I started dreaming about a club years ago. Disabled kids have limited social and recreational opportunities in India. Adults have nothing. Literally. I did a survey among colleagues all over the country and couldn’t find a single example of a club for disabled adults. As Moy Moy got older, I knew that Latika Vihar – our amazing inclusive children’s centre – would soon not be appropriate for her. Little kids enjoy certain activities; adults want and need something different.
Less structure, more options. Friendship, coffee, maybe a glass of wine. French fries would definitely be good. Quiet corners, with a chance to talk to friends. Newspapers, movies and music. Maybe a gym (but maybe not. Who joins a club because of its gym?).
But dreaming and action are two different things. I kept thinking. And talking. It took some young people with energy, passion and conviction to make it happen.
Yesterday, due to their efforts, The Club opened. The first, we believe, of its kind in India, it will be a gathering place for disabled adults to meet friends and enjoy a wide range of recreational activities. That means a tastefully decorated lounge for club members where they can watch movies (on a 40-inch flatscreen TV!), read magazines, play board games and cards and chat with friends.
It means an outdoor cafe featuring snacks and drinks, all of which trainees from the Centre for Vocational Training prepare and serve.
And in the back of the building would-be singers and performers gravitate to an inviting outdoor stage for live shows and dance parties. Alsi types prefer the open space for sunbathing in the winter (in the summer there will be umbrellas).
We put it to immediate use on Opening Day. We had a rap singer and rock music as well some slightly more restrained performances of Bollywood classics by staff members.
Pankaj is 30 and says he’s looking forward to coming every day. “I’m in a band,” he told us. “I can bring my instruments and play here for the other members.” Amita, 54 and bored at home since the place she worked closed down, counts the hours till she can head out the door to The Club. As for Sachin, who is 19 and waiting for the day when he can join (The Club is for adults 21 and over), he says he’s practicing his dance moves.
None of this could have happened without a remarkable team effort. Anjali Joshi – energy and passion personified – took the lead and CVT’s rockstars – Rajesh and Prem – were there for every single twist and turn. Divya and Veenu, neighbors and friends with flawless design style and that perfect eye, supervised the interiors and the landscaping. Suresh the electrician, Tejpal the painter and Sanjay, the horticulture man were our technical experts. Kusum and Baba Kanwar, our incredibly supportive landlords, have given their blessings to everything we have done at their beautiful house.
And finally Brookfield – a visionary and progressive real estate company – contributes generously to both the CVT and The Club. We couldn’t do any of this without them.
It was a day to rejoice in, a triumph of hard work, creativity and team spirit – and there was laughter, singing and a few tears too. I cried a bit when I thought about Moy Moy and how much I had wanted this to happen for her. But like everything else she has inspired, it’s love, joy and determination to make this world a better place that shines through in the end.