PLATINUM BIRTHDAY OF A SANTA CLAUS
Seldom is one witness to a Celebration Birthday of a Santa Claus. We were honoured to be a part of one such gala on 28th Jan 2022 at Kino's Cottage-Juhu when Adorable Sonali and her wonderful family Kunal Bharti (Hubby) and their loving kids Aalika and Siddhant (Indian Chess prodigy), firmed up on the grand celebration of her Mom’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday bash. Dr Capt (AMC) Kanta Mukherjee is more than a Santa Claus. Santa gives you gifts on Christmas, albeit Kanta is a Society’s Santa distributing freebies to the needy often throughout the year, whether it’s the environmental watch, the anti-encroachment drives, distribution of PPE kits, free dental treatment to needy or distribution of dollars to workers during her foreign tours; everyone who comes to her door, leaves with a Smile. And the coincident whelming part : She shares her Birthday with Jesus Christ (25 Dec) and Mrs Rekha Sharma (better half of Cmde IJ Sharma) present amongst the guests.
Brief Write-up on the Work Done by the Nominee
Dr (Capt) Kanta Mukherjee, 75 yrs, is a Social reformer, a renowned environmental enthusiast and a Veer Nari with a Vision. Having graduated in dental surgery from Mumbai, in 1968 and internship in Willingdon and Safdarjung Hospital's burns department in Delhi, She Joined Army Dental corps in January 1971 and treated soldiers with and facial and jaw casualties during the 1971 War. She displayed tremendous courage in expeditious surgery and care of soldiers being brought in from War zones to Base hospital, Delhi Cantt. She was later posted to Army Dental Centre Panjim in 1972 and gave cover to all Army centres around. She Got married in 1972 at Goa, to a Naval Doctor, Late Vice-Admiral HP Mukherjee (former Director General Medical Services (NAVY)). After quitting service in January 1976, She started private practice at Dimapur where Admiral Mukherjee was then posted with Border Roads. After Nagaland She has practiced in Mumbai, then Cochin, back to Mumbai at Kemps corner and Hughes road. Finally shifted to own residence at Versova in February 1989. Not one to rest on her past laurels, She involved herself in upliftment of Society. She is a renowned social worker and an environmentalist of Andheri and Juhu and has solved all local issues of water, sanitation, upkeep of roads, illegal encroachments and beautification of surroundings. She involved herself extensively working for removal of encroachment and beautification of area under “Saaf Aangan Scheme” of BMC. Her Contribution to welfare of handicapped and providing free dental treatment to poor in the area, has been appreciated by BMC Commissioner in various forums. She formed an NGO (Access Smile Foundation) to treat children born with birth defect of cleft lip and cleft palate. During COVID times in the past two years, her NGO supplied Smart COVID OPDs to all the government hospitals in Mumbai for protection of doctors working on COVID patients. This noble gesture deservedly was much appreciated by the fraternity of health care workers. She had shifted to Versova along with her husband about 30 yrs ago. Their building is next to the mangroves. Her heart used to cry seeing the people cutting and destroying the mangroves for fire wood and used to stop them. Although she tried to teach them the importance of Mangroves in helping against soil erosion, it fell on deaf ears of locals. One fine morning she was horrified to see all the mangroves in front of the building cut down to stumps. It sent shockwaves to all the residents and that was the beginning of her participation in environmental activities of her Area. High Court was moved and mangroves of Versova area were saved by erecting a fence along the 2 km stretch of the mangroves. Citizens then decided to be active and formed an Advanced Locality Management, a recognised body by Mumbai Municipal Corporation of which She became the Chairperson. Her organisation not only keeps an environment infringement watch, but also deals with illegal encroachments in the public areas and gardens. She engages in beautification of specific areas by adopting it under ‘Saaf Angan Scheme’ of BMC, besides educating and training the Societies in Waste segregation and Composting. She was honoured for her work by BMC under the Swatch Bharat Scheme. Her message of Swatch Bharat is also propagated via the musical shows organised in the Societies of the Area. She was faced with opposition from uncivil rowdy elements against encroachment drives. She filed an FIR against the encroachers and fought against them in civil courts to remove encroachments. A Social Worker with a difference She is regarded as the “Durga” of her area. On the occasion of 75th Independence Day of India, ‘Hindi Academy’ decided to honour prominent Veterans of Mumbai by the Governor of Maharashtra, H.E. Shri Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. The Academy felicitated Dr Kanta Mukherjee with the Award of Matrubhoomi Bhushan Samman 2021, for relentlessly serving the Society. She is also an active Committee Member of the NFMC (Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter), largest of the 16 Chapters Pan India with over 1300 Naval Veterans and Veer Naris. Despite being a Senior Veer Nari herself, she has been looking after the welfare of all Veer Naris of NFMC whole heartedly. She is a worthy mentor to them and not only facilitates the Armed Forces Veer Naris pension formalities, but additionally provides them moral and social support by visiting them often. Her personal involvement in Social upliftment, environmental conservation, Patient care and welfare of Veer Naris, beyond the call of Duty, is worthy of emulation and needs National recognition. In consideration of the foregoing, Commander Vijay Vadhera, the President of the Navy Foundation Mumbai Chapter has strongly recommended Veer Nari Dr (Capt) Kanta Mukherjee for the award of Nari Shakti Puraskar 2021/2022 by the Government of India. Jai Hind.
