Sr. No. 203 – I made a mistake when I met Mohammad. Will tell you about it. Read on….

Mohammad Iqbal Khan Jan 1 2017
Sr. no. 203
 
Iqbal Mohamad Khan (Visually impaired, aka blind; Jobless)
 
I made a mistake when I met Mohammad. Will tell you about it. Read on….
 
Seven years ago, he lost his eyesight within a few weeks when he suffered from Cerebral atrophy / It is a common feature of many of the diseases that affect the brain. It can happen to anyone. Anyone.
 
Mohammad was working as a Videographer (Cameraman) with Bloomberg channel then. After he lost eyesight in both eyes within a few months seven years ago, Bloomberg paid for his medical rehabilitation and healthcare. His wife abandoned him soon after, and re-married someone else. His own family looked after him thereafter, but after a few years they too told him he must now manage on his own as they have their own family to support financially.
 
He was of the opinion that he should not and cannot blame them for abandoning, not supporting him forever, or for longer, after all it is really challenging or impossible for most people to look after someone for so long and or forever. He needs to find a job as soon as possible, before he loses hope completely.
 
Jobless, homeless and penniless, Mohammad has been provided temporary shelter by some religious institution, or religious person, I am not really sure, but I know a stranger he approached for help has allowed him to live with him or their religious institution.
 
Mohammad Iqbal is doing this computer literacy course because he believes it can help him navigate the largely digital world that we have become, and thus help him secure his first job after his world went completely dark seven years ago. Now that he cannot operate the camera anymore, and is nearly 45 years old and jobless, he needs to update at least his digital skills and that may help him land a job that can return to him at least his financial independence.
 
Thank you Akshita, Ankita, Priyanka, Ishani, Suman, Ritu, Amit, Niraj, Minnie, Ameya, Manjari, Brijesh (and myself) for assisting yet another visually impaired person receive a government and corporate world recognized certification in computer literacy.
 
I made a mistake when I met Mohammad. After we finished our conversation, as I was leaving the institute’s library I was lost in my own fears – “… what if someday I lose my eye sight and all those who I love and know abandon me…”
 
I did not see that Mohammad had put his arm out to shake my hand. It was the computer lab professional Sonal who told me politely “Sir, he wishes to shake your hand and say thank you.” I felt I was the blind one here, insensitive to not having seeing our beneficiary’s gratitude. I was walking away without giving him the opportunity to acknowledge his gratitude beyond a verbal thanks. It is a lesson to me that I must wait to shake the hand of every single person we assist hereafter. Akshita, Ankita, Priyanka, Ishani, Suman, Ritu, Amit, Niraj, Minnie, Ameya, Manjari, Brijesh, I shook his hand warmly on all your behalf. When I had met him a few minutes ago, his hand had felt cold. Maybe because it was January 1st, a cold winter afternoon. But now it felt warm.
 
Ankita. I learnt a lesson when I met him, something that I noticed you did when you had met visually impaired Devaka, you had reached out and held her hand before we left. It’s so important that we acknowledge their acknowledgement of us.
 
I posted a black and white photo of our beneficiary, because that’s how it must be for some visually impaied people, without color.
 
(Brief history of our tiny endeavor:
 
My 12 friends and I decided to assist two visually impaired adults achieve ‘computers and online-world literacy’ by paying their course fees for the same every quarter. We hope to assist two more students when their next batch begins after three months, and do this for one year from Nov 2107 to Oct 2018.
 
We believe, that by helping the differently abled, however tiny be our ways of assistance, we will understand better not just their needs but also help us understand abled humans, social life and our world in which digital technology is going to play a bigger and bigger role. And so, our role in the lives of the differently abled should increase correspondingly.
 
We are simply hoping the tiny assistance we are providing them will help the visually impaired secure better livelihood opportunities, including more secure jobs with the government that offers provident fund, pension etc. Also, it will give them the sense of ‘…. someone cares for us.’- that by itself is a big motivator.
 
