68th recipient – If you don’t believe in God then he is just stone.

68 carpenter

68th recipient of livelihood bicycle: ‘If you believe in Him, then He is God. If not, then He is just a piece of stone!’

Rajesh Sahani. (40)


Rajesh is from Gorakhpur, UP. He arrived in Mumbai around 10 years ago. I asked him what made him come to Mumbai?
He replied, ‘I came here since we did not have food to eat back in the village.’ His eyes turned moist when he said that to me. Then he put his head down for a moment, and looked at the floor. I felt he was staring at a Grand Canyon between him and us, even though he was seated at just an arm’s length from me!

His reaction to my question about why he came to Mumbai made me realize what prolonged hunger can do to you; I think the violent spasms of an empty stomach from a distant past can return to haunt you, even at the slightest unintended-provocation!

His own family consists of his wife, three sons and one daughter, the eldest is 14. They go to school. His parents died when he was very young, because of TB, and he (and his two brothers) were thereafter brought up by his Mother’s sister and her husband as they had no child of their own. His brothers work in the village as carpenters.

He said, ‘After our parents died, we were looked after by my relatives, and I took charge of my responsibilities as a man, and a family man, only after my first child was born. Until then I was a dependant on my foster parents.’ Even his foster parents have passed away. As for his own parents, he does not have any memories of his father, except that he was a watch maker, a watch repairer.

I asked Rajesh to describe God.
He replied, ‘God is everything. See, if you believe in Him, then He is God. If not, then he is just a piece of stone!’

The used bicycle we donated to him will be of use to him to travel to some of his work sites, so he will now save money on expensive public transport. He will also use it to fetch vegetables for their own consumption.
Most importantly, the bicycle will be used to fetch portable water for their household use. The portable water he buys, costs Rs 3 a can, and the can weighs 20 Kgs. Until now he fetches the same on his shoulder and back from a source that is 2 Kms away. Hereafter, this bike will share the load with him.

When Rajesh told me his family of 5 people sustain themselves daily on only ONE can of 20 Kgs of portable water, it immediately put into perspective how much ‘portable’ water I may be employing to wash my bike once a week, and my car daily! I am certain that everyday my employee (the fellow who washes my car daily) must be using at least one can of 20 Kgs of portable water on my car, or one on my bike weekly!

Moreover, with the rains remaining absent from our lives till now, as absent as gravity in outer space, I shudder to think how much he will have to pay for portable water if the rains fail to flow down on us from the heavens, this season. Even we (the privileged) may soon have to buy water sold in tankers for our daily use. We better start praying for rains. My own hands? Oh, they are already folded in prayer since a few days. 😉 Amen! 

Thank you ‘K’ and Meghna Rodrigues for donating this used bike to Rajesh. (Rajesh donated Rs 500 for the same. The amount will be added to our kitty to buy a new bike for donation. )



67th recipient – our bicycles are like parents.


67th recipient of livelihood bicycle:  ‘These humble livelihood bicycles, just like parents, hope and strive relentlessly to give us an uninterrupted ride on our various journeys through life.‘


Shabbir Shaikh. (42)


Bread seller.


One morning during my walk I stopped a man selling bread on his bicycle. I asked him if the bicycle he is riding belongs to him? (because, sometime they ride bikes belonging to the Bread agency or bakery they employed with)

He replied, aggressively, ‘What’s it to you, about the ownership of this bicycle that I am riding!? Is there a problem? First tell me why you want to know, and then I will give you my reply’


Okay Bro!!! So I braced myself for his aggression. But then, just for a second, I felt I should simply walk away from this seemingly-rude fellow. However, I thought, my random question to a random stranger can certainly come across suspicious; Did he misunderstand that I suspected whether his bike is a stolen one!?; furthermore, it’s probably a question no one has ever asked him, because that’s what many earlier recipients had told me; moreover, it’s certainly not written on my bloody face ya, what Bicycle Angels is all about! So, I stayed put and explained to him with patience who we (Bicycle Angels) really are.

He just could not believe what we offered was true. Once he did, he turned friendly and finally smiled.


Shabbir is born and brought up at Chimbai, Bandra west. He has been living in Mumbai since 15 to 20 years, and he also lived in his village in UP during his formative years and early youth as they still have their family house in UP. In Chimbai, he lives amongst the Koli fisher folks community  (The Kolis are the oldest know native inhabitants of Mumbai) and he said the Kolis are a really fine community.



