Toronto Tales - Rtn. Ashok Basu [AB4]
“We are going to the Toronto convention” said Purnendu. I looked sideways and behind to see who was being thus addressed. “AB4, I am talking to you” he said, to clarify. I was in a state. Toronto? I mean look, Toronto is thousands of miles away, right? Rotary Conventions?
My knowledge of these matches my knowledge of the bacteria on the moon, so what on earth would I be doing there? Yet Purnendu (at this time CYP or Centenary Year President to me) has this ability to deliver Ali like punches with velvet gloves, so there I found myself on this itinerary with in-saddle President Saumen Ray, Purnendu himself, PDG Prabhat Rohatgi and Rtn Shashi Rohatgi as co-travelers.
Saumenda gets on multiple overdrives (his normal is a single overdrive) and every other day we are in Rotary Sadan planning travel and convention minutiae. In-Saddle Secretary Samiran Sen plays plays Commandant to Saumenda’s General as Soldier AB4 tries unsuccessfully to remind the assemblage that baggage allowances are finite. Nervous service providers stand to attention, ready to produce samples and proofs at the speed of light.
Try as we might, the standees – nine in all – would not subject themselves to the discipline of permissible baggage linear dimensions. Chinese scale manufacturing standardises with scant respect for needs of consumers headed for a Rotary Convention.
Somewhat by divine intervention I found a cricket kit bag in a hole-in-the- wall store in Hazra. Country of origin, you guessed right. Warranty a sly smile. Durability a null set. Yet, it did the job well at least our publicity material was not strewn about the airports in Kolkata, Delhi, London, and Toronto. I permitted myself a yelp of joy when I saw it in one piece, on the Toronto belt.
A word about Convention booths. The standard size is 10 by 10 feet. A space for a banquet it certainly is not. Yet here in the visualisation, Samiran thinks it is really the lounge at Justin Trudeau’s office. “See” says he “we are going to have a lot of important folk; we must have a few sofas and settees there”. I quite saw his point. And awaited a Potteresque wand from Diagon Alley.
Standard fit out in the booth is a table, a chair, ambient light, waste bin. We needed extras and had ordered online. When we reached the booth, all these were in place – very much in order, evidenced by the observation that our electrical point was being used by a south Asian bloke to charge his mobile phone! And by the way, garbage piled up in about two days of booth activity; for the life of me I could not find another bag as replacement.
A pleasant learning waited. At the bottom of the bin were 3 more bags, neatly folded. So later in Hamburg in a similar situation when Sucharita commented “arro kota waste bag niye ele hoto”, I demonstrated magic, abracadabra, lo and behold!
Thanks to Prabhatji and Saumenda a steady stream of Rotary VIPs came calling. Ron Denham first, thanks to Saumenda’s connects in WASRAG (that’s Water and Sanitation Rotary Action Group) and then PRIP Raja Saboo thanks to Prabhatji. They pledged to come for our Centenary events and did. Rotarians from our Partner Clubs came in droves.
They read the material on our standees; they stopped to see our video presentation that played continuously on an improvised screen. Every so often Saumenda would jump and welcome an acquaintance. We developed this meticulous routine of recording the contact details of all visitors. Every evening on return to our rooms there would neither food nor drink till Saumenda had sent individual mails to every visitor with an invitation to join us for our centenary events.
Management of the booth was a full time job. The only regret is missing the superb summits that RI hosts. Future participants in Conventions should book in advance to attend these sessions. Club leadership must also attend some of the fellowships with people in the RI stratosphere ticketed events that can be booked in advance.
Prabhatji and Shashiji attended the events open for District Governors. Nothing could stop me, however, from partaking a few drams of the most delectable Canadian Single Malt in one of the fellowship booths..
“The Old Number One” has unparalleled stature. It was evident during our centenary events. Two years ago, it was not so evident to this writer. Toronto changed that. It felt good to be recognized by a PDG from Detroit whose club was a centennial club. Before Toronto, Mark Maloney was a name. In Toronto, Mark Maloney became our Centenary International President.
