Volunteered at Hurricane Irene Shelters – Baruch College and Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan

I have received an email from New York Cares – a call to help out people at different Hurricane Irene shelters throughout the city. I decided to go to Baruch College shelter as it is around 1.5 miles from my place.
 
I went to Baruch College Shelter around 1:50 p.m. and after a few minutes waiting I was assigned the job of registering the volunteers and the clients (people coming into the shelter seeking help) into the online system. Some people were assigned the job of taking the demographic information from the clients (name, age, sex, address, profession, health related problems etc) and to fill out the forms and I was assigned to enter the information into the online system.

But then all the volunteers were told that there was another shelter being opened up in Norman Thomas High School (NTHS) at Park Ave and 33rd St. and I moved to NTHS as they need some IT people to set up the computers at that shelter, so I volunteered to go there. We were 12 volunteers and we were transported to that shelter in a school bus. By the time we reached there, all the supplies – food, cots, medicines and the staff (staff from that particular school, and also few staff from Department of Education (DOE), New York) were ready. We walked through the whole school (I guess it was 9 floors) to decide on the rooms for various purposes – rooms for inmates – different rooms for single men, single women, and for families, rooms for pets, room for medical emergency (medical supplies were also there). And also to check for the rooms without windows to minimize the impact from windows. There were already fifty beds setup in the gym room and since there was no AC in those rooms, huge fans were set up. Few people were already checked-in by the time we reached the school. Some beds were already placed on the stage of the auditorium.

Our team-manager was very efficient. While we were travelling to NTHS from Baruch, she has assigned the jobs to each and every individual in her group. I and another person were assigned to take care of IT needs. Three computers were already set up for this purpose but some how we had a hard time logging into the Windows (with the user name and password assigned to those computers). After some struggle, by trying to reach out for the DOE staff, we were finally able to log into the system. Everyone in our group was given a walkie-talkie to communicate with people at different locations in the building. And we made a list of all our volunteers – names and mobile numbers and made sure everyone had a copy of it.

The procedure was once the clients entered into the building, they were guided to the school auditorium on the 2nd floor where 2 to 3 volunteers tried to fill out the forms from the information they could gather from the clients and the clients were being asked to sit in the auditorium until the dinner time which was scheduled at 7:30 p.m. And there were cooks (I am not sure whether they belong to school or from other source) who cooked hot meals and the dinner was served in the school cafeteria which was situated on 6th floor. After the dinner, who ever wish to rest were diverted to the 9th floor where the cots were set up in few rooms. Some of our volunteers helped move the boxes around, especially all the boxes – beds, sheets, medical supplies and some other supplies like body lotions, mouth fresheners etc are kept at the first level and were moved to different floors. They have also unpacked those boxes.

We had two IT specialists (I and another Spanish speaking person – language is also an important factor to communicate with clients), an animal specialist, a registered nurse, building construction engineer in our team.

I have almost entered the information of around 70 people into the system. I have stayed until around 9 p.m. and returned home. Another fact that really touched me was before I was leaving my team-manager asked me to give her a call as soon as I reached home to make sure that I reached home safely. She herself was so tired as she might have been working for almost 9 to 10 hours by that time and all the walking she has been doing throughout the different floors of the building. I was really moved by that gesture. Another thing I noticed was all the volunteers were so patiently helping people around with a smile on their face.

Thank you once again New York Cares for sending me the email and giving me an opportunity to do whatever I could do. This is the first time I was involved in this type of project and I have learnt many many variables involved in the whole procedure and was able to meet some fabulous people who came together to work for a cause. It is really a feel good experience and I wish I worked for the government.

RK Open Heart with Nagarjuna

Wishing Nagarjuna to celebrate Many Many More Happy and Healthy Ones !!!

I have watched RK Open Heart with Nagarjuna. I almost always feel Nagarjuna’s interviews come from his heart. And this is OPEN HEART – what can I say, just feel it and experience it.

Some of his answers have touched me very emotionally at different levels. At the end of the interview the only thing that came out of my heart is – “Proud to be your fan any day”. May be few answers could too  have come from his heart – not that he lied but he could have told the real reasons – supporting the government for example. Besides that issue, I do not have any complaints.

I want to highlight some points which really made me awestruck.

1. Quite frankly he was asking who could play “Gundamma” in Gundamma Katha – That is the main role and who else in the industry could play Surya Kantham’s role. That is the reason he could not do that movie with Bala Krishna

2. Fully contented personally. He said “God has given me so much – more than required. Intha kanna adigithae crime avuthundi. I do not want any more”. He is the only person from which I hear this so openly. I heard this from him in few interviews. This is the first time I heard him saying intha kanna adigithae crime avuthundi.