Shabbir’s father was a bread seller too, and ferried them shop to shop, and to houses, on a bicycle. Shabbir got into this profession when his father told him (Shabbir was living in their village then, and working on the family’s agriculture land) that he is now getting old, and since he (Shabbir) is now an adult it’s time he took over the reins of his trade-cycle in his able hands. Shabbir agreed and became a bread seller just like his father was. Fortunately, Shabbir had a ready clientele that had been nurtured by his father over many decades.


Shabbir has two daughters, one is in school and the other is still too young to go to school. He is educated till the 5th (because his father asked him to come to Mumbai and take over his profession.) He has two brothers; one is a farmer and the other is a farmer too, but he looks after the bread business when Shabbir goes to his village twice a year to assist his family in their agriculture profession.


I confessed to him, that he was kind of rude when I asked him about the ownership of his bike. He replied apologetically, ‘In all the years I have lived here and been in this business, I have never heard or seen anything like what you described and offered to me. I thought you were joking or making a fool of me! You see, it’s not believable for people like us that someone in this world will take our old bicycle and give us a new one!’


I asked him how old his bicycle is? He replied, ‘Its three monsoon’s old!’

His reply made me realize that some of them rate their bicycle’s age by the number of monsoons it survives! Water is the biggest enemy of their vehicle of livelihood. The rains and the sea-salt laden monsoon winds corrode their bikes, faster than corruption corrodes human existence. These tradesmen ride their bicycles for 5 to 6 hours in the morning and 4 to 6 hours in the evening, nearly 365 days. They cannot stop riding during the monsoons like many of us privileged cyclists can do. My rider pals and me are truly blessed we can choose not to ride.


I asked him if he has ever faced any challenges and difficulties in life that may have overwhelmed him?

He replied, ‘I earn my livelihood and I have food to eat, so I feel I have never faced any problem that I can say was a very difficult period of my life.’


I asked him, ‘Which has been the happiest moment of your life so far?’

He replied, ‘I have never felt very happy in my life, life has moved at quite a steady and regular pace for me. However, today I feel very happy because someone has given me a new bicycle in exchange of my old one! Also, my parents have passed away, so all the ‘tensions’ of life are now upon us three brothers. Till they were alive the ‘tension’ of our existence was on them.’


His reply made me realize, how much freedom from ‘tension’ we children enjoy until the passing away of those two precious souls who willingly take upon themselves the weight, the burden, the unconditional bearing of our existence from even before we are born.


And our salute to the amazing livelihood bicycle, for bearing the weight of the rider and rides, irrespective of the season, and the weight of their goods. These humble livelihood bicycles, just like parents, hope and strive relentlessly to give us an uninterrupted ride on our various journeys through life. My salute to my parents who did that for me! I Love them. I Miss them.


Thank you to ‘K’ and to Meghna Rodrigues for donating this new bicycle to Shabbir. Shabbir contributed too, towards the purchase of this new bicycle; his old bicycle we will soon donate 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.  Thank you Gazi Ali for the photo.




66th recipient of livelihood bicycle

66 dhobi rakesh

66th recipient of livelihood bicycle.

Rakesh Kumar.

Dhobi (Laundry services)

Rakesh Kumar was given a new bicycle by Anuraadha Tiwari in January 2014. He was the 26th recipient of our help.

However, his bicycle was stolen at night last week. :
He called me up early in the morning the next day, and began to cry on the loss of his new cycle. He wondered how he will go about doing his work as it’s dependant on a bicycle, and he cannot afford to buy one. I knpw a second hand bike in very good condition will cost about Rs 2500; So after I heard him out, I told him I have a second hand bike, and asked him if he would be willing to pay a donation of Rs 1000 for the same?
Rakesh agreed, as a second hand bike would anyways cost him anywhere between Rs 600 to 2500, depending on its condition.

So we gave him the bicycle that was given to us by the Bread seller Naimuddin, in exchange of the new bicycle donated to him by Meghna Rodrigues. Thank you Meghna.
This sum of Rs 1000 has been added to the kitty of funds we have received from various past recipients who willingly gave us a humble donation for the used bikes they have received from us. We will buy a new bicycle from the same for donation purpose someday soon, when the kitty amounts to a sum of Rs 4000 at least.

