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BY MAHADEV DESAI
Senior Citizens Program,(SCP) Inc. organized a highly engaging bingo luncheon at the Aroma Delight Restaurant in Duluth, on Sunday, March 24. To capture and express the real essence and excitement of my fellow seniors immersed in the game of Bingo was challenging. After some head-scratching, I thought the word “binge” would go well with the word “Bingo”. Binge generally is used to show insatiable appetite. For instance, it is used for ‘binge eating’ after an excruciating dieting spell to shed those extra pounds around our bodies! I felt that ‘binge’ would reflect the insatiable appetite of the seniors to win the chips by combining the knowledge of numerology together with lady luck’s smile. So I settled on the word Bingo binge! to describe the ecstasy of the seniors who applauded and screamed in joy and excitement after being declared the winners and rewarded with gifts in the Bingo challenge sponsored by well known and respected philanthropists Jeevan & Arwan Singhal and Rakesh & Chandrika Garg.
Having attended Senior Citizens Program for well over ten years, I have noticed the seniors blend work and play meaningfully. This time too, the focus was on a worthy humanitarian cause, when SCP. Volunteer Chinti Bali appealed for donations to help Atlanta’s noted poet and Radio Humdum’s broadcaster Aslam Pervez towards his rehab expenses after a serious illness. It is commendable that despite short notice, SCP raised and generously contributed towards the Welfare Fund for Pervez. Chinti Bali further informed the members of upcoming Benefit Concert at Bethak Restaurant and Banquet Hall on March 26 for this noble cause. Chinti also took the opportunity to inform seniors who do not have medical insurance to contact Dr. Inder Pal Singh, who runs his clinic on Sunday afternoons from 3-00 to 4.30 p.m. on a voluntary basis to help the needy Elders.
The second important matter highlighted by SCP was the importance of being counted in the Census 2010. Executive Director Raj Razdan informed the attendees about the U S Census 2010 and exhorted everyone to fill in the simple questionnaire and mail it back to the Census. She further informed them about the importance of being counted as the data helps the Federal Government in allocating financial and other aid to States and communities including funds for Senior Citizens Welfare. She also assured the audience about the safety and confidentiality of the responses.
The seniors were rewarded for their rapt attention and being good listeners as the Gujarati Community leader and social activist, Vinodbhai Patel, and Nath Singhaadia and other volunteers handed out black and white bags to male and female members respectively. Each bag had a T shirt and Census 2010 literature. The Members could not wait to open their gift bags, and proudly and cheerfully don their T shirts publicly! (Without stripping!) Razdan thanked the US Census Senior Partnership Specialist for the entire Southeast USA and Team Leader Winnie Tang for arranging to send these goodies from Florida as compliments of the Census effort.
As the volunteers went round serving tasty appetizers to the seniors, Bingo cards were distributed. Nail-biting suspense and silence reigned supreme as Isha Goyal commenced the game by announcing the numbers in English while Arunaben promptly translated this in Gujarati. Thanks to Rohitbhai Patel for setting up the audio system, everyone could hear the numbers distinctly.
The game commenced with a quiz on Bingo lingo!” Two walking sticks”! It stands for the number 11. Yes, you guessed it right. The suspense became unbearable (jiya dhadak dhadak jaye) till the first winner Vinodbhai Vashi raised his hand and handed his winning bingo card for verification and confirmation. Eureka, he did win the first round! But it was not over yet and the suspense kept mounting for newer rounds for full house. Five more winners emerged-Karishma Singhal; Sushilaben; Ushaben Karia; Jeevan Singhal; and Mahadev Desai. The camaraderie was so obvious that even the losers cheered the winners in the packed Banquet Hall. That too in current times of economic downturn!
Lunch has always been an integral part of monthly SCP celebrations. So, after bingo, the seniors settled down for ‘binge’ eating, accompanied with hilarious jokes by seniors, poetry recital by Atlanta’s well known poet Kusum Sinha, melodious bhajan,’Manav tu parivartan se kaheko darta hai’ by Malti Duggal who also sang a duet bhajan, “Mujhe Bhagwan woh dil de ke jisme pyaar tera ho’ with Mrs. Bhandari.
After fun, food, and entertainment it was time for a test of culinary skills. For male members this surely was an unusual challenge but they rose to the occasion. And slowly, seniors penned down his or her favorite recipe. The response proved not only overwhelming but also hilarious as some members came on stage and read out their recipes, raising laughs when describing why these were their favorites. Men folks invariably complimenting their spouses for their weight gain!
Razdan concluded the highly entertaining and fun-filled event by announcing the next SCP event on April 11, a movie show, (the name of the movie to be announced later) at the Galaxy Cinema.