The mail came some time ago, in which the gracious Elsie Gabriel of the Young Environmentalists group informed me that they had awarded me, along with many other women, the women achievers award. There was a moment of pindrop silence. I quickly reverted to her. Are you sure, I asked her, I’ve done nothing in my life that is award worthy, except perhaps for the infinite patience with which I bear the child’s tantrums. Yes, she replied, and I decided who was I to decree I was unworthy if she deemed me worthy.
So it came to pass that yesterday, the child, the spouse and the mater, and of course I, dressed up in our Sunday best and headed out towards Powai where the event was to be held. We landed at the venue, after a few hiccups on the way occasioned by us taking the long and winding Aarey Milk Colony route and a few wrong turns. The child dressed up for the occasion insisting he would wear his black corduroy blazer, which I did my best to desist given it is touching 40 degrees Celsius in the city, but I guess I passed on my sartorial stubbornness to him.
Now to the event, my fellow awardees this year made an impressive list. Here are the names, “Dolly Thakore for Theater, Bina Aziz for art, Jyoti Mhapsekar for strategising ragpickers in Maharashtra, Sunita Bhuyan for classical instrumental music, Abha Narain Lambah for Architecture conservation, Aditi Lahiri for animal welfare, Rinki Banerji for animal welfare in socieites, Preeti Sagotra for disabled successful working woman, Raageshwari Loomba for Music and healing, Dr.Anita Soni for gynecology, Leena Mogre-fittness, Salma Sheik for unorganised vendor segment, Aarti Vijay Gupta for fashion entrepreneur, Sofia Hayat for fighting for animal rights for PETA, Nisha Harale Bedi for social Activism, Manasi Parekh Gohil for best TV actress, Roshini Mazumdar for fighting off goons to protect animals in New Panvel, Abha Singh for Director Postal services, Rita Abraham for law, Bhawana Somaaya for best Bollywood journalist, Shilpa Singh for representing India as Ms Universe and social work, Dr. Rekha Sapru chief of Cancer Association and Dr. Mithu Alur for lifetime work dedicated to disabilities.”
Naturally, this meant that there were many speeches. The child was wilting like a flower at sunset by my side, ergo I promised him I would not make one, given that lunch time was nigh and his stomach was doing the Bronx Rumble, audibly.
Suffice to say, the highlights were an emotional speech from Salma Sheikh who spoke of her journey from a vegetable vendor to a crusader for vendor rights, which has taken her around the world, a fabulous performance by Sunita Bhuyan of an Assamese folk song on her violin, a rousing speech by the darling Nisha Harale Bedi on why we need to validate our rules for nightlife. Of the one speech that began with the metaphoric level of ‘In the beginning I was zygote in utero’ and detailed every year of her long journey, I will not speak, suffice to say the child let out two very audible, arms and legs stretched out yawns when it was in progress.
All in all, it was an excellently organised, inspiring and humbling event. All kudos to the Young Environmentalists Group for pulling it off so wonderfully. I now have a crystal award only I am allowed to dust at home, one that I am very proud of. And yes, one that means a lot to me because it is the first award I have received since I was in college, when I took all those awards for granted.
Here are a couple of pictures from the event.