If you curious to read about Rakesh Kumar, when we donated him a bicycle in January, here is the link to Anuraadha’s donation of January 2014:https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152092084218213&set=oa.357090647765413&type=3&theater

26th Recipient of livelihood bicycle – ‘… The saddest period was when my wife lost her baby….. later, when I had to pay for the client’s clothes that got stolen…’

Name: Rakesh Kumar.
Trade: Dhobi. (Washing/Ironing)

Rakesh is from Lucknow, UP. He has been in Bombay, Mumbai, since he was a teenager. He studied until 8th standard as he could not study anymore due to lack of interest in formal education.

Since his father was a dhobi in Bombay, he came to Bombay and became a dhobi too. (Incidentally, he knows the place where my maternal grandparents lived in Lucknow, when I mentioned that fact to him that after the partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan, my maternal grandparents migrated from Rawalpindi to Lucknow!)

Rakesh is married, but his first child to-be-born died during pregnancy when his wife got scared when she was in the toilet and someone …… ! She miscarried from the trauma and fear of that event. She could not bear a child thereafter. They have been to many doctors but are still unable to bear a child. He says that is the saddest thing about his life as its not God’s will maybe, he guesses.

Another most challenging time he ever faced was when someone stole his bicycle and the clothes too that were tied to the carrier, when he went upstairs to a building apartment to deliver/take clothes. His clients, whose clotes were stolen, made him pay up for the loss of those clothes and subsequently over few weeks he paid off all his clients who demanded monetary compensation for the loss of their clothes they had entrusted him with, – the amount was almost Rs 25,000. That was the most difficult time he’s ever faced financially.

As for daily challenges, it’s the autorickshaw fellows who drive very badly he says, he gets harassed by their indiscipline, he replied when I asked him if he’s ever suffered a road accident.

Thanks to Anuraadha Tiwari for the donation of this new bicycle to ‘Rakesh Dhobi’, well, that’s how he’s addressed he says. Rakesh has given us in exchange of this new cycle, his old cycle; his old bike is in good condition, and it will further be donated to a tea seller I casually happened to come across selling tea near Candies, on the corner of Bandra Catholic Gymkhana road.

Thank you Siddharth Vora/Kohinoor Cycles for the good discount. Thank you Gazi Ali for the good service.


65th recipient – Tension mein cycle nahin chalane ka!

65 dvd rajesh

65th recipient of livelihood bicycle:   …. “… Roz hi khushi hai. Dekho, tension mein ya dukh mein cycle chalayega na, toh apun ko koi gaadi wala udaa dalega! Issi liye, khushi se hi cycle chalane ka, aur khushi se hi zindagi bhi jeene ka!”   (If I ride in tension or being sad about my life, then a vehicle may knock me down…!)”


Rajesh Sutar. (23)


Delivers DVDs. (He works for a DVD-on-rent outlet in Bandra west)


Rajesh has been delivering DVDs to my place, and many others, since nearly ten years. I have very often seen him riding in Bandra and Khar delivering DVDs on his single speed road bike, in rain, in sun, up slopes and hills, down narrow Bandra and Khar lanes, a rider as thin as the many palm trees on our long coastline, and a rider as sturdy as a Tour De France veteran …. And I have always considered him a decent, professional, happy and seemingly content, fellow.


Last year, when my friend and actor Pravin Dabbas wanted to donate his MTB, a 21 gears bike!, I asked Rajesh if he would like to receive this donation.

Rajesh replied, ‘I have a bicycle, a single speed. And since you want to donate a bike give it to my colleague who works along with me in the DVD shop. He also delivers DVDs to clients, but he does not have a bike. My bike has been given to me by my boss who owns the DVD shop.’


I tried to convince Rajesh, that what Pravin Dabbas wants to donate is a 21 gears MTB! The gears will make his ride better and he can climb hills easily, even ride longer hours. Moreover, since his bike belongs to his boss, if he has his own bike and in future if he ever leaves this particular job, he can find work easily anywhere else that requires he have a bike of his own. So by accepting this donation from Pravin, he will get empowered, in a way. Yet, Rajesh declined our offer to receive Pravin’s 21 gears MTB!!


However, I remained keen to help him someday. My wish was manifested soon, by way of an opportunity that arrived in the form of my rider pal, Shreyansh. (I happened to meet Shreyansh with Captain, Ekta< Harish, Chetan … just a week ago on a ride. )

And exactly a week ago, Rajesh had come to deliver a DVD and causally inquired if we have a bicycle for donation, because his bicycle has got slightly damaged in a minor accident and he needs one soon.