Rewinding My Rotary Chaka Rtn. Sanjib Basu
The Members’ Roster informs me I joined the Club on April 4, 2006, and I have no reason to dispute that! However, I had a much earlier association, quite informally and indirectly. My father Dr. Ajit Kumar Basu had been a member of the club in the early 1970s for two or three years. In those days, the weekly meetings were at Great Eastern Hotel. At home, aged 15 or 16, 1 listened to him recounting his experience of the meetings and speakers.
He would bring the Chaka back, and 1 think 1 gave the contents even’ more attention than he did! The different activities seemed interesting with their palpable self-congratulatory current. Understandable perhaps. In those days, the growth of the economic pie was slow, and how to cut it into smaller and smaller pieces was the obsessive focus, one could say misguided from a post-1991 perspective. Rotary activities continued under that unpropitious economic sky.
Calcutta was much more of a ‘small world’ than Kolkata is today. The Club’s leaders were social titans in the city, from business, media, professions and the like. Everybody knew everybody in the small circle, and additionally everybody in the Club was male! It was a straightforward patriarchal division of the Rotary world between Rtns. and Rt. Anns, reflecting a fading social milieu. Much has changed in today’s Rotary as I have experienced it, and all for the better.
My mother and I participated in an interesting Rotary occasion, probably historic for the Club. There was inauguration of a large hall at Rotary Sadan, intended as the N.C. Laharry Children’s Library. This was in 1972 or thereabouts possibly. I seem to recall it was on the ground floor, but there we have the auditorium now and so it might have been the Library as now operational on the first floor.
Anyway, my mother had the assignment of picking up the Chief Minister’s wife Mrs. Maya Ray from her residence and bringing her to Rotary Sadan, and I had tagged along. It was my first and only experience of a Rotary event until i joined the Club in 2006. I remember the bonhomie and that there were inspirational speeches, the content of course long faded into oblivion.
Attendance was more strictly observed in those days, and my father’s work schedule made it difficult for him to continue for long. I think he quit somewhere in 1974 or ’75, and the Chakas stopped coming for the next 30 years! However interesting, they had not left me with an irresistible drive to be a Rotarian one day.
Had it not been for Rtn Dileep Rohatgils insistence I would not have found myself as a green-badger in 2006. We would meet at the Calcutta Club, and what started as a suggestion grew more emphatic with subsequent meetings.
Finding me resisting, and mobilising additional support, he finally summoned me one evening with Rtn. Dr. S.K. Sharma sitting next to him. This time it was a simple instruction. Orientation talk on Sunday morning at Rotary Sadan. Be there. So I was, and the Chaka started rolling in again.
The 14 years since have passed quickly. In these Covid-confined dayst remembering just the Tuesday afternoon walk to and from Rotary sadan is enough to bring tears of nostalgia! Yes, it has been an outstanding opportunity to come into contact with personalities from different walks of life, not just our members, but also our guests. The guest speakers kept the mind open to new and fascinating realms of knowledge. Indeed, i think i enjoyed the 2013-14 year most in which, as Programmes head, i had to find interesting speakers for the afternoon meetings.
And I’m glad to say a few of the speakers eventually joined us as members too. Another year i was put in charge of Membership Development. I gave us the challenge of returning to a membership of 300, but this was easier said than achieved. In recent years, the tide may be turning and, if all goes well, we could again get a wave of bright new members.
So many pleasant memories! On the social front, not just the great fellowship evenings but the special events, cricket matches, steamer parties, the afternoons at country homes, the brunches at the city’s top hotels, Holi Milan, Members Nites, Bijoya Sammilan, Christmas parties, theatre, music, dance and so on.
And, of course, all the different social projects, so wide in variety, from scholarships and awards to the needy and meritorious to treats for children, from infrastructure projects in villages to job fairs at Rotary Sadan.(l specially remember our steamer trip to Chotomollakhali an isolated faraway island in Sunderbans for inauguration of solar lighting at school and a solar generator at the health centre) to job fairs at Rotary Sadan.
