By Nitya Satyani | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 10, 2016
Saurabh Nimbkar plays the guitar on Mumbai locals to raise funds for cancer patients. There’s no finesse of an Eric Clapton in his playing but there’s soul in his music!
Nitya Satyani meets the 24-year-old who is wise beyond his years.
Sometimes, in life, you meet people who are far removed from the mechanical functioning’s of the commercial world; people who can put their own life on hold for the common good of others around them.
It has been our pleasure to speak to Saurabh Nimbkar, a former employee at a pharmaceutical company, who quit his steady job two months ago, to become a full-time musician. But what is soul stirring about his story is that he plays on the local trains of Mumbai in order to collect donations, all of which go towards helping cancer patients and their families in Ward No. 42 of KEM hospital.
This is the same Ward where his mother lost the battle to cancer in 2014.
Though Saurabh hasn’t been formally trained in music (he is self-taught), he used to play the guitar and sing for the patients in the Ward while his mother was admitted there. His music used to relax the patients. The hospital staff encouraged him seeing the good it was doing to the patients around his mother.
Having spent a lot of time in that Ward, Saurabh knew first-hand the problems families face; some of whom come from rural India for the treatment of their loved ones and have no home in Mumbai and often no food for themselves.
“Several trust funds set up by organizations such as the RTI, Rajiv Gandhi Yojna, Siddhivinayak Temple etc. do help the patients considerably. In order to prevent the misuse of funds, they rightfully deposit the money in the patient’s name with the hospital itself and the money spent on their treatment gets deducted directly,” informs Saurabh about his understanding of the donation process and those who help out.
“However, the paperwork for verification etc. takes some time and over and above that, the family still needs to spend money on certain tests, etc. in the interim. So I stay in touch with the doctors of the Ward and they inform me when certain families need financial assistance. I cannot say I help everyone but I try to help the maximum number of families that I can,” he says matter-of-factly, the impact of his actions belying the emotions on his face.
After losing his mother, Saurabh took to playing the guitar and singing in trains. He routinely takes the train from Dadar to Ambernath and Dombivli, strumming his tunes and encouraging people to sing along and contribute.
“I meet all sorts of people, both good and bad, in Mumbai,” he states. “Sometimes I do get criticized for my way of working. Some people feel I’m fake and this isn’t the right way to collect funds. On social networking sites also, I do face a lot of brickbats. They do have the right and freedom to comment. However, there are a lot of wonderful people who read about me and contact me themselves to make a contribution, not only from India but internationally as well.”
“I have thought about starting my own trust fund. But after speaking to many people I realized that it isn’t an easy process. I would first need a trustworthy committee to monitor my funds. Instead of looking out for reliable people I prefer to do the best I can on an individual level,” he says sure about his action meeting the needs of patients.
Today, Saurabh’s social work has generated publicity for him. He gets invited to play in corporate shows. A local cafe has hired him to play for them. He has now immersed himself in his music. He felt his efforts are being appreciated when he had the opportunity to be a guest on Amitabh Bachchan’s show Aaj Ki Raat Zindagi. Mr. Bachchan even accompanied him on a train ride thereafter, singing Rang Barse for the mesmerized audience.
“When I perform, I expect nothing,” Saurabh confesses, “and so I am never disappointed. Whatever I get from my shows is contributed to a good cause and that makes me happy. And people are very generous. Three weeks ago I played at a charity event for Edelweiss. I had hoped to collect at least Rs 15,000 from there. I was amazed when I received Rs 1,30,000,” he beams.
I leave his company mesmerized. My mind races back to that beautiful song from Sound of Music sung by Captain Von Trapp to his children.
Ev’ry morning you greet me
Small and white
Clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow
May you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Bless my homeland forever…