3. When he said that he was very lucky to marry Amala, RK asked him whether Amala would feel the same way and Nag replied ‘I hope so, she is ani pogarutho cheppanu kani”

4. And he said tha it was one of his best decisions in his life (marrying Amala).

5. When RK asked him about the gossips with Anushka – with Nagarjuna and with Chaitanya – Nagarjuna immediately said “Anyayam kadandi, ashayam kadandi, this shows how our society is degrading”

6. Annammayya gurunchi cheputhu, RK again mentioned about Ninne Pelladutha – “meeru iragadhisi pettaru, Tabu kuda undi” daniki Nagarjuna – meeru danini vadilipettatadam ledhu ani nuvvuthu….

7. I always feel somehow after watching ‘Eduruleni Manishi’ Nagarjuna should have a daughter. Somehow RK asked him the same question out of the bloom and Nag said that he too would love to have a girl. and that whole episode about how Akhil came instead of Nikitha – I loved it.

8. Especially I was very much touched when he said that he would like to spend every moment with Amala during the last two-months of pregnancy and that is the reason that they had stayed in US (that was also an answer to my mind-boggling question – why Akhil was born in San Hose)

9. And also when Nag said if he has missing anything in life is only that – not having a daughter. But I am so glad when he said that he would have nice grand children … I can not imagine Nagarjuna as a grandpa. But I am sure he would gracefully mould into that role one day.

10. Giving full credit to Chaitanya to become very close to Akhil and that was his worst fear how they would adjust and especially for Chaitanya to adopt to the situation

11. When he talked about some people are still there who are fully dedicated – Chaitanya (of course since he is Nag’s son, I would not want to comment on that, but I personally feel that Chaitanya is very hard working, sincere and shows committement and I am sure that he would reach places), Allu Arjun – how did he grow from ‘Gangothri’ (Nag remembering Allu Arjun’s first movie – is a rare quality which I appreciate a lot; as he does not have any relation to All Arjun) and also about Ravi Teja – how hard-working he is etc.,

12. That is one rare quality of Nagarjuna which I always admire – appreciating the co-stars in all his interviews.

13. I laughed so loud when RK commented on Allu Arjun in Gangothri – “Gangothri chusthae dhadusukuntaru”. I shouldn’t have laughed, but I couldn’t help it.

14. About his comments on directors may trigger a big controversy among the cine circuit and more food for gossip mongers.

15. I do not understand why RK said meeku baaga  lowkyam and that is a minus point. Everybody does that and he is not hurting anybody by being diplomatic – what is wrong with that…

16. Dream is to make the film institute as ISB.

17. About comfortable life – Nag says Comfortable life – “I would not say because of the riches or anything but because of such beautiful people around me”

18. The most touching moment of the whole interview (I felt like crying) – when RK asked Nag about any sad incident (baaga badha kaliginchindi kani baaga avedana kalinginchindi kaani) – even Nagarjuna took some time to answer the question – there was a big pause and the way Nag expressed his emotions – Most sad thing was letting go off Chaitanya and the happy day was when he came back.

19. Even RK said, chala sincere ga chepparu, kallalo theda kanipisthundi

20 And also when Nag says – “Bhadha kalinginchadam naa moolanganae aindi as I chose that”.

21. And I also felt the same way as RK about “paying back to society” and when Nag also agreed that if he make it public he can make it as an example and I am waiting for that BIG day.

22. Need of Hour is important ….

Birthdays ….

Birthdays….

I have seen many of them, so it is very difficult to remember each and every one. But I vividly remember how I felt about my birthdays when I was young. I was very much excited and was looking forward for that “Big Day” once we entered into the month of June. I always always had new clothes for my birthdays. Sometimes it happened to be two frocks, so I wore one in the morning and the other in the evening. Amma tried to cook all my favorite foods, especially potato in some form –potato boonda was a must. The whole family was going to the movies in the evening. I felt very special the whole day – made sure my middle name (Rani) very true every second the whole day.

When I was in Intermediate and also in Degree, I had few birthday parties at home with all my classmates (only ammayilae even though ours was a CoED college) like in movies and one of my best friends (Madhumathi) is a great singer and she used to sing some songs too  just like in movies ….

I did not want my birthday to end. I wanted the time to stop at that day for ever. I was getting sad when the day approached to a finish. I had the same feeling even when I became old – even in my thirties and forties, even when I was old enough and celebrating my birthdays with my husband. I had celebrated some fabulous birthdays with my husband   no extravaganza gifts or any of that sort of stuff, but just spent the day the way we wanted and we would love to have . We made it a point to celebrate our birthdays just the way we want – very relaxing, just lazy-out, eat whatever we felt like but made sure not to cook much at home especially on my birthdays, but I made sure to make “Bobbattlu” on my husband’s birthday as that was his favorite food – as he so used to affectionately call them as “Bakshyalu” – he loved them.  Usually my birthday falls during Wimbledon time and we made sure to have Breakfast at Wimbledon with coffee and croissants…

Few days in advance to our “Big days”, we started to shop a lot to get the best greeting cards to express our feelings towards each other and we wanted that every word in that greeting card was genuinely expressed our heart’s feelings. I stored all those cards as a big treasure. They truly have become a huge treasure for me today to go back into my sweet memories.