Coincidently, that very week Sheyansh Agrawal called me and told me he would like to donate his single speed Hercules bike to Bicycle Angels, saying it’s in good condition.


I immediately thought of offering it to Rajesh, and accordingly informed Rajesh to meet up with Shreyansh and check out the bike he wants to donate; take a ride to check out if the frame size etc suits him and his work needs. However, I told Rajesh strictly, ‘If you accept Shreyansh’s donation, the bike will have to belong to you, not to your boss!’

Rajesh agreed. I was happy for him, and so was Shreyansh, I had consulted him before offering his bike to Rajesh.

Rajesh rode it, he loved it!


Rajesh is from Pune, but has been brought up in Mumbai. His father is a carpenter.

He came to Mumbai in 1990 for earning a livelihood. He is educated till the 9th Std. He could not study any further because their shanty house was demolished and the family got displaced overnight. The house was in Santacruz west on the Bandhh road, built on top of the sewage outlet. They finally settled in Chembur, and later shifted to Khar.

His younger brother will soon be a graduate, and his father and he pay for his education. He wants his brother to find a mainstream job and does not want him to do what he (Rajesh) has been doing for a living.


Rajesh did accompany his father a couple of times to work to learn Carpentry, but it did not interest him. Then he began to work at the DVD outlet in Bandra, delivering DVDs to the library’s clients. He chose this job because he said he lacked the education needed to do something else.


However, he knows there is no future in delivering DVDs, so someday soon Rajesh plans to return to his village, and either work in the fields (the family owns agriculture land), or, he may begin his own business, by buying a Tempo or 3 Wheeler and deliver goods, commercial goods, in and around Pune.


Rajesh said about Shreyansh’s bicycle “….though the cycle is old, its condition is very good, the paint is good, the tyres are good, the bike is oiled and running very well. Oiling is the main thing you see. He has not given me something he had discarded, rather he has given me something he values enough to have maintained even though he has another good bike.’


This made me ponder, it’s very important that when we offer our old bike for donation, we offer it with a sense of pride and dignity in the needy receiver’ however poor he or she may be, they have pride even in their most humble existence!

I mention this because, in the past, a friend of mine offered me her bike for donation, but I found out it was in junk condition! I got upset that she did not have the courtesy, nor the dignity, nor the common sense to get her old bike serviced before offering it to us as her donation. After all, we are not ‘Kabadiwalas’ ya! (Kabadiwalas are people who profit from buying or receiving people’s junk!!!) And I said that to her to her face! :p Always think of the needy receiver’s self esteem and dignity.


Another good thing about Rajesh, while he spoke to me, he must have laughed at least four to five times, in the 9 mins that he spent talking about the up hills and down hills of his life. He seemed happy to me, so I asked him to tell me about his happiest moment ever.

He replied. ‘I will be the happiest when I get married!’ And once again, he laughed out loud!


Then he said something that made me reflect  …. “… Roz hi khushi hai. Dekho, tension mein ya dukh mein cycle chalayega na, toh apun ko koi gaadi wala udaa dalega! Issi liye, khushi se hi cycle chalane ka, aur khushi se hi zindagi bhi jeene ka!”

(‘Everyday is a happy day. If I ride in tension or being sad about my life, then a vehicle may knock me down!, because my mind will be distracted. I believe we must be happy when we ride a bicycle or when we live our daily lives; that is the best way to ride and live.’)


One thing I advised him, from the little I know from what I have read about our Brain’s behavior etc) on seeing him riding hearing music on his mobile headphones, “You have many things right about you, however, if you allow me to correct you, I can say to you, – Never hear music when riding a bicycle on the roads. Even if the volume is low!

From the research I have read, I found out that we, humans, may like to think we are capable of multitasking, which is true, however, even when we are multitasking like super-humans, our brain is performing only one task at one time, even if it be for a second or more in intervals, in intervals which we do not realize do not overlap but are spaced out in seconds and less or more. Alas, there will be moments your brain will be concentrating on the music you hearing for too long for you to be able to respond in time towards an approaching danger!

Multitasking is simply a myth we want to believe as a reality because we want to believe we are super humans. So, Ride Safe, without music! 😉 ’




64th recipient – I can put him on the bicycle and take him to a doctor or hospital.