I was a regular at the Independence Day and Republic Day ceremonies and thoroughly enjoyed the children’s cultural shows. Last year, we started working on the Children’s Library, a project of huge untapped potential. The list has been long, both of beneficiaries and benefactors. Comprising all the good work over 100 years, it’s been a saga of pride and service! There can be no other response than a long standing ovation and a commitment to keep the aspidistra flying for those in need.
Relatively speaking, i must confess i have been something of a backbencher or at best middle bencher in Rotary, though not playing truant from that role. Probably this has been because of my commitments to social projects elsewhere that are Rotary in spirit although not in name.
The Centenary year has been an eye-opener. The enormous and enthusiastic hard work put in by the President, Centenary Chair and team deserve sincere appreciation and will be remembered for a very long time. They have inspired many others as the build-up of the work for the new century gathers pace.
My best wishes to the new President and his team. ‘Rotary Opens Opportunities’ in quite a changed environment that will remain uncertain until a vaccine is found to counter the global pandemic. At which point the new vaccine will acquire the same urgency for Rotary as the polio vaccine did over many past years. Let’s hope Science and Service come together quickly and help to restore a world ‘fragmented into narrow domestic walls’, and that our Club leads the way forward again!
The Celebration of Success overshadows the Challenges enCOUntered along the way: A Centenary Year full of Sweat & Panache
Rtn. Bodhi Brata Das
Appreciation, accolades and admiration are buzzing in all our minds as we are in the middle of celebration of the Centenary year and on our way to complete the charismatic milestone with the same degree of zeal, enthusiasm and love for the Institution. The magnitude of celebration overshadowed the hard work & hurdles.
I was indeed fortunate to have witnessed the war-room discussion – which spawned the actionables of the centenary events and I have realised the kind of Challenges the Centenary leadership team encountered in the planning phase. There were roadblocks in every sphere vis-a-vis finance, striking a balance between regular club operations and rolling out centenary events and many more.
Amidst all these struggles, the core team, under the leadership of Centenary Year President Rtn. Purnendu Roy Chowdhury, never lost grip on the plot rolled out back-to-back WOW moments for members in addition to the gala centenary celebrations.
It is hard to believe that to commemorate the centenary year, a team can think of forming a new Rotary Club with a magical strength of 26 members to start off with! Thereby, Rotary Club of Calcutta Centenary came existence and now the new-born baby is not taking baby steps but giant leaps to get into adolescence with the patronage of Rotary Club Calcutta.
This year we went ahead not only on project completion yardstick but scored high on thought leadership parameters as well. Circle of Centenary Clubs is one such offshoot of exemplary thought leadership and we took the leadership mantle leaving renowned Clubs from Shanghai and behind.
There were many high points of the year which made this year immaculately unique and it will be an uphill task to recreate the same talismanic touch.
To name a few of such milestones: Virtual Members Night, making RI President Mark Maloney member of the Club, International Virtual Weekly Meeting with Rotary Club of Dacca Mahanagar, overcoming and breaking technological barriers by helping senior members get adapted to a new normal way of meeting people, building a school in Baramangwa Darjeeling and many more .
All these achievements were not trivial, all these monumental successes subdued and overshadowed by the magnitude and hue of centenary celebrations.
Looking back at the centenary-year trails, an insightful but clairvoyant quote by Confucius surfaced to my mind –
“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, Plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.” I reassured myself with sense of pride and uttered a soliloquy “Centenary leadership team taught many lessons to enable us as we usher in the first year of a new century!”
My curious mind always believed Robi Thakur (Rabindranath Tagore) conceived and wrote golden lines on every situation for all of our lives and whenever there is a discussion on centenary year, I find myself humming the golden lines –
I have had my invitation to this world’s festival,
and thus my life has been blessed.
My eyes have seen and my ears have heard.
It was my part at this feast to play upon my instrument,
and I have done all I could.
[Gitanjali Poem #16]
Yes, indeed I played my part and did whatever I could. I’d like to give a shout-out to everyone involved in the success of the golden chariot of Centenary year!
