Mohamad Siddiqui (30)
Profession: He is a bread (pau) seller until noon, and in the remaining hours thereafter he works at the canteen at Bandra East Terminus. (Before this, until 2001, he would work on his own agriculture land, and that of others, back in the village.)
Mohamad is from Allahabad, UP; He arrived in Mumbai in 2001 to earn a livelihood, because his family could not earn enough from their agriculture activity (they have a little land of their own, and also work as laborers on the land belonging to someone else) to feed their family of 2 bothers and 3 sisters. The family managed to earn just enough to have meals, but could rarely save any money. Their crops have always mostly got destroyed during unseasonal rains, giving them consistent loses over two decades.
His brother is a rickshaw driver, and one sister is married, the other two are studying. One younger sister of his is of marriageable age and they plan to get her married next year, and the two brothers are saving money for that now. He said, ‘Our one sister my parents managed to pay for her marriage; but for the other two sisters it is only we two brothers that have to make their marriages happen… so.’ (I bow to these two brothers for their sense of duty towards their sisters.) His sisters are all educated, even though he could not study at all.
I asked him if he has ever had an accident riding a bicycle for his trade in Mumbai?, he replied, ‘Never, I ride carefully, because, I have no one in this city who is family; if I meet with an accident who will care for me? I have to ride cautiously.’ He has a daughter (and she goes to school), his wife and daughter live in the village.
I hope my cyclist pals read this, and ride carefully, even though they have family in the city they ride.
I asked him what does he like about being a bread seller?, he replied, ‘I like that I can earn how much I work, depending on how much I can ride and deliver goods I can earn equivalent to the efforts I make.’
What is the advantage of getting a new cycle (in exchange of his old bicycle), I asked him.
He replied, “At least for a year or more I will not have to spend any money on its repairs and servicing. Otherwise, I am spending at least Rs 400 to 500 a month on some kind of repairs and service always. I will now save that money at least. We can never afford to buy a new cycle costing nearly Rs 5000, this is the first time someone has offered to buy a new one for me in exchange of my old one. God bless the person who did this favor on me, donated this new bicycle to me.’ He spent some money on his old bicycle to make it worthy of handing over to some poor needy person.
I asked him when has been his most difficult time ever?, he replied, ‘When my parents fall ill, and I have to get them medicines and medical care, that is a very difficult time for me. Because when they are suffering I too suffer.’
I asked him about the happiest times he has ever had”, he replied, ‘When I got married, and when I had my daughter, I was the happiest.
(I was glad he is yet another father who felt happiest on the birth of a daughter!)
My one sister is married, and when the other too gets married I will again be very happy.
I like this thing you and your friends are doing, you give us a new bicycle in exchange of our old one, and you will give our old bicycle to some poor person who walks for his trade and does not have a cycle and will do better in his trade if he is given a bicycle. It is a very good thing. If someone I know needs a bicycle I will let you know. Thank you.’ (A man who lives for his family!, is what I thought of him.)
Thank you to Rohan and Tony Juneja and family for giving Mohamad a new bicycle in exchange of his old cycle, we will donate his old cycle to someone needy.
And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service.