Kino Cottage, Andheri West, Mumbai is a charmingly offbeat venue that offers the best to the guests. This venue has pebbled pathways, wood, and stone-carved benches, blooming flowerbeds, dense foliage and a view to the Arabian Sea through the Versova Beach to enchant you. Sonali and Kunal aptly decided on the ‘Gate to Heavens’ destination for their Mother, and secretly planned the surprises for her on her most Auspicious Day. The guest list comprised residents of Anchorage Society, NFMC Committee members and a few close friends of Dr Kanta.
We were the early few birds to enter Kenos, which boasts of Wallet parking on the busy Juhu Road. The entrance was a colourfully lit Archway resembling Gate to heaven. Courteously we were greeted and escorted in and were charmed to walk into stone carved interior leading to an exquisite Garden with decorative flowerbeds and pebbled pathway open to a Promenade with an expansive view of the Arabian Sea, the orange textured waxing crescent of the Lovely moon. On either side there were 6 mts high statues of ancient goddesses smiling down and blessing the guests. We were greeted by the Birthday Girl Kanta, who looked charming in her embraided Pink Suit. We wished her as she hugged us smilingly. Sonali looked a Princess in Silver shimmering outfit. Siddhant was in black and white and complemented Meena’s dress. Kunal looked great in all black. Aalika was chatting with her peer group friends. Dr Kanta introduced us to her Bhabhi, Mrs Rita Chaudhry, a cheerful lady who'd come from Delhi for the celebration. Slowly guests started trickling in and the place looked majestically abuzz. All our Committee members and the beautiful ladies were mighty pleased to interact after the Hamla get-together 2 months ago. Cdr Vadhera and Sunita Ma'am, took some time to arrive after having tasted the traffic jams at Kurla. It took them almost 3 hrs from Kharghar. It was a bliss to interact with our Senior Veterans Cmde & Mrs HC Sharma, Capt ML Nichani, Cdr PP Singh, Surg Capt Kamal Shah, Surg Lt Arun and Cdr Darshan Lal and their charming ladies. The Jungee author, jubilant Priya and her hubby Shaikh accompanied parents Cmde and Mrs IJ Sharma. (Mrs Rekha Sharma too shares her Birthday with Dr Kanta. We had celebrated her 80th in grand style two yrs ago at their Anchorage home). Cdr Darshan Lal recalled his challenging tenure in Vikrant during the 1971 War, when he was its ExO, his association and times with various Veterans of that era. We also met Mr Jagdish Joshi IAS, and his good lady, who recounted his tenures in Maharashtra (Pune and Beed) as Chief Secy.
Sonali commenced the proceedings recalling her times with her parents and how wonderful her Mom had been in her growing years. Siddhant sang a melodious Birthday song for his adorable Nani playing his Guitar, Aalika read out a Poem in praise of her Nani, Raj read out the Citation for Dr Kanta Mukherjee’s Nomination for the Nari Shakti Award 2022 that has been forwarded to PMO. Cdr Vadhera took to stage and on behalf of all Veterans wished a Very Happy 75th Birthday to the Birthday Girl. He also briefed all present on the essence of Veterans Day and the most awaited second Veterans Day Parade at Marine Drive on 08 Jan 2023. Later the guests were requested to move into the Dance room inside for the exceptional presentation prepared by young Siddhant on the Life and Times of his Dear Kanta Nani. It was much appreciated by all with a huge round of applause. This was followed by Meena’s Video on her association with NFMC, which also drew huge applause from all present.
The dinner to follow was indeed delectable with varied cuisine topped up with mouth watering dessert - Jalebi, Kulfi and Gajrela.
Even as the guests commenced to leave paying their respects to Dr Kanta, the close few moved to the Dance floor and grooved till past midnight besides a round of Karaoke by Cdr Vadhera, Raj and Sonali.
An event that has been etched in the minds of guests, captured well in the cameras of Marshal and Meena, to be recalled in footprints of time to come. The photos and Videos are placed below to marvel and the splendid Organisation of the grand Gala by Kunal and Sonali for their dear Mom Dr Kanta Mukherjee, the Queen of Hearts.
Sam No Varunah
CDR VADHERA’S WA MSG :
Thanks Kanta Ma’am for a Lovely & most enjoyable evening yesterday . Sonali & Kunal had got excellent decorations done consistent with the theme. It was like a destination B’day celeberations. Even though we started from Kharghar at 1740 hrs, reached the Venue at 2025 hrs and finally reached Kharghar at 0215 hrs, it was worth attending the Platinum jubilee Bday celebrations of our most gracious Kanta Ma'am.🙏🏽🙏🏽
Next Bday Bash will be when u reach the milestone of 80 yrs and start earning 20% extra pension. Cheers 🍻
PS- Please double click the Videos at the bottom to play.