Friday, 2 September 2011

Mixing with the stars (if you know who he is)

Susannah (friend from Deep Griha Society) had heard that one of her favourite pop stars from the UK -Jay Sean, was going to visit a friend’s charity, Sahara Aalhad, the other side of Pune and she really wanted to go. I was persuaded to come along with her even though I didn’t really know who he was and only vaguely knew one of his songs. As we didn’t really know how to get to the charity, Paul (a volunteer for Wake Up Pune) kindly offered to come with us and show us the way.

‘Sahara Aalhad is a 28 year old organisation whose mission is to empower people facing difficult situations due to substance use and HIV/AIDS. It has implemented a range of strategies to empower people, strengthen communities, to encourage safer behaviours and to aid in the reintegration of people into society. It has 36 projects most of which address substance use and HIV/AIDS and is run almost entirely by former substance users and PLHA.’

Sahara Aalhad is also a beneficiary of ‘Keep a Child Alive’ which is a charity that provides ‘life-saving AIDS treatment, care, nutrition, support services and love to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India by directly engaging the global public in the fight against AIDS.’

Jay Sean gives money and supports the work of this charity and that is the reason he was invited to be a guest at Sahara whilst he was touring around India.

To get to Sahara from our Deep Griha Society office, we had to get an auto rickshaw 10 minutes away and change onto a six seater auto rickshaw. We had to change because the charity was another 30 minute ride away and a normal rickshaw would be too costly. We couldn’t get a six seater from our office because they aren’t allowed into the city due to their terrible emissions and noise pollution; they have to stay on the outskirts.

Inside the six-seater, you can see more
of them in the background.
The journey on the six seater rickshaw only cost 10 rupees each, which was so cheap considering how far we went. One downside was that we did get a bit squashed in it when about eight people squeezed in with us at one point!

The driver's area.



When we arrived at Sahara, we were shown around and given some really delicious lunch of rice, dahl, chapatti and meat curry. The whole place was decorated with pictures of Jay Sean and homemade decorations and everyone, including Susannah, was so excited.

Jay Sean arrived at 3.30pm with a huge bodyguard and two very pretty, well dressed young women. We assumed one was his wife but we weren’t sure.

After posing for some pictures with the staff, he was taken for a tour around the care home and to meet the clients there. There was then time for picture taking and Susannah got him to sign the back of her phone. (She really treasures that signature now, lol!)


View of the welcome banner from the roof.

Jay Sean (in maroon) and his HUGE,
but friendly bodyguard.

Jay Sean!

A young group of girls dressed in beautiful Maharashtran Sari’s performed a special traditional dance and then after some egging on by the crowd, Jay Sean was persuaded to sing for everyone. Susannah couldn’t believe her luck! Not only were we at an intimate meet and greet session, we were also seeing him perform!

Beautiful girls in traditional Maharashtran Sari's

Susannah very happy with Jay Sean.

It was a really nice afternoon and Jay Sean came across really down to earth, kind and he cared a lot for the people that he helped, it was really refreshing to see him give so much joy to all the people there.

That evening, Jay Sean was supposed to be performing at Hard Rock Cafe. When we arrived at the venue at 9.00pm, there were hundreds of people waiting around and the surrounding roads were gridlocked! We waited for what seemed like an hour and were all then told that the gig had been cancelled, due to there not being the right permissions to perform granted by the police. Everyone was pretty hacked off as some of them had been waiting around for a few hours. It’s typical though. Apparently when Akon had come to perform in Pune in the past, the same thing happened and he wasn’t allowed to sing either.

Susannah was a bit disappointed but at least we’d got to meet Jay Sean earlier in the day and had our own private performance.

If you want more information on any of the organisations mentioned above, please visit the following sites:

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