What’s our USP?

It’s so difficult in today’s age if one is not up there with the lingo and the terms used when networking! USP for example, I had heard about it but wasn’t sure what it meant! Till yesterday that is. And then it struck, Tamahar’s USP?? If one wants to get an article written about any product, there should be a “unique USP” or else the newspapers look elsewhere! Every time I spoke to any journalist, the first question was, how is Tamahar different from the others. Well, I can think of many points, but did that count?

Yesterday, when I was thinking about some of the cuties at Tamahar, it suddenly struck me, Tamahar’s USP, it was right there in front of me! We treat children coming to Tamahar as children! Not as children with special needs, or children with brain damage, or “Autistics” or “Cerebral Palsied” or “Mentally Retarded” or I can go on and on and on!

Our therapies do not divide the child’s ability and learning time into “Time for Speech”, “Time for Hand functions”, “Time for Physical Exercise”, or “Time for Learning”!! Our children learn to “listen” and “speak”, “move their bodies”, and “coordinate eye-hand movements”, learn to “look around”, “memorize”, “almost at the same time. Each individual intervention session includes use of the total brain! How simple and how very effective it is! Our babies are progressing at an amazing rate. Some are getting ready to join Special Schools for academics, some are ready to enter Pre-school programs at regular inclusive schools! And, all this in a couple of years time! Some of the children came to Tamahar when their developmental age, or what is known as their ability to perform, was 9 months of development! To think that they were able to bridge a gap of 3-6 years in just 24 months tells us a lot of the ability of the brain to learn, given the correct conditions!

That is Tamahar’s USP and I want to shout out loud over rooftops! Is anyone listening?


My ode to Parents

Continuing on my journey to start Tamahar! I am often asked what made me want to start Tamahar. For one, it was destined! And then, the other reason! On my way to a wiser me, I had made many mistakes and this is my attempt at making right what had not been in the first round! I am grateful for the very many experiences I had, that now have made me a better person, a better therapist.

Parents are the core of any training or treatment one gives a child, and they therefore need to be at the center-stage of any rehabilitation process. I had been through many experiences where parents were told to be “just parents”, not therapists! Now I know, how wrong that is! Parents are the child’s first therapists and they need to be equipped with the knowledge of how to deal with their child!

Children with special needs are often treated as though they are robots, no heart, no brain! Again, how wrong we are! The only thing they need is a way to express themselves, and we can learn so much about them! What I realized was that parents just wanted someone to help decipher what the children had to say. At Tamahar, we do just that. We help us understand the child and then in turn, help the child in understanding us! And like I said, parents are the core, so they are very much a process in it, not just a part of the process.


Sometime last year or was it early this year, we had a bunch of kids interning with us from Symbi, Pune! I had absolutely no clue what kind of work I was gonna give them! Tamahar was just getting its wings, we were 2 years old! There was a lot to be done, and most of it from the children’s rehabilitation technical point of view. So, what was I to expect or what experience was I to provide these Management students?! At the end of their 10 days, they had chosen their work, taught us a lot, and inspired this blog! Tamahar has been due to inspirations from many many people, and probably I was judgmental in feeling that only those people who were associated with the kind of work we do, and those associated with the kind of children we work with will have many inputs to give. How wrong I was, and how I stand corrected now!

Rahul’s Musings

Tamahar – Of Selfless LOVE and More…

I and my three other friends – Shivani, Vishakha and Harsha were going to Bangalore for our Social Responsibility Project as a part of our academic learning from Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication. As students of mass communication and MBA in media, we were assigned with tasks to come up with unique strategies and design promotional material for the NGO’s. Least did we realize that those 10 days spent at Tamahar (Centre for kids with special needs) would be more than just a mere learning experience.

(L-R) Shivani, Harsha, Rahul (Vishakha we missed you!!)

Tamahar – situated at a not so noisy location of Malleshwaram in Bengaluru, outskirts of the main city yet bustling with activity is a centre of kids with special needs. Calling them disabled or abnormal would be a sin, for they are as normal as us. It’s just that they crave a little more attention, a little more love – but who doesn’t? Don’t we crave for love and attention when our morale is down, don’t we crave for that unconditional love each time? As Vaishali Mam (Founder Tamahar) says, we all have different needs and wants and these kids are no different. So here began our journey where we found out what it takes to give that happiness, that selfless love and not make a difference, but just put a smile to one’s face.