I could not resist myself from posting some of them here.

Now I do not want to give any importance to my birthday  I just want that day to go without notice. I do not want to celebrate it and the only way I look at it as one more year closer to reach my destination – hoping to meet my husband waiting for me somewhere as he was always used to …

Guravayanam by Dr. Gurava Reddy

Dr. Gurava Reddy – I haven’t heard this name until recently. In the first or second week of June 2011, I was looking for some videos at http://www.youtube.com/maatv. Suddenly I came across this video – Pellipusthkam hosted by renowned danseuse Swathi Somnath whom I saw a few times in the judge seat for ‘Antharmukam’ program on Maa Tv hosted by Yandamoori Veerendranath. Somehow I am very much attracted to her – may be her smile, the way she talks, the pedda bottu, everything about her. So I watched that episode (may be that is the first episode in this series). Of course, I was very much impressed by Dr.Gurava Reddy couple – their simplicity, honesty, their experiences, their independent nature, his sense of humour – everything except for one small thing, he suddenly tried to mention about a song in ‘Badrinath’ (he hasn’t talked much about it, mentioned that they both liked one song from that movie without any connection to whatever he was talking until then), somehow I felt like commercializing the movie (anyways, I’ll leave it at that point).

If anyone is interested to watch that video, here is the youtube link –

Within a few weeks, I saw him again at NATS Telugu Sambaralu. Then I came to know that he is my vadina’s class mate or junior, but she knows him well. During those 3 day events, I attended one side event supposed to be an event related to Mullapudi Venkata Ramana – the great wtiter who is very well known for his hilarious style of writing and we can never forget his Budugu. I’ll definitely write about Budugu in my future blogs.

During that event ‘Guravayanam’ – the book written by Dr. Gurava Reddy has been released and few people talked about him and he also spoke for a while. I was very much impressed by his sense of humor. Immediately I bought 3 books. Literally I laughed loud while I was reading that book. It is a must read book for any one who has an interest in reading. This book is simply ‘Gurthukosthunnai, gurthukosthunnai’ – we would definitely go back into our childhood, college days, ala, al eto vellipoyindi manasu.

I’ll try to post some excerpts from his book in my future blogs. (I promise). I hope I do not violate any copyrights.

He is an Orthopedic surgeon – knee, hip, Joints Surgeon and CEO of Sunshine Hospitals, Hyderabad.

The way he is coming into my life – like a thufan – initially with the video, then prathkshyamga sakshatakaram ittchi, then through his book, inka ela ela kalusthano …

According to Prashanthi – (Guravayanam – Adbhutham) గురవాయణం ఒక అద్భుతం

What next ….

I am really scared now that finally one day (in the near future) may be I’ll end up as his patient. Oh No….

The Blind Side overshadows Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (atleast for me)

May be I am in that phase of life to like The Blind Side more than ZNMD

The Blind Side is a 2009 American semi-biographical drama film.  For her performance, Sandra Bullock won the Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. The film itself also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

 It is the story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

It so happened that I have seen these two movies on the same day in the reverse order – ZNMD ahead of The Blind Side. Actually I have seen The Blind Side very reluctantly on Sunny’s insistence at their place. I said ‘reluctantly’ because I wanted to spend some time with Sunny and Akhil and watch the movie quietly at home.  But no regrets – I have enjoyed the movie to the core.

There is one dialogue in the movie which really hits deep into my heart (actually a slap on my face) and changed my perspective of my very own life. The conversation goes like this:

One friend of Leigh Anne says to Leigh Anne “You are changing that boy’s life'” and immediately Leigh shoots the bullet – “No, he is changing mine” – very powerful dialogue. People may not pay too much attention to this dialogue but it is so striking to me as I always tell people relating to my voluntary activities (especially teaching, that is where my main focus is) that I would be happy if I change the lives of at least few people. After I watched this movie, it changed my perspective of my very own life  – Actually they are changing my life.

Few more instances that are very touching in the movie – when the coach met the teachers and principal of the school pleading for admitting Mike into school irrespective of his poor grades – the coach pointed to the Motive of the school – Christian and says we either take that seriously or we paint over it

And the school hoarding reads –

With Man this thing is Possible

With God All things are Possible

And on day 1, when she brought Mike to their house, she asked her husband before they go to bed, You don’t think he will steal anything, do you? and her cool husband says we will find out tomorrow. He is so kool too and the kids especially SJ. When she provided Mike his own bedroom and Mike says Never had one before and she asks him what a room to yourself? and he replies bed. I can go on writing about every shot (at least most of the shots)

No doubt ZNMD is very entertaining but there is nothing to touch the heart (my opinion only). And of course there is no comparison between these two movies. Since I saw the two movies one after the other, I could not resist comparing the movies and I would like to pick my favorite. No offense to ZNMD.