The government recognised MS-CIT ‘computer training’ course for visually impaired is conducted at The Victoria Memorial School for the Blind, Tardeo: http://www.mkcl.org/msciti
 
Thanks to my acquaintance in the UK, Herminder Kaur, we found out that unequal access to information technology (computers and the internet) and the online world brings about unequal participation of the differently abled and the visually impaired. A computer literacy certification program, particularly one recognized by the government of India, can certainly help the less privileged in our country, especially the visually impaired (blind), have some more power over their perceived shortcomings, circumstances, disabilities.
 
They only needed help to live in their immediate surroundings. Now, the differently abled need our assistance to even access even the online-world. So, the need for more equal access to the internet, the world online, is becoming more and more important for differently abled people who are already facing challenges of social exclusion and the issue is being treated as ‘a civil rights issue’ in the developed and developing world.
 
Adds Herminder Kaur, “In the West, as more and more services move online, there is a need to recognise how people with disabilities are unable to access or use these services and therefore how this results in double exclusion – offline and online. By recognising the issue as a right – we can appreciate that it is essential for service and technology providers and regulators to do more to ensure every citizen is an equal participant/user of the medium.”)
 
#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶
 
#BicycleAngels 🚴 😇:
 
#BeautifulBicyclesBeautifulPeople
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A story of not just a 9 years ‘young’ kid … worthy of sharing on Christmas.

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A story of not just a 9 years ‘young’ kid … worthy of sharing on Christmas.

Vivek walks his mom Gayatri – holding her hand as close as we held our favorite toy, and as adults hold our wealth and or virtues.

To play with her, like we played with our mates in open spaces, Vivek makes her run holding her arm, even in closed spaces like their home or at a restaurant, even when she needs his help to go to the washbasin after having her meals.

He laughs aloud at nothing, to make her very curious about what has amused him so much, just so he can amuse her and make her laugh or smile. Its just yet another way of how he entertains her every now and then.

To irritate her, again just for fun, he switches off her cell phone’s ‘talk back’ function, something she is heavily dependent on. That is the only time his mom gets angry at him, yet, forgives her constant playmate every time.

When the network of her cell phone is weak, in a windowless space shut by walls and doors, without being asked to Vivek will hold the doors ajar for better network range when she has to make an important phone call.

When she meets people for the first time, he does not miss a word of their conversation – because he is her self appointed and most willing day and night security service.

He leads her fingers to the hot drinks slowly, so she should not burn her fingers on touching them, and directs them to all the food items placed in front of her at a restaurant so she knows what’s where.

Because, his mom, Gayatri, is visually impaired, aka blind. And he does it all without being told.

I thought, Vivek is indeed a 9 years ‘old’ kid. Not 9 years young. A gift and a blessing to his family.

#HappyChristmas

Sr No 202 – I think of my mother when I am in financial trouble.

202 Mohammad tea IMG_1463

Sr No 202

Mohammad Babul Aalam (Tea Seller)

Mohammad lives at Bandra East. He is the only child of his parents who live in UP. He migrated to Mumbai eight years ago for better livelihood prospects. He has done many kinds of odd jobs since then, also been a daily wages worker at various construction sites, until the construction industry went into a slump two years ago.

Thereafter, Mohammad was unable to find daily wages work on a regular basis, and decided to sell tea in the Bandra Reclamation and Band Stand areas, on foot. He walks around these areas to sell his tea from a hot flask and paper cups.

He was missing a bicycle to carry a heater (with burning charcoals in a stove fitted on the bicycle’s carrier, to heat a hot-flask kind of kettle that kept cooked tea warm) for his tea to remain hot enough for his customers after he left home. He had to walk with hot tea in a flask from his home In Bandra East to West and that long journey makes his tea warm. Moreover, with a bicycle he can cover a larger area and thus earn more customers.

On meeting Mohammaed, speaking to him for a while about his circumstances we recommended him to one of my cyclist acquaintances, Kavita Jhingan; she prompltly roped in Gaurav Bedi and even more promptly responded with “Let’s get this tea seller a new bicycle! :)” Such an enthu soul, I thought.

