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  Life   More Features  23 Sep 2017  Tuning for a cause

Tuning for a cause

Published : Sep 23, 2017, 12:31 am IST
Updated : Sep 23, 2017, 12:31 am IST

City boy Saurabh Nimbkar has been raising funds for cancer by playing his guitar in trains.

On one of his train jam sessions, Saurabh was accompanied by Amitabh Bachchan himself.
 On one of his train jam sessions, Saurabh was accompanied by Amitabh Bachchan himself.

Saurabh Nimbkar remembers sitting in a forlorn cancer patient’s ward at KEM Hospital when tending to his mother. Back when he was doing his post-graduation, Saurabh’s mother was diagnosed with acute leukaemia, and once her health deteriorated rapidly, she was admitted to the cancer ward at KEM. 

While his brother worked a day job, Saurabh used to sit by his mother’s side all day. This was the first time he thought of playing his guitar in the ward — to ease some tension off his mum and the fellow patients. “The atmosphere in the ward used to be low. So to lighten it up, I thought of playing songs on my guitar,” he recalls, adding that he was filled with an overwhelming feeling when he saw patients genuinely enjoying it. “Every once in a while, even the doctors used to join in — singing and de-stressing.”

Unfortunately, his mother lost the battle to cancer. Six months later, Saurabh picked up his guitar with a bigger motive. On his way back from work, Saurabh started playing his guitar on local trains. “When working in Ambernath, I started playing the guitar in the train compartments to raise funds for cancer patients,” he says. While many people very soon began appreciating his efforts and even donating to the cause, at first passengers were a little apprehensive. “The first couple of days, I got weird vibes and awkward stares from people — not surprising though — it is not every day that you see a boy playing guitar on a train,” he quips. Soon, regular passengers started recognising him and even generously donated.


Saurabh points out that the musical train rides really did help his cause, collecting an average of Rs 8,000 per month. But it wasn’t long till he realised he’d need some other source if he had to help more people. “Then I decided to move on to live gigs, where there is a possibility to collect more money,” he says. 

The 25-year-old explains the process behind donating the money he collects. “Once a gig is over, I collect the money and just transfer it to the accounts of a trust. In the past, I have donated to the Ratan Tata Trust and other charities,” he says. 

While it makes a lot more sense for Saurabh to be affiliated to a charity organisation, or even begin one of his own, he says that he finds it better to work as a one-man army. “An organisation or a charity has a lot of paperwork involved. And honestly, I don’t think I am responsible enough to handle that,” he shrugs. He also points out that singing like this gives him a certain liberty. “I want to contribute towards the cause like this only — by singing. An organisation might not accept my way,” he says. 

Even as he works alone, Saurabh helps as much as he can. “Since charities take a long time to process the donation in patients’ accounts, I take care of the buffer time and help with whatever I can,” he says. “In times of urgency, even a little help matters a lot,” he concludes.

Tags: cancer patient, saurabh nimbkar