This mail should have come to you days ago but for some post-event work which kept me busy. I am sure most of you have been in the loop about the success of the first BRIDGE public gathering on 3rd February.
I cannot really express how deeply touched I am by the overwhelming response to our event where we awarded seven families from across the country and released two of our books.
First of all, let me thank God for making the event so successful and reassuring us that we are on the right track. For an organisation that’s in its infancy, this sort of support is unprecedented.
Mr Tushar Gandhi, Mrs Sudha Murty, Mrs Rajashree Birla, Mr Bala Malladi, CEO of ACT Fibernet, Mr Ashish Dikshit, MD of Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail and other dignitaries spoke about BRIDGE in glowing terms as we were rewarding ordinary families that were otherwise ignored by the society and left to fend for themselves with our seven Resilience Awards that included a plaque and a cheque for Rs 15,000 each.
The auditorium was packed to capacity and at one time many had to stand outside to watch the event unfold. The general remarks of the participants were that they “were all touched by this initiative and would have missed such a beautifully organised programme of a beautiful initiative”. All of them expressed their surprise and happiness at the way we have grown in a very short span of time even as they professed their commitment for a long-term relationship with BRIDGE. I am happy to inform you that around 900 people watched the programme live on Facebook. Some of the top guests at the function have been sending me notes of appreciation repeatedly saying ‘it was a wonderful event’ and that they enjoyed it.
We also received financial commitment from a number of benefactors. Topping the list is Mrs Sudha Murty who has promised Rs 10 lakh on behalf of Infosys Foundation. Our energetic auction was so successful and we had to wind it up for want of time. We were able to generate around Rs 4.5 lakh from the auction. Mr Bala Malladi sir has committed to sponsor up to 5 high-cost students every year.
Now, forget for a moment the material gains of the event. I was touched more by the wonderful involvement of our BRIDGE Associates and so many of our friends to make the day so beautiful.Some of them came down from other cities too. Our cooperators were the envy of many people who said that they were surprised by the enthusiasm of our partners who worked hard during the function and spent hours and hours in the run-up to the event to make it a happening one. I have a long list of people to thank but that would make this letter too long. Yet I would not do justice if I do not mention a few outstanding people who stood out and who made sure I had an easy day that day. To all of them I offer my sincere gratitude.
There is, however, one regret that I carry within me ever since the event was over. It was the fact that I could not acknowledge the priceless contribution of Sethu Das, my friend of 23 years and founder of the popular movement FriendsofTibet, even as I mentioned the names of many others during my speech. Sethu was the brain behind getting Mr Tushar Gandhi for the function and giving the event a high stature. He and I were on regular mails and phones in the run-up to the event discussing ways to make it a smooth affair. His practical tips and suggestions, even on inviting the right people and logistical issues, had helped me immensely. Sethu, my dear, I humbly ask your pardon for this oversight and knowing you, I know you will dismiss this and laugh it off. You have been lavish in praising us for the efficient way the function was organised. Thank you Sethu and may your tribe increase!
Baloo, as always, has been a pillar of support for BRIDGE and me personally. It was his networking skills and contacts in high places that made the event an unforgettably successful one. He was always been my go-to person and only he and I are aware how much I have been troubling him with my requests at odd hours of the day and night. He was indeed a man for all seasons and all reasons.
Geetanjali Kapoor is indeed a lady with a beautiful heart and commitment nonpareil. I have lost count of the number of days and nights she spent on designing our book Giving Up Was NOT An Option and putting up with my suggestions, changes and demands. Her design capabilities could be seen even on the banners, slides and even the plaque that we awarded to the winners. Besides, all of you were witness to her efficient handling of the event proceedings on the day.
Suchitra and Vimala, our media darlings, and the team at Oni360, how can I thank you enough for the weeks of preparation and the innovative ways you made sure the event was on top of the mind of people and created the right buzz in the social media. My phone had not stopped ringing ever since the duo got into the act and ensured coverage pre- and post-event in the media.
Aral Lobo, the tech wizard, just completely took over the technical side of the event handling livestreaming, audio-visual presentation, tweeting and running around for the badges and other minute requirements in the run-up to the event.
If guest handling appeared to be a smooth affair, it was all thanks to Balu Mohan and his team who also made sure that Geetanjali and Aral were ably supported. He was also the man responsible for getting the event wide coverage in the vernacular media.
Nasline Saliha, the quiet lady, wanted to add to the colour of the evening and therefore brought in Arun Kumar from Kerala who regaled us with his melodious performance. She also made sure that Geetanjali, Aral and Balu didn’t have to look elsewhere for help.
If we did not need a professional event manager for a smooth functioning of the event, it was all thanks to the efficient and beautiful team of Magnolia — Shaji and Suja, Austin and Prami, Preetha, Anice, James uncle and aunty, and all their beautiful and enthusiastic children — who made sure that the proceedings were conducted without a glitch. In fact many came up to me and commended on the work of this team. Even before the event had begun, you could see little boys and girls carrying bundles of books from the cars with so much energy. Friends, as always you rock!
Feroze and Banu, our men of letters, a big thanks to you for meticulously going through the manuscript of the book even though you have been neck deep in work and for your able support on our Big Day. Thank you Sukumar for professing your love for the cause and working behind the scenes and supporting us.
There were apprehensions from many if a Karnataka-style meal would go down well with a cosmopolitan and a pan-India crowd. That was because they did not know enough of Raghavendra Padukone (our dear Raghu) the quiet and shy owner of By2Coffee and his mission of serving healthy food to his customers. Once they had the nourishing fare provided by Raghu’s team, the naysayers did not stop praising him. As always Raghu had the last laugh. He was also the man who arranged the banners, flowers and everything on stage and made sure that I did not have to be at the venue hours ahead to oversee the preparations.
Oh man, how can you forget the inimitable Sridhar Chari, our MC, who enthused the crowd and kept the show going with his witty and efficient handling of the proceedings. Whoever said writer-journalists can’t handle crowd must learn from Sridhar whose phone I am sure has not ceased ringing with requests from people for an encore at their functions.
The team from ACT has been outstanding with their missionary zeal to make the event a grand success. The video team of the company spent days and nights in making the BRIDGE video, the top leadership including Bala sir and Sunil Yajaman have been exemplary in their support for the event and offer of long-term support for our cause.
It would be a grave injustice if I did not acknowledge the silent and effective support of many of our well-wishers who were on their knees praying for the success of the event and BRIDGE fraternity as a whole. I have no doubt that it is their continuous prayer that made sure everything went smooth that day. While I thank this group from the bottom of my heart, I request them to continue this prayerful support which is actually the fuel on which BRIDGE runs.
The list just goes on — the logistical supporters, National College team, Kind Heart members, and the enviable crowd that opened its hearts and wallets for this cause, our dear advertisers who blindly supported the cause without caring for the so-called three-year track record or 80G rules…
A big Thank You to all of you my friends, benefactors and associates and others who I may have missed mentioning here for all that you have been and are to me and BRIDGE. May God bless all of us and keep us motivated to stay the course.
Thank you so much and warm regards