,” he says.
Besides his wife, Maark has built up a small network of volunteers who help him out.
There’s Renuka Vishwas, the live-in help who wakes up at 6 am to cook the meals; and Zarina Sayyed, who accompanies Maark on his rounds and takes over when he’s out of town. “I like the feeling that I am helping people through Maark. It’s an added bonus that they love my cooking,” says Vishwas.
The D’Souzas typically rely on family and friends to suggest beneficiaries. “Anyone who approaches us is also added to the list. We don’t get involved in family disputes or why their children cannot feed them,” says Maark.
There have been times, however, when he has faced hostility from relatives. “It is shocking the way some people abuse and threaten their parents over money or property,” he says. “But we don’t let that deter us. We drop off the tiffin anyway.”
A month ago, Maark appeared on Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi, a TV show hosted by Amitabh Bachchan that celebrates everyday heroes. Ever since, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing, with requests for tiffins and offers of help. “We also got calls from people who wanted to help start something similar in their own neighbourhoods,” Maark says.
While the couple doesn’t accept money, they say well-wishers are welcome to send vegetables, fish or sweets as special treats.
Ice-cream, idlis and biryani are favourites with my seniors, Maark says, smiling. It’s 2 pm, and he’s still on his rounds. Next up is Rajkumar Chaddha, 74. Maark has been bringing food to his door ever since Chaddha’s wife passed away six months ago. “I have a maid but she only makes rotis,” Chaddha says. “Having Maark’s tiffin means I don’t have to worry about the rest of my meals. The effort he takes makes me feel that at least someone cares about my well-being. He is like a son to me.”

Source: Hindustan Times dated 21 December, 2015

Your kitchen can be a fuel maker

Your kitchen can be a fuel maker

DIGESTER Machine converts kitchen waste into biogas which will meet home cooking needs

MUMBAI: It was during a walk in the evening, two years ago, when 37-year-old mechanical engineer Kabir Udeshi, a resident of Shivaji Park, came upon an open dump. The sight was not new to him but it was the stench emanating from the dump that provoked Udeshi to come up with an easy-to-use waste management system for households.
PRATHAM GOKHALE/HTKabir Udeshi with his organic waste management kit at a house in Santacruz.
In one year, Udeshi and his team took the idea forward and built a machine the size of a standard washing machine, called the ‘Dedko Digester’. The machine converts kitchen waste into biogas and organic fertiliser.
According to Kabir Udeshi, organic waste consists of 70-80% of any household waste and the biogas generated through the machine can provide 40-50% of an average household’s cooking needs. “Once the kitchen waste is collected, it has to be churned and fed into the machine which contains a bacterial culture, mainly methanogens. These bacteria, in the absence of oxygen, break down the waste into biogas and fertiliser,” said Udeshi.
The machine is connected to a multi-layered polymer bag where the biogas is stored. The bag in turn has an outlet that connects it to the stove in the kitchen.
Nikhil Jain, 37, one of the users of this machine and a resident of Santacruz, said, “I have been using this machine for the past year. It’s so easy to use that even my maid knows how to use it now.”
“This machine uses about halfa-unit of electricity a day, which could cost around Rs3, which is hardly anything. Another aspect of it is that there is no smell or stench though it’s processed waste.”
The machine is available for Rs25,000. A sophisticated version of the machine called ‘The Rhino digester’ has the capacity for daily waste from 30 households. This machine available for Rs1,30,000 was designed for residents of housing societies who can pool in money to purchase a machine common for all the residents.

Source: Hindustan Times dated December 21, 2015

Language laboratories hone soft skills of college students

Language laboratories hone soft skills of college students

RISE IN POPULARITY
The labs employ audio-visual tools, no structured courses

MUMBAI: When Rahul Pandey got admission to Jai Hind College a few years ago, he couldn’t adjust to the new environment. Pandey, who studied at the Mohan Bhagat Hindi School, Vasai was having a hard time communicating with his teachers and his class mates, who preferred English.
“I could understand them, but wasn’t able to speak their language,” he recalls.
Today, the Science graduate has been placed at Infosys and speaks English effortlessly. He gives credit, in part, to the college’s ‘language lab’.
The language labs, which teach the basics of languages and help students develop their soft skills are fast gaining popularity in city colleges. Presently, around 30 students are learning at Jai Hind College’s language lab, compared to 15 when the facility began its operations a couple of years ago. KC College, which started its ‘Bhashas Lab’ in June, has already catered to 200 students. The first such lab was established in Xavier’s College in 2006.
“Many students come to the lab to brush up their presentation and communication skills, before appearing for interviews,” said Jyoti More, who heads the language lab at Xavier’s. “When I saw a notice about a presentation workshop being held by the lab during the vacation, I readily enrolled myself. It turned out to be very helpful,” said Sharon Lobo, a BA student at the college.
The lab also offers training programmes in French, Hindi and Marathi. On the other hand, KC College’s Bhashas Lab offers modules in seven languages.
The colleges employ audio visual tools and computer software. The labs, usually don’t have structured courses. “The students simply walk in, and we mentor them in an informal way,” said Jyothi, a professor at Jai Hind College. The services are provided free of cost.
The colleges, too, take efforts to identify and enrol students who seem to be struggling with English. In fact, such students have to attend mandatory sessions at the language lab in Xavier’s college.
“We select some first year students based on a diagnostic test, conducted at the beginning of the academic year. Then we try to improve their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills,” said More.

Source: Hindustan Times dated 21 December, 2015

Publishers and societies take action against Research Gate’s copyright infringements

Publishers and societies take action against Research Gate’s copyright infringements Following unsuccessful attempts to jointly find way...