Thanks & Regards,
BODHI BRATA DAS
Rtn. Hirak Ray writes:
My Rotary life started in November 1998. Rotary was totally unknown to me and I felt quite out of place amongst stalwart personalities attending RWM at Grand Hotel those days. My first assimilation happened when late Saral Deb came up to me in a Fellowship, and introduced himself so modestly. I came to know that he was a hundred percenter all through and that enthused me to maintain my own record for the last 2 decades.
My next eye – opener was when I went to visit a Health Camp at Kashba in May 1999. In the peak of summer, in the heat and humidity inside a school, there was Dr. Pravash Sengupta tirelessly inoculating children and Haladharda was maintaining records meticulously. I came on board and joined many Rotary activities thereafter.
Rotary has instilled humility and selfless work in me and I am indebted for that. It has given me an opportunity to work in Vocational Service and Youth Service particularly. Not even being a part of Health Committee, I was fortunate to be accompanying Dr Ashoke K Basu in his drive to eradicate polio in very difficult areas of Kolkata.
My most satisfying year, of course, was 2006-07 when I was Hony Secretary of the Club and we had RI President Bill Boyd visiting our Club.
I am also very fortunate to have been a part of this Club during this outstanding celebration of the Centenary Year where a series of social work programmes and functions took place with utmost dedication and enjoyment. This milestone will be remembered by all members of this Club.
I am indebted to Rotary for allowing me to be a part of this great international institution, and inducing a value of selfless work, humility and fellowship.
I remain committed.
PP Rtn. Vikram Somany writes:
Dear Rtn Purnendu,
I would like to acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by your good self
to our Club in the centenary year and would also like to thank you for your
leadership over the past few years as Board Director, Vice President, PresidentElect and President.
Your inclusive leadership and warmth have helped us to forge strong relationships
within our district and amongst our fellow Rotarians.
During your tenure, our Club was actively involved in a number of high profile events, centennial projects and celebrations. Your warmth, sense of humour and dedication provided a stimulating and fun atmosphere throughout the year. Needless to say, you have been integral to the important advances we have made as an organisation over the past few years and all of us wish you well for the future.
With kind regards,
Rtn. Kriti Patel writes:
Our dynamic President Purnendu has come up with a brilliant idea of coming out with a Centenary Yearbook. Year 2020 has been a year which will not go down in the history of ROTARY but the world (with Corona). Our year 2020 in Rotary started with a bang on 31st December 2019 and with the leadership of Purnendu and Saumen and Team the celebrations went on in the best way possible; better than expected with RIP Mark Maloney and spouse Gay attending.
I myself feel lucky to have been a part of Rotary Centenary Year and its celebration. I had the added advantage of joining delegations to Bangladesh, Thailand and China on Centenary goodwill visits and really enjoyed them. I was on cruise up to 15th February but because of the corona crisis the ship came back 5 days earlier and I got a chance to reach Kolkata on 11th February and join RIP’s visit to Rotary Sadan… a historic moment.
With best wishes to Rotarians and their families and special congratulations to President Purnendu and Sucharita and Saumen Ray for their leadership.
Rtn. Pritpal Singh Chauhan writes:
Greetings to all our Rotarians!
I joined Rotary Club of Calcutta in the year 2000. My Proposer was Late Rtn PDG Vijay Bhandari. I am really thankful to him for introducing me to the Rotary Club of Calcutta and the Rotary World, Rotary Motto “Service above Self ” and the four principles of Rotary which every Rotarian should follow.
I joined Rotary when the RWM used to be held every Tuesday, at IPM at The Grand Hotel, Kolkata. The Rotary members were from all professions, all businesses, as well as the leaders of the corporate world, as defined by the classification rules of the club.
On joining I started as Sergeant — at – Arms and served as committee member in different committees of our club. After that I served as Cochairperson and Chairperson, on different committees every year.
The Installation meetings for Incoming Presidents were held in grand style, with round tables and waiters serving drinks and snacks while meetings were in progress.
