From slum to MC … to hospitality

We often talk about how the Universe conspires to bring things together; sometimes we actually experience it.

I was driving to Virar (about two hours away from Mumbai) to attend a music performance for elderly women that had been put together by friends Pratibha and Geeta, with help from another singer friend, Romita.

President of RC Bombay Ramesh Narayan with Pooja Kamble.
President of RC Bombay Ramesh Narayan with Pooja Kamble.

At that time, Ekta Shah who manages the Bhavishya Yaan (BY) programme of RC Bombay, D 3141, at the GK Marg Municipal School, messaged me that an alumni of our BY programme who was studying in college and always attributed her success to our programme, wanted to give back to society, and could I think of something for her.

I got out of the car and asked Pratibha and Geeta if this girl could accompany them to an orphanage they were helping, They agreed to take her there the very next day.

Many weeks later, while planning my installation a thought struck me. I called Pratibha and asked her how she found Pooja Kamble, the young woman, who despite being so impoverished, wanted to give back to society. Overwhelmed with the response, I asked her to help this girl from the slums of Worli to be the MC at my installation as President of RC Bombay.

I asked my friend Pratibha to help Pooja Kamble from the slums of Worli to be the MC at my installation as President of RC Bombay.

What followed was amazing. Pratibha and Geeta went into high gear coaching the young woman. Ekta, who was travelling, kept in touch with a hundred tips on several points. And Pooja Kamble, the young girl with a paralysed father, no mother, two sisters and a brother, and who wanted to give back to society, took centre stage as MC at the Taj Crystal Room before a packed audience that could have intimidated anyone.

She was cool, poised and natural. I congratulated her and thought the story was over. My objective of showcasing Bhavishya Yaan had been achieved. Or so I thought.

One of my personal guests was Ashrafi Matcheswala, the General Manager of Hotel Taj President, who saw much more in Pooja. She proposed that Pooja be admitted in the B Voc (Bachelor of Vocation) programme being run by Indian Hotels and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). It was late and the batch was full, but Ashrafi made it happen.

Pooja has signed up to do the course and is on her way to becoming a professional in the hospitality industry, and I’m sure RC Bombay will be happy to pay any fees that might be needed.

The writer is President,
RC Bombay, D 3141.

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