Conference vignettes

RI President Shekhar Mehta and Rashi at the House of Friendship.
RI President Shekhar Mehta and Rashi at the House of Friendship.

Déjà vu

As the RI presidential conference kicked off in the Nawabi city of Hyderabad, addressing the inaugural session, RI President Shekhar Mehta struck a nostalgic note and said, “I am so excited to be here in Hyderabad and the reasons are so many. First of all this city, this venue, the people involved in organising it… both (PRID) Kamal Sanghvi and (PDG) Ravi Vadlamani, convener and chair… they all take me a decade back. To the time when I was on the RI board of directors, and we had the Hyderabad literacy summit, the largest ever Rotary event to be held in India, and at this very venue, the Novotel Convention hotel.”

The second reason for his happiness was that nearly 3,000 people gathering at the event is “our big blow to Covid. By assembling here, we have proved that human beings are resilient. They overcome any challenge, however big it might be.”

The third reason, of course, is that “I am thrilled to see the sea of Rotarians here. This is the second biggest event in Rotary worldwide this year; the biggest will be the convention in Houston. I am delighted to be in my own country with my family of Rotarians, who work so hard to exemplify ‘do more and
grow more’”.


Evacuating pets from Ukraine!

Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Gen V K Singh, a veteran of evacuation of Indians trapped in conflict zones, said that “of all the evacuations I got sucked into during the last several years, the most recent one (from Ukraine) was very interesting. This was because along with people, we also had to evacuate pets… dogs, cats, guinea pigs etc.”

Creating memories.
Creating memories.

As a vast majority of Indians trapped in Ukraine were medical students, “my first question to them was that did you come to Ukraine to study medicine or keep pets with you? It was a very difficult situation and you could see the attachment they had to their pets. So we had to improvise ways to find cats and dogs and rabbits, and bring them back to India.”

The minister hoped “the pets we rescued are surviving in this great heat of India, because they were conditioned to live in much cooler climates.”


Meet & greet

Vibrant music and dancers dressed in extravagant Brazilian costumes set the tone for the inaugural of the House of Friendship by President Mehta who, along with Rashi, led the grand march. “It was a full-house on all three days,” said HoF Committee chair PDG Madhav Chandran. Professional performances included, among other outstanding entertainment, a ‘junk percussion’ band, Dharavi Reloaded, comprising a group of teenagers from the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, who had the audience grooving to hip music created with the aid of discarded barrels, plastic cans, bottles and paint buckets.

A student and his pet dog evacuated from Ukraine.
A student and his pet dog evacuated from Ukraine.

The photo booths were a big hit. The commercial stalls were popular and the Rotary Action Group booths had maximum footfalls. “Ranging from menstrual hygiene to environment and water conservation programmes there was something interesting for everyone,” said Chandran. Dreamscape, a Hyderabad-based property promoter, was the title sponsor for the presidential conference and its founder Nagaraju Nadikuda was happy with the interest shown by Rotarians at the stall. He announced his commitment to become an AKS member and to form RC Dreamscape as the first corporate club of RID 3150.

The food court was managed by the Novotel hotel. “The quality and variety of food was well appreciated by the guests. Convener Kamal Sanghvi’s announcement that “food and beverages will be on the house on the last day,” was greeted with cheerful applause. “We worked very hard and did  everything possible to make the conference experience special and memorable for everyone,” smiled Chandran.

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