With time things changed; RWMs shifted from Grand Hotel to Rotary Sadan, Rotary Club of Calcutta’s own premises on Chowringhee Road. It took time for the members of our club to adjust to the new venue and it was a great success. The annual event “The Children Treat” is held every year by Rotary Club at Nicco Park, a tradition being followed by the Club for years.
During the years, Rotary Club has brought in a lot of changes like adding more lady members, lady Presidents, and separate memberships of spouses of members. The average age of the club members has come down and there are other changes as well.
Rotary Club of Calcutta celebrated the Centennial year in the year 2019 2020 under our President, Rtn Purnendu Roy Chowdhury and Honorary Secretary Anusha Das. The committee teams of the Centenary Year have worked hard to make this a grand year for Rotary Club of Calcutta.
This year, President Mark Maloney of Rotary International, became an Honorary Member of Rotary Club of Calcutta, an achievement for the Club.
Wishing the best to Rotary Club of Calcutta, “The Old Number One”!
Rtn. Debjani Ghosh writes:
Rotary Club of Calcutta — an esteemed organisation rendering “Service above Self”. I was associated with this organisation remotely for a long time without being aware of its immense social contribution. I used to prepare the “Endowment Agreements” of this Club.
I joined the club at the request of Past President Mrs. Nandita Sen, who was also my Proposer. From the very first day the warmth and affection of the members never allowed me to feel like a newcomer.
Gradually I got electrified with the spirit of the Club. This Centenary Year was full of activities with lots of fun and entertainment. I am thankful to each and every one of the Club members for their co-operation, support and encouragement.
My Rotary Years Rtn. Dr. Krishna Sen
Perhaps I “joined” the Rotary Club of Calcutta the day I was born. I grew up in a close-knit joint family were my bachelor uncle, Rtn. Sisir Coomar Ghose, was my friend, philosopher and guide, and Rotary was often discussed. He was President in 1968 – 69 and District Governor in 1973-74 (he died in harness).
Before Rotary Sadan, ‘ Rotary Corner’ was a small room in Great Eastern Hotel regally presided over by the statuesque Mrs. Jain, whose pained expression was a treat to behold if she was ever asked to produce any document.
Committee meetings were held in the homes or offices of the Commitee Chairmen. The sitting room of our Ballygaunge residence was one such venue. I was a regular attendee (more than I can boast of nowadays), and quickly learnt about the Four Avenues of Service, the Four – Way Test, the Chaka and the Rotarian.
Rtn. Saral Deb’s three daughters and I were permitted to join the Annual Children’s Treat, which was hosted by Club members. For many years it was sponsored by our Rtn. Ludwig Weisz at Batanagar, and then shifted to the National Library grounds when our Rtn. B.R. kesavan was the library Director.
Around 500 underprivileged children participated, a large number at that time. At Rotary events I used to see Rtn. Nitish Chandra Laharry, a reserved gentleman, the first Indian President of Rotary International, with his daughters Mira and Bira,
During high school and college I joined Sisirkaka in Community Service in bustees — paving the slushy pathways, electrifying homes, digging tubewells, starting classes. The CYSEC (Calcutta Youth Self-Employment Centre), collaborated with other organizations to empower marginal youth as small entrepreneurs.
On holidays I went to locations where he established new Rotary Clubs (Budge Budge, Serampore, Bolpur, Kamarhati). The Annual Installation meetings at Great Eastern Hotel were somewhat different from the present – the official programme was always followed by a cabaret!
In Sisirkaka’s Presidential year he spearheaded the formation of the Rotaract Club of Calcutta in 1969. The Club nominated me as its first President possibly because I was familiar with Rotary. Rotaract was a very fulfilling experience. The next big highlight was Sisirkaka’s time as District Governor till his untimely demise.
District 329 (as it was then called) comprise the whole of west Bengal, plus Bangladesh and Nepal. The DG’s official club visits read like an international itinerary. I attended wonderful conferences in Dhaka and Kathmandu and a glittering Rotary Convention at Lausanne, where I represented our Rotaract Club in the World Rotaract Meet on the sidelines.