Mohammad was willing to contribute half the cost of the new bicycle, Kavita and Gaurav got him a brand new one.

I know that most often the bond between the only child and his/her mother is very strong. I asked Mohammad, when does he miss his mother the most…?

He replied, “… Maa ki yaad toh aati hi hai, roz, aur jab main bahot takleef mein hota hoon, tab. Jab mere jeb mein paise nahi hote, toh main sochta hoon ki agar mere paas paise nahi honge toh main apne bhoode maa baap ko kya bhejoonga? Woh guzara kaise karenge, mere paison ke bina? Humare paas roz khaane ke paise hain, lekin, jab koi bimaar padh jaata hai paison ki kami tab bahot zyada mehsoos hoti hai.”

(I think of my mother when I am in financial trouble. The days I am unable to earn daily wages, I wonder what will happen to my family if I do not earn a regular income. They are dependent on me, their only child. It is not that they do not have enough to eat three meals, however, if any one of us gets sick that is when we fall short of money to even pay the doctor his fees of Rs 500-600 including medicines.”)

Ride on bro, hope our little gift for your livelihood prospects goes a long way to warm not just your tea, but innumerable souls this winter and beyond. And our salute to your sense of duty towards your aging parents.

Metting a tea seller reminds me of a verse from an old book:

“The price for this tea is anything from a hundred in gold to a half sen.

If you want to drink free, that’s all right too. I’m only sorry I can’t let you have it for less.”

― Baisao, The Old Tea Seller: Life and Zen Poetry in 18th Century Kyoto.

Thank you Kavita and Gaurav for responding prompltly.

Thank you Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) of Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) for the good service & discount.

#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶

#BicycleAngels 🚴 😇:

FB https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/

WordPress https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/

Beneficiaries of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1

Sr No 201; Do you know the name of your newspaper delivery person? :) If yes….

 

Sr No 201
 
Bagdi Mamchand.
 
Bagdi is a newspaper vendor since more than 10 years; He lives at Bandra/Khar East.
 
Bagdi supports his parents, wife and two kids from this one bicycle. One job. He delivers newspaper in the Rizvi college area, Bandra west, and other neighboring areas, from 4 am to 12 noon nearly daily. This is the only job he has from which he supports five souls.
 
I have akways thougt of newspaper delivery people as true professionals, they rarely delay delivery. There have been thousands of time when I begin to make my tea and when I am pouring it in my cup I can her Lou, my newspaper man, place the newspaper at my door and I hear his flip flops sound disapper gradually as he walks away from my floor corridor. I have wondered often, how many of us know our newspaper guy’s name. I found out my newspaper guy’s name only when we began meeting them thanks to this social initiative Bicyce Angels. If you now your newspaper guy’s name, mention it on the comments below. 🙂
 
A friend of mine from USA, Surabhi Shah.had donated a bike to him in January 2014, we had purcahsed a second-hand bike for him because back then we were refurbishing old bicycles and donating them.
 
Bagdi never forgot me, though I was not the donor, and though we had given him a refurbished ‘old’-bike, he would always raise his hand to greet me and match it with his sunshine smile whenever we passed each other on the streets of Bandra while I was on my walks and he on his daily livelohood pursuits.
 
Bagdi approached us a few weeks ago for assistance because his bicyce was stolen. We agreed to assist him in buying a new one provided he will contribute half it’s cost. He agreed immediately.
 
My friend Swadesh Khetawat was keen to assist him and bought him a brand new bicycle.
 
Swadesh is my friend from my Engineering college years. We lost touch after I left the degree course midway as I realised after failing in the second year of my Computer Engineering course that it’s not meant for me. I neever kept in touch with most of my friends from those two years at Somaiya College Of Engineering, because, for me it was a bad dream that I chose to study Engineering and forgetting the two years I spent there was my way of moving forward. And that has always done me good; Even after my marriage failed some years back, it was by not thinking of the past that I was able to move ahead with renewed hope and faith in myself and my present and future. It’s the best way to love yourself.
 