I say not make a difference because we in those 10 days probably did quite little to make the kind of difference we would want to considering the tiring efforts the caring mentors at Tamahar put towards each kid. I would not call them teachers (while they all are trained to be called as one) because a teacher just teaches, but here they did much much more – they truly made a difference and continue to do so each day, with same zest and enthusiasm.

Each day, we experienced something exciting. Personally, I never had worked with an NGO before and always thought of doing my bit. This was the chance and I could not have asked for more. Watching the kids learning, the happiness on their faces while playing and more over the happiness on their parent’s faces was truly an emotional moment of the journey. The 10 days passed quickly and soon it was time to leave, but memories of those 10 days stayed in our hearts and minds for a long long time.
I recount that day when Vishakha brought a card designed with impressions of the kid’s thumbs. The best parting gift we could have got.
While we came back and got busy with our college, Vaishali Mam and her team tirelessly continues her work at Tamahar. We always wanted to be there, and do hope we could go back and spend time with the kids.
Those 10 days, did make me realize that it’s always about showering the affection, the love and to care for each and one. Sometimes that one bit is what we forget to do but at Tamahar that is what has kept it going for years now. It’s that place which made me realize that it’s a few things like this which make a difference. Not just in the kid’s lives but in others as well. It’s all about the Selfless Love and Much more….
It’s been a year since we came back, but reading Vaishali Mam’s blog could not have been a better inspiration to write about my beautiful journey at Tamahar.

(L-R) Shivani, Harsha, Vaishali Mam, Odie, Vishakha, Rahul
To The kids….
To The Mentors….
To Odie, Prateik and Vaishali Mam and Mr.Pai….
Thanks…for making us a part of YOU and All the Best!! Looking forward to meet you soon.

My Journey to Tamahar

I was always meant to be an Occupational Therapist! Generally when I say this aloud in a group, the immediate reaction is knowing smiles and polite laughs. But, it is true! 30 years ago, when elders had a definite say in your future vocation, Occupational Therapy (OT) was my 3rd option. I wanted to be a Marine Biologist more than anything, and if not that, then a Psychologist. When it became clear that neither was going to happen, mainly because both were not seen as a successful career option for a go-getter, career-oriented person like me, OT happened! This was, of course, after I had disappointed my mom by not getting enough marks to get into Medicine. I did not want to do Microbiology, so the OT option. This is how I make sense of my journey, but there definitely was divine intervention. My mother happened to work at a Cancer Rehabilitation Center as a Clinical Psychologist. That is where I saw the first Occupational Therapy department working, and I was hooked.

My real learning started when I came to Bangalore and joined the Spastic’s Society of India (as it was known then) and started my work with children. Funnily, I had always avoided the Pediatric (children’s) section while at OT school! It was then that I decided, 22 years ago, that Tamahar would be started in or around Malleswaram. I say Divine Intervention because the next 20 years saw me doing different things in the same field, being thrown in different directions, but always learning. Things just came my way in order to enrich my experience and teach me amazing stuff. I let myself be guided down the current, picking up whatever came my way, till I reached Tamahar. I am honored to have been chosen to go down this path. If not me, then it would have been somebody else, i am sure.

Random Ramblings

Back after a really long time.

This new technology really scares me, in a variety of ways. Will a become a slave to this? Would what I say and mean make a difference to anyone?

I guess, I have kinda gotten over these initial misgivings. The writer in me is waiting to be unleashed !(this was the remains of the transformers movie)
For the last 3 years, Tamahar has been my world. There are times when I am completely unaware of what is happening around me. Then one day, I said to myself – “Who am i kidding!?”. Tamahar needs the same treatment I gave my children when they were growing up. Give them strong roots, so that the earth makes them stronger. Give them strong wings so that they soar the skies! May be its a little early to apply it to Tamahar, but then, that may just be my ego speaking!

Yeh Saali Zindagi!

Life is beautiful! took me a while to get to the real beauty of it! Now that I am there, I know of no other way. Ok, to start at the beginning, God has a blueprint of each one of us, and our lives. Just seems like so much work! But managed so beautifully. Why are we born at a time that we are, and why do we meet people when we do? Even 20 years later, things come back a full circle! Awesome. I know my thoughts are all over the place, but like I said life is beautiful, and I am reveling in it!

Vaishali Pai