I became a member in 1991, one of three ladies (and the only continuing one) after RI sanctioned lady Rotarians. As Chairperson of the Youth Service Committee I had a large mandate – Cultural Section, NCLCL, Rotaract, seven flourishing Interact Clubs, and something called youth Extension Activities.
I chaired this Committee under many Presidents starting with Rtn Satish Kapur, amply supported by Rtns. Ritwik Gupta, Zul Hirjee, Santanu Deb Mookerjee and Abhijit Kolay.
I used to spend whole evenings doing Committee work and. Rotary Sadan was the perfect ‘baby-sitting’ venue – little Ritika stayed safely in the library while I worked.
The Cultural Section only had vocal music and dance classes when I took over. With Mrs. Asru Datta’s untiring efforts, we introduced all the disciplines we have now, started the Republic Day and Independence day functions and held art exhibitions to showcase the children’s talents.
Our affiliation with a degree-awarding body, Sarba Bharatiya Sangeet o Sanskriti Parishad enabled many of our alumni to pursue professional careers and many are either teachers or accredited musicians with All India Radio and Doordarshan.
We started a Computer Centre for underprivileged youth that is now successfully administered by Rtns. Anusua and Bodhibrata Das. Our Bengali fest, ‘Maitree’, grows bigger every time and is well covered by the local Press.
Ritika joined Rotaract Calcutta, my husband joined RC Calcutta Inner City (President in 1999-2000), and we became Paul Harris Fellows. In 1998-99 President Ajay K. Rungta invited me to join his Board. It seemed that I would go with Rotary all the way. However, as my responsibilities for academics and research grew from 2004 onwards I found my Rotary time shrinking.
Nevertheless, I have been fortunate enough to witness the half-century of my Rotaract Club and the Centenary of my Rotary Club, my tiny contribution being to compose our Centenary anthem – To be able to share in two such momentous events — which Rotarian-Rotaractor could be luckier than that?
Rtn. Subha Pal writes:
My journey in the world of Rotary began on 1st July,1989 (31 Years ago) when I was inducted into the male dominated then Rotary District 3290 as the First lady member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta Metropolitan amidst lots of debates and controversies pertaining to the admission of Ladies in Rotary.
Subsequent to my entry as Lady Rotarian, many Others followed the precedent and today I am very proud to say that women have become great assets to the Rotary Movement all over the world.
However, my initial reaction after joining Rotary was one of an avid Student trying to learn and absorb the nuances of Rotary and its ramifications. Since that was a pre- digitalised era my tutors were not the Google findings but my seniors in Rotary and my male colleagues who were truly my mentors, guides and friends.
Though for first two years I was the only lady in my club, my colleagues it very comfortable for me to function within the system. My heart is filled with so much gratitude for them as most of these committed office bearers of Rotary worked selflessly which is a rare find in today’s world.
I am very proud to say that I had hands – on training at club level starting with serving as chairperson of various Committees, Club Secretary, Director and finally during the Rotary year 1997 -98, I was given the honour and privilege of taking over the mantle of my Rotary Club of Metropolitan, one the lead clubs of District 3291.
After completing a very eventful year as Rotary President and having visited the Rotary headquarters at Sherman Avenue, in Evanston, Chicago during my tenure as President and having completed my assignments in 4 avenues of Services I was pleased to have added a substantial number of awards trophies to our Rotary Club’s kitty in which my colleagues had by this time become my family. When appeals came over successive years to donate to the Foundation, I felt happy to have joined the league of 3 times Paul Harris badgers.
At the District level I met so many wonderful Rotarians as my mentors, advisors and colleagues. I was also requested by successive District Governors to serve in various committees as Chair and Advisors of various project committees ie Literacy, Family Exchange, Women Empowerment Community Service (RCC, RVC), Public Relations, Ambassadorial Scholarships and other international service areas which involved travelling to the important Rotary Clubs of the world, ie Rotary Clubs of London, New York, Berlin, Singapore, Glasgow, Bangkok and many others.
These experiences along with attendance in various International Conventions were truly enriching ones.