64 helper bablu

64th recipient of livelihood bicycle: ‘….. I can immediately put him on a bicycle and quickly take him to a doctor or to a hospital.’

Bablu Prajapati. (28)

Profession – Helper. (Assistant to Carpenters and Masons)

Bablu is from UP, and currently lives at Nalasopara, near Virar. He has been living in Mumbai since 10 years. He said ‘I came to Bambai to become something great, a good kaarigar (carpenter), however I could not make it. But I am still trying.’

Bablu is educated till the 5th Std. He could not study any further because his family could not afford it. He has a family of two brothers and his father, they live in the village. His mother has passed away.
His father travels on a bicycle from village to village selling firewood, vegetables, fruits, depending on the seasonal needs of the villagers. They have a house and some land in their village, but the cultivation they do on that land was and is not enough to feed their family.

His own family living in Mumbai consists of two children and his wife. He hopes when their two sons, (3 years and 8 months), grow bigger, then his wife will do some work and earn a living too, because she is more educated than him and has learnt tailoring too. He wants to admit his elder son in school next year.

Bablu does not have work all days of the month, as he is a daily wages worker, and gets paid only on days his contractor asks him to report to a work site, whether it’s to be an assistant (helper) to a carpenter or to a mason. The days he does not have work, he visits all kinds of construction sites to find any kind of ‘Helper’ work.

Bablu said his most challenging period ever was last year when his elder son was unwell for nearly a year. He spent a lot of money on his medical care and he did not even have regular work in that period.
He said ‘Bahut, bole toh bahut takleef jhela humne tab, bahut takleef… I suffered and survived a lot, a lot, a lot of problems/difficulties during my child’s illness. And now that he is well I feel my worst period is over.’ (He gave me a weak smile.)

I pondered on all what Bablu had said – He could not study, the land they own in the village could not feed them, he has still not found regular work, nor has he been able to achieve the purpose for which he came to Mumbai – to become a carpenter, and he has always lived an impoverished life since childhood; yet, it’s his child suffering (bad health for a year) that has superseded everything he has ever suffered before!

It made me realize, every other suffering, every other need, every other prayer, every other wish, pales in comparison to a parent’s prayer, a father’s need, a mother’s wish that his/her child be in good health! It also reminded me of the age old quote, ‘Health is Wealth!’

I asked him about his happiest times ever; He replied, ‘Now, at this time I feel I am living in good times, because I am not jobless most days. Another reason why feel this is a good time for me is, earlier I was living in Colaba area and the room rent was Rs 3000 a month!
Also, the cost of vegetables, and even the street food, is very high there. It’s only a few months ago that I shifted to Nalasopara, near Virar, where the rent is much lower than Colaba, and even the cost of vegetables and food is lower than Colaba.
This move from South to North has saved me lot of money, so I feel happy now that I can now save some money for our daily meals. But the only difficulty I face living in Virar is that it’s expensive traveling by Bus or Train to different construction sites in Mumbai.’

I asked Bablu to what use will he put this bicycle. He replied, ‘I can travel on it looking for work in areas near Virar without having to take a Bus, and that will save me money; when I go to work by train to faraway places I can take the cycle and park it at the station and save the two way fare; I can even use it to go and buy vegetables from the veggies market near Virar for our household needs;
I have to walk at least two Kms every morning to fetch portable water for our daily household needs. This is a very hard part of our day, I have to make this journey twice every morning, a total of 8 Kms, and my shoulders gets nearly ripped carrying the heavy containers laden with water. If I have a bicycle it will share my daily load of water.’

I again asked Bablu, ‘What is the advantage of having a bicycle?’, and he said ‘Saab, cycle ka yeh faida hoga, ki agar…., if something (any medical emergency) ever happens to my child, I can immediately put him on this bicycle and quickly take him to a doctor or to a hospital!’

On hearing this, it took me just a second to reach into the depths of my pocket and fish out the key of the bicycle and handed it to Bablu – ‘ Ride safe!’

Thank you to Ashish Sajnani for donating this bicycle to Bablu. (Bablu donated Rs 300 towards receiving this used bicycle we had received from Milkman and Driver Vijay when Ashish had donated a new bicycle to him. We will add Bablu’s donation of Rs 300 to our kitty to buy a new bicycle for some worthy recipient someday.)

