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 ….