My last active District level assignment two years ago was Chair of World Peace and Understanding Committee of District 3291 under the then PDG Shyamashree Sen. I am very pleased to say that there was a lot of appreciation and accolades. There was a large gathering in which assembly of the Consul Generals, Politicians, Bureaucrats and Thinkers and Authors on the panel deliberated upon how to preserve Global Peace and Harmony.
1989 male Lady the say Since my made filled of and of and time to New Of an and and The year 2019 was a very momentous year for me. I contemplated upon drawing curtains on my Rotary career after 30 years of service and move onto other pastures. One fine afternoon of November 2019 I resigned from my Rotary Club of Calcutta Metropolitan much to the dismay and despair of my fellow Rotarians.
However, that was not destined to be. While I was in the process of assessing how would my world be in post Rotary period, I got an invitation from the Centennial President Rtn Purnendu Roy Chowdhury and after completion of necessary formalities I was inducted on the 17th of March 2020 to the oldest elite institution Rotary Club of Calcutta by none other than PDG Prabhat Rohatgi who had known me and my husband quite well and was a witness to my long journey through Rotary.
So here I am back in the Rotary fold, surrounded by so many old friends in the club and getting more and more entrapped with lovely Zoom meetings while dealing with a pandemic. Hoping to associate myself with service projects and more interaction with members in the post – Covid world.
So friends, Rotary to me has become a way of life like so many of my other involvements encompassing my Professional and Personal domain.
I have to acknowledge the support of my husband Manab Pal-An Economist and Naval Architect, Entrepreneur and Businessman and my only Son Anuvab Pal, an internationally acclaimed Author, Columnist, Playwright, Comedian and Screen Writer.
PP Rtn. Heena Gorsia writes:
My life changed the day I joined Rotary. I knew all about Rotary or so I thought. There’s the recipe and the actual pudding. In eating the actual pudding lies the magic of Rotary.
My Rotary Club gave me the opportunity to evolve to a higher being, value added. The world opens and showers you with abundance. The loving and giving, unconditional and selfless.
The projects we did over the years taught me a variety of things. Broadened my views and introduced me to finer realities. Upped my sensibilities. Taught me to shed tears of joy and hold tiny hearts.
The pride we share as we turn hundred. No mean feat with countless victories. A centenary year which proved its worthiness to the true spirit of Rotary. I salute and bow to my fellow Rotarians.
Yours in Rotary,
Heena Gorsia, President 2018-19
Rtn. Brijendra Poddar writes:
I just cannot forget the day when a Rotary get-together was organised by President Purnendu at his garden house in suburban Kolkata on 10th December last year.
There was a large group of Rotarians with their families Everyone, specially the youngsters were very excited and enjoyed the atmosphere. The were some foreigners as well. The garden was huge which added to the beauty and the atmosphere.
Music and dance started which further increased the excitement. It was an interesting sight to watch the older guest trying to compete with the youngster on the floor.
The audience gave them a huge applause, which enhanced their spirits even more.
Soon it was time for dinner. The huge garden was completely covered with dinning tables and chairs. It was most interesting to see members personally re-setting them to their convenience, evidently embarrassing the serving staff. But the guest were thrilled to achieve their objective.
Rtn. Sraddha Agarwal writes:
It was a pleasure and an honour to be the Chairperson of Women Empowerment & Vocational Training at the Rotary Club of Calcutta 2019-20.
I thank Purnenduji, President of The Rotary Club Of Calcutta And Mrs. Suksham Singh for providing me with this incredible opportunity for growth and learning and for trusting my ability to spearhead this vital committee dedicated to the emancipation of our womenfolk.
Purnenduji exhibited remarkable leadership skills throughout the year and I would like to congratulate him for a super successful tenure. He really knew how to get the best out of each of his committee heads and kept them motivated continuously, enabling them to deliver their very best.
I sincerely thank all my committee members especially Dr. Nandini Ray and Mrs Shobha Khemka for being just a call away and for all their support throughout the year.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Club and the events organized by my committee especially the ones with the Prince of Tripura, His Highness Pradyot Manikya and the interactive sessions with Sri Madhur Bhandarkar and Ms. Rhea Pillai. I thank Ms. Renuka Shah and Mr. Debashis Biswas for all the support and coordination without which these events would not have been possible.