I connected with Swadesh after many years when he contaced me and was enthusiatic to assist someone in our tiny ways. Swadesh himself educates deserving candidates, young adults, for their professional courses, and just like us, he mets them personally and chats with them to gauge the most deserving amongst the deserving. I am glad that our common goal to assist a few people in this large cosmos helped us get in touch again.
 
Thank you Swadesh, and thank you Swami too, in a way, I was able to reconnect with Swadesh also because of your deep friendship and respect for our common college-years friend.
 
And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good service.
 
#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶
 
#BicycleAngels 🚴 😇:
 
#BeautifulBicyclesBeautifulPeople

Some of the kindest acts are often done in silence.

Some of the kindest acts are often done in silence.

So I know this kid, he is my childhood friend’s son. He likes to play with a close relative’s dog, Bounce, who lives down the same street. He goes to visit Bounce nearly daily. They both go crazy seeing each other.

However, one day he did not want to go meet Bounce. The reason he gave his mum … “When ever I have to return home, Bounce feels sad. He becomes quite and very sad. I cannot see him sad. I feel very bad for him, so, I won’t go see him today.” He eventually went to see Bounce the next day.

Hearing his mom tell me about such a young kid’s ’empathy’ and feelings, I thought, ‘He is a such a kind and mature heart at just 9, suppressing his own joy of being with friend Bounce, so that Bounce not suffer the sadness of their eventual parting. A really special soul.’ 💙

Some of the kindest acts are often done in silence.

#RakeshAnandBakshi🎶

Sr 200 Trust, strength, team work – fughdi/sankhli contest for children

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Sr no. 200
 
Team Poonam and Sayali (13)
 
Fughdi/Sankhli winners, Chincholi Zilla Parishad Primary School, Kokrud.
 
Last year, Dr. Professor Ram Dhillon (UK) and I accompanied a team of doctors to some Zilla Parishad schools between Pune and Ratnagiri, for NGO Mukul Madhav Foundation’s annual free medical camps for rural children. Post the visit, I felt two experiences at the Zilla Parishad school at Chincholi (Kokrud) are worthy of sharing:
 
One, I never saw a bored child. Five little girls (primary school) had made the dry earth of their school ground wet with water and had built a house. One of them was poking holes in the structure to construct small doors and large windows.
 
I felt, this is true creativity. Inventiveness. Real imagination. Seemingly, they have nothing much, yet they can create fun and art for themselves from thin air and the dust below our feet.
 
I believe, these are self-motivated self-inspired children. No mommy & daddy in a dilemma how to inspire them to play daily or the dilemma of some parents ‘…. what can we engage them with on the coming weekend!?”.
 
Second, I saw the children play fugdi, sakhli – girls in teams to two reach out to each other (holding arms) to spin around endlessly, until both their bodies and laughter are exhausted, even though their joy isn’t.
 
Looking at them play sakhli, fugdi, I thought, these are games of trust. I realised this when Dr Ashutosh Mulye and I discussed what this game really means to us. Building trust naturally, from a young age. When we reach out for someone’s hand to spin with us (like we do in a good marriage, a good partnership) we are actually placing our trust in that person that he/she will not let us down, not leave our hand. Will be dependable.
 
Going off on a tangent, even most successful long lasting marriages are built on dependability, more than on romance and … I think. In fugdi, when the opposite person takes your hand in hers, she too is in turn placing her trust in you. Thus, instilling a sense of trust and faith in us right from childhood, they are able to gauge whom they can approach to co-play this game where if the other person leaves your hand midway you can go spiraling away and hurt yourself.
 
Sometimes, at annual corporate outdoor excursions they will discuss and conduct ‘team-building’ exercises, games. However, with many team-games like fugdi going out of our urban lives we may perhaps have become less able in team building right from our teen days, and that is why we need to attend expensive lectures and motivation-workshops to ‘learn’ team building as adults.
 