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.


63rd recipient – I have only heard of happiness. Never seen it.


63rd recipient of livelihood bicycle: “I have only heard of ‘happiness’. I have never seen it.”

Naimuddin Ansari. (48)

Bread and Pau seller.

When I walk around Bandra early morning, I would often see a middle aged man on his bicycle, a bit over weight, riding at a slow pace with effort. He would stop en route his journey and sit down on one of the benches on the pavement by the sea side. To me he seemed to be contemplating on his past present or maybe future, he would always be seated quietly and I never saw him chat on his phone.
I would wonder sometimes, what is going on in his mind when he comes and sits here on this bench in solitude en route his work. Though he wasn’t old, he always seemed fatigued to me and his shirt was always largely wet with sweat and marked with the pollution none of us can escape when we ride in our streets.
One day I stopped to chat with him. And I explained to him what we do. He just could not believe what we were offering! He stood up and asked me to repeat the whole conversation again, about us offering him a new bike in exchange of his old one! As I repeated, he stared at me with wide open eyes.

His name is Naimuddin, he sells Bread and Pau in Bandra. He is from UP. His family still lives in the village. His father, now no more, once owned his own bakery in Sion, and they were doing well. However, he died a premature death due to appendicitis many years ago when Naimuddin was very young.

When his father died, Naimuddin’s elder brother took over their family bakery business, (literally took over completely!!!) and told his family they will have no share in the bakery thereafter, because their father has left the bakery in huge debt. So either the family should pay up their share of their father’s debt, or else just leave the bakery to him for good and he will pay the debts of the family, and if he does that then they cannot claim any share in its profits or its ownership thereafter. Basically, his elder brother ‘kicked’ them out of their rightful inheritance!

When Naimuddin told me this, his eyes turned moist. He continued…. His mother told her eldest son to keep the bakery and they do not want any share in it. She instructed Naimuddin to travel to Mumbai and earn a livelihood for their family. Naimuddin had two brothers and one sister, his sister died a few years ago. Naimuddin’s eyes went moist when he spoke about the circumstances of his sister’s premature death. What he said about her death was too sad for me to share here with you people.

After his elder brother betrayed their family, under the instructions of his mother Naimuddin arrived in Mumbai in 1980 and began working in a bakery. He worked as a baker for a few years, but then realized if he ferries bread and Pau on a bicycle from shop to shop he can earn some more money. He needed the extra money because his entire family was now dependent on him and his brother.

Naimuddin made it in Mumbai by selling bread and Pau from shop to shop. Fortune favors the resilient and brave! He is married and back in the village he has his own family of 3 daughters and 3 sons. What is most commendable is that all his 6 children are educated!!! In spite of the fact that Naimuddin himself is just 4th Std fail! Most of his children are graduates or will soon be graduates, and the youngest two are in school!

Ironically, his elder brother (who betrayed his family by taking over the family’s bakery and business) has not been able to achieve what Naimuddin has achieved even though Naimuddin had to begin his livelihood from zero. – Naimuddin’s elder brother’s children are not educated, most of them either dropped out of school mid way, or just never went to school!

Naimuddin said, ‘I have made all my 3 daughters graduates so that they never have to suffer the evil of Dowry. My sister was uneducated, she suffered in her life, my daughters should not, so I made them all graduates, of BCom and BA.’

I asked him which has been the happiest moment of his life so far?, he replied, ‘Saab, Khushi toh…. Khushi ka toh sirf naam suna hai. Humne khushi kabhi dekha nahin.’ (I have only heard of ‘happiness’. I have never seen it.)

I asked him, ‘But are you not happy that you are receiving this new bicycle in exchange of your old one?’ And suddenly, Naimuddin’s face lit up like a million dollar note! He admitted he is very happy that he is receiving this new bicycle in exchange of his old one and no one in this world has ever given him such an offer before!

Before he left, Naimuddin joined both his hands to shake my singular hand, both his hands nearly giving my singular hand a gentle hug. He was almost hesitant that I may not like it that he reached out to give my hand a hug. But he does not know his sense of immense gratitude touched me deeply!

Thank You to Meghna Rodrigues for donating a new bicycle to Naimuddin; his old bicycle we will donate to some needy person. Naimuddin also contributed, in his own humble way, towards the purchase of this new bicycle that Meghna donated to him.

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. And thank you to Gazi Ali for the pic.