I look forward to another enriching year at the club with Debashisji at the helm and to meeting everyone in person once again, very soon!
ROTARY CLUB OF CALCUTTA R 1 Dist 3291.
100 years of Rotary 2020.
ARTIST Rtn Ritu Singh
Life is not a Tempest, nor A Mid Summers Night Dream, It’s but a Comedy Of Errors, U can take It ,As U Like It And that’s exactly, what I did !!..
History says it all.. for every.. Artist of the World & every artist.. makes History, for the World.
If you read the The History of Rotary, A World within A World, where it Dares.. the people to dream the impossible to make it possible . That’s what ROTARY is all about.
That is when a new chapter opened in my life..
In the year 2002. I became A Rotarian…to do something special in a big way..As I had a dream As a social worker for 50 years, an Educationist for 33 years. A painter for 50 years. First painter to paint St. Teresa in the World. The 1st to paint Mother Teresa’s portrait. The 1st to have organised & participated in 30 exhibitions. Opened the 1st private ARCHIVE of Mother Teresa The Saint. In “STUDIO RITU”. Made 2 Coffee Table Books on my life with Mother “The Saint of Calcutta”.
With these few achievements ,would be happy to do some thing Beautiful, with Rotary, for Rotary .
MY humble thank you to Rotary for motivating me to help those who were helpless & needed help.
My little efforts Got some life saving operations done. Getting 9 Basti girls married. Making brick houses for the homeless, & a few roads. 3 Hand pumps for drinking clean water etc .
Farewell 100 years, welcome 101 year.
Rtn. Ajay Agarwal writes:
Rotary Club of Calcutta entered its 100th year with PRC (Purnendu Roy Chowdhury) becoming the Centennial President). Members were motivated, teams were formed and a slew of fund raising and welfare projects lined up. All Rotary Clubs do fundraising and welfare projects. Only the volumes differ. Something strikingly different needed to be done to mark this milestone.
The Rotary spirit of the Club was high. Our club flag had to fly high too. How high a flag flies is generally an emotional thing. I decided to carry the flag physically all the way up to an altitude of 20,500ft. It is an intimidating height to achieve for a non mountaineer and that too without any oxygen support. I am not aware of a parallel, but surely there would be very few. A flight to Leh (Ladakh) was followed by a 7-day trek along the picturesque Markha Valley to reach Kang Yatse Base Camp. Such was its towering presence in the valley that it was visible at a distance during the last 3 days of the trek. The climb involved a continuous journey through the entire night and half of the next day braving subzero temperatures, icy cold winds, steep snowy slopes, low oxygen conditions, fatigue and lack of sleep. Despite the odds, I succeeded. It was a proud moment when I unfurled the flag at that height.
The vertical height achieved, the horizontal was unfolded. I carried the Club flag across the globe to USA. Passing through the pristine California, it travelled through the deserts of Nevada and Las Vegas to Arizona where it was unfurled at the famous Grand Canyon.
Winters are special for Calcuttans, a season for parties and marathons. A Rotary Run was organised to celebrate 100 yrs of Rotary in India. The event had 2km, 5km and 10km runs. Our presence in any one would have sufficed. Rtn. Bodhi Das and I felt that our Club should not be left wanting and decided to do the utmost. We decided that both of us would do the 10km event. I gave it my best shot and achieved a personal best timing of 00.52.35. Had it been an age category run this timing would have easily been among the best. A 5km track had been mapped out and we were supposed to run it twice. When I came back after finishing the second the volunteers there were pushing me back on the track again thinking that I had just completed one.
DG Ajay Agarwal was there and I took my participation medal from his hands. The medal was then handed over to our Club President Purnendu Roy Chowdhury who has in turn submitted it for the Club Archives.
Over the months we enjoyed many grand fellowships and the icing was the New Year 5 day extravaganza. This will remain a year to remember.