So, this year we decided to organise a fugdi contest for them, and because girls rarely are given bicycles in rural areas, their brothers get them more easily, we decided to give the team of two winners a bike each. To boost their self-worth and spread a little cheer amongst all the girls who participate and their audience.
 
The two winners of the Fugadi competition are Poonam Machindra Jadhav & Sayali Sanjay Jadhav (cousins) in Nov 2017. They are 13 years young, studying in std. 7th.
 
Two donor friends of ours were keen to contribute on our next trip in the rural region and they donated the two winners’ bicycles – Thank you to Neil & Rhea Sahasrabudhe, and Gunjeet Kaur Sawhney for donating the bicycles to team Poonam and Sayali.
 
I could not visit them this year, during this fugdi contest as I was occupied with a wedding in my extended family. However, someone who could attend this competition sent me a lovely lovey message and I decided to post a screenshot of the same below – “They missed you” – It made us (the donors and myself) feel appreciated and thus another day of feeling fulfillment. 😊
 
Thank you Mukul Madhav Foundation and Finolex Industries for helping us reach two more deserving souls once again beyond our own means.
 
#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶
 
#BicycleAngels 🚴 😇:
 
#BeautifulBicyclesBeautifulPeople

Sr no 199; attempting something different for the differently abled, the visually impaired.

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Sr. No. 199
 
Devaka and Samadhan. (Students)
 
A few friends, and I, had got together last month to attempt something different, for the differently-abed, the visually impaired (blind).
 
Also thanks to my acquaintance in the UK, Herminder Kaur, I found out this week that unequal access to information technology (computers and the internet) and the online world brings about unequal participation of the differently abled and the visually impaired. A computer literacy certification program, particularly one recognized by the government of India, can certainly help the less privileged in our country, especially the visually impaired (blind), have some more power over their perceived shortcomings, circumstances, disabilities.
 
I pondered, first, they only needed help to live in their immediate surroundings. Now, the differently abled need our assistance to even access even the online-world. So, the need for more equal access to the internet, the world online, is becoming more and more important for differently abled people who are already facing challenges of social exclusion and the issue is being treated as ‘a civil rights issue’ in the developed and developing world.
 
Adds Herminder Kaur, “In the West, as more and more services move online, there is a need to recognise how people with disabilities are unable to access or use these services and therefore how this results in double exclusion – offline and online. By recognising the issue as a right – we can appreciate that it is essential for service and technology providers and regulators to do more to ensure every citizen is an equal participant/user of the medium.”
 
I think, by helping the differently abled, however tiny be our ways of assistance, we will understand better not just their needs but also help us understand abled humans, social life and our world in which digital technology is going to play a bigger and bigger role. And so, our role in the lives of the differently abled should increase correspondingly.
 
To begin with, my nine friends and I decided to assist two visually impaired adults achieve ‘computers and online-world literacy’ by paying their course fees for the same. We hope to assist two more students when their next batch begins after three months, for one year from Nov 2107 to 18.
We are simply hoping the tiny assistance we are providing them will help them secure better livelihood opportunities, including more secure jobs with the government that offers provident fund, pension etc. Also, it will give them the sense of ‘…. someone cares for us.’- that by itself is a big motivator.
 
Samadhan and Devaka, both are children of farmers from Maharashtra. Samadhan lost his father when he was a child and he became visually impaired thereafter.
 
I asked them both, “If you were to get your sight back, what would you want to see first and most?” They replied, Samadhan said “Nature. I have a clear memory of nature, as I became blind when I was six or seven….” And Devaka replied, “I would first like to see my family, all those who love me.”
 
Thank you Akshita, Ankita, Priyanka, Ishani, Suman, Ritu, Amit Priyanka, Dr Niraj, Minnie, and myself; (Ameya, Laila will join us from the next quarter.) This is possible because you all are part of it.
 
(The three months short course in computer literacy is conducted by the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind, Tardeo, Mumbai. http://www.mkcl.org/mscit )
 
#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶 https://twitter.com/RakBak16
 
#BicycleAngels 🚴 😇:
 
#BeautifulBicyclesBeautifulPeople