62nd receipt of LB – Both we brothers felt ashamed and useless, bcus we could not find our own Mother!

62 milk vijay

62nd recipient of livelihood bicycle: ‘Both we brothers felt ashamed and useless! We were two adults who could not find our own Mother!”

Vijay (34)

Milkman and driver. (Milkman from 5 am to 9 am; Private car Driver from 11 am to night)

Vijay was born in a village near Pune, and was brought up in Mumbai also. His parents were vegetable sellers, they would sell veggies from house to house in Bandra’s Pali Hill area for many years.
They still have a family house in their village near Pune, and they reside in Khar East. He has an older brother who works at an office in Munbai.

Vijay has studied till the 8th Std. When he was in school, in the 8th, an earth-digging tool accidentally pierced his head from the back. He was critically injured. It happened when he was removing earth from the land and dumping it afar, as there was construction going on in the school compound, a new foundation was being laid for building a new building for their school. He received stitches and recovered, but somehow he could not study thereafter.

Soon he left school to earn a living along with his parents who sold vegetables in Mumbai. He lamented, ‘I wish I had had been more careful then, I wish I had paid more attention then, I would not have got injured. We did not lack money as my parents sold vegetables, but I just could not study any further after that accident.’

It made me wonder, maybe that accident at school changed the course of Vijay’s life permanently! Maybe the head injury affected his attention span or whatever other damage it must have caused (I am not a doctor, so I am just guessing ya). But had he continued his studies he would have been more than a milkman and driver today for sure, I thought.

After Vijay left his studies, he became a motor mechanic in Bandra, near Perry road. But he did not like that profession, and soon left it to sell vegetables like his parents. He would ferry them on a tube cycle. But that too did not suit his needs, as his father grew old and a bit unwell so they (his bro and he) needed to now look after their father. So he decided to deliver milk and also become a drive by day. He believed this combination would sustain him in the expensive metropolis of Mumbai.
I thought, he was right, because it did!’

What I liked about him was, he told his father to retire from selling vegetables because his father was suffering from some medical condition because of which both his legs had got swollen and it was very difficult for him to walk and carry the heavy baskets of veggies house to house.

Around 10 years ago he and his brother decided to become the breadwinners for their family, because they had grown up and would be able to provide for their father.
He told me, “When I think of the hard times my parents had faced to support us, tears come to my eyes.’
He continued, ‘Even today life for us is like digging a well daily for the water we need. The day we do not work we do not earn money. It’s hard to make ends meet today. My wife is 8th std pass, but she does not work because she needs to be home to look after the children because they are young.’

His best customers are a few people who do not reject/return the milk packets when the they get a bit damaged during delivery, or even if the milk is leaking just a bit, they accept it in those conditions too
Because, the commission he earns is so little that even if one milk packet gets damaged and rejected for no fault of his, he loses the commission equivalent to an entire tray of milk!
God Bless those customers, I thought, who are willing to forgive these humble people their minor errors.

Vijay’s saddest period ever was when his mother went missing for nearly 15 days. She left Mumbai to visit her village near Pune, but never reached there.
While en route to her village, suddenly she decided to return to Mumbai and got off the the train, and crossed the platform to take the train going back to Mumbai. That’s when she was knocked down by the wind-thrust from a passing fast-train, while crossing from one platform to another. She fell to the ground and a rock or stone hit her head and she was grievously injured.
Her family looked for her at every station between Mumbai and Pune. They even searched for her at Temples and relatives homes but found her only at a hospital between Badlapur and Kalyan in a critical condition!. She succumbed to her injuries.
He said, “All that time we looked for her, both we brothers felt ashamed and useless being two adults who could not find our own Mother!”

I asked him which has been his happiest moment, he replied ‘When my children were born, first my daughter and then son. Both go to school. When my children were born, I wished my Mother was alive. Because she loved me the most and would have wanted to see me happy. She had always wanted me to settle in our village, not in Mumbai.’

Thank you to Ashish Sajnani for buying Vijay a new bicycle. Vijay agreed to bear a minor part of the cost of the bike as his own contribution to this donation by Ashish, the exchange of his old bike for a new one.
Vijay’s old bicycle we will donate to some needy person who needs one for his livelihood. I have in mind to donate it to a Samosa seller I happened to come across near Almeida park one day.

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. Thanks to Gazi Ali for the pic.